Curse of the Crimson Throne

The Big Finish
Legacy of Blood, Epilogue

Reconstruction

Following the defeat of Lorthact and Korvosa’s return to Golarion, the Five Great Houses elect Nox and Cressida as co-monarchs, but the coronation is delayed until after the city has recovered from its ordeal.

A solemn funeral is held for the late Lord Telus “Flint” Endrin, who is hailed as a hero in the fight against Lorthact. His service acts as a symbol of mourning for all those lost during the madness of the past few months. He is entombed beside his brother and parents in the Endrin family crypt. House Ornelos and House Jeggare announce their plans for a memorial to the four deceased Endrins, who gave their lives to protect the city.

Arlynn and Nox expose Vimanda Arkona as a rakshasa and she is driven from the Great Houses, with House Farima taking the Arkonas’ place. Arlynn offers to spare Vimanda if she uses her knowledge of the Bekyar slave network to aid the paladin in establishing a secret network for slaves to escape.

Vimanda’s removal from power also finally breaks the Cerulean Society. Kyra moves in to consolidate power with help from Zandu’s cousins, establishing what will become known as the Crimson Society.

Wedding Season

Ashla and Vencarlo Orisini announce their engagement and set a date for the wedding. Nox exposes House Leroung’s conniving with Magnimar and banishes them from the city. House Orisini is elevated to take their place among the Great Houses.

Egan reunites with Reno and the druids. The gnome proposes to Faunra and the two are quietly married. Egan also gets in touch with the Shoanti to alert them that the danger in Korvosa has passed. He hopes to work with Nox and Cressida to find lands for the barbarians to settle.

Lady Valeria Endrin announces her engagement to Damon Forscythe. Seneschal Neolandis Kalepopolis appoints her as the new Commandant of Sable Company.

Two Rings, Two Crowns

Once order has been restored and the rebuilding process is well underway, the royal couple set the date for their wedding and coronation: 31 Arodus, the birthday of St. Alika of Korvosa.

The wedding is held in Castle Korvosa and contains a mixture of Iomedaean and Abadarian elements. Lady Zenobia Zenderholm, a cleric of Abadar, officiates the ceremony. Afterwards, there is a procession to the square outside the Longacre Building where the coronation is to take place.

Neolandis, as Seneschal, conducts the coronation. He introduces the newlyweds, praising them for their service to the city. He then announces that the Great Houses have declared them monarchs of the city and asks that they kneel. He crowns each of them, asks that they rise, and leads the crowd in a chant of “Long may they reign!”

Coronation Crasher

The ceremony is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a marid genie, who manifests ten feet in the air in front of the royal dais. The genie upends a small bag, causing a cascade of fish to tumble out, along with Zandu.

The gnoll sorcerer waves at the genie, saying “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”

Kyra, garbed in a fancy ruffled dress, stomps out of the crowd, kicking fish out of her way. “Zandu Loranth!” she shouts. “You spent five weeks surrounded by wish-granting genies and you still look like a bloody gnoll!”

Zandu smiles and doffs his hat to bow as she approaches. Upon removing the floppy hat, his body begins to shrink. Within moments, the 12-foot gnoll is replaced by an incredibly handsome halfling man. He gets down on one knee, reaches into his hat, and pulls out a fish, which he tosses aside.

Reaching in again, he removes a silver ring depicting a mermaid cradling a sparkling blue gem. Holding up the ring, he says “Kyra, will you marry me?”

After she picks her jaw off the ground, the halfling woman shouts “Hells yes I will!” and practically tackles him in an embrace. She quickly drags him off into the crowd, furiously kissing him the entire time, the ring already having found its way onto her finger.

A Working Lunch

After the two amorous halflings have disappeared, Nox and Cressida share a look and then shrug.

With the crowns on their heads, it’s time for speeches. Nox gives a stirringly nationalistic call for rebuilding a newer, stronger Korvosa. Cressida highlights the role everyone played in saving the city and notes that its greatest strength is its people. The crowd cheers and the feasting begins.

The royal couple are visited throughout the feast by various well-wishers.

The Lictor offers his best wishes, and reminds the royals of the debt owed to his Hellknights. He would like it to be paid in lands and incomes from the frontier. Nox suggests granting the Hellknights authority to patrol the Bloodsworn Vale and promises to talk further.

A slightly rumpled-looking Kyra and Zandu stop by to congratulate the monarchs and request a private audience later regarding establishing a ministerial position for the head of the Crimson Society.

The representative from Magnimar, Ambassador Radameer Grobaras, wishes them well and discusses the need to reduce tensions between the two cities in order to restore stability to Varisia.

Finally, the couple is approached by the emissary from Cheliax, Lazzero Dalvera, who offers greetings from Her Imperial Majestrix and announces that he is taking up the post of Ambassador. He also extends an offer from the Empress: recognition of the monarchy by the Imperial throne in exchange for public vows of fealty to the Thrunes by Nox and Cressida. Should they refuse to accept this offer, Lazzero warns that the Empress will be forced to station Imperial troops in the area to ensure the loyalty of the new regime. Nox and Cressida ask for time to consider the offer.

The Inevitable Awards Ceremony

Lazzero also announces that he is there to present the Crimson Blades with medals and honors on behalf of Her Imperial Majestrix for their role in saving her beloved city from the clutches of the heretic devil Lorthact and the treasonous tyranny of Ileosa Arabasti. Nox receives the Hero of Cheliax medal, First Class; Arlynn is presented with the Order of the Ivory Paladin; Egan is awarded the Emerald Badge of Glory; and Ashla is granted the Order of the Silver Labyrinth. Flint is posthumously declared a Hero of Cheliax, Second Class.

As the heroes stand, wearing their medals and facing the cheering crowd, this tale comes to a close. But the saga of Golarion is far from over….

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Hell's Heart
Legacy of Blood, Part 11

The Crimson Blades continue to battle with the exiled infernal duke Lorthact.

Three greater devils teleport into the room, a strange skeletal-looking creature and two rage devils. Lorthact snarls at them in Infernal, demanding what took them so long. The skeletal devil Vorbitor explains that the castle is under attack.

Vorbitor then slashes two holes in reality and thrusts his claws through to reach across the room to slash Flint. Egan, mistaking Vorbitor for an undead creature, blasts him with the radiant light of a sunbeam. While the light does little harm, Vorbitor is blinded by the spell. The adventurers redeploy to try to keep the rage devils busy.

Lorthact continues to flit about the room, avoiding the blades of the adventurers. He arrives at the portrait of Volshyenek Ornelos and tears the canvas away to reveal a strange mirror. While the rest of the party resists its allure, Ashla finds herself drawn to it—literally. She is sucked into the mirror and finds herself trapped and bound in a white void.

Lorthact then presses the attack, with help from his rage devils, while Vorbitor flounders blindly.

Ashla frees herself from her bonds and explores the blankness, discovering Armaitya is likewise trapped. Ashla retrieves the archon’s trumpet and blows it. The thunderous blast shatters the mirror, releasing Ashla and Amaitya. The archon rallies to the heroes’ side.

The Ornelos manor shudders under impacts from siege weapons. Suddenly, an earth elemental crashes through the floor. The creature then braces itself over the hole in the floor, while a chain rattles around its neck.

Ashla excitedly shouts that reinforcements are coming.

Lorthact, furious, unleashes blasts of prismatic spellfire. Flint is caught in one of the rays, which burns through him. His vision fades to blackness, but in his last moment of consciousness he feels a strange stretching sensation, as if his whole soul was being pulled out through his navel.

Laori and Chammady scale up the chain being held by the earth elemental. They gang up on the rage devils, while Lorthact flits around the room, hurling magic. Ashla is caught in a stray blast and is turned to stone. Lorthact grabs Nox and drains more of the fighter’s wits.

Flint feels a cool breeze on his skin and sea salt on the air. The ground rocks beneath his feet. Disoriented, he opens his eyes but is blinded by light. As his eyes adjust, he realizes he is on a boat, and not alone. Briefly concerned that he is riding the river Styx with Charon, as his vision clears, he sees that he is on a small yacht at sea with a beautiful blond half-elven woman. He has never seen her before.

But he knows exactly who she is. He met her outside of Korvosa, a little while after he had manifested there and encountered the devil. The two of them initially tried to kill one another, but once over that hurdle, they’d fallen in together and come to the city. She is Clairian Arrowsong, and the two of them had hoped to steal the Thassilonian medallion in order to perform the immortality ritual.

As two sets of memories rattle around his head, Flint comes to realize his soul has merged with the body of his missing clone. They are on a boat off the coast of what used to be Korvosa. Once she is assured that he is okay, Clairian points out a strange glowing shape in the sky, around which floats three beating hearts. The half-elf urges him to try to shoot them down.

Flint takes aim and lets fly, but the arrow goes wide—or so it seems at first. But Flint had unthinkingly adjusted his shot to correct for the wind. The arrow drifts back on course and strikes true, knocking one of the hearts from the sky.

Clairian lets out a cheer. “If you’d done that in the Magnimar tournament, you would have won 100,000 gold pieces!”

Back in the floating Ornelos mansion, Lorthact is shocked and distracted by this development, which creates an opportunity. Nox, clinging to the last shred of his wits, charges the infernal duke and seizes hold of him.

While Lorthact struggles to free himself, Arlynn, Irabeth, and Azeret charge him from three different directions. Serithtial pierces the fiend lord’s heart first, followed by the Harrowed Holy Avenger and Azeret’s spearpoint. The three blades clang together and are then repelled by a blast of infernal energy as the infernal duke finally dies. The entire Ornelos Manor lurches from the explosion and starts to tilt to one side. The adventurers realize it is starting to lose altitude.

Outside, Flint and Clairian witness the city of Korvosa bursting back into place. Flint sees the Ornelos Manor slowly tumbling out of the sky and grabs Clairian’s hand. Asking her to trust him, he drinks a potion of fly and sets out for the manor.

Within the falling fortress, the adventurers who are able to fly work to evacuate those who can’t. Egan, assuming the form of a giant roc, clutches the petrified Ashla in his talons. They also take care to bring Flint’s corpse. The party flees through the hole blasted in the floor.

They meet Flint in the air and he briefly explains his situation. Changed by the experience of merging with his clone, Flint decides to officially stay “dead” and plans to depart the city with Clairian after making his goodbyes to Valeria and his friends.

The rest of the party returns to Castle Korvosa, where they are welcomed in the throne room by Ileosa and her Gray Maiden followers. She leaves the throne to Nox and Cressida, and instead leaves the city with Sabina and a small band of loyalists.

The party updates Cressida and Neolandis about the demise of Lorthact and the passing of Flint. Egan takes some time to de-petrify Ashla, who reunites with Vencarlo. Headmaster Ornelos thanks the adventurers for saving his family. They apologize about destroying his house, but he insists it’s fully insured. In fact, bricks from the Ornelos manor are already starting to snap back into place.

The cost to the city was high, but the threat of the Infernal Duke has finally been put to rest—and with it, hopefully the curse of the Crimson Throne.

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Tales of Korvosa
Legacy of Blood, Interlude

Midday of 18 Erastus, 4708

Part 1: The Maiden’s Secret

Valeria wanted a dead stoat, but the imp would have to do. It dangled limply from her belt, claws rattling against the steel of her thighs as she scrambled across the ledges and catwalks of the Shingles. Stealth had never been her strong point, but her path away from the Acadamae kept her hidden enough from view. She’d left the others to muster with the Hellknights for the attack on the Castle. She’d make her own way there, but first there was something she needed to get.

She slid down a low rooftop, shingles sheering off under her plate. The abandoned butcher’s shop was just a block away, hopefully still intact. Most of the heavier fighting in North Point had taken place around the bank and the Longacre. The devils had largely ignored this rundown neighborhood, save for the imps. One of them had tried to charm her on the way over. It was the only thing the fiend could have done, its talons and barbed tail too puny to pierce her iron skin. But a Gray Maiden’s mind was as armored in discipline as her body was shod in metal. The imp had soon met the underside of her boot, and no other flying pests had bothered her since.

It was embarrassing, really. Flint was up there battling the lords of Hell in a floating fortress, and she was down here, stomping on imps in muddy gutters. Well, that would change, as soon as she got to the butcher’s shop.

A faded wooden sign still hung outside, with the words “All the World’s Meat” scrawled out across it. The locals thought the place was haunted, so she never had to worry about squatters. In the past, she’d only visited at night, lest one of the commoners—or worse, one of her sisters—see her enter, and she took care to leave no trace. Now she marched brazenly across the the muddy yard, heading straight for the double doors in the back.

She still felt a twinge of guilt as she reached the heavy latch. She’d never explicitly broken her Queen’s commands in arranging this safehouse, but neither was it in the spirit of Her Radiant Majesty’s orders. Gray Maidens were meant to give up their old lives, commit themselves fully to the Queen’s service. That’s what they’d told her, when they’d come with the knives and the steel and the soothing voices. And she’d given up everything—her old life, her old friends, her old hopes and dreams—so she could fulfill her purpose as an instrument of the Queen’s will. But there had always been one thing she couldn’t quite let go of. And her disobedience just might save her Queen’s life today.

Gauntleted fingers trembling, she unlatched her crimson cloak and stowed it carefully in her pack. The cloak was a symbol of royal authority, meant to call attention and command respect. In the end, though, it was just a trapping that would get in the way. Unlike her armor, cloaks were just clothes. And before she wore crimson, she’d dressed in sable.

The doors to the butcher shop’s killing floor creaked open, letting in a sliver of eerie orange light. She heard a rustle of feathers as the shop’s sole denizen stirred with interest. Valeria pulled the dead imp from her belt and dangled in front of her. She really wished it was a stoat.

“Bertrand,” she called, “I brought you a present!”

The familiar click-click of four sets of razor sharp talons clattered across the stone floor. With a flick of her wrist, Valeria tossed the imp into the room. She grinned inside her helmet as an enormous golden beak lunged out into the light to snap it up whole.

“I know it’s not your favorite, Bertie, but after you take me to the Castle gates, I am going to get you a whole bushel of stoats!”

Part 2: Charge of the Sworn Swords

“I don’t know which of us is crazier,” Chammady said as the last of the potion drained into the bucket. “You for coming up with this plan, or me for going along.”

“Oh, definitely me,” Laori said, tossing the empty bottle into one of the crates lining the stinking alley. The bottle crashed against its fellows with a noise that made Chammady wince. She didn’t want to attract any stray devils. Not when the great battle was about to begin.

Two dozen of the Sworn Swords and their mounts had managed to squeeze into the alley, just across the avenue from the Grand Mastaba on which Castle Korvosa perched. A few blocks to the west, the Hellknights were assembling for the assault. Chammady had tried to link up with them, but the knights weren’t interested in her help.

Her ears still burned at the Lictor’s curt comment that “Heavy cavalry can’t climb stone walls.” He’d offered to put her Sworn Swords at the back of the column, but only if they fought as infantry. That wasn’t going to happen.

She knew that far too many of her people were still green. On horseback, they had mobility. But tramping along on foot would get too many of them killed. She couldn’t do that to them. Yet the Lictor had been right, there was little they could do in the assault. Their chance to strike a blow against the legions of hell—and take some pressure off Ser Arlynn—and they were being benched.

Then the elf had shown up, the sword and halo of Iomedae painted in fiend’s blood on the front of her chainmail. She claimed to have a plan. Now Chammady was standing in a piss-stained alley, trying to coax her horse to drink a potion from a bucket. She couldn’t help feeling like something had gone horribly wrong.

“Are you sure this stuff even works on horses?” Chammady asked as her chestnut grudgingly lapped it up.

“We’re about to find out!” the elf grinned.

Chammady shot her a glare. What did Ser Arlynn see in that creature? Laori claimed to be following the Inheritor now, but she still wore the hooked mail of her old master. And she wouldn’t stop smiling, like this was all a game. If Chammady had anywhere else to turn, she would have told the ex-Kuthite to bugger off.

One by one, the Sworn Swords set their empty buckets on the ground. The horses had drunk their fill. It the distance, she heard the thunderous blare of the Hellknights’ war horns. The attack had begun. It was now or never.

Chammady gave her chestnut a reassuring pat on the neck. As she was about to lever herself into the saddle, Laori rushed over, arms outstretched.

“Here, let me help you!” she chirped.

“No! Wait!”

Chammady tried to brush the elf off, but got caught on the hooked armor as Laori tried to boost her into the saddle. There was a tangle of flailing limbs and the piercing scrape of steel on steel. The war horse reared up in surprise and kicked out with its hooves. Chammady coiled an arm around its neck to avoid falling off.

After a moment, she realized that the horse was still standing upright. The chestnut mare was staring at its front hooves with a look of confusion, as both feet were sticking firmly to the stone wall of the adjacent building. Tentatively, the horse pulled one foot free and then stuck it back down.

“It works!” Laori cheered, dangling off the side of the horse with one arm still hooked onto Chammady’s belt.

Chammady’s foot managed to find the other stirrup. Once she was firmly in the saddle, she reached down and pulled the elf up into the saddle with her.

“It works,” she nodded.

Giggling, Laori used her spiked chain to lash the two of them together in the saddle, while Chammady coaxed her horse off the wall. Once they were clear, she turned to face her troop of Sworn Sworns. Behind her, she could hear the cries and howls of the battle underway at the Castle.

“Dani, you’ll carry the Inheritor’s banner,” she ordered. “Tika, on my signal, you’ll sound the charge. We aim for the gatehouse. Once we’re on the walls, we will make a circuit of the battlements, wheeling left, until the fiends are cleared out and the way is open for the infantry. Stay close to one another, remember your training, and above all else, keep moving. Now, let’s climb some stone walls!”

“For victory! For the heart!” the Sworn Swords cried back to her, raising their swords in salute to the Goddess.

“Yo, yo, Iomedae!” Laori belted out, right into her ear.

Chammady should have winced at that, but she was too excited. Besides, the elf was still new at this, just as she had been not so long ago. If they survived this, maybe they could compare notes.

She wheeled her war horse around to face the castle. Devils on the walls were raining fire down onto the Hellknights, who were using a mixture of magic and conventional ladders to try to take the walls. Overhead, a hippogryph weaved among the castle towers, chased by half a dozen winged fiends while its rider loosed arrows back at them. No time for delay.

Chammady tightened her grip on Ser Arlynn’s fabled blade and thrust it into the air.

“Charge!”

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Denied!
Legacy of Blood, Part 10

After developing a plan of action, the Crimson Blades observe the arrival of a wagon bearing a gold sarcophagus. Escorting the wagon is a squad of Korvosan Guards, accompanied by Cressida. With them, a troop of Hellknights also enters the Acadamae.

Nox and Arlynn descend to greet the reinforcements. Cressida explains that she escorted Bishop Keppira d’Bear and the relics of St. Alika. Nox and Arlynn tell her about the shield over the Acadamae and their plan to evacuate civilians.

The Lictor of the Hellknights interjects with a different suggestion: that they mount an attack on Castle Korvosa and try to kill as many devils as possible while the fiends are spread out. He says that the headless body of a pit fiend was seen falling from the second floor of the castle, so there is some resistance inside they could link up with. Nox speculates that it might be Ileosa and her guards.

Cressida insists that they need to focus on evacuating citizens. She reminds the Lictor that this is not a battle for armies to win. Arlynn and Nox concur, insisting that they will confront Lorthact directly. The Lictor grudgingly agrees to help guard the evacuation. Arlynn suggests that her Sworn Swords could partner with his mounted cavalry to serve as a hit and run force in the city.

Cressida and Nox have a brief reunion and wish each other luck.

Arlynn spies Chammady arriving, accompanying the orphans. The young paladin explains that she figured they should evacuate the orphanage first. Arlynn praises her work and sends her off to rescue others. Irabeth uses the rod of splendor to create food and lodging for refugees.

Someone calls Arlynn’s name and she finds herself approached by the Farima family. Keris is irked that Arlynn left her to protect the family from devils all by herself, but it’s more sisterly ribbing than true frustration.

Lord Alek Farima, however, tells Arlynn that he reached out to his contacts in the Bekyar Nation to see if the Master of Whips had kept his promise. He learned that thousands of slaves were freed, but only after being marched to the frontier and expelled into the wilderness with only vague instructions to head north for Sargava.

Arlynn is furious at this revelation, but felt she had no choice but to work with the Master in order to find the Book of Golgothus. Alek warns her that he treacherous, and rumored not be human. Keris is eager to kill him. Arlynn promises that once Lorthact is dealt with, she will have words with the Master of Whips.

Arlynn and Nox rejoin the others in time for Bishop Keppira to present them with the relics. She explains that the relics can be carried individually, or united together in the sarcophagus for greater effect. The adventurers decide to carry the relics individually.

After Ashla picks up her relic, she glimpses a dark haired girl in the doorway. Ashla follows the girl through the building, finally arriving at an empty office. The girl, a slip of a thing no more than 12 years old, is staring out a northward-facing window. But instead of looking out onto the campus quad, the surrounding lands are devoid of buildings and Endrin Isle can be seen across the straights. The isle, significantly less built up than it should be, appears to be on fire.

The girl, St. Alika, tells her that the passing of souls damned to Hell is still recorded by Pharasma. The being who claims to be Immortal Lord is beyond divination, but the actual Volshyenek Ornelos left this world for the next two hundred years ago.

Ashla brings this information back to the party, who speculate that it must be a fiend, possibly Lorthact’s lieutenant Vorbitor, posing as the Immortal Lord.

Arlynn sends Laori to help rescue people, telling her that this may be a test of faith for the Inheritor.

Amprei offers to teleport the party to Ornelos Manor. The adventurers decide to arrive outside the main entrance. The portcullis rises up of its own accord to welcome them into the manor courtyard. Following Amprei’s direction, they head into the main building.

Inside, they find moving paintings and a creepy chessboard. Ashla examines the tracks in the great hall. A talking stag head mounted over the fireplace informs them that Volshyenek is out and about and that the adults are acting strangely. He says that the children are being held nearby. Volshyenek and Maketh, meanwhile, headed into the Solar.

The party decides to rescue the children first. The Ornelos kids are being guarded by four bearded devils. Egan shields them from the devils while the others swiftly dispatch the fiends. A disgusted Amprei is then sent back to the Acadamae with the children.

The party then goes into the solar. Scouting ahead, Egan finds Maketh and Seska. The tiefling is trying to convince her to join him and begins casting some spell from the Book of Golgothus. Egan interrupts the tiefling’s ritual , knocking the book from his hands. The party takes him hostage.

They seize the book, and the building starts to fall apart around them. Egan senses that it is lifting off the ground. Despite the manor’s best effort to swallow them, they manage to escape onto the Shingles. The tempest swirling over Castle Korvosa blasts them with lightning, but they are able to retreat to the Acadamae.

Flint splits off to look for his friends and family. Valeria and the others have made it to the Acadamae, but Damon is missing. Sheira is confident that he is all right, since “he’s the luckiest man in the world.” Flint has Timmet scry him and they discover Damon managed to blunder into a vault while looking for the bathroom and managed to avoid being transported with the rest of the city.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party meets up with Ornelos and Amprei to read the Book of Golgothus. They learn about Lorthact’s strengths and abilities, but more importantly discover his true name Vashtarhan, which can be used to gain a measure of protection from him.

They decide to attack the flying manor, where they could destroy the Immortal Lord or confront Lorthact himself. They agree that the Hellknights should launch a diversionary attack on the Castle to support the resistance there. Valeria volunteers to join the castle assault, as do Flint’s other friends.

Amprei offers to teleport the party back to the manor. First, though, she takes Nox aside and asks to join his regime should they survive. Nox agrees that there will be a place for her.

After the Crimson Blades arrive on the manor’s battlements, the entire manor warps around them until they are deposited in a gallery, with portraits of members of the Ornelos family.

They are soon joined by the Immortal Lord and six other Ornelos wizards. After some banter, they attack. Arlynn is attacked by an invisible Mistress Kayltanya. Flint realizes the Immortal Lord is an illusion. Amprei scans the room and finds that Lorthact is there, invisible.

Lorthact drops the act and casts a spell to weaken their magic items. With the exiled infernal duke now exposed, Remmy rises into the air and is possessed by the erinyes general Azeret. The fallen angel manages to counteract Lorthact’s spells, giving the party some breathing room.

Flint discerns that Lorthact is protected by a force field. The dominated Ornelos_ mages summon an enormous pyrohydra, while the paintings begin casting magic.

Arlynn battles with Kayltanya, while Irabeth dispels Lorthact’s force field. Flint takes out four of the five paintings, leaving only the portrait of Flint. A thicket of razor weed divides the room. Egan transforms into a huge white dragon and battles the pyrohydra.

Nox closes in to confront Lorthact. The fiend proves to be a slippery foe, turning into smoke to escape the fighter’s onslaught.

Kayltanya, using the razorweed as cover, attacks Irabeth, nearly killing her. Azeret keeps the junior paladin alive while Arlynn dispatches the Red Mantis commander.

Amprei casts mass hold person to disable most of the Ornelos mages, while Ashla knocks out the remainder.

Lorthact flits about the chamber, casting spells and lashing out with a clawed hand to fray the minds of his opponents.

The battle between Dragon-Egan and the pyrohydra is brought to an end by Ashla, who brings down the hydra. Lorthact dispels Egan’s dragon shape.

Arlynn, Azeret, Ashla, and Irabeth close in on Lorthact, but he manages to slip past them in smoke form, eyes blazing with fury.

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Hell Comes to Korvosa
Legacy of Blood, Part 9

Hell of a Party

Having bested the Breaching Festival and overcome the contract devil Chyvvom, the Crimson Blades emerge from the Hall of Wards to cheers from the crowd—but the hells have come with them!

Devils of all kinds flood out of the Hall of Wards, swooping or skittering out across the campus to menace the gathered throngs. Nox rushes off in search of Cressida, with Ashla tagging along to watch his back.

Arlynn sends Chammady to rally the Sworn Swords and the Guard, while also calling for Irabeth. Egan sends an animal messenger to the druid circle.

Flint tries to protect civilians, drawing the ire of an ice devil and two frost devils. A lengthy battle ensues. The archer is slowed by their attacks. The devils concentrate on Flint until Egan shield him with wall of stone. Then the fiends focus on Arlynn. The frost devils rely on melee, while the ice devil stays back and throws spells.

Laori arrives, calling for Arlynn, and is jumped by her own shadow. The shadow stuns her and attempts to take her away, but Egan blinds it with a sunbeam. Together, Irabeth and the druid bring the monster down.

Nox catches up with Cressida, who is protecting Ramara. The Pharasman cleric warns Nox about Azeret and says that Bishop Keppira D’Bear is coming with relics of St. Alika. Nox sends Cressida to protect the bishop and rally the Guard. Cressida kisses him for luck.

The field marshal urges them to find the headmaster, who may know what’s going on.

Let’s Split Up to Cover More Ground

Nox and Ashla link back up with the others. After healing up, Laori explains the true purpose of the Brotherhood of Bones and reveals that she’s broken up with ZK. She reveals that the Kuthites are gathering the relics of Kazavon in hopes of resurrecting him.

Egan begins the ten minute elemental swarm spell, while Nox realizes they must find Remmy. Arlynn is given the location of the Book of Golgothus and they both head there.

They are confronted by Headmaster Toff Ornelos, who denies any knowledge of Lorthact and insists that they must activate a device in his office to protect the Acadamae. But the building is overrun with Bekyars and devils.

The party decides to split three ways—Nox goes after Remmy in Barbazu Hall, Arlynn and Laori go after the book in Lemure Hall, and the rest accompany the headmaster to his office.

Nox finds Remmy fighting three barbed devils. He kills one and the other two flee. He asks the Gray Maiden about her armor. She is very satisfied by it. The two head for Lemure Hall.

No Book for You

In Lemure Hall, Arlynn spots waves of heat coming off the floor. She tries to fly herself and Laori over it, but the floor erupts with a pillar of fire in which skeletal shapes writhe and shriek. The shapes grasp at the two of them, but they are able to escape and keep moving.

Arriving at room 212, they find a three-way battle going on between the Bekyars, the devils and a group of students that includes a tiefling and Seska. Arlynn notices that the tiefling seems to be surreptitiously edging his way towards the devils.

The devils use magic to panic a halfling student, but Arlynn and Laori block his escape.

Arlynn is unable to sway the bekyars not to attack the students, and so rushes up to fight a devil instead. Laori keeps watch on the halfling.

The tiefling Maketh casts invisibility on himself, while Seska divides the room with a wall of fire.

Several Bekyars go charging through the blaze. As she fights the devil, Arlynn calls out to Maketh, urging him to turn over the book. Seska agrees and says that he should “stop” and “don’t do this.”

Arlynn slays the devil and the remaining bekyars jump through the fire. There are shouts, screams, the sound of magic, and then silence. Arlynn crosses through the flames to find the bekyars slaughtered, save for the leader who lies mangled on the floor. Maketh, Seska, and the two remaining devils are gone.

An ice devil’s body crashes through the stone wall, followed by the Master of Whips, who demands to know where the book is. He magically interrogates his surviving minion, then kills him.

The Enemey of My Enemy

Arlynn searches the room for articles of Maketh’s that the Master can use for a scrying spell. The paladin also finds documents indicating that Maketh was coordinating a ritual to wall off Korvosa from the rest of Golarion and drag it into Belzeragna. The ritual, however, was supposed to climax tomorrow. Arlynn also finds another document associated with the ritual, a formula for valuing souls, which seems to be trying to reach a target number.

Nox and Remmy arrive and learn that the book is gone. The decide to return to the headmaster’s office, where the Master can call off his remaining bekyars.

“Perhaps we can get some use out of the B Team,” he says.

“This was your A Team?” Nox asks incredulously.

Familiar Face

Despite still casting the summoning, Egan uses his foresight to guide Ashla, Flint, Irabeth, and the headmaster through Ornelos Hall safely. They arrive at the headmaster’s office in time to see a barbed devil destroyed by an eldritch blast of magic coming from within.

The headmaster insists on entering first to “take care of something.” Ashla and Flint follow stealthily.

Ornelos quietly calls out to whoever is there and tells them they need to hide. He has company. Ashla’s keen half-elven eyes spy someone hiding behind the desk, as well as Freya lurking behind a bookshelf at the back of the room.

Headmaster Ornelos spies Flint and is incensed that he was followed. But he asks the hidden figure to reveal themselves. The figure, wearing a hooded shapeless cloak, rises and comes down to where Flint can see her. She has the face of Sorshen.

The woman recognizes Flint as Nox’s friend and demands to know where the other fighter has gotten to. The headmaster is amused that no one seems able to identify the woman, who insists she is not Sorshen.

At Ashla’s prodding, the headmaster reveals a device that will shield the Acadamae grounds from the hellscape and repel the lesser devils. It is powered by the arcane energy of wizards, however, and it will take the entire Acadamae to keep it going.

Flint asks about the strange woman, who says that the last time they met, Egan had struck her with a finger of death. Ashla and Flint note that they kill lots of people.

Chuckling, the headmaster introduces the woman as “His Excellency, the Ambassador Plenipotentiary of Cheliax, Darvayne Gios Amprei.”

Ashla starts cackling.

The Unfortunate Ambassador

Amprei explains that after Egan killed her, she woke up in the sarcophagus bound to Sorshen’s body due to some sort of magical mishap with the siphoning process.

It is at this point that Arlynn, Nox, Remmy, Laori, and the Master of Whips arrive.

“Sorshen!” Arlynn and Nox say, reaching for their swords.

“No, it’s actually Amprei,” Flint assures them.

“Amprei!” Nox says, reaching again for his sword.

“You son of a bitch!” Amprei retorts. She blames Nox for tampering with the spell and betraying her, leaving her trapped in this body without a coin to her name and no way to reconnect with her network of contacts. She had to turn to Headmaster Ornelos, her old instructor, for refuge. No easy task, since the two clearly hate each other. Arlynn says that Amprei has a chance to repent for her past misdeeds and help save the city.

The Gathering Evil

This reunion is disrupted by gathering storm clouds which swirl around Castle Korvosa and take the form of a giant humanoid. A voice thunders out across the city, informing the residents that Korvosa’;s search for a new monarch is over—they are now subjects of Lorthact the Unraveler, duke of Belzeragna. Those who resist his rule will be destroyed, while those who submit will find their place in a perfect new order. The tempest invites those who would like to leave to come to the Castle and “negotiate” their emigration with his servants.

The adventurers agree that they need to evacuate as many civilians as possible into the Acadamae. They’ve already sent calls out to rally the Guard, the Sworn Swords, and the druids, and Nox says they should call on the Hellknights as well.

In addition, they agree that the teleport circles could be useful for transporting people across the city,. Amprei volunteers to help there, given here knowledge of the teleport network.

Arlynn calls on the Master of Whips to help use smuggling tunnels to transport people. The Master won’t work for free, so the party ultimately agrees to trade him Maganrad’s spellbook in exchange for assistance.

The Devil You Didn’t Know You Knew

Using a magical book, Headmaster Ornelos and Amprei look up what scant information the Acadamae has on Lorthact. He was an infernal duke who once served at the right hand of Eiseth, Whore-Queen of the Erinyes. But now Eiseth wants his head and has been scouring the planes searching for him.

Nox asks them to research Azeret. He learns that she is no angel but rather an erinyes general in service to Eiseth, one who has not been heard from for several centuries.

While Flint, Ashla, and Amprei look over a map of the city to discuss evacuation routes, Nox takes Arlynn into the Headmaster’s scry-proof bathroom. The fighter explains his deal with Azeret. Despite learning of her true nature, he still thinks the erinyes can be helpful. Arlynn reminds him that Iomedae warned about drawing in Lorthact’s infernal enemies. Nox insists it’s just one devil, not an army, and the danger is too great not to chance it.

Unable to reconcile their perspectives, the two return to the rest of the party.

The Immortal Lord Does Not Rest in Peace

Headmaster Ornelos asks the party to evacuate his family from Ornelos Manor, as he believes they are in grave danger. The Headmaster reveals that his ancestor, Volshyenek Ornelos the Immortal Lord, did not perish 101 years ago, as everyone had believed. Instead, he faked his own death and has been running family in secret ever since.

The Headmaster explains it was the Immortal Lord who kept pushing for greater participation in the Breaching Festival. Given what the party discovered, he fears that his ancestor is a powerful servant of Lorthact and may not even be human. He wants the party to rescue his family and kill the Immortal Lord for good.

Arlynn, however, wants to get the Book of Golgothus first. The Master of Whips has scried the tiefling’s location—he and the book are at Ornelos Manor.

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Breach of Contract
Legacy of Blood, Part 8

The Welcome Lobby

Participants in the famous (and deadly) Breaching Festival at the Acadamae, the Crimson Blades have entered the Hall of Wards from the east side, with the intent of exiting from the west side before dusk in order to win the contest.

After stepping into the roiling darkness of the eastern entrance, however, the party finds themselves in a stone room illuminated by a sourceless orange glow. A faint door-shaped outline can be seen on the wall behind them, while ahead is a strong iron door. Lying in front of the door, in a pool of dried blood, is the mangled body of one of their competitors, the wizard Maganrad.

Arlynn checks the body and discerns that it has been dead for hours. Even more disturbing, the mangling seems to have occurred after death. Ashla pragmatically searches the bloodstained robes but finds nothing of value.

Egan wildshapes into an earth elemental to scout ahead, only to discover that the stone floor only goes down three feet before it stops—with nothing beyond. The adventurers begin to suspect they aren’t in Korvosa any more…

Bare Bones

The iron door opens onto a long hallway lined with doors, which ends in two richly carved wooden doors. Egan’s tremorsense reveals that there are three human-sized individuals in the nearby rooms.

The first one they investigate is the chamber opposite theirs, which has no occupant. It resembles an academic’s office, but has been thoroughly trashed, save for the bookshelves where the bones of humanoid creatures are neatly arranged in piles.

Arlynn searches the room and finds crammed into a crevice in the back of a bookshelf a scroll of banishment. The paladin also discovers that each pile of bones rests on top of an iron plaque engraved with a short phrase in Infernal describing the deceased in enigmatic and ambiguous poetry.

Scratched into one of the larger bones themselves is a phrase in Common: “This is no Hall of Wards but a Hell of Magic. The Breaching is a sham. Flee, if you can, before the whispers drive you mad.”

The Prisoner

The adventurers move on to the next room down the hall, which has the look of a small lecture room. Instead of a chalkboard, however, dozens of chains hang from the far wall. Snared in the chains is their remaining competitor, Illia Ean, who looks as if she’s been beaten.

She begs the party to free her and somewhat incoherently explains that she has been tortured for hours by the “tentacle woman.” She also encountered a blue skinned monster with a touch as cold as ice. Illia seems not entirely stable, so the party keeps her in back.

Based on Illia’s account, the adventurers conclude that time must pass differently in whatever pocket dimension they’re caught in.

The Mad Wizard

The Crimson Blades move on to the large room on the other side of the hall, which has the look of an academic library. Bookshelves line the walls and small bookshelves break up the floor, but their contents do not stay static. Books appear to be constantly rearranging themselves of their own accord, sometimes even flying across the room to different shelves.

In the midst of this bedlam, a disheveled man in wizard’s robes watches the chaos with a twitchy, nervous energy. He whirls to confront the party as they enter.

The man, who looks to be over 50, introduces himself as Terentius. He was the sole contestant in the Breaching Festival of 4707—just last year from the perspective of the party, but two decades ago for him.

Terentius explains that they are on some sliver of Hell, which is controlled by the contract devil Chyvvom. No one leaves the plane without striking a bargain with Chyvvom and the devil demands a high price. When he first arrived on the plane, Terentius tried for months to find a way out before eventually caving and selling his soul to the devil for a chance at escaping the maddening torment.

In order to leave, Terentius must find his spellbook somewhere in this library, but there are thousands of books constantly rearranging themselves, making the task all but impossible. Arlynn asks if in his searching has ever come across a book with information about Lorthact. The wizard insists that he has not.

Flint, meanwhile, has an epiphany and leaves the library to go search for the spellbook in the ruined office. Terentius grows increasingly agitated and demands that the party either help him search for his book or leave. Unable to calm the man, Arlynn and the others leave the room.

The Inevitable Tentacle Joke

The adventurers then move on to the last chamber in this wing of the complex, which contains what appears to be some sort of perverse alchemy lab. The room also holds a strikingly beautiful woman with red hair, who asks them one question: “Why should I let you live?”

After some back and forth, the adventurers discern that she is contractually bound to Chyvvom but despises him and is looking for a chance to get free. Arlynn strikes a bargain with her: if they slay Chyvvom, the strange woman will help them find Terentius’ missing spellbook, as well as the Book of Golgothus.

The woman agrees, but on the condition that they first prove their mettle and demonstrate they are capable of overcoming Chyvvom. With that, she abandons her human form and takes on her true shape as a creature with the upper half of a woman, whose waste sprouts tentacles.

Nox charges her and is immediately grasped and hauled inside her mass of tentacles, which squeeze and batter him. Arlynn rushes to his aid.

Out in the hall, Illia is seized with panic and tries to grab hold of first Ashla and then Flint, attempting to offer them to the devil in exchange for her escape from the demiplane. Illia’s attempt proves to be little more than an annoyance.

Nox goes in and out of the tentacles, while the devil’s magic has trouble taking hold. Eventually, the tentacle woman concedes the fight and even offers the wizard’s spellbook to them—it is sitting on one of the nearby tables.

She also tells them enigmatically that “Chyvvom’s contracts are his strength” before teleporting away.

Reading Painbow

After the tentacle woman leaves, the party searches her chamber while Arlynn takes the spellbook down the hall to Terentius. Tucked in the back of a table full of vile alchemical concoctions, Nox finds a strange bronze helm.

Meanwhile, Arlynn enters the library to confront Terentius. She asks again whether he has seen any information on Lorthact in the library, trying to ascertain his truthfulness. He insists he knows knowing and demands she return his book.

Arlynn realizes that the books in the library have stopped rearranging themselves.

A moment later, she is struck by a volley of books coming from six different points in the stacks. The paladin shouts in alarm and the others come running.

After one of the bookshelves falls over, Earth-Egan can sense something being pinned beneath it. The adventurers come to realize that the books are not moving on their own, but are being thrown by a half-dozen invisible stalkers.

Flint begins tossing tanglefoot bags in the directions the books are being hurled from. He manages to stick one to the top of a bookshelf, causing it to topple over onto the invisible creature. Ashla and Nox move in for the kill.

One of Flint’s tanglefoot bags malfunctions, exploding in his hand. Trying to make up for her earlier misbehavior, Illia cuts him free.

Arlynn kicks over a table and ducks behind it, with Terentius taking shelter beside her. She gives the wizard his spellbook, and he is immediately teleported away. Arlynn realizes that she is the only one with the ability to directly see the invisible stalkers, which she begins pointing out to the others.

Working together, the party takes down the stalkers one by one. After the room is cleared, they sift through the books, most of which appear to be mundane tomes. They discover that many of them have feathers in them, pressed between the pages like bookmarks.

Earth-Egan does not recognize them as the feathers of any natural creature, but judges that they came from a human-sized creature. The adventurers speculate that they could be from erinyes.

Contract Dispute

Earth-Egan glides through the stone floor to scout out the next chamber beyond the double doors. The room has a high ceiling, with a balcony looking over the open floor, where two summoning circles are etched on opposite sides. The room’s only two occupants are a spined devil and a devourer, who appear to be in some sort of heated argument.

Egan alerts the rest of the party, who gather around the entrance. They have Illia quietly open the door enough for Flint to draw a bead on the spined devil. In the process, Arlynn overhears the argument in Infernal—the creatures are arguing over the fate of Maganrad’s soul.

The spined devil insists that he has a contract with the late wizard that gives him a claim to the man’s soul, while the devourer insists that “possession is nine tenths of the law” as Maganrad’s soul peers out from between its ribcage.

Flint solves the matter with a flight of arrows, pin-cushioning the spined devil to death. Nox, Ashla and Arlynn then charge and dispatch the devourer in short order. Maganrad’s soul is released, but to what fate?

Searching the bodies, they find the remains of the wizard’s gear, as well as a densely written contract between Maganrad and the spined devil. Arlynn recalls that both parties to an infernal contract hold copies of the contract. Only if both copies are destroyed will the contract be broken. But Ashla found nothing when she searched the wizard’s robes.

Get Thee Behind Me, Chyvvom!

Egan can tell that the chamber beyond is the final room, while Nox’s bronze helm gives him the sense that the way out is in the center of the chamber. The party places their archers, Flint and Illia, on the balcony, while the rest enter below.

As they fling open the doors, Chyvvom speaks to each of them telepathically, welcoming them and suggesting that they can resolve their differences peacefully. He suggests that if they make a bargain with him, not only will he release them from the demiplane, but he will also grant them their heart’s deepest desire.

They each have visions of what his power can offer them, but Nox insists that his greatest desire is Lorthact’s head on a pike. Since the contract devil can’t offer that, the fighter charges.

Escape Clause

Chyvvom’s frost devil bodyguards block the charge and keep the melee fighters away from their master, while Flint and Illia loose arrows down onto them. Chyvvom, meanwhile, blasts the party with devastating magic and shrugs off Earth-Egan’s fire seeds.

The contract devil’s mind-influencing spells are unable to take hold on Nox, while arlynn uses her powers to free Flint and Ashla from different debilitating effects.

The adventurers slowly cut their way through the frost devils, who give almost as good as they get. Closing in, Arlynn is seizing by one of Chyvvoms unfurled contracts and is slammed on to his horns before being hurled across the room.

But the Crimson Blades, though battered, have the advantage now. Flint lands a devastating strike on Chyvvom and Nox follows it up with the killing blow, taking the devil’s head clean off.

Fire spurts out of the wound and the conflagration burns away the fiends body and all his rolls of contracts, save for one—Ileosa’s infernal bargain. The party claims this as the teleport circle in the center of the room lights up.

Nox is the first to step through, followed quickly by Illia and then the rest of the party. Arlynn is the last to leave, giving one last look over the complex for any sign of the Book of Golgothus or any other information on Lorthact.

Festival, Breached

After stepping into the teleport circle, the Crimson Blades emerge almost simultaneously through the western doors of the Hall of Wards. They can see Terentius nearby, being led away by test proctors, who are questioning him intently.

The waiting crowd gasps at the sight of the adventurers and then erupts into a roar of applause. Acadamae authorities on the edge of view begin scurrying about to implement procedures for crowning a victor that have not been employed in over a century.

The Crimson Blades’ triumph is short-lived, however, as devils begin bursting out of the hall on all sides.

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The Hand of the Queen
Legacy of Blood, Interlude

Midday of 17 Erastus, 4708

After his visit at the Acadamae, Nox decides to get around to answering Queen Ileosa’s summons. Upon arriving, he leaves his weapons with the now unhelmeted Sabina, who grudgingly lets him in to the Queen’s chambers.

There is no sign on the Queen’s person or her possessions of the assassination attempt in the morning. Perfectly coiffed, Ileosa’s stunning radiance is sheathed this time in a formal yet form-fitting red dress with gold and white lace trim.

After commiserating over their shared experience with the Crown of Fangs, Ileosa lays out her concerns about the city.

If Vimanda’s secret is exposed now, it will create greater instability as the other Great Houses will have to figure out who will take the Arkonas’ place. But if Vimanda is exposed after the election of a new monarch, it will cast that election into doubt. With enemies just waiting to pounce and an infernal duke on the loose, the city needs a swift resolution to the power vacuum.

She knows Nox wants to be king and she can make him king, right now. No politicking or vote-counting needed. He just has to accept her hand in marriage and they can rule the city together.

Nox is skeptical, noting that Ileosa’s reputation is not exactly golden at the moment. She insists that once the true story gets out, about the shining hero rescuing the beautiful queen from a terrible curse, the commons will eat that fairy tale crap right up.

Nox asks about Sabina and Ileosa says that her lover understands this is a political marriage. It’s not as if the two of them haven’t been through this song and dance before. But even though this may be a union of convenience, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a pleasant one she says with a smile.

Ileosa also points out that they have complimentary skill-sets. Nox is very clearly the expert in security and public safety, while she understands politics and the soft power of words and appearances.

Nox tells her he will consider her offer. She tells him that he knows where to find her.

Out in the corridor, Nox asks to speak with Sabina. She takes him to the scry-proofed bathroom for a frank discussion. Sabina knows what Ileosa offered him and seemsa resigned to it.

Nox does understand why Ileosa seems to think that she can still hang onto the throne. Sabina says that Ileosa is afraid. She can’t go back to Cheliax and she has nowhere else to go in Varisia. She knows people hate her, but she thinks she’s safer in a castle full of guards than out on the streets.

Nox asks for Sabina’s thoughts on the potential union.

Sabina says that Ileosa would make a political marriage much more enjoyable for Nox than she did for King Eoded II—but he will never have her heart, the handmaiden adds with a note of pride.

She goes on to say that Ileosa was born to rule—just not Korvosa. With this, Nox agrees. He has no intention of marrying her, but he does not want to dash her hopes of remaining Queen just yet.

Sabina thanks him for this, and he promises to do everything he can to ensure that Ileosa comes to no harm. He thinks that she deserves a shot at redemption and that Sabina deserves a chance for happiness.

With that, Nox heads back to the Farima townhouse to prepare for his dinner date with Cressida Kroft.

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Let the Games Begin!
Legacy of Blood, Part 7

Midday of 17 Erastus, 4708

A Decent Proposal

Ashla, who turned down the invitation to the meeting with Headmaster Ornelos, goes to see Vencarlo Orisini. The former fencing instructor is set up in the house across from the burned out ruins of his Academy—the same house where the party fought several Red Mantis Assassins months ago.

She informs Vencarlo that she has tracked down who has been killing Gray Maidens. She explains that it was a tiefling using undead servants to abduct the women for sacrifices in some sort of ritual. She shares her suspicion that the tiefling was only part of a larger plan, but assures him that the party has a lead on the greater threat.

Ashla then notes that if she is to operate as Blackjack, she will need access to the circles of the nobility as well as the common people. The simplest means to access high society is to marry into it, and to that end she offers her hand to Vencarlo.

The fencing instructor is surprised by this turn of events. He notes that he had sworn off falling in love with his students, in order to avoid losing any more fingers. But he recognizes that Ashla has long since surpassed him as a fencing master, and there is already an affection between them.

He accepts her offer and then leads her town into the vault below the ruined fencing academy, where there is a training course, an armory, a small library, a scry-proofed bedroom, and multiple access points to the Korvosan sewers.

Only You Can Prevent House Fires

After setting a date with Vencarlo for the marriage several months hence, Ashla heads out to go on patrol. She comes across a group of street urchins in old Korvosa playing a game involving running across a plank propped over a pool of sewage that has spilled out of a blocked up sewer drain.

As she starts to turn away in disgust, Ashla notices an unattended cooking fire in a nearby house that is starting to get out of control. She directs the urchins to put it out and tells them to be more aware of their surroundings.

Campus Orientation

Back at the Acadamae, the rest of the Crimson Blades are taken on a tour of the campus grounds by the bored graduate student Jandar Lilswin. He takes them on a circle around the facility, pointing out the Hall of Wards, their ultimate objective in the breaching festival. They must enter from the eastern doors and exit from the western doors before sunset that day.

He explains that only one person, Dayson Fordyce, has ever won the tournament, and that was 150 years ago. No competitor since has come out of the Hall of Wards alive. Jandar then shows them the other halls they will be competing in during the earlier part of the festival, as well as the student and faculty housing.

The adventurers pause outside the Hall of Seeing, whose entry doors are decorated with illustrations from Harrow Deck cards. Jandar explains that the cards show the past and future of whoever last touched the door. The Crimson Blades decide to take turns seeing their fortunes.

Nox’s fortune reveals the Unicorn (past) and the Teamster (future). Jandar reads this as saying that Nox has experienced goodwill and purity in his past, while his future is building towards some grand accomplishment—either for good or for ill.

Flint’s cards are the Mountain Man (past) and the Cricket (future). Jandar says that Flint has faced tremendous tumult and uncertainty, but is on the path for good fortune and opportunity.

Arlynn’s fortune reveals the Desert (past) and the Rakshasa (future). Jandar notes that Arlynn is coming from a place of wisdom, but also isolation, while in her future she faces deceit and betrayal.

Egan’s cards are the Demon’s Lantern (past) and the Idiot (future). Jandar interprets this as Egan having been led astray towards danger in the past, while in the future he will either make a terrible mistake or be the victim of someone else’s foolishness.

AAAA! for Effort

After reading their futures, Jandar circles them back to Ornelos Hall, the administration center and their starting point. Before they can bid their farewells, they hear a scream come from inside and they rush to investigate, with Arlynn dragging Jandar along.

The screaming seemed to come from a summoning room just inside, where a young women in a student’s robes lies bleeding out on the floor while a towering fiendish creature with many-colored eyes looms over her, its clawed feet casually stretching beyond the chamber’s binding circle.

Identifying the monster as some sort of advanced retriever construct from the outer planes, the Crimson Blades make short work of it while Jandar gapes in shock. After being revived, the young woman, Seska, explains that she had stolen a scroll to summon the creature in order to impress a boy in her class, but it was beyond her ability to control it.

Headmaster Ornelos arrives with a thunderclap and demands to know what is going on. He threatens Seska with years of indentured servitude to pay off the costs of the scroll and damages to the school property. However, Arlynn persuades him to be lenient and the old wizard ultimately leaves the student with just a warning. The headmaster then pays the party a reward for their timely intervention and wishes them luck at the tournament tomorrow.

After the party departs the campus, Nox rushes off to meet with Queen Ileosa.

Dead Man’s Letter

Following his meeting with the Queen, Nox returns to the townhouse to prepare for his date with Cressida, only to find a message from Freya asking him to visit her at the three Rings Tavern. With a groan, he activates his boots of speed and dashes off to the rendezvous.

Freya explains she got a coded message from Ambassador Amprei asking her to meet him at the Acadamae during the Breaching Festival. She isn’t sure what to do—it seems like a trap, but the letter also appears genuine. Nox suggests she go through with the meeting. He and the others will be there, and hopefully they can ferret out what is going on.

Business Before Pleasure

His business with Freya concluded, Nox then dashes over to East Shore to see Cressida at her family home. The Kroft estate is more fortified than other nobles’ mansions, with a fairly plain and functional exterior. Inside, the walls are decorated with old portraits of previous heads of the family, trophies and relics from campaigns gone by, and various martial heirlooms.

Nox finds Cressida in the dining room, dressed in her brilliant crimson field marshal’s uniform, poring over a map of Varisia that is spread across the table. Glancing up, she becons him over to lay out her plans for defending Korvosa’s borders. A fleet from Magnimar is blockading Korvosa’s lakeside port of Melfesh with the clear intent of pressuring the town to open its doors to them. To the east, forces from Molthune are laying siege to Fort Thorn in the Bloodsworn Vale.

The fort is being resupplied by wizards from the Acadamae, who teleport in provisions and reinforcements each morning. Cressida believes it will hold for now. To deal with the Magnimar fleet, she and Neolandis have sent Korvosa’s own fleet to blockade Magnimar itself until they withdraw. Nox suggests recruiting the druid circle to muck up the Magnimarans’ long supply chain as well.

Cressida note that the Korvosan fleet will take almost a week to reach Magnimar. By then she hopes that it can deliver the city’s demands on behalf of a new monarch, to signal that the political vacuum in the city has been filled.

Dinner at the Field Marshal’s Table

At this point, Cressida seems to realize that this is meant to be a romantic dinner and rolls up the map. After helping Nox out of his armor, they sit down to a hearty meal and swap stories about their history. Cressida tells of her experience in the Guard, including fighting against evil fey in the Bloodsworn Vale campaign.

She also talks of her family, who rose from simple crofters to nobility after her ancestor saved the Chelaxian Emperor’s son. To remind them of their farming roots, the Krofts continue to keep a vegetable garden on their property, although Cressida admits she never had much of a green thumb and has left its care to a gardener. Nox also learns that she is fond of horses, particularly war horses, and breeds them on her family’s ranch near Harse.

She is the head of her household, having lost her mother and a younger brother when she was quite young and her father shortly after she entered the Guard. Nox commiserates on the loss of family and shares his own stories about his adventures with the Crimson Blades.

He notices that there is a sadness in Cressida’s eyes that slowly vanishes over the course of the evening, as the two hit it off well. After a few hours, Nox reluctantly admits that he needs to return to the townhouse to prepare for tomorrow’s Breaching Festival. Cressida shares his reluctance to part, and wishes him luck. She promises to attend the vote of the Great Houses the next morning.

As he leaves, Nox promises to give her a gift in the morning as well, though he insists it will be a surprise.

Safe Bets

Meanwhile, Flint and Arlynn make an expedition to the castle across the river see Kyra. they arrange for money to be bet on them for the Breaching Festival. When they ask if Kyra would be willing to participate, she emphatically turns them down. She explains that the Cerulean Society has had an open invitation to participate in the contest, but every year they participate, their contestant doesn’t make it out alive.

Kyra wishes them luck and is confident they can overcome the challenges of the Hall of Wards, but not so confident that she’s willing to participate, much less set foot on the Acadamae grounds.

The Prodigal Daughter

After returning to the townhouse, Arlynn is visited by her sister Keris, who is unhappy about the paladin’s partnership with the Master of Whips. While Arlynn insists that it is for the greater good, Keris says that the Master of Whips cannot be trusted. She wants vengeance for their family—but Arlynn reminds her that their mother would have wanted them to free the slaves. This gets Keris to back down and instead ask about her own role in the plan.

Arlynn notes that Keris’ actions have been driven by a desire to protect the Farima family. The paladin says that while she is preoccupied with the Breaching Festival, it will be up to Keris to protect the family from the evil that is looming over Korvosa. Keris is doubtful that the family will welcome her back after her betrayal, but Arlynn convinces her otherwise.

Arlynn reunites her sister with the rest of the Farima clan—their father Alek and their five brothers, all of whom are overjoyed to see Keris’ return.

Plot of the book Thieves

After arranging the reunion, Arlynn steps out to go confront the Master of Whips. She demands proof that he is carrying out the manumissions that were promised, which he agrees to provide within a few days.

She also learns that he and his crew of Bekyars are planning to infiltrate the Acadamae during the breaching festival. They suspect that the Book of Golgothus is being kept either in Ornelos Hall, the Hall of Wards, or the tiefling Maketh’s room in the dormitories.

Since Arlynn and her team have the Hall of Wards taken care of, the Master intends to break into Ornelos Hall first. If it doesn’t hold the book, they will need to get into the student records there anyway to find Maketh’s room.

Odds and Ends

Nox arrives back at the townhouse in time to ask Arlynn to procure one of her father’s wagons for an errand the next morning. The fighter then commission’s Egan to use shape wood to create a high quality, 1/4 scale statue of a destrier to give to Cressida. He arranges to have it delivered by wagon early in the morning.

That night, Arlynn has a strange and vivid dream. In it, she witnesses the slain rakshasas from the Arkona household seated at a banquet table. At the side of “Glorio” is an unfamiliar creature, a fox-headed woman dressed in Vimanda Arkona’s monk’s outfit.

Another monster, this one an enormous reptilian creature with the arms of a crab and a chef’s hat on its head then walks into the room carrying an immense plate piled high with human body parts. The rakshasas eagerly partake of the profane meal.

On waking, Arlynn concludes that this was a vision from Iomedae about Vimanda’s true identity.

Indecision 4708, Day Two

The following morning, Nox and Cressida arrive at the council meeting together and make a show of being extra cozy with one another in full view of the assembled nobles. Cressida is surprised and pleased with the statue, which she’s already placed in the entry hall of her house.

She reciprocates with her own gift—the badge she first received when she joined the Korvosan Guard. She gives it to Nox as a token of her favor, which a champion should always carry with him when facing a challenge like the Breaching Festival.

The council vote remains deadlocked, but the tally has shifted: one vote for Ornelos, one vote for a return to the lord mayor system, one vote for Cressida, and two votes for Nox. After the tally is complete and the black smoke released, Nox suggested to Cressida that the next day they announce their joint ticket.

Game time

Following the vote, Nox joins up with the rest of the Crimson blades for the Breaching Festival. They also meet their competition: a brawny, grumpy dwarf called Knur of the Gilded Fist, an Acadamae graduate named Maganrad, and the Cerulean Society’s contestant, a Varisian rogue named Illia Ean. A huge crowd has gathered to watch the show. The commoners and the student body are watching from the ramparts of the Acadamae walls, while the nobles gather in brightly colored pavilions on the quad.

Headmaster Toff Ornelos opens the event with great fanfare and explains that the winner of the contest is the first participant to enter the east door of the Hall of Wards and exit from the west door before dusk. In order to be eligible to enter the Hall, however, participants must retrieve a key-light from one of the other halls first—one key-light per participant.

With the contest begun, both the Crimson Blades and Knur head for the Hall of Seeing first. They fan out through the interior, searching for the key-light. Knur sets off a trap that drives him mad and he runs shrieking from the building. Ashla sees through the mirror puzzle and retrieve’s the party’s first key-light.

The party then goes from hall to hall, tracking down and retrieving the rest of their key-lights and overcoming the traps and guardians along the way. However, their need to secure five total key-lights allows IlLia and Maganrad to get ahead of them. By the time the adventurers approach the Hall of Wards, the two other participants have already entered.

Into Darkness

Throwing open the doors to the hall, they see only a black void awaiting them, one which they cannot dispel or illuminate with magic. After a moment’s hesitation, they step into the void.

For a brief moment they seem to fall into nothingness. Then, just as suddenly, they find themselves in a stone room, lit only by a sourceless orange glow. At one end of the room, is a freshly slain body of a man.

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Political Animals
Legacy of Blood, Part 6

Midday of 16 Erastus, 4708

Don’t Fear the Reaper

After returning the body of the impostor to Endrin Manor, Flint lets Damon and his sister Valeria finish their conversation. Then he accompanies the young man back to House Forscythe, where Lady Forscythe invites him inside.

She curtly thanks him for keeping his word and returning her son. She asks him to keep her son out of any future magical intrigues. She then tells Damon that they’ll “talk later.” Flint backs away carefully.

Caveat Emptor

Regrouping back at the Farima townhouse after his spirit journey, Egan shares his stories with Arlynn, Nox and Flint. They decide it’s time to sell some of the treasure they’d acquired during their recent adventures and upgrade their equipment for the battles to come.

Egan decides it’s time to replace his headband of wisdom, which had become sinisterly sentient thanks to the Harrow Deck of Many Things. The gnome first approaches Arlynn, who defers to Irabeth as more talented at removing cursed artifacts. It takes a couple of shakes, but ultimately Egan is dropped free of the evil headband.

Flint suggests they find a buyer for the headband. Arlynn thinks about trying to use it in the upcoming Acadamae heist. Ultimately, they decide to have Kyra fence it for them.

The Littlest Castle

The Crimson Blades journey out of the city to Kyra’s Castle across the river, where two surprisingly well-equipped halfling guards greet them at the gates. They are escorted into the great hall, where Kyra is conferring with a group of halflings and humans, whom she dismisses to speak with the party.

“Hey! It’s good to see you guys!” she says. “It’s been, what, a day? and you’re already here looking for my help.”

Arlynn presents her with the headband and warns her not to put it on. The paladin explains that it is an evil artifact—and they want her to sell it. After protesting to that she has gotten respectable, Kyra quickly agrees to fence their evil headband. She has a couple potential buyers in mind. Though of course, the halfling will take a cut of the transaction. For the benefit of her bustling community.

The adventurers ask her if she has named her castle yet and offer some ideas.(Arlynn: “Castle Smalltown.” Ashla: “Smallcastle.”) Kyra admits that she likes the thought of naming it after herself. Ashla asks her what her last name is and she admits she does have one, but coyly notes she’s hoping to pick up a last name one soon.

Kyra invites them to drop by and stay whenever they like, the castle—or at least its human-sized ground floor—is big enough accommodate them at any time, and the soundproofed walls will ensure that they won’t disturb anyone.

“Has Korvosa bugged you about the new property?” Nox asks.

“Oh, we’ve gotten a few inquiries, but it turns out that having a big fucking castle is nine-tenths of the law,” she explains.

Nox asks if she has a title to go with the property, and she admits that’s one area she’s working on. He tells her knows a guy who might be able to help her out. Kyra is surprised at Nox’s emerging respectability. Arlynn also offers the Farima family’s assistance in provisioning the castle.

Touch of Evil

After returning from Kyra’s Castle, Arlynn and Irabeth prepare to ride down to the Pharasman Cathedral in the Gray District to check on the paladin’s Sworn Sword Chammady. Nox elects to join them, as he has business that way, too.

Arlynn notes that Nox is not carrying his sun blade and the fighter admits that he has left it with Remmy, as he cannot wield it himself. The blade still considers him an “evil” being, and he is seeking aid from the Pharasmans to cleanse himself of this lingering aura.

Arlynn quietly questions Serithtial about whether this condition is a natural effect from the Crown of Fangs and one that Nox can recover from. The sword is not sure what is afflicting Nox, but is confident it can be cured.

The New Recruit

They arrive at the Cathedral to find Chammady in good shape and preparing to leave. The flame-haired young woman is excited to see them and excitedly explains how she can feel the Inheritor’s grace within her.

Arlynn assures her than she has earned this blessing, from her days helping her fellow orphans survive under the lash of Gaedren Lamm, through her actions protecting innocents as leader of the Sworn Swords, to her sacrifice in trying to halt the escape of Mistress Kayltanya. Her valor and her righteousness have not gone unnoticed by the Goddess.

Chammady is simply amazed that Iomedae might grant such a boon to a simple orphan like herself. She thanks Arlynn again for sharing the teachings of the Inheritor and for giving her the strength to fight back against evil and carry out Iomedae’s word.

“One day, Irabeth and I may not be here to fight for Korvosa,” Arlynn says, “and it may be up to you and the Sworn Swords to watch over the city. Until that day, remember to temper your zealotry. Though we fight on behalf of Good, we must also be the change that we wish to see.”

“Be the change that we wish to see,” Chammady says, and then nods. “Got it! You can count on me, Ser Arlynn!”

“I may not be a paladin, but I am a man of faith,” Nox interjects. “I will say that the role of the paladin who serves is one of eternal vigilance. You no longer live for your self, but for the city and your loved ones. Just remember that.”

“It is a rare honor and a sacred duty to take up the sword that the Inheritor has granted,” Irabeth says. “I know you will do it justice.”

“Now that the light of Iomedae shines brightly upon you,” Arlynn says to Chammady, “one day you must make the journey to Lastwall to follow the footsteps of both Irabeth and I and learn from High Priestess Aylunna Varvatos the ways of a paladin.”

“It may be frustrating at times,” Irabeth adds. “I know that those of us charged with defending the Light are people of action, but you must know the faith inside and out, beyond merely reading the Acts of Iomedae. You will need guidance on what is expected from you and on the dangers and temptations that you will face.”

“By the way, Tiran Maksev also gives great tattoos there in Lastwall,” Arlynn says cheerily.

Smoke Signals

While the three paladins continue to chat amongst themselves, Nox asks to see Bishop D’Bear about an affliction that requires some discretion. After clearing up what sort of discrete affliction he is presently suffering from, the bishop examines him but cannot find the cause.

She offers to perform a ritual to probe the inner reaches of his mind and soul. She summons Ramara to assist and beckons Nox to the same side chamber where Wulfrik was raised from the dead the night before. Nox asks Arlynn and Irabeth to join him, to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

After bidding farewell to Chammady, Arlynn whispers to Irabeth that she had asked Iomedae to bless the girl with the powers of a paladin.

The priests seat Nox on the floor and begin to circle around him, swinging censors that fill the room with sweet-smelling incense as they chant in a strange tongue. As the ceremony goes on, Nox finds his eyelids growing heavier, until he closes them but for a moment.

When his eyes open again, all color seems to have leeched out of the room, save for his own self which is over saturated with light. He realizes that everyone else in the room has frozen and even the smoke hangs rigid in the air. Then he hears someone calling his name.

The Lady from the Heavens

The voice, a woman’s is coming from above him. There is no ceiling to the room anymore, only an open, cloudy sky. Then, from among the clouds, she emerges and descends to float ten feet or so above him in the air. An angelic figure, with porcelain skin and platinum blond hair, there is a hardness to her, like steel in a gilded scabbard. Her raiments are dark and in her hand is a polearm whose head glows brilliant white.

Nox, who had drawn his sword in fear, immediately drops to his knees, but she invites him to stand. He does so and sheathes his blade. She explains that the Pharasmans’ ritual drew her attention and she has come to aid him with his affliction. She explains that Nox has fallen under the sway of Lorthact himself and the fiend’s hooks are sunk so deep that only the destruction of the infernal duke will release him.

For now, she can suppress Lorthact’s lingering aura so that Nox can wield Vigil without difficulty. But she further warns that the fiend lord is taking steps to seal Korvosa off from the outer planes. She says that she and her mistress can help Nox in the coming battle, but only if she can maintain a toehold inside the city that will allow her to return.

She presents Nox with a strange coin and tells him to place it upon the person of someone else in the city. It will serve as a conduit that will allow her to manifest despite Lorthact’s planar barricades. Nox asks if this process will harm the person bearing the coin. She insists that the person will not be harmed by the process, unless Lorthact wins the final confrontation, in which case they are all doomed anyway.

Nox volunteers to carry the coin himself, but she explains that his connection to Lorthact would expose her and even leave her vulnerable to capture by the duke. She also says that for their own safety, the coin should be planted in secret on the person in question.

Nox suggests Ser Arlynn as a candidate, and the angelic being notes that the power of Iomedae may not mix well with her own—there would be complications. Nox then asks if the person needs to be a follower of Pharasma; she says no, but that it would help.

She then waves her polearm over Nox to mask Lorthact evil influence. Nox asks one moe question, seeking to know her name. She says that while she goes by many names across the planes, in Golarion she is best known as Azeret.

She then rises back into the clouds and a moment later, color and life returns to the world. Bishop D’Bear and Ramara halt their procession and look around confused. The bishop asks Nox how he feels, and he insists he is fine. Nox asks her if she knows of Azeret, and the bishop admits the name does not ring a bell, although Pharasma has many servants, not all of whom are known.

With his business done and the coin quietly palmed, Nox suggests to the two paladins that they return to the townhouse.

The Most Dangerous Game

Flint, meanwhile, recruits Ashla for an evening manhunt as he seeks to track down his remaining duplicates. He decides to start at the Shoreline Drinkhall in East Shore, where Egan had caught the scent of one of the doubles. Ashla picks out a bootprint identical to Flint’s from among the muck and they slowly track the clone across every tavern, dive, and brothel in East Shore and Midland, before finally trekking over to wealthy South Shore.

The trail ends at the Jade Circle, where they pass by tables of young bravos debating fighting styles. Rapier and dagger seems to be en vouge. Ashla is incensed that her twin sword fighting style as seen in the duel between Blackjack and Trifaccia has not caught on more widely.

The hostess, a young Tian woman, is surprised to see “Lord Endrin” appearing on her doorstep when he should be upstairs. Flint explains bluntly that there are impostors posing as him and he wants to know where his look-alike is. She gives him a room number and he promises to cover the damages. While she protests, Flint and Ashla push past her to head upstairs.

Neither of them being gifted with lockpicks, they simply kick in the door. The room beyond has an open air balcony looking out on the bay. In the center is a four-poster bed on which the duplicate is lounging, appraising three scantily clad young women. They shriek at the sight of the armed intruders, while the other Flint is caught off guard and half-dressed.

Before his doppelganger can grab the bow and quiver resting by the bed, Flint sticks them there with a tanglefoot bag. He then looses another arrow at the double, but his clone catches it in mid air and tosses it back.

“Damn, I’m good,” Flint mutters to himself in admiration.

Thrown off by the counterattack, Flint’s next shot goes high, striking the rope tying up the bed’s curtains. They tumble down over the bed, concealing the double from view. But a lantern hanging on the balcony illuminates the man’s silhouette against the fabric and Flint tags him with two more arrows.

“Stop!” the duplicate calls out. “I’m the real Flint!”

For a brief moment Flint experiences a disorienting existential crisis, as the other man’s words seem to ring especially true. Then his mind clears and he regains his certainty that he is the true Telus “Flint” Endrin.

The duplicate growls in frustration and then dives for the balcony, still tangled up in one of the bed curtains. Despite this, he makes a solid landing on the ground level and proceeds to dash past the young bravos, upending the tables as he goes.

Ashla leaves the next move to Flint, who tells the courtesans to go and then jumps down to the ground level. He tries to line up a shot, but is set upon by a drunk and angry young noble. Ashla jumps down and pulls the man off of Flint who takes after his fleeing double.

The other Flint tries to hide in the shadows, but the sliver of the waning moon offers enough light to glint off the buttons of his open shirt and an arrow swiftly follows. The duplicate then climbs into the Shingles to try to lose his pursuer. Flint makes use of the celestial full plate Irabeth gave him that morning to fly up above the rooftops, an ability his clone had not counted on.

Flint shoots the duplicate a half a dozen times before he collapses, then a few times more just to be sure. He collects the human pincushion and then returns to the Jade Circle.

Questions and Answers

Flint questions the courtesans about the double. They claim that they ran across him at various houses of iniquity that he visited in the city over the past few days. He spoke often about the tragic loss of his parents and his failure to protect his family. On multiple occasions, he said that Valeria deserved to inherit the House more than he. In just the last day or so, he apparently had a falling out with his sister that left him feeling very hurt. The courtesans also note that he seemed to have tremendous way with words.

Flint is unimpressed with his whiny double, but when it becomes clear that they have no insight into the doubles’ plans, he lets them go. He also grudgingly pays the Jade Circle for the damages, while declaring he will never return.

With that, Flint heads back to Endrin Manor with the body, which gets stashed next to the other duplicate’s corpse. Valeria notes that they’re getting good at stacking the bodies. Flint asks her about her future plans and her thoughts on Queen Ileosa. Valeria continues to believe that the Queen is the best person to run the city. She thought that she would serve Ileosa for the rest of her life, but if the Queen is removed she isn’t certain of her own future in the city.

Flint asks about her conversation with Damon. Valeria admits that she was unaware of his affections, but they aren’t unwelcome. She reiterates her trust in Flint and her dedication to restoring their House after the calamities that have struck it. She is glad that they are no longer on opposing sides.

Valeria then presents Flint with a letter addressed to him from Lord Ornelos, which arrived earlier that day. The letter expresses condolences for the loss of his parents and says that House Ornelos and House Jeggare are working to erect a memorial to the late Lord and Lady Endrin. The letter also provides Flint with additional information on the dwarfstone he inherited from his father, and suggests more revelations could be forthcoming. In return, the letter asks Flint to lobby Lord Jeggare to support Ornelos’ bid for the throne.

Comings and Goings

Flint is not the only one receiving letters from Lord Ornelos. One arrives at the Farima townhouse addressed to Arlynn. The Acadamae’s headmaster praises her service to the city and her goddess. Ornelos suggests that were he to become king, he would provide greater support to all of the orphanages in the city, as well as subsidize a proper temple to Iomedae. He urges Arlynn to lobby the other Great Houses on his behalf.

Kyra arrives at the townhouse late in the day to inform the party she got a good price for Egan’s headband of wisdom, even with her commission. The party is impressed at this bit of good fortune.

Eventually, everyone gathers together at the townhouse. To their surprise, the learn that Laori appears to have up and left without so much as a farewell note. They worry about her journeying back to Nidal, but Arlynn is confident in Iomedae’s prediction that the Fangs of Kazavon would not leave the city.

After a peaceful (if crowded) night in the townhouse, the adventurers awaken to find that they have received a summons from Queen Ileosa to meet with them immediately. Unfortunately, the request conflicts with the first round of voting by the Five Great Houses. Nox decides to head to the vote, while the rest of the party goes to meet with the Queen.


Morning of 17 Erastus, 4708

Murderous Maidens

The Crimson Blades arrive at the royal quarters where Ileosa is being held under house arrest. A Gray Maiden guard allows them instead, but as they approach the door to the bedchamber, they hear a scream, a clattering noise, and then the door to the chamber is smashed open as two women in Gray Maiden armor tumble onto the ground. One of them, which they recognize as Sabina, appears to be tackling another woman. Peering out from the bed chamber is Ileosa, looking somewhat rumpled and bleeding from a gash on her arm.

“Sabina!” Flint calls out. He hauls her off of the other Maiden. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Arrest her!” Sabina insists, pointing at the other woman. “She tried to kill the Queen!”

Arlynn detains the suspect, while Sabina removes the woman’s helmet. None of the Crimson Blades recognize her, but she is known to Sabina as Matilda, a former Gray Maiden furious at Ileosa. Sabina notes that Matilda should not have been on the guard roster—she’s been staffing the Gray Maiden guards only with those women she considers trustworthy.

The would-be assassin is hauled off and the party enters the bedchamber to speak with Ileosa. The Queen’s first concern is the status of the Fangs of Kazavon. She is relieved that the cursed dragon’s teeth have been secured and are going far away from the city. She was afraid Kazavon’s spirit might try to influence her again. She is also deeply worried about Lorthact and the contract pledging her soul to him. She says that they must find the other half of the contract—likely with Lorthact—in order to release her from it, and she will give them any reward to do so.

When the adventurers ask if she has any more information on the infernal duke, she notes that the contract bound an erinyes’ soul to her to fortify her flesh and spirit. Ileosa speculates that the erinyes might have some link back to Lorthact, but she has no conscious way to interact with the fallen angel.

One of These Houses is Not Like the Others

Ileosa then turns to the reason she summoned the party. She has learned that the Five Great Houses have voted to depose her as Queen. She insists that the vote is invalid—all five houses must agree, and there were only four genuine houses voting. She declares Vimanda Arkona to be a fraud and a rakshasa. She also accuses Vimanda of sending the would-be assassin, to silence her before she could talk. The Crimson Blades, who had their doubts about Vimanda but already examined her once, ask for Ileosa’s proof.

Ileosa explains that Vimanda claimed to be Glorio Arkona’s cousin from Westcrown. But when Ileosa’s father was shopping her around to prospective husbands, he tried to match her up with the Westcrown Arkonas only to discover that they didn’t exist—just an empty mansion was all that was left. So Vimanda’s backstory doesn’t hold up.

The Queen admits she can’t directly prove Vimanda is a rakshasa, but she is certain of it. As the head of a Great House, Vimanda is personally inviolate absent a royal warrant. Ileosa has drawn up such a warrant and asks the party to seize Vimanda and strip her naked to reveal the telltale reversed organs of a rakshasa.

Flint raises the point that if Ileosa is still the rightful monarch, that would make all of them traitors and rebels. Ileosa argues that they did what they did to save her from an evil curse, for which she is immensely grateful and as monarch would reward them appropriately.

Arlynn takes Ileosa’s claims under advisement, aware that bringing down one of the Great Houses would only contribute to the city’s power vacuum.

As the party prepares to leave, Ileosa asks them to invite Nox to come speak with her privately at his earliest convenience.

On his way out of the royal quarters, Flint is stopped by Sabina, who sarcastically thanks him for calling out her name and blowing her cover with the Queen. Flint belatedly recalls that Sabina and Ileosa had not been on speaking terms when last he saw them. But he just shrugs it off and leaves, while Ileosa calls for Sabina.

Stump Speeches

One floor below, in the meeting room just off of the throne room, the heads of the Five Great Houses gather, each accompanied by two attendants/bodyguards, save for Vimanda, who travels alone. Nox is the last to arrive, just in time for Neolandis to gavel the meeting into session. The seneschal invites the candidates to deliver opening remarks.

Headmaster Toff Ornelos is the first to rise. In advocating for his candidacy, he cites his lineage as a descendant of Volshyenek Ornelos the Immortal Lord (may he rest in piece) and his family’s long ties to the city, unlike the recent string of Chelaxian monarchs. He cites his experience as administrator of the Acadamae and his knowledge of arcane defenses against evil curses. He notes that he has no strong ties to either the rebels or Ileosa’s loyalists, allowing him to remain impartial in a city still divided by the recent conflict. He also notes that Korvosa has been cursed with a string of childless monarchs, resulting in repeated succession crises. He notes that he has seven sons and three daughters, as well as many grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. The Ornelos line of succession is secured several generations deep.

After the wizard is done, Neolandis calls for the next speaker and Nox defers to Vimanda.

The head of House Arkona argues that the city needs a leader of impeccable moral credentials, who wasn’t afraid to stand up to the Mad Queen—unlike all the Great Houses. They need someone with strong ties to Korvosa, who will do right by the city. They need Cressida Kroft.

This surprise nomination causes an immediate stir, throwing off the other nobles.

The Seneschal then recognizes Nox, who finds himself agreeing more often than not with Vimanda’s arguments, but nonetheless insists that he best embodies the positive traits she raised, and more.

Once Nox is finished, the seneschal calls the council to vote. It is one vote to abolish the monarchy, one vote for Ornelos, one vote for Nox, and two votes for Cressida. Neolandis declares that the council has no consensus and orders that black smoke be released from the castle chimneys to signify the deadlock. (Red smoke will be released when they have chosen a new king or queen.)

Wheels Within Wheels

Nox quickly pulls Vimanda aside to speak with her. After confirming that Cressida was unaware that her name would be thrown into contention, he suggests a meeting between the three of them to resolve some confusion. Vimanda insists that what the city needs is more transparency and fewer backroom deals. She takes her leave just as the rest of the Crimson Blades arrive.

Arlynn manages to corner Vimanda and question her under a detect lies. The paladin asks if she had a role in the slave trafficking and cannibalism going on at Arkona Manor, which she denies. However, Arlynn does catch her in a lie about her past at Westcrown. She lets the noble go on her way for now, but plans to revisit the issue.

Meanwhile, Flint and Nox alert Neolandis to the growing danger from Magnimar they discovered in the letters being stolen by Flint’s bird-killing clone. This revelation elicits another “Fuck” from the seneschal. He and promises to coordinate response with Cressida. He also tells them that the information they uncovered on House Leroung’s involvement with the clone could be considered “light treason” and would give them significant leverage over the house, should they choose to use it.

Popping the Question

Following the vote, Nox heads straight to Citadel Volshyenek, where he finds Cressida in her office. He tells her that her name has been thrown into contention, which shocks her.

Nox shocks her again when he suggests that they unite as a joint ticket—through marriage. She puts off committing to a decision, but invites him to a dinner date that night to better acquaint themselves with one another.

Off to See the Wizard

While Nox chats with his maybe-bride, the rest of the adventurers run errands around town. Flint goes around paying off his wastrel clone’s bar tabs and requesting the return of betrothal gifts in order to obtain refunds.

Soon enough, however, each of them is contacted by a herald dressed in the colors of House Ornelos. They are invited to participate in the Acadamae’s Breaching Festival tomorrow and are asked to meet with Toff Ornelos at once. Ashla accepts the invitation to participate, but declines the request to see the headmaster. The others agree to the meeting and are teleported to the Acadamae gates, where a squad of tiefling guards escorts them to the headmaster’s office.

Ornelos pitches them on joining the Breaching Festival, which is suffering from not having had a winner in 150 years. He signals that if they win, he will flip his vote to supporting Nox. All they have to do is gain entrance to the eastern end of the Hall of Wards and make their way out the western exit before dusk on the day of the festival—braving the deadly protections the Acadamae’s students and faculty have placed on the building. The first one who makes it out alive will be declared winner and given the prize money, which has grown in size every year for 150 years.

Although usually contestants compete alone, Ornelos is will to bend the rules to allow them to work together as a group, even though only one of them can technically become the winner. Ornelos claims to simply interested in getting a winner, as the contest’s reputation has begun to flag after years with no victor.

The Crimson Blades sense a trap, but agree to go along. Ornelos then invites them to take a tour of the campus with his assistant.

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Nox's Day Out
Legacy of Blood, Interlude

The night of 15 Erastus, 4708

I Have to See a Man About a Corpse

While the rest of the Crimson Blades retire to the Farima Townhouse to rest after their adventures in the Thassilonian Vault below Castle Korvosa, Nox and Freya instead make for the Gray District. They are carrying the body of Freya’s brother Wulfrik Mikkelson, who Nox struck down mere hours before. The fighter had promised to bring him back, but can tell he still has a long way to go to make things right.

At the Grand Cathedral of Pharasma, they are seen by the cleric on duty, a young woman named Ramara. She offers two different methods of returning Wulfrik from the dead, one which would leave him in a weakened state but would cost less and another which would leave him in a stronger condition but cost twice as much.

Strapped for cash, Nox asks Freya about the urgency of raising her brother and whether she wanted to leave the city right away or rest up first. Freya says she wants her brother back now and admits that she needs time to figure out what they will do next. Nox then asks Ramara to raise the barbarian from the dead. The priestess circles the “patient,” swinging a censor in one hand while holding a large diamond in the other. The diamond flares with light and then turns to a lump of carbon, while Wulfrik gasps and wakes up.

Life Debts

After a moment’s disorientation, the barbarian tries to rise up to attack Nox, but Freya holds him back, telling him it’s too late. Wulfrik is bitter that Nox prevented him from upholding his duty to the man whose life he swore to protect. Nox insists that Amprei was endangering the entire city with his scheme and had to be stopped.

He also recounts how Amprei’s body morphed to become the skeletal monstrosity the party fought. Wulfrik insists that Amprei would not be foolish enough to endanger them or himself, while Freya notes that it was the ruins of the Crown of Fangs that warped the Ambassador’s body, a cursed relic that Nox brought into the vault.

She reminds Nox that he used the Crown of Fangs to compel her to break her oath to the man who had saved her life and her brother’s. Nox admits that he cannot take back what was done, but remains committed to making amends. He offers her his remaining gold to help the two siblings get by while Wulfrik recovers.

Freya says this is merely a down payment on the wergild he owes them, but her expression does seem to soften somewhat. She then helps her brother out of the chamber. As she passes by Nox, he realizes that she has tucked a scrap of paper in his pocket. One side reads “Three Rings Tavern” while the other reads “Be Seeing You.”

The morning of 16 Erastus, 4708

Calling on Cressida

Nox then returns to the Castle rest for the night. The following morning, he seeks out Field Marshal Cressida Kroft. He finds her on the battlements of Citadel Volshyenek, surveying the city. Nox fills her in on his adventures in the Thassilonian Vault below the Castle, explaining that he played along with Ambassador Amprei in order to uncover and thwart his plot. Though Nox admits that he fell under the sway of the Crown of Fangs, even as he tried his utmost to use its power to benefit Korvosa.

Cressida is relieved that the Crown of Fangs has been destroyed and Amprei’s scheme has been foiled, although the Ambassador’s death could complicate relations with Cheliax. Nox says they can spin the death, since Amprei had few friends in the capital and was scheming against other influential nobles in Cheliax.

Nox asks Cressida about the political situation in the city. She tells him that the Five Great Houses have voted to depose Queen Ileosa. Elections are to be held tomorrow to select her successor, although the voting is expected to last at least several days as all five of the Great Houses must reach consensus on a single candidate. She shares a letter she received today from Lord Tavius Jalento, endorsing Lord Toff Ornelos, Headmaster of the Acadamae, as the next King. The letter urges the other Korvosan nobles to lobby the Great Houses to select Ornelos.

Nox notes that they must act quickly. Korvosa has had enough magic and corruption to last a lifetime, and the city deserves a far better monarch than the Acadamae’s Headmaster. Cressida agrees, but notes that Ornelos is pulling out all the stops in his campaign for the Crimson Throne. She says that Vimanda Arkona is also rumored to be making a play for the throne, but she has yet to take any public action, which leaves Cressida concerned as to what she’s planning.

Cressida has also heard that Nox is looking to throw his hat into the ring. He admits this is so. He thinks a new start is needed for the city, represented by someone who can understand the needs of the people and the noble houses.

“I’ve lived many different lives in my short time on Golarion,” he says. “And I can think of no better calling than serving the city in its time of need.”

“You don’t need to persuade me,” Cressida tells him. “The ones you need to persuade are those five nobles, at least one of whom already wants to be king.”

Nature Abhors a Power Vacuum

She goes on to note that minor Houses like hers have no more say in the decision than the common people. Nox insists that they will need the common people’s support. She agrees that the opinion of the commons may play a role in the decisions, but so much of the vote involves favor-trading and legalized bribery.

Nox says he will do some digging and make it clear to the other nobles that the House that presides over the Acadamae is not exactly fit to rule. Cressida notes that Headmaster Ornelos has a reputation as prickly and unlikable, but his sprawling House has its tendrils in every aspect of Korvosan society: its scions serve in the government, in the Guard, in the Bank of Abadar, and as advisers to other nobles. They can leverage those connections to great effect.

As for Vimanda, her scheme is unclear, but none of the other Great Houses trusts her. Though her family has strong ties to the city, she herself is a relative newcomer. And then there’s House Leroung, which everyone expects to vote for the abolishment of the monarchy and a return to the Lord Mayor system that preceded it, which should keep the Five Great Houses from reaching consensus for at least a day or two.

Cressida explains that since all five of the Great Houses have to unite behind a single candidate, they could be deadlocked for days or weeks, at the worst possible time. The power vacuum leaves the city vulnerable to its external enemies and Cressida has had difficulty restoring contact with its outside settlements. Messenger birds don’t seem to be getting through, so she’s had to dispatch riders instead. At the moment, they simply don’t know what’s been happening since the rebellion rose up against Ileosa.

“I’m sure Magnimar would like to get their foothold on this side of Varisia,” Nox says.

“Magnimar, the Shoanti…” Cressida starts to tick names of her fingers.

“The Shoanti are thankfully holding due to our friends the Crimson Blades, since they became recognized as members of the tribe,” Nox explains. “The Shoanti have left it in their hands, though how long that will last is anyone’s guess.”

Cressida agrees, and the longer the succession crisis goes on, the more likely it is that someone makes a move against the city.

“Rounds need to be made to the Great Houses as quickly as possible,” Nox says.

Cressida offers to assist him. She says that she believes he is the best option of the three candidates and has certainly proven his worth to the city. But goodwill can only go so far. She asks what he would have her do to support him.

“You have a better lay of the noble politics in Korvosa,” Nox says. “I know what I would do in Cheliax, but I don’t think that translates here.”

The Field Marshal’s Guide to Politics

Cressida gives him a quick overview of the process. The seneschal, Neolandis, will preside over the voting process but cannot cast a ballot himself. There are Five Great Houses, all of whom must agree on a single candidate, which means he will need to persuade some nobles to pick him over themselves.

  • House Jeggare: Nox fought alongside Mercival Jeggare during the boggard attack. Lord Endrin is also a vassal of the Jeggares and could be influential. But it’s unclear what they want, since they are already the richest house in Korvosa. Cressida recommends that Nox speak with them first.
  • House Zenderholm: Lady Zenobia is the Chief Arbiter of Korvosa, strict but fair. She is the most public service minded, but also dedicated to tradition and honor. Nox thinks he could get along well with her.
  • House Leroung: They will have to pick a side eventually, and are likely to be more open to a newcomer than an established house. They run the University of Korvosa and are perhaps the most progressive of the Great Houses. Nox thinks there could be an opportunity to raise the profile of the University and get it out of the shadow of the Acadamae.
  • House Ornelos: Nox will have to talk Ornelos out of seeking the kingship. (“The Crown would have come in handy there,” Nox says flatly.) Cressida is unsure what else could be offered to Ornelos, given his family’s influence and control over the Acadamae. Whatever he wants, it won’t come cheap.
  • House Arkona: Vimanda has the sketchiest of reputations. Her control of the city underworld is widely known, but hasn’t been confirmed. Cressida warns that whatever else she says she wants, Vimanda’s true desire is power.

“It seems that the only thing we have going for us is being outside that framework,” Nox says.

Cressida notes that the goodwill he has earned does play a role, and each of the houses can be influenced to a degree by their clients and vassals.

Nox says he will start by having a chat with House Jeggare. He thanks Cressida for her insights and says that if all goes well, he looks forward to working with her more closely. She likes that idea, and thanks him again for his role in the boggard battle. He bids her farewell, and tells her to contact him should she need anything.

Sartorial Suggestions

Nox heads to the Farima townhouse to change into a noble’s outfit, though recalling his previous ambush, he makes sure to wear a chain shirt underneath. He invites Remmy to accompany him as an escort. She jumps at the chance to get away from the townhouse, where she had been keeping the unusually downbeat Laori company. The Gray Maiden still wears the replica medallion around her neck.

A little uneasy about the optics, Nox advises Remmy to perhaps change up the color scheme of her Gray Maiden outfit.

“Perhaps try more Korvosan colors,” he suggests.

“What’s wrong wrong with crimson?” she asks, a little confused. “It’s one of the two colors on our flag.”

“Maybe focus more on the other color,” Nox says.

“…Black?”

“Yes,” he says,“just kind of distance the whole Maiden aspect.”

“But that’s kind of the whole aesthetic,” she protests.

“Yes,” Nox says. “But as a personal favor to me, wear a different cloak or undercoat, please.”

“All right, I think I can rustle something up,” she says, retreating back into her room. A few moments later, she returns wearing a dark cloak over her Maiden armor.

Invisible Enemies

They walk through the wealthy and established Heights District, in the shadow of Castle Korvosa, the Acadamae, and the Great Tower. Nox asks how Vigil is treating her. She calls it a “cool sword,” which irks him. He talks about how the sword was wielded by his great-grandfather, a paladin of Iomedae. Remmy hastily adds that she knows it is a great honor to carry the sword for him while he is unable. He hopes that soon he will be able to hold it once again.

An arrow suddenly zips out from Nox’s left, clipping off the medallion from around Remmy’s neck and carrying it off to the right. The medallion and the arrow suddenly wink out of view. Then the medallion reappears, tumbling down onto the ground. Nox and Remmy immediately stand back to back, swords out, as they try to spy the attackers.

The arrow came from a figure perched on the balcony of a nearby building, a figure Nox recognizes as Flint.

Nox charges after the medallion. The Flint double wounds him in the leg with an arrow, slowing him down. There are splashes in a nearby puddle and then the medallion disappears. Muddy footprints begin leading off towards a nearby alley.

Despite his leg wound, Nox lunges forward to try tackle the invisible person. It is a woman, wearing a chain shirt of some kind. Nox demands that they return what they’ve stolen. The woman responds by tossing the medallion off to his left. Remmy rushes after it.

Nox slams the woman onto the ground. “What part of give me back my item didn’t you understand?”

“You can keep holding onto me or you can get the medallion,” she tells him, “you can’t do both.”

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do! I can do a lot of things, a lot of very painful things. Now who are you. Take off your concealment. Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

Remmy recovers the medallion, only for it to be shot out of her hand again. The Flint figure has reappeared perched on a different building. The arrow carries the medallion down a dark alley, out of view. Nox urges Remmy to go after it. The Flint double fires several arrows into Nox, wounding him. This does not help his mood.

“Let me go and you’ll stop being a target,” the woman says.

Nox rise to his feet, pulling the invisible woman up in front of him as a shield, and begins backing up towards the alley where Remmy had gone. The captive responds by whispering something in a strange language and Nox feels a cloud settling onto his mind, but shakes it off. He claps a hand over her mouth and leans in to whisper in her ear—but gets poked in the eye by its pointy-ness.

“Try that again and I’ll break your little neck,” he says. “Now would you mind calling off your fake friend of mine. No tricks.” He removes his hand from her mouth and places it around her throat.

The half-elf woman jabs him with a shocking arrow, the jolt rattling him enough that she is able to slip free. She immediately takes off running down the street, her footfalls kicking up bits of dirt as she moves at superhuman speed. Nox throws his bastard sword after her, causing blood to spurt out of thin air. Bleeding badly, she flees into the city. Nox activates his boots of speed and pursues, following the blood trail.

The half-elf weaves her way through the crowded streets and clambers along the Shingles, moving swiftly despite her injury. Recalling his time running a few “errands” for Amprei in the Heights District, Nox figures where she’s headed and tries to cut her off at the shortcut. However, the still-invisible woman manages to slip past him despite his best efforts.

Frustrated, Nox returns to find that Remmy secured the medallion somewhere on her person. The fake Flint has fled. Nox decides to quickly return to the Castle to change into his armor, vowing never to go out in public without it. Remmy finds nothing strange about this.

Wheeling and Dealing

Suited up in full plate, Nox arrives at the Jeggare Mansion. He is invited into a smoking lounge, where he is met by Lord Montayn Jeggare and his brother Mercival Jeggare, who Nox fought alongside during the Boggard attack.

After some small talk, Nox makes his pitch for their support in the upcoming election. The Jeggares have a list of favors they would expect in return from the next monarch: appointing Mercival as the next Commandant of Sable Company, appointing various other family members and lackeys to minor posts around the city, and transferring management of the Korvosan Mint from the Bank of Abadar to House Jeggare.

Nox is rather taken aback by these demands, but accedes to the mint request and the minor appointments. He tells them that he plans on appointing Lord Endrin as Commandant of Sable Company. Instead, he suggests Mercival could head up a new military organization he plans to institute to take over military duties from the Korvosan Guard. This large scale military reform catches them by surprise.

Nox explains that he wants the Guard concentrated on peacekeeping in Korvosa so that no other military force is ever needed to be called into the city. The new model army, meanwhile, would be open for the Jeggare’s to put their personal stamp on. Mercival and Lord Montayn agree to take the proposal under consideration.

With Remmy escorting him, Nox arrives back at the townhouse later in the day, as Arlynn and Flint return from their own adventures.

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