Together, Zandu and Slim attempt to activate the teleportation runes, which take the form of an appeal to Sorshen, the ancient Thassilonian Runelord of Lust, to grant passage through her city. One flash of eerie blue light later and the party find themselves in a different magically-shaped Vault chamber.
This one holds a large metal stockade containing a dozen people, all suffering from the advance stages of the Blood Veil. The room also contains three man-sized cages that begin advancing towards the party on stout metal legs, making no sound. The party soon realizes that they are within a silence field, making spellcasting difficult. Zandu and Egan search for the edge of the spell while Arlynn, Ashla and Slim confront the walking cages.
The doors of one of the metal boxes swing open and in a single lunge the cage ensnares Arlynn, who struggles to free herself as the metal bars constrict around her. Ashla and Slim suffer similar fates but manage to free themselves, only to risk being swallowed back up. Zandu finds the edge of the silence field and spiderclimbs onto the ceiling, but has trouble damaging the metal constructs with magic missile.
Egan is able to snare two of the three walking cages with soften earth and stone, but is captured himself by the third. Slim manages to pick the cage’s lock before retreating to a corner to drink a health potion. Arlynn finally forces her way free and teams up with Slim against one of the cages while Egan begins calling lightning against the other two while Ashla keeps them preoccupied.
Having become intimately familiar with the inner workings of the walking cages, Slim is able to cause devastating harm by knocking out a single pin, which Arlynn follows up with a blow from her warhammer. Egan’s lightning bolts, meanwhile, melt one of the other cages while the third topples over while trying to attack Ashla and is quickly disposed of.
The Slavers’ Trail
With the cages eliminated, the party frees the captives. They consist of foreign travelers and merchants from Cheliax, Nidal, and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, as well as several people grabbed from the streets of Korvosa. They were left to die in the Vault three days ago when some of them began exhibiting signs of the Blood Veil. The party provides them with food and water before investigating the cellar above the Vault.
There, they find several dozen crates marked “Danger: Wild Animals” in various states of dismantling. One of the crates has a message in Skaldic runes from “Ragnar of Halgrim” urging the reader to tell his wife Signe that he has been captured by Bekyar slavers.
The crates were lowered into the cellar from the warehouse floor above. Slim scouts out the area and gets the drop on the Dwarven warehouse owner. The dwarf initially mistakes Arlynn for one of the slavers, who he claims is her spitting image. Under questioning, the dwarf reveals that the Bekyars took hundreds of crates down into the cellar over the past few months, but only brought empty crates up. They were also visited occasionally by clumsily disguised people of means, for some unknown purpose.
The only names the dwarf can provide are Kargann, captain of of the Scorpion’s Kiss, and Shivkah, the overall head of the operation. About three days ago, the Bekyars up and left, saying they’d return in a few weeks. The dwarf doesn’t know where they are hiding, but has seen a few of them hanging around Exemplary Execrables, a notorious theater and museum in Old Korvosa.
The party locks the dwarf and his men in the Vault, while Slim goes to fulfill the contract with the Asmodeans. Speaking with a senior priest, he explains that the teleport circle led to the slavers’ hideout. The priest pays the party for their service and expresses an interest in any more information they discover about the slavers. Slim keeps that detail to himself when he reunites with the party on the way to the Citadel.
The Bodies Pile Up
Before they can report to the Korvosan Guard, however, they stumble across a murder scene. Ashla quickly deduces that the slain priest of Sarenrae was killed by a vampire spawn. They bring this grim news to the Citadel, where Cressida is meeting with Commandant Marcus Thalassinus Endrin.
Marcus pledges to work with Arlynn in snaring the Scorpion’s Kiss the next time it returns to port. Cressida, meanwhile, suspects that there may be a connection between the vampire spawn and reports that some of the corpse disposal teams have been lazily dumping bodies in Racker’s Alley in the North Point district. She also asks the party to take more care in investigating discrete matters like the Asmodeans.
As the party leaves the Citadel, the are approached by a distraught young Varisian woman, Deyanira Mirukova. She explains that the Guard has been too preoccupied by the plague to investigate her brother Ruan’s disappearance. Ashla recognizes the name as that of a local musical prodigy who specializes in the ocarina.
Deyanira explains that several days ago Ruan was hired to perform for a masquerade party at Carowyn Manor in South Shore, but he hasn’t returned. She investigated the mansion, but found it locked up, with curtains drawn and a sickly smell issuing from inside. Zandu and Arlynn recall visiting the Carowyns some weeks ago.
The party decides to look into Carowyn Manor first thing in the morning, to Deyanira’s delight. Convinced that they will soon be battling vampires, the five champions gear up on supplies per Ashla’s expert recommendations.
Wheels Within Wheels
Slim and Zandu then trek up to the Sticky Mermaid, which they discover was badly damaged earlier in the day when a mob stormed it looking for the rumored hoard of healing supplies. The windows are now boarded up and uniformed Cerulean Society goons stand watch outside.
Inside, the two of them confer with Kyra about the vampires and the slavers. Slim realizes that the halfling is lying to him about her knowledge of the Scorpion’s Kiss and asks to speak with her privately. In a dark corner of the room, he makes a personal appeal to her not to hold back anything, but she again rebuffs him. She then slips him payment for his information containing a note warning that “we are being watched” and “this is bigger than me.” The note pledges that she’ll get information to him later.
Zandu, meanwhile, has been talking with the bruised and battered thugs in the bar, learning that the Cerulean Society has been losing ground across Old Korvosa to angry mobs, rival gangs, and simple attrition from the plague. To raise their spirits, Zandu buys out the Sticky Mermaid’s stock of good booze and gifts it to the house. After a bungled reading from the Book of Joy, he stumbles off to bed.