Fight! Fight! Fight!
After spending a comfortable night in Kyra’s Smalltown home, the party emerges to go pay a visit to Lord Glorio Arkona. Not far from the ruins of the Sticky Mermaid, however, they are confronted by the druid Qoro. Still furious at Egan Silentall for helping oust him from leadership of the Brackwater Druid Circle, the half-orc challenges the gnome to a solo duel according to ancient druid law.
“What makes you think he’ll accept?” Ashla snorts.
“If he’s his father’s son he will,” Qoro grits back.
The two druids square off while Slim quietly takes a position up on a nearby rooftop. They trade flame strikes, with the half-orc pausing to offer Egan the chance to concede. The gnome instead simply asks what he wants.
Somewhat flustered, Qoro says that he wants to defeat Egan in order to take back his rightful place as leader of the Circle. The others note that Faunra is leading the Circle, but he dismisses her as a naive figurehead. Qoro also demands information on Egan’s shady associates in Korvosa.
“Daaad!” a voice calls out, as Qoro’s son Akko and his new Dwarvish daughter-in-law Thenra step. into view. Akko gives his father an exasperated look. “What the hell are you doing? …Are you trying to fight that gnome?”
The truth soon comes out. Qoro had been trying to set up a nature preserve within Korvosa, but to fund it he had accepted an underhanded job from the Goldlager Inn in Magnimar to put their Korvosan rivals out of business. When Akko took the bribe money and eloped with Thenra, the whole scheme fell apart and Qoro was left to trying to recover and then repay the money. But the quarantine of Old Korvosa has sent his contact running.
Slim is able to connect him to another Magnimar underworld figure who can get the money back to the Goldlager. Egan asks how Qoro knows his father and the half-orc explains that he was first inducted into the druids by Madrick Silentall. In fact, the gnome was in the city to meet with him when Content Not Found: gaedren framed him for a crime that led to his execution. Qoro says that Madrick’s amulet subsequently fell into the possession of a local noble that Zandu and Slim identify as Glorio Arkona.
Egan tells Qoro that there will always be a place for him in the Circle and they go their separate ways.
The party is welcomed back to the Arkona Palace and Carnochan quickly escorts them up to see Lord Glorio, who is lounging in the bath. He hails them for having removed the Emperor and his gnome henchman, promising that his men will be able to restore order to the district. As recompense, Glorio gifts the party a ring of evasion.
Egan takes the opportunity to ask if Glorio ever knew a gnome named Madrick. Glorio seems mystified by the idea and also denies having any dealings with the druid circle. The party then inquires about Neolandis and Vencarlo. Glorio admits that the two men are his “guests” and says he would gladly hand them over, but notes that there are a few “complications.”
He claims to have stashed Neolandis in the safest place in the palace, the Vivified Labyrinth. It’s a strange, movable dungeon built by some of Glorio’s less enlightened ancestors. But then Vencarlo broke into the complex, attempting to “free” Neolandis, and both men ended up running deeper into the Labyrinth.
To make matters even worse, Glorio’s cousin Vimanda Arkona turned up but was outed as the rakshasa by Carnochan, who spotted the fiend’s telltale inverted anatomy. Glorio and his guards managed to drive the creature into the labyrinth just a few days ago. As a result, he is not eager to venture down there to retrieve his guests, but he invites the party to do so and encourages them to kill the rakshasa along the way. Slim insists on extracting a promise that he will not interfere with them once they return with the “guests.”
Glorio scoffs at the idea that he would go back on his word. “What sort of brigand do you take me for?”
“A man of your status does attract certain rumors,” Slim notes.
You Must Be This Tall to Enter the Labyrinth
After an agreement is reached, Slim and Zandu then confer with Kyra. Since her services as a guide are concluded and the risks below are great, they offer her the opportunity to return to the mainland to look after her mother and continue her work in the Cerulean Society. After some consideration, she agrees that she should head back across the river.
Before she goes, Kyra tugs Zandu down to her level so she can kiss him on the cheek. She urges him to come back in one piece, since “I still have to help you finish that book.”
Arlynn also gives Kyra message to pass on to her own followers in mainland Korvosa, instructing them to assist Cressida.
Once the goodbyes are concluded, Carnochan leads the party to the hidden trap door in the Arkona’s artificial jungle garden, revealing a spiral staircase that leads deep into the earth.
The party steps out of the staircase onto a ledge curving around the interior of a deep cavern. The ledge has been cultivated into a garden of all manner of strangely colored fungi, lichens, and molds, which have been shaped into all manner of symmetrical patterns normally not seen in nature. Zandu soon detects the presence of three large invisible beings. One of them approaches the party head on, while the other two glide across the chasm to attack from the flanks and rear. The creatures are revealed to be the skeletons of janni, animated by a malevolent fungus that coats their remains.
The evil mold releases spores that poison Slim, Ashla, and Zandu. The skeletons then engage with massive scimitars, but through steel and spell the party is ultimately able to bring the mushroom zombies down. After tending to their wounds as best they can, the six of them continue down a series of winding rope bridges (stepping over the corpse of one of the fallen fungal guardians), until they reach the bottom-most ledge of the chasm.
The Smuggler’s Cave
There they find a single wooden pier extending out into a gently sloshing pool of sea water, a shallow-draft barge docked beside it. Though the cave appears to be self-contained, a little detective work on Slim’s part reveals an illusory wall that obscures the cave’s connection to an old smuggling tunnel. But Slim’s investigations also discovered traces that the cave is home to more than boats, finding evidence that some large aquatic creature frequents the area.
Confident that they have found an escape route, the party then considers two doors they have come across, unmentioned in Glorio’s description. After checking for traps, they choose to enter the large bronze double doors at the very bottom of the chasm.
Endangered Species Hacked
Inside, they find a strange, temple-like space lined with statues of a tiger-headed man, the largest of which holds in each hand the flag of Korvosa and the banner of House Arkona. At the feet of the large statue is an actual tiger-headed man, who is feeding something to two enormous cobras.
Zandu draws upon his deep study of the planes to identify the creature. “Hey, evil outsider!”
“Is their anything useful you can do?” Ashla asks, swords at the ready.
“More intruders, my pets,” the rakshasa says to his snakes. “I’m sure Senshiir will give them long and painful deaths.”
While the cobras surge forward to attack the party, the fiend turns invisible and remains that way for about twenty-five seconds. During that time, the adventurers bring down the cobras but not before Ashla and Zandu are stricken by their venom.
As the poison saps their strength, the rakshasa reappears—only for Slim to get the drop on him. As the other warriors close in, the vile outsider lets loose with a barrage of lightning bolts. Zandu, meanwhile, falls unconscious from the poison and featherfalls sixty feet to the ground, where Egan works to revive him.
The rakshasa, meanwhile, is quickly surrounded by sword-wielding adventurers able to overcome his supernaturally resilient hide. A revived Zandu, meanwhile, is able to give the rakshasa a taste of its own medicine, overcoming the creature’s innate resistance to magic. The fiend finally slips out of the group and towards the exit, but turns to fling more lightning bolts. After healing herself from the brink of death, Irabeth charges him and cuts him in half.
Afterwards, the party inspects the fake temple, with Irabeth noting in disgust that it is not dedicated to any god but rather the worship of the rakshasa itself. At Arlynn’s encouragement (and with magical bolstering from Zandu and Arlynn), the half-orc cleaves the main statue in two. The party then smashes the other eight statues.
Badly battered by their experience, the adventurers decide to rest in the ruined temple, with Egan sealing the door shut with stone shape. Both Slim and Arlynn want to have a conversation with Lord Glorio as soon as their expedition into the Labyrinth is complete.