Curse of the Crimson Throne

Ship of the Damned
Legacy of Blood, Part 1

The evening of 14 Erastus, 4708

The Crimson Blades are startled and confused by Nox’s sudden seizure of the crown and departure. but before they can try to follow him, they must first figure out what to do about Ileosa.

After a moment’s shock and confusion, the Queen calls off her remaining minions and surrenders, insisting that she is free of the Crown’s influence. She begs for mercy, claiming to have been the victim of an evil curse. Once it is clear that her life is not in immediate danger, she asks after Sabina. Ileosa is relieved that her handmaiden lives, but also horrified at what she must think of her.

The adventurers question her about the important information she claims to have. Ileosa denies responsibility for the atrocities she committed under the crown’s influence, blaming it on the fragment of Kazavon’s soul. And she reveals that she was not the scariest thing lurking in Korvosa.

While enthralled to the crown, she made a pact with an exiled infernal duke, Lorthact, who has been hiding in the city for centuries. She doesn’t know where he is hiding, but she learned of him via the wizard Togomor, so he might have links to the Acadamae. She begs the party to confront Lorthact, because he has the other copy of the infernal contract she signed.

As she continues to plead for mercy, Ileosa notes that she can end the fighting in the city by commanding her Gray Maiden loyalists to stand down. This is of great concern to Flint, since his sister Valeria was one of the loyalists. Flint says that he would support sparing Ileosa, but only if his sister is still alive.

He uses one of his Harrow Deck of Many Things abilities to scry his sister, who is holed up with some other Maidens. She senses his presence and moves into a corner to deny him information on their whereabouts. However, Flint is satisfied that she is unharmed.

The adventurers agree not to harm Ileosa, but will take her back to stand trial. Their first priority, however, is finding Nox and the cursed Crown of Fangs. Egan takes an hour to cast a scrying spell to track the fighter down.

They find him in the richly furnished cabin of a ship, where he is speaking with Amprei. The Chelaxian ambassador is explaining that by working together, they can save Korvosa from an even greater threat and ensure that Nox is acclaimed king. Amprei then senses the scrying and teleports away with Nox.

Using sending and animal messenger spells, the Crimson Blades alert their friends and followers in Korvosa to the developments. Then Zandu teleports the party back to Korvosa—but something goes wrong.

When the party reappears in Castle Korvosa, Zandu is not with them. In his place is a pile of flopping fish, which splatter onto the ground. In a croaking whisper, the fish say “Zandu sleeps with us now.”

The adventurers suspect that the Marid genie that Zandu had spurned has kidnapped him during the teleport, but even Kyra agrees that any rescue will have to wait.

The party hands Ileosa over to Cressida and bring the Field Marshal up to speed on what has transpired. Sabina is also present and has a tense reunion with Ileosa, who tries to apologize only to have her lover walk away.

The word goes out, however, that Queen Ileosa has returned and has commanded her followers to lay down arms. The fighting comes to a halt and the Gray Maiden loyalists turn themselves in, with Sabina overseeing their custody. Remmy, meanwhile, rejoins the party to help them search for Nox.

Flint and Valeria have a rather stiff reunion, having spent the past few weeks on opposite sides of a civil war. Nonetheless, the siblings are glad to have one another, since the rest of their family is lost.

While arrangements were made with Ileosa at the castle, Irabeth, Laori, and Kyra investigated the Chelaxian embassy and returned looking rather worse for wear. Irabeth opens her mouth to deliver the report when Laori excitedly jumps in front of her.

“Vampires!” the elf maiden squees.

Irabeth goes on to explain that it looked like the embassy was overrun, but there was no sign of Nox or Amprei.

Exhausted and not eager to face a nocturnal enemy, the party calls it a night and prepares to go after Amprei the following day.

The morning of 15 Erastus, 4708

Egan, with help from the druids and his animal friends, is able to swiftly locate Amprei’s ship off the coast north of the city. In roc form, the druid flies them out there, where they find the Burnt Saffron floating adrift seemingly without crew.

Investigating the vessel, they soon learn what had happened when below decks they are ambushed by a small army of vampires. Arlynn and Egan use their divine powers to burn many of them, but the fight is interrupted by a loud crash that rocks the entire boat.

The Crimson Wave, the ship the party seized from Bekyar slavers and left in the hands of goblins, has returned, as the goblins clumsily smashed it into the Burn Saffron. The party’s attention is divided between defeating the vampires and saving he ship from sinking before they can search it for clues. However, they manage to achieve both objectives.

There Will Be Blood
Crown of Fangs, Part 16

The afternoon of 14 Erastus, 4708

Having defeated a flock of erinyes, the party prepares to ascend up another shaft to the final level of the pyramid.

Zandu enlarges himself to huge size and takes a peek into the room. The chamber beyond is huge, with a high ceiling, and illuminated by braziers at the four corners. A soft light also filters from two very high oval windows on the southwestern wall. Below the crystal “eyes,” a band of mosaics on the south wall forms a single, huge map of an ancient, unknown land.

Yet the most unusual feature of the room floats and undulates at its center—here, an amorphous blob of blood, over thirty feet wide, floats and ripples in the air. Shapes seem to form periodically on its rippling surface: faces, hands, buildings, and figures that last only long enough to melt back into the horrific mass.

As Zandu looks on, the giant globe of blood distorts, taking the shape of Ileosa’s face, which shrieks at the gnoll sorcerer. So much for a surprise attack!

Nox hurriedly climbs up Zandu’s enlarged back. As he steps into the chamber, a great black dragon emerges from shadows on the ceiling. The creature spews acid onto the fighter. As the beast swoops away, a tremor shakes the pyramid and chucks of stone fall from the ceiling. Unable to dodge out of the way, Nox is buried beneath them.

With this auspicious start to the battle, the rest of the party hastily rise up into the room. Simulacra of the Queen emerge from the blood pool to harry the party by throwing fire from the braziers in the corners of the room, while the dragon wheels about overhead, diving down to attack.

As the adventurers confront these dangers, Ileosa herself finally steps out from the blood globe and starts throwing magic at the party. Her spells are a mixture of charms and offensive magic. She periodically retreats inside to heal herself and summon forth more blood creations.

Tremors continue to shake the pyramid, dislodging more rubble onto the adventurers. Bolts of lightning sear down from the ceiling, while blinding dust swirls up around them. But the party soldiers on. Arlynn calls upon her trumpet archon Armaitya. Ileosa’s black dragon ally takes a terrible battering and retreats to the blood pool to soak in its healing waters alongside his mistress.

Finally, Nox flies up to confront the Queen. She dominates him, but the infernal influence in his head wars with her commands. Finally, he drops his sword, seizes the crown from atop her head, and places it upon his own. Then he uses one of the boons from the Harrow Deck of Many Things to teleport away.

Ileosa lets out a howl of rage while the party looks on in shock. Moments later, blue energy pours from her mouth and eyes, swirling out of the pyramid in the direction of Korvosa. Her demeanor changes immediately, as she calls for a truce, begging the party not to kill her as she has important information.

Dangerous Visions
Crown of Fangs, Interlude

Hanging between life and death, Ashla is suddenly struck with a vision from the goddess Pharasma.

The Dragon Crown

Ashla finds herself in a large chamber, in the midst of a battle between the Crimson Blades and Queen Ileosa. She watches as Arlynn impales Ileosa with Serithtial. The bloody Crown of Fangs tumbles from the Queen’s brow and rolls across the stone floor, leaving a crimson trail in its wake.

Zandu makes a grab for the crown, but Nox stops him. Arlynn struggles to free her sword from the dying Ileosa as the crown rolls on. Ashla chases after it, but is never able to catch the artifact, as it twists this way and that. She slowly realizes it is tracing out a pattern on the floor in blood.

The half-elf quickly scuffs up a patch of the pattern with her boot, and then scales a nearby pillar. She look down upon the floor in time to glimpse the dragon sketched in red on the stone, just as the crown shatters and its fangs slot into place on the outline’s mouth.

Though splotchy where she marred it, the blood painting peels off of the floor and fills out, becoming three dimensional as Kazavon takes shape once more. Serithtial is trapped and useless within the dying Queen, still clutching at Arlynn in desperation. Lightning crackles around the great blue wyrm as opens its jaws to unleash its fury upon the doomed adventurers.

The Game of Blood

After a bright flash of blue, Ashla finds herself back on the floor of the grand chamber, in another vision.

Once again, the party battles Ileosa in the halls of the Sunken Queen, swords flashing and spells raging. But Ashla’s eye is drawn to the shadows cast on the wall by the spellfire, as it dawns on her that one of her companions’ shadows is missing. It its place is a monstrous horned shade—perhaps a dragon. The room turns to blood, as do the fighters within it and the vision changes perspective.

A red-skinned, long-taloned hand idly drums the table as its owner looks down upon the tableau molded out of blood. He casually reaches out and flicks over one of the shapes in the battle. Then, with a wave of his hand, the entire scene ripples away into the pool of blood and is replaced with the familiar skyline of Korvosa. The clawed hand reached out towards the Acadamae, then hesitates and instead dives its fingers into Castle Korvosa.

The image fades from Ashla’s mind as she returns to consciousness by the grace of the Lady of Graves, but she is left with the troubling certainty that one of the two visions would come to pass.

Ileosa's Furies
Crown of Fangs, Part 15

Midday of 14 Erastus, 4708

Level Up

The Crimson Blades continue their exploration of the Sunken Queen. There are no stairs leading up to the next level. Instead, there is a large vertical shaft that appears to be accessible primarily through flight.

Zandu, now gnoll-shaped again, sprouts dragon wings and flies up to latch grappling hooks to the lip of the shaft. As he reaches the top of the shaft, his blindsense picks up the presence of creatures lurking nearby. He reacts immediately by enlarging to huge size.

The others rush up top, either flying themselves, climbing up Zandu’s back, or using the ropes and grappling hooks. Water-Egan splashes up to the next level in elemental form. The adventurers find themselves in a large hall tiled on floor, wall and ceiling with polished rose-colored marble slats. Weaving in and out of the walls, climbing from the floor to the ceiling above, are dozens of thin crystal tubes. Passages lead off to the left and right, while across the hall another shaft leads up to the next level.

Angels’ Ambush

The Crimson Blades come under immediate attack from five armored erinyes, each wielding flaming tridents in place of bows. Three of the fallen angels emerge at the far end of the hall, while one each awaits in the chambers to either side.

Rather than charge the party with their weapons, instead the erinyes throw their tridents at the adventurers, causing savage injuries. Then to the adventurers’ shock the polearms rise up and return to their mistresses’ hands.

Huge-sized Zandu brings out his enormous glaive to attack the erinyes at the far end of the hall. While he holds down the center, the rest of the Crimson Blades split up. Ashla, Water-Egan, Laori , and eventually Arlynn go right while Nox, Flint, Irabeth, and Kyra go left.

Wrath of the Erinyes

Furious fighting takes place in both the left and right rooms. On the right hand side, the erinyes gang up on Ashla while Water-Egan, Arlynn and Laori try to relieve her. Eventually, Ashla is so grievously wounded that she hovers between life and death, receiving visions from Pharasma.

Over on the left hand side, the erinyes are fairly successful at keeping their distance and making use of the their returning tridents to inflict terrible wounds on the party. A ranged duel takes place between Flint and one erinyes, while Nox and Irabeth try to close the distance on the others.

Zandu continues to use his glaive to keep the center chamber clear, and drives it into the left room to try to strike some erinyes there.

A Rare Gift

After savaging the party extensively, one by one the erinyes begin to fall. The adventurers regroup and close in on the last remaining erinyes. Nox discovers he has a special talent for tackling flying women, but it is not enough to prevent the fallen angel from fleeing to the lower levels of the pyramid.

After Egan makes a brief attempt to give chase, the party scours the area for treasure and then prepares to venture upstairs into the final floor of the Sunken Queen where Queen Ileosa awaits them.

The Sunken Queen
Crown of Fangs, Part 14

The morning of 13 Erastus, 4708

Packing for a Trip

The Crimson Blades consult the map of the Mushfens they recovered from the Castle in order to determine how best to approach the Sunken Queen. They decide their best course of action is to teleport to the known landmark on the coast and then fly north up to the ruin, following directions Togomor had penned in the margins.

With Ileosa’s loyalists in retreat, there is enough of a semblance of order for them to do some quick shopping and restock on powerful items, scrolls and potions. However, they are all aware that the clock is ticking.

Scouting the LZ

Egan scrys the coastal landmark, allowing Zandu to teleport there (invisibly) in order to get the lay of the land for subsequent teleports.

The sorcerer proceeds with an abundance of caution, appearing in the air over the Greenrust Reef, a coral reef that grew around the wreck of an immense copper-bottomed vessel.

Aside from some abnormally large crabs, Zandu sees no immediate danger, though he does find signs that boggards are active in the area. The reef sits at the mouth of a river which Togomor’s map suggests they follow north.


After Zandu returns to tell the party about his scouting mission, he ends up in a tense conversation with Nox. The fighter demands that he swear not to make any move for the Crown of Fangs, suggesting that the sorcerer planned on claiming it for his own.

Zandu insists he has no intentions on the crown, or the Crimson Throne, but Nox remains suspicious. The rest of the party isn’t sure what to make of this outburst.

The morning of 14 Erastus, 4708

Into the Mushfens

After making some final preparations and spending a fitful night in Korvosa, the Crimson Blades teleport out to the Greenrust Reef bring and early in the morning. There, those adventurers who have it use their various flying abilities, while Egan transforms into a giant roc to carry Nox, Flint and Laori.

The party follows the nameless river north, into the trackless Mushfens. They keep their eyes peeled for boggard activity and eventually spy cookfires from a boggard village not too far off course.

The adventurers confer on what to do. After surviving the boggard attack on Korvosa, Nox wants to quelch this threat to the city, while Flint wants vengeance for his parents and Zandu wants to start some fires. Arlynn cautions for restraint, while Ashla expresses indifference.

The others persuade Roc-Egan to join in their sortie, so the four of them—with assistance from Laori and Kyra—swoop down to attack the boggard village while Ashla, Arlynn, and Irabeth look on.

Hell Comes to Frogtown

The initial firebombing run scatters the frogmen, but a few warriors rally and fire back. The adventurers are caught off guard when a boggard priest-king smashes out of a burning building on the back of a giant purple flying frog with three eyes.

The priest-king throws magic at them, but has trouble penetrating their defenses, while the frog shoots out its tongue to snatch Nox from Roc-Egan’s grip and swallow him. This proves to be a bad idea.

Nox cuts his way out of the beast and rides its carcass into another large thatched hut in the village, destroying it utterly. The fighter is a little worse for wear from the experience, but is the only serious casualty of the attack.

The party decides not to destroy the boggard young in the nearby spawning pool. Arlynn, meanwhile, investigates the village shrine and discovers that the boggards seem to have recently switched from worshiping some sort of swamp deity to venerating Ileosa.

Many Alligators, Much Mounds

After leaving the boggard village in ruins, the Crimson Blades continue their flight north. They glide over a stretch of river swarming with a disproportionate number of alligators.

They also come across another landmark from Togomor’s map, a series of strange, enormous earthen mounds. Zandu recommends returning to investigate once the Queen is vanquished as they could mark ruins or tombs.

Storm Front

The skies darken as they near the Sunken Queen. A black cloud, wracked with frequent jolts of lightning, swirls over the half-submerged pyramid. Down below, they can see large, whirling dust devils that Roc-Egan realizes are in fact angry air elementals.

There is no obvious entrance to the pyramid and the party sends Ashla to scout around the building, where she is struck by lightning. Despite this inconvenience, the half-elf ranger ultimately finds a nearly hidden entrance on ground level.

It Came From the Mushfens!

The party lands and steps into the strange pyramid, whose floor tilts at a 30 degree angle. They discover that one whole half of the level they are on is submerged into the marsh water.

While attempting to cross through the water to the staircase leading up, they are ambushed by a gang of boggard champions. The frogmen leap into the fray with terrifying battle ribbets.

Just as the party turns to face this threat, they are attacked from the other direction by an enormous squid-like devilfish. It grabs several of the adventurers and drags them into the flooded areas of the pyramid.

Zandu uses his scroll of iron body to turn into an enormous iron golem and battle the devilfish on equal footing, while Arlynn and the others mop up the boggards, whose tongue attacks backfire painfully.

Badly wounded, the devilfish retreats deeper into the flooded section of the pyramid. Egan communicates with the creature, Beirawash, and manages to negotiate an agreement: in exchange for letting it leave, it will grant them its entire treasure hoard, which turns out to be much of the missing Korvosan treasury.

Sopping wet and more than a little beat up, the adventurers prepare to advance to the next level of the pyramid.

The Plot Against Korvosa
Crown of Fangs, Part 13

The afternoon of 12 Erastus, 4708

Having found Venster’s body and drawn from the Harrow Deck of Many Things, the Crimson Blades return from the dungeons to the surface.

Zandu flies Kyra out to her new castle, which has appeared at the mouth of the Jeggare River, across from Old Korvosa. Although the ground floor of the castle is human-scale, the upper stories are sized for halflings.

They decide to open the facility up to halflings dislocated from Smalltown by the violence of the past few months. After leaving Kyra’s mother in charge for the moment, they return to Castle Korvosa.

Egan checks in with his new gaggle of followers, instructing them to help the druid circle care for the wounded in the rebellion.

Flint gets word that his parents have been killed. He rushes over to the Endrin Manor in East Shore, where the servants tell him that when the boggards came ashore the other day, his parents rallied the district to push them back. They were both slain fighting an enormous sea troll. Their bodies are presently lying in state.

Flint is furious with the surviving house guards for failing to protect his parents, but grudgingly admits that they would naturally lead from the front. The guard captain presents Flint with the signet ring of House Endrin, noting that he is Lord of the estate now. Flint recalls of the Harrow cards he draw, the Empty Throne, and curses fate. He also muses on the fact that his only other family alive in the city is his sister Valeria, who remains pledged to the loyalist Gray Maidens.

Arlynn and Nox check in with the Neolandis and Cressida, to inform them that the Castle has been searched and to learn about the developments in the rebellion. They are told that the tide seems to have shifted decisively in favor of the rebels, with the remaining loyalists holed up in North Point and The Heights. around the Great Tower. The Queen remains the wild card, however. Should she intervene with powerful magic or conjure up another army like the boggards, the situation could change fast.

Nox tells the seneschal to call on the Great Houses to discuss the next steps for the city. Neolandis puts out the call, but is not sure how many will answer it in person. Arlynn coordinates with Cressida on redeploying her Sworn Swords to help take charge of guarding the captive Mistress Kayltanya.

The evening of 12 Erastus, 4708

While the rest of the party runs errands and beds down outside of the castle, Zandu and Kyra investigate the mysterious room in Queen Domina’s Tower they hadn’t been able to access. Following Venster’s advice, they touch a signet ring with the Arabasti crest to the ceiling. This transports them into a small, well furnished study with a desk a few comfortable chairs, and a bookcase.

Zandu skims through the papers on the Queen’s desk and comes across what appears to be notes regarding her secret plans. He deposits these notes in the room below, then returns to the study to spend the night.

The morning of 13 Erastus, 4708

The following morning, Nox attends the meeting of the Great Houses. Representatives of each of the five arrive at the Citadel for the discussion, but Lord Toff Ornelos is the only noble to attend in person. The seneschal and Lictor Severs DiVri jointly preside over the meeting.

Nox urges the Five Great Houses to depose the Queen and set to work selecting a new monarch. Lord Ornelos strongly implies that he is the most fit candidate to replaces the Queen. The representative for House Leroung also requests security assurances before Content Not Found: eliasa will be able to attend. Nox chastises them for their cowardice and extracts a commitment to attend.

Nox and the lictor also clash over the role of the Hellknights in Korvosa and the city’s obligation to pay them. Eventually, Nox pledges to pay the (unspecified) debt to the Hellknights, and the lictor agrees to withdraw from involvement in city politics, leaving the regency solely to Neolandis now that the fighting has largely subsided.

Meanwhile, the rest of the part meets up with Zandu and they begin going through Ileosa’s documents. Of particular note is a large volume, written in Infernal, titled Truths of the Sihedron. It chronicles the cruelties of the ancient runelords of Thassilon. Divided into seven chapters, one on each runelord, the chapter on Runelord Sorshen has been heavily glossed in Ileosa’s delicate penmanship.

In particular, Ileosa seems to have been particularly obsessed with something called the Everdawn Pool, a device she believes still exists today in the ruins of the Sunken Queen. According to her notes, the gathering of samples of blood from thousands of “supplicants” is but the first step. Once the Everdawn Pool is ready, it can draw forth the lifeblood of these thousands to infuse a single creature with eternal youth.

The adventurers realize that Ileosa plans to sacrifice a huge fraction of Korvosa’s population in order to grant her immortality.

Poking through the bookshelf, Ashla comes across a slim volume that appears to have been gathering dust for several months. It is Ileosa’s diary, dating from before her arrival in Korvosa. The diary chronicles Ileosa’s plan to marry into the throne and her growing frustration with King Eodred’s continued good health (and womanizing ways). The diary also describes how the Queen first noticed and then fell in love with Sabina Merrin, with whom she pursued an affair.

The last few entries document the Queen’s decline in mental health after she stumbled across the Fangs of Kazavon in a secret room in the castle treasury. In the final entry, Ileosa declares that she will try to smash the fangs with a mason’s hammer, no doubt the same hammer they found lying on the floor in the dungeon.

The party also finds, hidden on the bookshelf, an invisible scroll case containing a signed contract between Ileosa and the devil Sermignatto (on behalf of some other, unnamed devil), pledging infernal assistance to Ileosa in return for being given free reign in Korvosa once her business there is concluded.

Going through the documents, Zandu concludes that the Queen’s blood ritual could be completed within two days, or less. Not a lot of time to launch an attack on her fortress in the Mushfens and disrupt the ritual.

Fortune Favors the Bold
Crown of Fangs, Part 12

Midday of 12 Erastus, 4708

Dungeon Crawl

After his adventures against the boggards, a mud-caked Nox trudges back up to Castle Korvosa to reunite with the party as they prepare to venture into the lower levels of the keep to find Venster’s bones. Zandu cleans him off with prestidigitation before they go further.

A hidden staircase takes them down to the castle dungeons. In an adjacent room, they find a strange gray-green pillar that is cold to the touch. Egan determines that it is not actually made of stone. He earthglides to follow the pillar down hundreds of feet, where it connects with an entire vault made of a similar substance. The druid realizes that the pillar is some kind of plug or seal and the party decides to leave it alone for now.

Beyond the pillar room, tunnels extend off in several directions and the adventurers agree to split up so they can cover more ground. Nox, Flint, Laori, and Irabeth head down a long hall to the right, while the others proceed straight ahead.

Arlynn cautiously advances into a room full of statues of salt, triggering a trap that sucks the moisture from the air. Protected by her goddess, the paladin retreats as the salt statues burst apart, revealing the undead bodaks lurking within. Although the bodaks scrable up the walls and ceiling to get past the party, they are unable to cause much harm to the adventurers—particularly once the heroes realize their foes are vulnerable to daylight. At the sound of fighting, Nox’s group charges back up the hall only to arrive just as the last few monsters are being cut down.

Empty Coffers

Disappointed about missing out on the action, they head back down the hall until the find a room that once serves as Korvosa’s treasury and is now little more than a repository for empty crates. They realize to their horror that the city is broke!

The other noticeable feature of the room is the secret door hanging half open in one corner. The adventurers take a peek inside and then move on—save for Nox, who lingers to investigate the secret room. It is complete bare save for a stone plinth rising from the floor, on which rests a small stone coffer. Lying on the floor nearby is a simple mason’s hammer. Inside the coffer, the outline of several fangs has been scorched into the stone. A queer feeling passes over Nox and he stows the hammer in his bag of holding before leaving.

Elsewhere, the rest of the party has stumbled upon the royal crypts. They open King Eodred II’s sarcophagus to discover that the body has been stripped of any valuables and the coffin stuffed with dead stirges, a final insult to the man known to his critics as the “Stirge King.”

Gift of the Ghosts

As they finish combing the dungeon, they come across a recently bricked off area. Smashing it down, they find Venster’s remains—it looks as if he was walled up alive in there. Venster manifests, thanking then for finding his bones and urges them to rebury him under the sun.

He explains that he helped Ileosa to murder his half-brother Eodred, only to be betrayed and murdered himself. His guilt and shame has bound his spirit to the castle. And it has also given him a connection to Ileosa that lets him glimpse her mind. He explains that she intends to use an ancient blood magic ritual at a location called the Sunken Queen to sacrifice a good portion of the city fuel her own ascendance to immortality. He warns that she is there now, and entering the final stages of the ritual.

He urges them to visit “Mother’s Tower,” where Ileosa often had her strongest flashes of inspiration and malice. Accessing the tower requires pressing an object with the Arabasti crest to the ceiling.

He offers them a final gift to strengthen their hand against the Queen: the grace of the spirit world. He and Zellara offer to channel power from the spirits of Ileosa’s many victims into the Harrow Deck, to transform it into a Harrow Deck of Many Things. Doing so also causes them to finally pass on, leaving behind the deck.

The adventurers decide to draw their cards now, rather than wait.

The Choosing

Nox announces he will draw four cards. His first is the Paladin, which transforms into a Harrowed Holy Avenger sword. Unable to take full advantage of its power, he lends it to Irabeth. His next card is the Rakshasa, an ill-omened card whose effects are not immediately clear. His next card after that is the Desert, granting him the power to teleport up to ten people anywhere in the multiverse at a time of his choosing. His final card is the Mute Hag, causing his most private secret to be revealed to all who look upon him.

Zandu draws next, announcing he will draw three cards. His first is the Inquisitor, which grants him the power to force a single creature to answer one question completely truthfully. Next, he draws the Hidden Truth, giving him the one time power to call upon a source of wisdom to solve any single problem or fully answer a question at his request. For his third card, he draws the Cricket, which allows him to draw up to three more cards and increases his swiftness with each draw. His next card is the Mountain Man, which causes him to grow to the size of a hill giant. He then draws the Juggler, which fortifies both his mind and his body. Finally, he draws the Marriage. This card summons forth a comely Marid genie, who offers him her hand in marriage. Zandu glances at Kyra and then politely declines, which outrages the Marid. She disappears, promising vengeance from her family.

Arlynn then steps forward to draw from the Harrow Deck of Many Things. Her first card is the Queen Mother. Upon drawing it, the ground shakes and an armored Formorian warrior bursts forth into the dungeon corridor. The ant-man then scuttles over to Arlynn and bows formally. The paladin realizes she has a new follower and senses that should the current Formorian ever perish, a new one will take his place. She draws again from the Deck, this time drawing the Trumpet. This summons forth the trumpet archon Armaitya, who pledges her service to Arlynn. The celestial can be summoned for a short time once per day, to assist in battle or to help with a task. Next, Arlynn draws the Publican, a good-omened card whose effects are not immediately apparent. Finally, Arlynn draws the Survivor, a card which will restore her to life immediately should she ever perish through violence or sorcery.

Flint takes his turn drawing cards, beginning with the Owl, which grants him the power to scry anyone anywhere for 1 minute, thought the target is also immediately aware they are being scryed upon. Next, Flint draws the Fiend, an ill-omened card that he fears has drawn the attention of a powerful evil. For his third card, Flint draws the Waxworks, which has no immediate effect. Finally, he draws the Empty Throne, a neutral card which once again has no immediate effect.

Ashla reluctantly draws two cards from the deck. The first is the Foreign Trader who appears and offers her the opportunity to trade years of her life in exchange for magical artifacts. She declines and the Foreign Trader departs. Her second card is the Vision, which will grant her two visions of the future—one true and one false.

Egan draws the Courtesan, which awakens his headband of wisdom as an evil intelligent item. The gnome also draws the Bear, which immediately turns him into a natural werebear. And he draws the uprising, which brings forth nine clumsy Korvosan commoners, who are eager to follow and serve the druid. Egan senses that if anything happens to these eager if bumbling followers, it would not reflect well on him. He sends them to help the druid circle care for the wounded.

Irabeth draws the Theater, which will allow her to draw on the strongest ability of the next creature she kills. Laori draws the Midwife, which causes her to suddenly feel more powerful. Kyra draws the Keep, which summons forth a small castle that she sites at the mouth of the Jeggare River, just across from Old Korvosa.

The adventurers take stock of those boons and curses that they receive and wonder about the effects they have yet to experience.

Against the Boggards
Crown of Fangs, Interlude

The morning of 12 Erastus, 4708

Nox has a bad feeling about the strange war horns the party heard coming from the vicinity of West Dock. He splits off from the rest of the group to investigate personally.

He arrives at the docks to see people fleeing as an army of frogmen and sea trolls surges out of the river, swarming over the boats in dock and beginning to clamber onto shore. Nox rushes forward to clash with the monsters, trying to protect the escaping civilians. After a short while, however, sheer numbers force him to fall back.

He runs into Grau, who is leading a detachment of rebel forces to the docks. Grau explains that the monsters simply erupted out of the river, catching the rebel leaders off guard. The bulk of the monsters are attacking West Dock, while a group of scrags have scaled the High Bridge to East Shore, where they have been snatching off any rebels who try to cross.

Nox leaves Grau and his troops to try to contain the attack, while he investigates the bridge. There, a small group of rebels are uncertainly guarding the gatehouse. They explain that the standard tactic for fighting trolls is to use longspears, five man to a troll, followed by fire or acid to quench their regeneration. But they have neither the spears nor the men nor the incendiaries.

Nox convinces them to open the gates and let him deal with the scrags, recalling that sea trolls cannot regenerate while out of the water. He draws them out onto the bridge and cuts them down, leaving their bodies to rot in the sun.

Afterwards, Nox meets up with Cressida at the Citadel. She thanks him for opening the bridge, allowing reinforcements to come in from East Shore. They agree that the frogmen, boggards from the Mushfens north east of Korvosa, are likely working for the Queen.

Cressida says the Queen’s loyalists are already trying to take advantage of the situation by pressing the attack on the rebels from the other direction. And she’s frustrated that the efforts to repel the creatures seem to have bogged down. No one on the ground seems to be following the orders she is relaying from the Citadel wall. She asks Nox to head back down to West Dock and take charge.

When the fighter returns, he finds that Grau’s rebels have been bolstered by troops from the Jeggare House Guard and Sabina’s Gray Maiden rebels. Unfortunately, the three commanders can’t agree on what to do about the army. Their disagreement has descended into a shouting match by the time Nox arrives, and he orders them to shut up and talk to him one at a time.

Grau wants to try to drive the frogmen back into the river and entrench the shoreline. Mercival Jeggare, dismissive of the boggards as warriors, thinks they can just hold their ground and wear the creatures out on the streets. Sabina, meanwhile, is concerned that the Queen’s Gray Maiden loyalists are trying to trap the rebels in a pincer. She wants to deal with the frogmen quickly by drawing them into a trap in Eodred’s Circle.

Nox says that Cressida’s orders are to push the boggards back into the river. It is at this point that Mistress of Blades Maidrayne Vox and her cavalry detachment arrive. Nox concocts a scheme. He orders Sabina to hold the line against the loyalists, while Grau and Mercival’s forces push the boggards back. Then Vox’s Hellknights will charge along boardwalk, forcing the frogmen to choose between leaping into the river or onto rebel spears.

Mercival notes that the boggards will simply retreat onto the ships in dock—it could take hours for them to clear all the monsters out. Nox says they will have to destroy the ships. Mercival is incensed, noting that those vessels belong to many of the noble houses, including his own. Nox says that it will be a sacrifice for the city, one that would be remembered—and compensated. At that, Mercival gives his assent and they enact the plan.

Nox rides beside Lady Vox as they charge up the boardwalk. The boggards they don’t cut down mostly dive into the water, while those that remain are killed by Grau and Mercival’s soldiers. Nox then orders Egan’s treants, who had joined in the fighting, to begin demolishing the ships, while the Citadel catapults join in the fun.

The ground then trembles and the river waters drain away into deep fissures, leaving the boggard army caught in the open on the muddy ground. The catapults on Citadel Volshyenek quickly tear into the frogmen with incendiaries. Howerever, another strange war horn sounds—a conch shell, being blown from the wreck of the Direption. The boggards quickly about face and start charging towards East Shore.

Nox recalls that the boggards answer to their priest-kings and suspects they might lose heart if their leaders are taken out. he urges the rebels to send a force across the riverbed to take the wrecked ship. A group of about 60 soldiers, half rebels and half Jeggare guards, follows nox’s lead out into the river. The muck of the riverbed slows them down, but they slog onward towards the sunken ship.

The boggard defenders on the ship pelt them with arrows, but Nox simply ducks behind Ovis. His comrades are not as fortunate, as many are cut down by the hail of death. The survivors press on to the ship, where the soldiers keep the main force of boggards busy while Nox climbs onto the hull. A boggard warrior spits out its tongue and sticks it to Ovis. nox simply rams him with the shield and pushes him into his fellows.

He closes in on one of the priest-kings, a bloated frog man bedecked in red and black feathers. The boggard leader casts a spell that causes sickly green energy to swirl around its hand. It reaches out to grasp Nox, but the spell has little effect. Nox lops off the boggards head and forces his way through the remaining warriors to attack the remaining two priest-kings. Their spells, likewise, are not able to slow him down, and their deaths are enough to scatter their followers from the ship.

Nox has the priest-king’s heads mounted on pikes, the sight of which drives the boggards into a panic. Many more are cut down as they flee the city for the waters of Conqueror’s Bay.

Nox’s detachment lost more than half its number, but Grau and Mercival both survived. Together, they slog back through the mud to West Dock, troubled by the thought that Ileosa managed to conjure up a whole other army.

Ghost in the Attic
Crown of Fangs, Part 11

The morning of 12 Erastus, 4708

Having defeated Mistress Kayltanya and rendered her unconscious, the party determines what to do with her.

Arlynn asks Kyra to give the Red Mantis Commander a thorough searching. She does a surprisingly fast and thorough search. She turns up no hidden items but does find some odd discolorations and ridges on the woman’s arms.

Egan recognizes them as telltale vestiges of shapeshifting. The druid thinks she has been transforming into a giant mantis. The party agrees to keep her tightly bound up and unconscious until they can deal with her.

Zandu and Kyra invisibly carry the prisoner over to a makeshift cell in the Cathedral of Pharasma, where Zandu has some of his cousins keep an eye on her. Meanwhile, Arlynn’s Sworn Swords have been working to make the Gray District a refuge point for civilians trying to escape the violence.

Back in the Castle, Arlynn, Flint, and Nox discuss their next steps. While Arlynn wants to confront the monster below to put Ishani Dhatri’s soul to rest, she believes it is imperative to first clear out the rest of the Castle and ensure that the Queen is not lurking somewhere up above.

First, Bat-Egan flutters out onto the third floor battlements to investigate. He hears strange war horns going off in the direction of West Dock along the river. Flint can tell that there are two sets of horns involved, one used by the rebels and one that is unfamiliar. Alarmed, Nox goes to investigate in person.

The adventurers slowly come to realize that Korvosa is under attack from a new source: an army of boggards is swarming out of the river!

While gathering his followers at Citadel Volshyenek, Zandu pauses to cast a bolt of chain lightning into the river, killing a squad of boggards and their sea troll ally. Bat-Egan goes to rally the Druid Circle and his treants, sending them off against the boggards. Noting that the river is giving the aquatic creatures cover, the gnome druid then uses earthquake to temporarily drain the river, leaving the amphibious army exposed to fire from the Citadel’s siege engines.

Down below, Nox organizes a counterattack. Seeing this, Egan returns to the Castle, where the adventurers decide to press on.

First, they investigate the game room on the third floor, which a mysterious voice had directed them to earlier. There is a faint necromantic aura to the room, which makes them approach it cautiously.

Once Zandu enters, a strange gust of wind picks up the deck of Harrow cards lying on the game room table. The cards are lifted up in a vortex towards a corner of the ceiling and then fall down to the floor, where only one lies face up: the Midwife, representing the revelation of new life or information.

After this strange experience, the party decides to investigate the fourth floor of the Castle. Much of the level seems to be dominated by the ill-used Castle attics. The party searches these rooms thoroughly, but finds little of value. They discover the roost of the slain black dragon, but no treasure.

Then, in an attic chamber crowded with junk, they realize that there is a hidden room beyond. Rather than clear the junk by hand, Egan uses shape wood to tilt the floor into a big ramp to slide the trash away.

The hidden chambers appear to be a small apartment, located directly above the game room. Egan recognizes it as the room from his dream, but notes that the trap door appears to have been buried with melted stone.

In the room, the ghost of Venster Arabasti briefly manifests, telling the party “I can help you if you bring me my bones.”

Zandu can feel a psychic tug from Zellara, informing him that the tiefling’s remains lie on a level below the castle.

Before venturing straight into the deep dungeons, however, the party decides to confront the monster lurking on the first floor—the Akaruzug empowered by Ishani Dhatri’s soul. Having gleaned much information about the creature and its weaknesses, they arrive prepared to defeat it. The monster is quickly brought down by their coordinated attacks.

The creature’s reinforcements—a torturer with supernatural powers—arrives too late, and gets a faceful of Zandu’s lightning breath. She, too, is swiftly dispatched.

Arlynn then has Ishani’s body brought up to the second floor, where she hands it over to the rebels for proper burial.

Bug Hunt
Crown of Fangs, Part 10

A Visit to Vigil

The afternoon of 11 Erastus, 4708

Arlynn asks Egan to scry Akkuya, a bartender she knew in Lastwall’s capitol of Vigil. The druid uses the Queen’s bathtub as the focus, into which the party sees Akkuya, a Keleshite man in his thirties dressed in flowing silk, chatting with patrons in a wooden tavern called the Catapult Wagon. After plopping on his hat of disguise, Zandu studies the location and then teleports himself, Arlynn, Flint, and Kyra into the tavern.

The bartender and patrons look startled and reach for their weapons, but calm down after Arlynn announces herself to the tavern. Akkuya remembers Ser Arlynn and they catch up. He offers to buy rounds for the party but instead Arlynn buys a round for the tavern. Since it’s late in the day, the adventurers hurriedly finish their drinks and then split up to go shopping.

Zandu and Kyra go scout out shops to visit the following morning to get various magical items. As they go about their business, they are approached by a sketchy peddler offering them both a “Friendship Medal” to welcome them to Vigil. Zandu realizes that the items being handed out for free have a magical aura, while Kyra signals that she finds the guy suspicious. The sorcerer declines the offer with exceeding politeness and the two of them hastily move on.

Path Found

Zandu then seeks out the Pathfinder Society Lodge in Vigil, looking to inquire about some magic scrolls. The lodge itself is a distinctive structure, a low building of dark stone in a city painted primarily in white. Zandu enters the lodge only to discover that he is somehow expected and is led to a back room office piled high with books and papers. Seated behind a massive desk, playing with a deck of Harrow cards, is a gnome woman wearing a holy symbol of Desna.

She invites him inside and appears to be expecting him. She flicks out a card out from her Harrow deck in front of him. It is “The Liar.”

“That’s the second time I’ve seen this card drawn out of a Harrow deck for me in recent days,” Zandu remarks, thinking back on Zellara’s latest Harrow reading.

“Ooh, what an amusing coincidence,” the gnome woman says. “May I interest you in our selection of scrolls?”

She hops up onto a nearby set of shelves and after digging through a pile of scrolls and books, brandishes an iron scroll case. Zandu pays her for the scroll and compliments the case.

The sorcerer offers to assist the Pathfinders by sharing knowledge once his current quest is complete. She thanks him for the offer and tells him to ask for her, Venture-Captain Evni Zongnoss, should he ever need anything.

For Victory. For the Heart.

Arlynn, on the other hand, visits the local wizard’s guild to inquire after magical gauntlets for herself and Nox. She ends up trying on multiple styles of gauntlets so that Serithtial can get a feel for one that fits the best.

Arlynn then visits the Grand Cathedral to Iomedae at the heart of the city. She speaks with the head priestess after an evening service, to speak about the deeds and news from Korvosa. They speak in length of Arlynn’s great deeds in aiding the poor, defending the weak and downtrodden of the city, becoming a hero of the city. The Head Priestess is amazed by her remarkable progress in such a short time, as well as her mentoring of Irabeth. Arlynn is also keen on mentioning Nox and her plans to introduce a greater church presence in Korvosa. This intrigues the head priestess, who replies the church would be eager to assist in this endeavor, should the local government be amendable. Lastly, Arlynn presents Serithial and pledges to return the blade to the city once their quest comes to its end.

The four adventurers return to the Catapult Wagon at sunset, in time to witness the disabled catapult outside its entrance spring to life and hurl an illusory orc smack into the white inner walls of the city. Flint recognizes that the tavern itself was converted from an old siege tower.

Zandu also takes this opportunity to tell Arlynn about the creepy medallion peddler he encountered earlier.

Monster in the Basement

Back at Castle Korvosa, the rest of the party unwind after their battles earlier in the day. An exhausted Ashla quickly beds down. Nox takes a relaxing soak in the royal baths, and then beds down early between the crimson sheets of the Queen’s bed. Laori and Irabeth trade off use of the baths once Nox is done. Egan, meanwhile, takes earth elemental form and decides to scout out the ground floor of the castle.

The gnome druid earth glides down into a large empty mess hall. He then wanders into a seemingly-empty torture chamber, which gives off a skin-crawling sense of unease that reminds Earth-Egan of his experiences in Scarwall. Within the torture chamber he finds an enormous, gargoyle-like creature floating in the center of the chamber. Hanging lifeless from its chest is the body of the missing Abadarian priest Ishani Dhatri

In a panic, Egan rushes back to the royal bedroom to alert everyone, rousing a disgruntled Nox from his slumber. The gnome explains what he saw to the fighter and to the freshly bathed Irabeth, who made good use of the Queen’s scenting bathing oils and perfumes.
Nox says that while this discovery is troubling, they should stick to the plan but send orders to the Hell Knights to quarantine the lower levels. Irabeth notes that they shouldn’t act until the others return, but she’s not certain if they will be returning that night.

While Nox issues orders to the Hellknights, Egan hears the sonorous tones of Laori’s singing drift up the hall from the baths. Drawn by the music and eager to share his discovery, Egan barges into the bathroom to excitedly tell her. Laori takes this interruption in stride and listens attentively to his story, while the gnome comes to realize that the elf maiden is completely naked beneath her pink bubble bath. He covers his eyes to avoid staring as she rises out of the bath and wraps herself in a black towel. Laori offers to relay the news to Arlynn via a sending spell and see what the others’ plans are for returning.

Once she’s dressed, the elf maiden—looking even more fabulous than usual—sends word to Arlynn, who is startled to hear of Ishani’s fate and curses in Bekyar. The paladin urges the others not to do anything until she and the others return the following morning. Laori then bursts into the royal bedroom to relay this response, waking Nox a second time. They go over their security arrangements for the evening. Egan’s magic had blocked both stairwells in the castle’s second floor with stone plugs and a guard of Hellknights set to watch over each, along with Zandu’s alarm spells. Nox also arranges to have one of the Hellknights wake him at 3 a.m., after he’d had a full rest, so that he could serve out the rest of the watch.

Silent Night

The night of 11 Erastus, 4708

Laori invites the others to dine on some lembas and meat and veggie pies she baked in the castle kitchens while Nox and Irabeth were bathing. They then move Sabina’s bed into the bedchamber, with the remaining adventurers drawing straws to see who gets it for the night. Laori wins, but gives the bed to Irabeth. Egan beds down on the bench from the royal lounge, while Nox offers to share half of the royal bed, so long as they sleep head to foot. Laori leaps at this offer and graciously decides to leave off her hooked chainmail, sticking instead to her skull-embroidered black jammies. The elf maiden is overjoyed to be participating in a “sleepover” with the party, and after initially protesting the term, Nox wearily relents.

Despite resting in a castle still inhabited by enemies, the night passes uneventfully for the adventurers until Nox is woken by a Hellknight armiger at approximately 3 a.m. The fighter has some trouble extricating his feet from Laori’s tight embrace, but manages to get out into the lounge to don his armor without waking any of his companions. There he finds that the elf priestess also left him a single lembas as a midnight snack.

The guard asks after their status and reveals that the night watch spotted prowlers in the vicinity of the Lictor’s camp in the throne room and the Seneschal’s room on the floor below. Nox inspects the watches and provides the lantern of revealing to the guards by the throne room. After sharing some words of encouragement, he heads downstairs to visit with Neolandis.

Houses of Cards

Outside the Seneschal’s room he is briefly stopped by Verik Vancaskerkin, but after proving his identity, Nox is allowed to see Neolandis. The seneschal is awake and seated in an armchair facing the door, a crossbow in his lap. His bed, meanwhile, is piled with pillows to mimic his sleeping form.

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t rise,” Neolandis says. “My shadow might silhouette against the window.”

Nox commiserates with the seneschal over the experience of being hunted by the Red Mantis and promises to flush out the remaining assassins come the dawn. The fighter then congratulates the seneschal.

“With Togomor and the false queen both dead,” Nox says, “there’s no question that you are absolute authority in the city.”

“As absolute as the Seneschal can be,” Neolandis remarks. “I’m no king.”

“No, but perhaps a kingmaker,” Nox says.

“At this point I still need to be a Queen un-maker,” the seneschal says. “We can’t officially remove Ileosa until the heads of the Five Great Houses all come together and vote as one.”

“Do you foresee any challenges in them doing so?” the fighter asks.

“Just the rebellion,” Neolandis snorts. “The cowardly, good-for-nothing dandies are all cooped up in their respective bolt holes until the violence has calmed down. I’ve been trying to get that weasel of a headmaster Toff Ornelos to come out of the Acadamae and take a look at some of that blood you collected.”

“Do you foresee any problems with House Arkona?” Nox asks.

“In getting rid of Ileosa?” Neolandis says with a shrug. "No, no problem at all. They’ve turned coat and there’s no turning back. What comes after, that’s a whole other matter.

“Assuming we can pull everything off as I intend,” Nox says, “and we will in short order, what do we do about the empty throne? It can’t be idle too long before the Lictor starts having ideas of grandeur.”

“Oh, he already has plenty of ideas,” the seneschal chuckles. "I don’t know whether he’d actually make a play for the throne, though.

“Not if we cut him out first,” Nox promises. “Any other challenges?”

“According to the city charter,” Neolandis says, "the Crimson Throne must be inherited by a member of the Arabasti family. Ileosa is the last lawful heir of the Arabastis, through marriage. Someone from her family might try to make a claim, but I can’t see that going too far. And of course, I can think of three of the five Great Houses who’d be interested in taking the throne for themselves. And whoever is named the new monarch has to be approved by the five houses. There’s going to be a lot of politicking and horse trading over this one—maybe more than a little backstabbing, as well. Another little present that Ileosa will have left to us.

“I must admit that I’m not accustomed to court life as much as I would like to say otherwise,” Nox says regretfully. “A lot of this politicking is not my forte. However, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m inquiring so much.”

“I’m not wondering,” Neolandis tells him. “Your motives are pretty obvious.”

“I just think a clean slate is what this city needs,” Nox explains.

“To be frank, I agree with you,” the seneschal nods. "I don’t like any of the other candidates on offer.

“Whatever opinions you might have of me,” Nox says, “just know that I am a fair man, a just man, a lawful man. None of this I do for glory, for power—I do it for service, as my family name dictates. Do you know anything about House Nox of Cheliax? We are aligned with those who commit themselves to service.”

“I don’t know anything of your kin at the moment, but I intend to learn more,” Neolandis replies. “You’ve made a good impression, Lord Nox, but I can’t commit to anything at the moment.”

“I completely understand,” Nox says. “No point picking out the drapes when the house is still on fire. In tonight’s case, quite literally.”

“I have a feeling this is starting to become a race,” Neolandis says, shaking his head. “I don’t know where Ileosa is or what she’s up to, but the fact that she’s not here worries the hell out of me.”

Nox asks how Cressida has been faring. Neolandis notes that while she took the death of Marcus Endrin and the city’s downward spiral quite hard, being able to finally take the fight to the Queen openly has returned some spring to her step. Nox notes that he had an easy time persuading Marcus’ brother Flint to join for much the same reason. After praising Flint’s archery, Nox suggests that he could make a great Commandant of a restored Sable Company. Neolandis reveals that some of the hippogriffs and their riders managed to escape Ileosa’s tyranny and are on their way back to the city. Though it will still be a long time before Sable Company is back to its former strength. Nox figures they will have to make due with what they have, and bids the seneschal a good night.

Queen Dreams

After lying down to sleep, Egan finds himself in a single, windowless room. A large bed sits in a corner, and there is a nice table with two chairs, a desk with a stuffed armchair, a lamp, and a stove. On the east wall is a glass showcase full of two dozen rare card decks, all displayed with care and competence, usually with several pieces laid face up and with a matching leather, ivory or wood case. A stone trap door sits in the floor in the northern corner, and a single toilet sits behind a partially folded screen to the south. Based on the look of the place, the gnome guesses he is somewhere high in Castle Korvosa, perhaps in an attic.

The trap door soon opens and Queen Ileosa climbs into the room.

“Eodred’s been trying to keep me from seeing you, but I had to come. I’ve seen you from afar several times when Eodred came to visit, and I’ve seen how he treats you. It is the same with me. You know he doesn’t care for you. He visits simply to lord his status over you. He has no true feelings for me, either. He whiles away his hours with whores and drunkards. He’s more of a monster than you could ever pretend to be. And truly, I have to say that since I’ve first looked upon you I have not been able to keep you out of my mind.”

Egan is confused. Ileosa appears to be talking to him, but that couldn’t possibly be right. He begins to suspect that he is seeing into a conversation from the past through someone else’s eyes. He decides to remain quiet and let the scene play out.

“I know there are some who would call your kind ugly. They’re fools who can’t appreciate your devilish good looks. And it shouldn’t matter anyway. You’re the elder brother. In a just world you’d be king. We both know Eodred’s wasted his inheritance while you’ve been trapped up here alone as he parties the years away down below on your mother’s gold. And you? How long has it been since you’ve even shared the same room with a woman?” (She draws closer)

“You should be the king. If only Eodred were out of the way. you could rule and I could be your Queen.

She reaches out and traces a line with her hand just above Egan’s head. “Is it true what they say about a tiefling and his horns?”

The gnome shivers. He realizes that he’s being mistaken for Venster Arabasti, the king’s secret bastard brother. Neolandis had told the party Venster went missing shortly before the king’s death and asked them to keep an eye out for him in the castle.

“Can you help me be rid of this brute?” Ileosa asks, her breath hot on his cheek.

Egan continues to play dumb, hoping to learn more of the Queen’s plans.

“I’ve come up with a plan,” she half-whispers. “You can help me escape from this true fiend on the throne. It would not take much at all.”

She produces a little vial of a thin, clear powder. “Just coat the tops of your cards with this powder when he comes next to play his little game with you. That’s all you need do. Then he will sicken and die, leaving the throne to us. You will be freed from this cell and able to walk openly to claim your birthright with me at your side.”

Egan doesn’t recognize the poison in the vial, but suspects it’s some alchemical concoction. With Ileosa looking at him expectantly, he reaches out to take the vial. She responds by leaning in and kissing him, much to the gnome’s distress. As her attentions grow more passionate, Egan reaches around behind her empty the vial of poison powder down her neck. This causes the Queen to suddenly go rigid. A moment later, her eyes flare a piercing blue and she snarls at Egan with a mouth full of sharp teeth. Before he can try to riggle out of her grasp, she crams a brick in his face and he wakes up, startled.

A Vigilant Morning

The morning of 12 Erastus, 4708

As dawn breaks over Vigil, Arlynn seeks out her old friend the Watchknight Tiran Maksev, a thin and pale elf covered in tattoos. She finds him at the same bakery he always visited each morning during her time in Vigil.

“Ser Tiran, is that you?” Arlynn asks.

“Well, who else could I be?” he says, turning around.

“No one else has tattoos like that,” the paladin says with a smile.

“Well if it isn’t little Arlynn,” he says, looking up at her.

“Good to see you my friend,” she says as they embrace.

“What the hell are you doing here back in town?” he asks her.

She brings him up to speed on her mission in the city and then tells him about Zandu’s encounter with the welcome medallion gifter. Arlynn notes that he and Kyra did not trust the man, with the halfling getting “no good vibes” from him. Arlynn regrets that she was not there to detect whether the man was evil, but trusts her friends’ instincts. She uses a hat of disguise to give Tiran a look at the strange man’s description.

“Well, I don’t recognize the man,” Tiran grumbles, “but his handing out magical trinkets and passing them off as welcome tokens could be any number of bad things. I shall have to investigate—it could be another plot against the city.”

“I wish I could help you,” Arlynn says, “but as you now know, Iomedae calls me to a different battleground.”

“I understand,” the Watchknight nods. "I wish you’d change your mind, of course, but we each have our own calling.

“By the way,” the paladin asks in parting, “is Berdred’s Armory still the best smithy in town?”

“Och, yes, if anything, they’ve gotten better,” Tiran says, bidding her farewell.

At Berdred’s Armory, Arlynn acquires an enchanted suit of Adamantine Full Plate, in exchange for her current spiked armor. To her pleasant surprise, she is able to negotiate a favorable trade.

Flint then asks about obtaining an enchantment for his bow. Berdred politely declines as she isn’t a spell caster, and directs them to the wizardry guilds. This fish-out-of-water moment annoys Flint, who is not used to bartering for his own equipment.

Zandu on the other hand inquires at the Pathfinder Society regarding the creature Egan saw, and is provided with a wealth of information about its weaknesses. After all the errands have been met, they teleport back to the castle.

Egan informs them of his dream. Zandu tries to determine what poison the Queen used, but it is a toxin that he is not familiar with.

The adventurers wonder about the dream’s significance and whether it is connected to the mysterious disembodied voice that had whispered “Save me… Game room…”

It’s Almost a Trap!

Based on the revelations in the dream, the party resolves to march to the 3rd floor, to see if they can find the late King’s older brother. They moved up the central staircase, with Egan, Ashla and Kyra scouting the area ahead. Arlynn, meanwhile, remains on the floor below, gazing up a the third floor balcony.

The wooden floor, walls, and ceiling of this large hall present a rich and harmonic scheme of decorations. The ceiling is supported by pillars and partially hidden by a hanging forest of silk draperies in the colors of autumn. Near the walls, these draperies reach down to the floor in foamy cascades. Crimson circular couches sit around the base of the pillars, while in the middle of the hall is a dance floor and a balustrade opening to the stage hall below.

Ashla, Bat-Egan, and Kyra fan out across the room, cautiously. As Ashla passes by one of the pillars, a dagger drops from the curtains above to land near her feet.

Nox is struck with a sense of déjà vu that has him realizing this is an ambush, to which he chugs a potion of fly, and tosses a flask of alchemist’s fire high upon the drapery. The others take up defensive positions as they await the Red Mantis Assassins’ somewhat botched ambush.

Several assassins drop down to attack Ashla. Nox charges one of the assassins, mauling the Red Mantis with his sword. Kyra chucks two daggers at another, severely wounding it. Arlynn flies up and cuts down the one Kyra wounded. Zandu also flies out and dares the assassins to attack him.

A door at the far end of the room slightly opens but only Flint and Bat-Egan notice. Flint fires his arrows and kills one behind Zandu and the one in front of Nox.

At this point, the barbed devils come out, and try to grapple Nox and Ashla but fail. Ashla slashes at one with both her swords, loses her shortsword but manages to wound the devil in front of her. Bat-Egan calls a lightning storm, dealing decent damage against one. Zandu bites a solid chunk out of the Red Mantis assassin in front of him. Irabeth activates fly and charges the devil in front of Nox, landing a solid blow. Laori charges the other assassin flanking Ashla, but does not cut very deep through its chitinous armor.

The Red Mantis confronting Zandu deftly slips away from him and retreats into the folds of the curtains beyond the sorcerer’s blindsense, while below another Red Mantis flees from Ashla, leaving the fight to the devils. Nox proceeds to dismember one of the fiends.

Kyra tries to hunt for the missing Red Mantis, but can’t determine where they went, and instead throws her dagger at the barbed devil. Arlynn then swoops down on the fiend, striking him with her sword.

Around the room, the air shimmers and giant red mantises materialize in the room to menace the the adventurers. A sickly cloud of greasy darkness washes over the party, leaving Ashla sickened. The giant mantises attack the party, slashing Flint but having trouble striking the others.

The barbed devils, seeing that the fight is turning against them, teleport away.

Arlynn nearly slays one of the giant mantises, while Bat-Egan kills one with call lightning.

Zandu casts haste upon Arlynn, Irabeth, Nox, Ashla, Egan; then he tries to hunt for the missing assassins, swooping around the back of the room, but fails to detect them. More Red Mantis assassins appear in the main room, attacking Nox and Arlynn with thrown daggers.

An invisible foe deals grievous wounds to Nox. Arlynn, using her mask of the mantis, spies the red mantis commander attacking Nox.

“Like Cinnabar before you, you too shall bite the dust.” Arlynn charges the commander. The commander deflects her attack with her sawtooth sabre.

“Strike at her from this position and we can flank her!” Arlynn calls out to Nox and Irabeth.

The commander attempts to acrobatics away, but Nox, Irabeth & Arlynn are able to strike at her. Arlynn’s blow lands, even as the woman seems to momentarily fade from view of even the paladin’s true seeing. The assassin runs up the side of the wall and seems to vanish into the conflagration on the ceiling. The fire is now spreading down to the wooden floor, singeing Arlynn and Ashla.

Flint continues to attack the enemies near him, killing the remaining giant mantis and attacking the assassins, killing one.

Ashla tries to track the unseen commander. She spies tracks on the ceiling, but they abruptly end at one point.

Bat-Egan flies out to investigate further, then kills another assassin with call lightning.

Zandu, floating ten feet in the air, moves up and senses the commander’s presence with blindsense. He casts a quickened true strike and tries to cast enervation on her, but fails to land a finishing blow.

Nox charges up into the air to attack her, striking a solid hit.

Irabeth rushes to join in, growling “Cowardly, backstabbing lûb-ob shatraug frangîzûrz” Unfortunately, her sword strike fails to land.

Laori goes to assist Flint against the remaining assassin. The two surviving assassins disappear.

Finish Her!

Arlynn flies up to attack the commander, striking a devastating slice with Serithtial that leaves the commander bleeding out. Bat-Egan quickly stabilizes the dying woman.

“Don’t kill her!” Arlynn calls out. “We need her alive in order to see that justice is done. Irabeth, take her down to Laori. I hear she’s good at binding things.”

“Ooh, yes,” Laori giggles, reaching for her masterwork manacles.

With Bat-Egan perched atop the assassin’s mangled body, Irabeth carries the unconscious Kayltanya down to the waiting elf priestess.

As Irabeth lays out the wounded murderess on the floorboards, the two remaining Red Mantis assassins reappear, poised to toss their daggers at their fallen leader. Flint brings one down with several swift arrows, striking the blade from the killer’s hand, while Irabeth throws herself atop Kayltanya to shield her from the other assassin’s knife. Nox and Kyra rush in to finish off the last assassin before he has time to fade back into the shadows. Bat-Egan puts out the spreading flames with create water.

Interview with a Mantis

With their enemies defeated, the Crimson Blades consult on what to do with Kayltanya, ultimately deciding to bring her before the Seneschal in his chambers. There, Egan revives the prisoner with cure light wounds.

“You assassins have been trying to kill us for quite a while,” Arlynn observes. “Cinnabar disliked the killing of innocent civilians. I wonder, what did you think of her? Do you share her beliefs?”

“I thought that Cinnabar was not living up to her family legacy,” Kayltanya says. “It’s why I gave her the important task of hunting you lot down. Clearly, she is more of a failure than I anticipated.”

“Clearly, someone else is failing to live up to the Red Mantis Assassin reputation,” Zandu bristles, his draconic fangs and claws extended. “You’re just another one of these weaklings we’ve squashed like ants at a picnic.”

“You may be right,” Kayltanya shrugs, her manacles jangling. “I certainly can’t disagree with you, sitting here trussed up like this. But the thing about the Red Mantis is that we never give up.”

“Your minions were trying to kill you,” Zandu replies.

“As they should,” she continues. "For each of us that perishes, three more shall take her place. Again and again and again, until the contract is served.

“You guys did actually manage to kill me off once,” Zandu acknowledges. “It’s not a very permanent thing.”

“That’s a terrible way to run an army,” Flint observes, “sacrificing all your experienced members.”

“We’re not an army,” Kayltanya replies. “We are pilgrims following the footsteps of He Who Walks in Blood.”

“Well, whatever organization you are,” Flint continues, “if you get new guys that don’t know what they’re doing, you’re only going to be less effective going forward.”

“I’ll take your criticisms under advisement,” the Red Mantis leader sneers.

“Do you know what other horrors may await us in this corrupted castle?” Arlynn presses her.

“How would I know?” Kayltanya replies. “My place has been on the third floor. There are defenses I’m aware of and defenses I’m certain I’m not aware of, and no knowledge of how many you’ve run across so far.”

“How many assassins did you bring with you here?” Zandu asks.

“Only those you’ve encountered were those who remained,” she tells him.

“Were you the ones last night who lit the crown fires and prowled around my companions as they slept?” Arlynn asks.

“Of course we were,” Kayltanya replies. “Who else would be in a position to scale the castle walls?”

“What does the fiery crown mean?” the paladin demands.

The Red Mantis leader rolls her eyes. “Do I need to explain elementary symbolism to you? Crowns, queens, rebels against the queen. You cast this message proclaiming the queen slain. Then a blazing crown appears atop the castle. What do you think it means?”

“Symbolism that we burned the Queen’s body?” Zandu offers.

“Maybe a signal to an army we have not yet encountered to try and quell our rebellion,” Arlynn says. “Or could it be something more?”

The paladin casts zone of truth on the chamber. Kayltanya replies by keeping her lips shut.

“Your silence is all I need to know,” Arlynn says. She cocks her head at the Red Mantis leader. “Cinnabar abhorred the killing of innocents—would you be the same, by any chance?”

A Killer’s Ransom

“I am a high value prisoner for my order,” Kayltanya announces. “If you sought to ransom me back to the Crimson Citadel, there would be a high reward—and perhaps our order would set aside any disputes in Korvosa.”

“Would that include your obligation to try to kill us?” Arlynn asks.

“It very well could,” she says.

“We might want to consider it,” the paladin says, glancing among her colleagues. “But until then, I urge you to share any knowledge that can help protect innocent civilians in this city from unnecessary bloodshed. It would be taken into account in your sentencing.”

“For now, our contract with Ileosa still holds,” Kayltanya declares. “I will not go back on that.”

“Can I knock her out yet?” Zandu asks.

Arlynn looks to Neolandis, who steps forward to ask his own question: “Did you help Ileosa kill the king?”

“Our order is sworn never to strike at true monarchs,” the Red Mantis commander tells him.

Arlynn and Neolandis then share a nod and Zandu knocks Kayltanya unconscious with a single smack.

“So, how do we go about ransoming her?” the sorcerer asks as her head lolls forward.

“We probably have to talk with her about that…” Arlynn trails off as they both look down at the unconscious woman.