The party ventures beyond the Urgathoan barracks, stepping into a grand hallway lined with writhing corpses. The restless dead are trapped behind the thick glass floor and walls as a twisted kind of perpetual performance art.
After Slim checks for traps, the party explores a small pair of doors to the south which open onto a crude laboratory smeared with blood. In addition to the two diseased Chelish men strapped to operating tables, there are four zombies lurking in the chamber, apparently former experiment subjects. Slim, Irabeth, and Remmy engage the zombies from a distance while Arlynn moves in for the personal touch.
Once the walkers are brought down, Slim explores a narrow hallway leading south and finds a locked door. Deftly picking it, he peers inside to see a set of prison cells housing five terrified Varisians. The party enters, but the prisoners have a sharp adverse reaction to Slim in his Physician outfit and the paladins in their confiscated Gray Maiden armor.
But the party is able to convince the captives that they are here to rescue them, a story helped by the fact that Slim recognizes his cousin Vittora among the prisoners. Vittora says that she and the others were plucked off the streets of Korvosa by the Physicians and taken here, where they have been hauled off one by one for experiments, never to return. Ashla asks if Ruan the missing ocarina player was among those taken away and Vittora says that he was.
The party escorts the captives over to the entry chamber, warning them not to open Davaulus’ box. Leaving a dagger with Vittora to protect the group, the adventurers now advance towards the double doors at the end of the grand hallway. Eschewing stealth, Arlynn simply kicks the doors open.
The Vanishing Necromancer
Beyond lies the vat chamber, where the priests of Urgathoa brew the Blood Veil from catwalks overlooking three immense, boiling cauldrons. The priests are waiting for the adventurers, accompanied by several zombies. But it is the fugitive necromancer Rolth who greets them, chiding them for being late. Slim warns that he’ll do to Rolth what he did to Jolistina. The necromancer is mad that the party dispatched his toy before he was done with her, doubly so as he hasn’t been able to find her corpse. But he expects that their deaths with convince Lady Andaisin to embrace him as more than just a cult member. (The other Urgathoans roll their eyes).
The party members tell him of the disdain the Urgathoan leader has for him, but Rolth insists that she respects results. “When I deliver your gibbering heads on a silver platter, she’ll see my worth.”
The party then notes that one has to sink pretty low to take a derro as an apprentice. “Shut up and die!” shouts the wizard.
While Slim activates a scroll of invisibility, Arlynn, Ashla, and Irabeth rush forward to attack the priests and their zombies. Cat-Egan and Remmy hang back to snipe at the cultists. Rolth, meanwhile, strikes Zandu with feeblemind, reducing the sorcerer to a slack-jawed simpleton.
Slim moves up the catwalk, but is delayed by more priests. Arlynn fights her way past the henchmen on the ground floor and up onto the catwalk, even as Rolth continues to batter her with spells, but is also halted by an Urgathoan. The feebleminded Zandu starts pitching around alchemist fire potions, while Cat-Egan calls lightning against the priests and Rolth.
As the adventurers begin to close in on him, Rolth retreats to the back of the room. He summons an enormous, living hole to rend apart the catwalk beneath Slim, but only manages to snare Zandu. The rogue, invisible once again, stalks across the wobbly scaffolding towards Rolth from the left while Arlynn approaches from the right.
“This cult just isn’t my style anymore,” the necromancer announces, weaving a spell. “Give my regards to Lady Andaisin.”
He summons up an ethereal door and steps through it, vanishing from the room.
Down on the ground floor, the last surviving priest of Urgathoa tries to overturn one of the great plague vats, but Slim drops down and skewers him with a rapier.
Furious at having the necromancer escape his grasp, Slim promises that “Next time I see Rolth, he’s a dead man.”
Interview with a Vampire
As the party investigates the area, Irabeth and Arlynn feel the presence of great evil deeper within the temple. Irabeth notes that this is a site of great power for the Pallid Princess, and they have yet to meet her champion.
The battered adventurers decide to search the side rooms before venturing further into the complex and soon stumble across a bizarre laboratory where the young Ruan is strapped to a table being experimented on by a nosferatu, Ramoska Arkminos. He invites them in, saying he has no quarrel with them and their efforts to destroy the temple and fight the plague.
He was sent by his master to help the Urgathoans perfect their disease, but has no heart in the effort. Instead, he has been fascinated by the immunity to the plague displayed by a subset of Varisians. He hopes that this could help unlock the cure for other supernatural maladies, such as vampirisim, so that he could finally die as a living man. He also warns the party that he is by far the most dangerous thing in the temple, so they would be advised not to pick a fight with him. If they leave him alone, he’ll pack up his things and be heading back to Ustalav.
Slim and Ashla note that they can’t let him walk off with Ruan. He offers to sell the boy back to them for 2,000gp, to cover the cost of transport to Ustalav. Slim tries to haggle him down, but Ashla cuts him off and takes the deal. The vampire assures them that the young man has suffered no permanent harm.
Slim asks if they could have a copy of Ramoska’s research on the blood veil, so that the healers in Korvosa could continue his work on curing vampirism and compare notes with him. The nosferatu gives him a knowing look, but agrees to share his research, leaving Slim a forwarding address in Ustalav to send any mail.
As a token of good faith, he warns them that the next room contains a powerful daemon, the last of four that were used to create the plague. When asked about Lady Andaisin, he describes her as “Urgathoa’s chosen,” one who is sure to cause them a great deal of trouble. He also urges the party to kill the half-feral vampire spawn “assistants” he was forced to bring over from Ustalav.
Bloodied by their battles and carrying an unconscious Ruan, the adventurers decide to retreat upstairs to the hospice to rest. Before they go, Egan uses stone shape to seal the two doors leading deeper into the temple.
Upstairs, they encounter Marcus Endrin, a squad of Sable Company marines, and Ishani Dhatri. Marcus explains that Cressida got the party’s message and mobilized the Guard to support them, but when they arrived they found the hospice surrounded by a phalanx of Gray Maidens claiming to have orders from Dr. Davaulus not to allow anyone inside. There’s a major standoff taking place outside and no one has been able to reach the Queen to resolve the dispute. Marcus and a small team were able to fly over the blockade and enter the hospice to try to find out what has happened.
After Zandu is healed of his feeblemind and cured of his lycanthropy, the party relays what they have discovered about Davaulus, the cult, the plague, and the Maidens. Marcus is especially furious at that last piece of news, as his sister had joined the Gray Maidens. He offers to slip away with Remmy, Dr. Davaulus, and one marine and make his way to the Castle to convince the Queen to end the stand off. Ishani chooses to stay behind to help care for the victims and begin looking over the notes the party recovered.
The adventurers retire to Davaulus’ office to rest for the night.