Setting the Scene
It’s a cool spring night in Korvosa, but the cramped upper level of the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden is no place to enjoy it. The faint sweet odor of the censer drug still clings to the air in the windowless rooms. The twenty-three freed “patients,” mostly Varisians, huddle together in the hospice lab, murmuring to one another in low voices or trying to sleep on the hard wooden floor. They steer clear of the empty patient beds with the leather straps—five of which are currently occupied by two Gray Maidens and three Queen’s Physicians, bound and gagged. Ishani stays with them, to care for those still recovering and comfort the rest. The three remaining Sable Company marines take shifts watching over things with the hyppogriffs on the rooftop.
The party is gathered in Davaulus’ office, which Zandu has done his best to render spotless through ample use of prestidigitation. There’s a heaviness to the air in the room, as if the doctor’s baleful presence still lingers—or perhaps it is coming from whatever evil that was hastily sealed up below. Perched atop the halls of the Pallid Princess and with a major armed standoff taking place outside, it is difficult to get to sleep.
The Green Knight
Irabeth steps back into warm glow of the office, shutting the worried murmurs behind the door with a click.
‘’Their wounds may have healed, but the Varisians are still frightened,’’ she reports. ‘’Enough that even my presence puts them at ease.’’
She unbuckles her greatsword and gently leans it against the wall. ’’I’ve been to three cities in my life, and this is the first where a half-orc is a welcome sight to strangers. That alone tells you how bad things are.’’
Her stomach growls like a wildcat, causing her ears to turn red. She quickly marches over to Davaulus’ work table and begins poking through his effects, occasionally picking up a beaker of some dubious substance and giving it an inquisitive sniff. Every so often she stops her investigation to adjust her armor. The plate mail she peeled off a Gray Maiden is just a little too tight in the shoulders and hips for her broad frame.
Finally, she digs up a moldy piece of bread from under a pile of dusty papers and gobbles it up in a few quick bites. As she licks her gauntleted fingers, her gaze lands on one of the red pin-studded anatomy posters on the wall tracking the progression of Blood Veil through the body.
Irabeth sneers and tears it down, pins and all. ‘’I still cannot fathom what perverse ambition might drive civilized creatures to do this to their fellows.’’
She starts shuffling the scattered papers into neat stacks on the table. ‘’In Lastwall, things are simple: us against the orcs. They look like monsters, act like monsters, and are treated like monsters.’’
Satisfied with her sorting, she moves on to arrange the beakers and flasks in order by height. ‘’Then I get taken here, where villainy hides behind a veneer of civilization and the human evil on display shocks the conscience in ways orcs could only dream of.’’
Irabeth peels the tag off one jar of clear liquid, revealing the skull and crossbones logo underneath. She lets out a snort and puts it at the head of the row. ’’It’s wheels within wheels within smaller, more confusing wheels, all of them grinding up anyone caught in their path, like your poor friend Remmy.’’
She pauses mid-sort to look at her reflection in a glass bottle, the sickly green fluid inside matching her skin tone. ‘’I suppose things aren’t really so simple in Lastwall, either.’’
After a failed attempt to fix her helmet hair, she puts the bottle down at the end of the row and turns back to face the rest of the party. The table creaks ominously as she leans against it, but Irabeth pays it no mind.
‘’But it’s much easier to fight evil when it wears a nice black hat and flouts the law,‘’ she concludes. ’’Which is why I pray for dawn to hasten, so that we can march back down into that pit to slay the daemon, undo the plague, and bring this Lady Andaisin to justice, in Iomedae’s name!’’
She pounds her fist down on the table with a loud crunch, followed by a splosh and a crash as the glassware jumps half a foot in the air and then smashes to pieces on impact. The chemicals mix together to give off a foul scent, which Irabeth hastily covers up with the cloak from her Gray Maiden outfit.
‘’Rad azizish…’’ she groans. ’’I’m pretty sure none of that was important, right?’’
The Family Reunion
Irabeth’s loud crunch on the table briefly interrupted Slim, who had been engrossed in conversation with his distant cousin for the past couple of hours. Seeing family seemed to breath fresh life into Slim’s demeanor, much of his grim countenance seemed to be gone, giving glimpse to the man he used to be.
‘’I still can’t believe you happened to be in Korvosa, Vittora,’’ Slim said brightly in Varisian, a small grin on his face, ‘’last I heard you were in Magnimar, or was it Riddleport? You always did seem to have a way of drifting about.’’
Vittora snapped back playfully, her voice melodic and bright, ‘’I should say the same to you, Ionas, last I heard you were in Egorian with the ’Scales, planning on bring back something special to Papa Tils to shut your brothers up for good, wasn’t it? You’re awfully far away now from the ‘City of Thorns’. Tell me, did you fight with Valria again, or was it another quarrel that brought you here? I bet you got your little heart broken again, didn’t you?’’
She playfully nudged his shoulder, yet Slim grew silent, the grin on his face vanished and he turned away from her. ‘’So it was Valria then? You always did have a soft spot for her. Don’t worry little Ionas, I’ll help you get back on her good graces, I still know all her little secrets, she’ll be eating out of your hand in no time.’’
The pain rushed back to him, playing back freshly with all the horrors he had witnessed to today adding volume to the hatred that festered in his heart. Barely holding back his emotions, he covered his face with his left hand and quietly said, ‘’Not this time, Vittora, I won’t be going back there, it’s all behind me now.’’
Vittora, however, did not pick up on the subtle change, and believing he was being overly dramatic she pressed him further, ‘’You were always such a child in such matters, Ionas, surely it can’t be all that bad? There’s nothing you could of done that can’t be undone—’’
‘’I can’t,’’ he interrupted flatly, speaking in the common tongue now.
’’Don’t be such a child,’’ Vittora shot back, with her hands at her hips now, ‘’I know you’ve cared for her all this time, you’d hate yourself if you didn’t—’’
’’She’s dead Vittora!‘’ Slim shouted at her as he spun around, his fist slamming near her head against the wall behind her. His face twisted in pain as he continued, ’’They all are! All for some Gods forsaken trinket in some bastard’s Vaneo!’’
It was after this proclamation that he realized the room grew silent, in which he turned his back to both her and the rest of the party. Vittora’s hands clasped around her mouth, tears streaming down her face.
Slim regained his composure and said quietly, ’’I’m sorry I yelled at you, you don’t deserve that. Valria wouldn’t of wanted that. It was good to see you again, and I promise we’ll talk more once this ordeal is over. ’’ He took out a small envelope and handed it to her, ‘’Only open this if we don’t return tomorrow. Korvosa isn’t safe, so be on your guard. Promise me.’’
Vittora nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes, and croaked, ‘’I promise. ’Keep your blades wit-sharp, the path sure as the night, and your heart with the road.’’’ She smiled faintly as she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. Slim walked over to the rest of the party, and crouched down on the floor, his back against the wall as he hung his head in silence.
- Arlynn favors assisting small communities and peoples over large scale operations. For example, she would rather come to the aid of a small village over a large city.
- Her thinking is mostly that the small people are overlooked, larger communities tend to have at least some type of protection
- However, she also enjoys the more personal interactions rather than large scale recognition.
- Arlynn isn’t as strong as her sister Keris, she knows that her strength comes from the ability manifest her ideals (ie Ionedae’s blessings), but in the past to have had something like a belt of giant strength could have leveled the playing field.
- Arlynn actually enjoys archery, though she would rather fight with a sword, finding the long bow has been a blast. Too bad dexterity and heavy armor don’t mix.
The Letter Carrier
Vittora shut the door behind her, and joined her fellow former captives, reassuring them that the commotion they heard earlier was had nothing to do with their current situation. Afterwards, she sat down in a less crowded part of the room, away from the anxious chatter from among the other captives. Taking a cursory glance to either side, she opens the letter Slim gave her just a few short moments before, which reads in excellent Varisian penmanship:
To my father, Ionan Tils’rahanarz,head merchant of the Tils Company of Varisia,
I hope this letter finds you in good health, with the company doing strong and my brothers and sisters happy and healthy as well. My antics I’m sure have reached the company by now, and I assure you that I realize the errors of my ways the night I left. I write this letter to ask for your forgiveness, papa, for not listening to your lessons about living an honest life on the road. In my foolishness, I ran blindly with my whims, and to Cheliax and its evils did I try to sate my lust for notoriety and fame. It was all a fools errand, and it cost me the love of my life, and all those I had thought to replace the family with. I must set this right, and I will not return until this deed is done. I cannot go back to being your ‘lucky coin’ as we once were, but the man that I am now will hopefully suffice after years of worry and anguish.
Leave all your responses with the bearer of this letter and I will attend to them when I can. This dark business of mine has brought me to Korvosa, and I ask that you do not inquire further about it, nor steer your caravan here or anywhere near this city. We have seen much death and desolation of late, and I wish no harm come to anyone in your charge. I will manage best I can, and I can assure you that my business is for the good of all those here, and when this is over I may prove myself a hero. I hope I will eventually do you proud, papa.
Keep your blades wit-sharp, the path sure as the night, and your heart with the road,
Near the bottom of the page, much more hastily scribbled, reads:
As I knew you would also read this letter, I ask that once this ordeal is over that you leave Korvosa to somewhere safer. I fear no one with ties to our family nor the brave souls who travel with me will be safe after this is over. I will see to explaining this later in much more detail. If I do not survive the evil underneath us, seek out the halfling Kyra, my fellows will be able to direct you if they live. If not, you’ll know how to find her. She will get you out of the city and to somewhere safe, perhaps Harse, as this party has mutual friends also laying low there and could assist you. Remove this part of the letter before you send this off.
A faint smile appeared briefly on Vittora’s face before she neatly removed her part of the letter, and slipped it back into the envelope. The little wolf has grown up… Vittora thought to herself. She sighed and closed her eyes, muttering a silent prayer to Desna for Slim’s success in the morning.