Rest and Repose
Exhausted from their long day slogging through the Thassilonian vault below Castle Korvosa, the Crimson Blades decide to turn in quickly. Nox peels off, with a furious Freya and her brother Wulfrik’s body in tow.
Arlynn takes the rest of the gang back to her family’s townhouse in the Heights District. The house is less well-kept without the goblin butler Grimlurk, but there’s enough room for them all to sleep. Flint has Laori resurrect Rodrick and he and his other friends convince the irascible alchemist of the clone theory. Laori herself has been unusually quiet and reserved ever since she recovered the Fangs of Kazavon.
The next morning, Laori bakes everyone Elvish muffins. As the adventurers break their fast, a bird suddenly appears to tap on the window, a scrap of paper wrapped around its leg. Egan figures the note is for him and excuses himself.
The morning of 16 Erastus, 4708
The druid circle has discovered a strange razorweed in the city, but they haven’t been able to contact the nature spirits to inquire about it. Their attempts to remove it have not been successful, and it is spreading rapidly. They take Egan to a secluded sea cave and perform a ritual to send him into the spirit world.
Egan encounters the earth spirit and the water spirit caught up in a ceaseless battle. Both promise to help him if he helps them against their rival.
Egan uses wind wall to break them apart, then interrogates them about the plant.
The earth spirit says it is poisoning the land and its roots are binding together. The water spirit warns that the city’s tides have come out of sink, as if it were drifting somewhere else.
The two spirits then summon an animal spirit, shaped like a jackalope, who offers Egan more information if the druid can catch him. The spirit races off into the city.
Back in the townhouse, Arlynn goes through her morning sword practice/prayers, only to have Iomedae drop in on her. Arlynn shares the credit for her success with Irabeth, Chammady, and Laori.
Arlynn asks about whether Serithtial should stay with her or go to Lastwall for safekeeping. The sword (in humanoid form) prefers to stay involved in the fight. Iomedae leaves the decision to Arlynn, but notes that so long as Kazavon’s relics still exist, the sword should be ready to hand. The goddess notes that the only known relic is about to leave the city for the homeland of its patron, but she doubts it will get there.
Iomedae warns that there is a looming threat to Korvosa, not Sorshen, but Lorthact, who can hide even from her gaze. She emphasizes the tremendous danger Lorthact poses and urges Arlynn to seek out every tool and ally she can. She notes that knowledge is their greatest weapon, and that Lorthact may have hoarded knowledge of his own weaknesses to keep it from falling into his enemies’ hands.
After the goddess disappears, Irabeth rushes into the room, wide-eyed. “I’m sorry I’m late. You would not believe the dream I just had.”
“You wouldn’t believe the dream I just had,” Arlynn says.
Their eyes lock and they both realize they saw the same thing. The two hold hands and squee like fangirls. Their excitement is interrupted by someone throwing a rock at the window. It is Arlynn’s estranged elder sister Keris, waiting impatiently below.
The Hero Korvosa Needs
Ashla, after breakfast, goes on a casual patrol through the city, picking up on rumors. People are relieved the violence seems to be over, excited that the Breaching Festival approaches, frustrated by the city’s continued isolation, and perturbed by the fact that someone keeps shooting birds out of the sky.
Ashla is approached by Vencarlo. After she fills him in on the defeat of the queen and the destruction of the crown, he tells her about a matter that may require Blackjack’s attention: former Gray Maidens are going missing, and he doesn’t think it’s simple vigilante justice. He points her towards the site of the Merciless Way Massacre in Old Korvosa. Ashla asks him to spread the word that the Gray Maidens were largely unwilling pawns.
Flint gathers his friends in a scry-proof room, shares a code signal (“apples”) with them to let them know they’re speaking with the real Flint. He then checks to see if they will support him, and they are ultimately all on board.
From there, he takes them back to their parents. Lord Astorian is very skeptical of Flint’s claims, and lets him know that his house’s reputation is in the dirt. Lady Kestle is simply overjoyed to get Rodrick back.
Flint and Damon then detour over to Endrin Manor so that Damon can speak with Valeria before his mother kills him. However, they arrive to a commotion outside, as three angry nobles demand to see Flint while Valeria stalls. Flint recognizes them as acquaintances of his—Lyyah Camppri, Cohel Totham, and Gellius Sevaad. They are all armed.
Seeing is Believing
Egan pursues the jackalope spirit through the streets of Korvosa. The rabbit ducks into a narrow alley—and slams right into a wall. Egan uses wall of stone to ensnare it. The jackalope protests against the use of magic, but Egan tells him to stuff it.
When Egan asks for information, the animal spirit offers to show the druid what he needs to know.
The jackalope takes Egan to East Shore, where they pass by a tavern and Egan picks up Flint’s scent. They continue, however, to the Endrin estate, where Flint is being confronted by the three nobles.
Revenge of the Clones
It quickly becomes apparent that “Flint” had simultaneously proposed marriage to Lyyah, to Cohel’s sister, and to Gellius’ fiance, while also gambling and whoring about town. Deeply insulted, all three nobles are out for blood—and Flint’s “doppelgangers” explanation isn’t cutting it.
Flint promises to take them to see the duplicate locked away in the Castle under guard. First, though, he goes to check in with Valeria, requesting the signet ring back. She then tells him that she was informed this morning that the duplicate has apparently escaped the Castle. He somehow managed to simply talk his way out of the cell. flint is incensed that his doubles seem to be not mere copies, but somehow better than him.
Flint then offers Damon a chance to speak quietly with Valeria, while he turns back to mollify the angry young nobles.
Your Aura is Showing
As Egan has watched this scene, he has attuned more strongly to the spirit world, in which people and places look different than they do in our reality. Valeria looks more scarred, but beneath the scars glows a gentle warmth. Flint, on the other hand, is being circled by a grasping, fiendish shadow.
Endrin Manor, likewise, takes on a sinister appearance, all spikes and jagged edges, with deep cracks running through its stones. Half the grass in the front yard appears dead, a slowly expanding brown semicircle that the gnome druid traces back to a single razorweed, growing in the shadow of the building.
As he takes this in, Egan comes to two realizations. One, the Flint he smelled in the shoreline tavern is not the one here in the manor. Two, there is another figure, climbing a nearby building, that looks decidedly like Flint—but couldn’t have been at the tavern either.
The newcomer ignores Endrin Manor, instead watching the skies. Egan can see some sort of avian spirit floating around him. All of a sudden, he nocks and arrow and looses it, making an almost impossible shot to bring down a bird. The figure then begins to descend.
Egan casts summon nature’s ally to conjure forth a messenger pigeon and directs it to arc across the bird-killer’s field of vision towards Endrin Manor. The archer swiftly shoots it out of the sky,, with the arrow landing at Flint’s feet, drawing his attention.
Flint takes off after the figure, with Valeria, Damon, and the three nobles in hot pursuit. As he chases his clone through the Shingles, Flint tags him several times with arrows. Even so, the bird-killer manages to get a deciding lead. The double dashes across a plank between two rooftops, kicks the plank aside, does a little bow to Flint, and then backflips off the building to safety.
Or he would have, had Egan not cast reverse gravity.
Flint and the others casually approach in the spinning figure. Flint rips the hooded cloak away so that the duplicate can clearly be seen. A furious Lyyah stabs the double through the heart. As they look at the slack corpse, they realize he appears rather unkempt, as if he had been living on the streets for days. Lyyah ruefully acknowledges that this wasn’t the Flint who seduced her. But the nobles do agree that Flint seems to be correct about the clones.
The duplicate was carrying multiple letters taken from messenger birds, most of it official correspondence from outlying settlements warning that forces from Magnimar, Korvosa’s rival to the west, are encroaching on on the city’s outlying territories. Another letter, meanwhile, had fallen from the bird-killer’s pocket during his escape. It bears the sigil of House Leroung and promises financial assistance for his cause. Flint recalls that House Leroung had called for an abolishment of the monarchy and that its members hand expressed great concern about the personal safety of their Lady.
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves
Back at the Farima townhouse, Arlynn reunites with her sister, who is once again kitted out as a warrior. Keris explains that she has tracked a crew of Bekyars to the city, and among them is the Master of Whips, the man who killed their mother. Arlynn recognizes this as a chance to avenge their family and the two set out at once, accompanied by Irabeth and Ant 3. Along the way, the two sisters make awkward small talk and reminisce about happier times.
The Bekyars are staying at the Upslope House, a bed and breakfast large enough to qualify as an inn (despite a citadel Crest ordinance prohibiting such things). Keris explains that there are at least seven hardened Bekyar warriors inside, too many for one person to take down. Arlynn suggests they just barge right in, a plan that Keris and Irabeth are fine with.
It is at this point that Egan and the dire jackalope spirit catch up. In the spirit world, Arlynn and Irabeth each blaze bright with halos—Arlynn’s golden, Irabeth’s tinged with red—but the shadows cast by their glow are dark and twisted. The formian appears as a sleek, almost sculpted-looking being of pure amber. Keris, meanwhile, appears as a dark gray figure, and slightly wispy at the edges as if not fully formed. The only color on her is the golden mark of justice that Arlynn placed upon her forehead months ago.
An Unexpected Parley
Side by side, the two Farima sisters force open the double doors of the Upslope House. The common room is full of Bekyars, all sitting down to a late breakfast. In the far corner is seated the Master of Whips, looking almost exactly as he did the night he cut down their mother.
There is a moment of quiet as everyone takes stock of each other. Then Arlynn challenges the Master, calling for vengeance for her mother and for the thousands slaves that her parents sought to free.
The Master of Whips tells her that she must of course do what she feels is necessary, but tells her that he has come to Korvosa not to harm the city, but to save it. Arlynn is skeptical. He explains that the Bekyar auguries have foreseen a great doom befalling Korvosa in the coming days. The doom is connected to a lost Bekyar relic, the Book of Golgothus. The destruction of Korvosa would interfere with the Master’s plans, and the book is an honored relic, hence his interest in retrieving it and halting the doom.
Arlynn has heard of the book, both from Bekyar legends and from her studies at Lastwall. Golgothus was a Bekyar wizard of terrible power, who studied fiend-binding, conjuration, and the planes. It is said that he poured all of his knowledge into a single tome, which was stolen from his reliquary centuries ago.
Sensing that this text could be one of the weapons against Lorthact that the Inheritor had mentioned, Arlynn begins to negotiate an alliance with the slave lord. This frustrates Keris to no end, but she bites her tongue and goes along with her little sister.
Shadows on the Wall
As the negotiations are taking place, Egan prowls around the outside of the inn, unwilling to enter even in spirit form. The gnome druid searches for the razorweed that is the source of the site’s strange distortions. He ultimately finds the plant growing up the sides of the building like a vine.
While poking around, Egan also gets a peak through the window at the Master’s shadow (though not the man himself). The shadow is huge, far larger than a human or even a bear, and monstrous, with ridges, spines and what even might be pincers. Yet strangely, the other shadows nearby are not distorted into sinister shapes. In fact, as the Master’s shadow moves, it seems to repel the warping effect that distorts the other shadows.
Planning a Party Crash
Inside, the Master of Whips insists that the Book of Golgothus must be returned to the Bekyar Nation. Arlynn gets him to agree to a compromise: permitting the party to study the book for a reasonable time and freeing the same number of slaves that her parents had tried to liberate all those years ago. The Master agrees to these terms and has them placed in writing, with signatures from himself and Arlynn.
The Master of Whips says that his people have divined that the book is in Korvosa, in the possession of a tiefling wizard name Maketh, who is studying it at the Acadamae. Possibly the most secure building in Korvosa, the Acadamae is protected by traps, beasts, and layers of warding spells—and it will be open to the public in two days’ time, for the annual Breaching Festival. An ideal time to break inside—although many of the halls will be trapped for the festival participants. Two teams—the Crimson Blades and the Bekyars—stand a better chance than just one. He promises to stay in touch with Arlynn.
The afternoon of 16 Erastus, 4708
The Missing Maidens of Merciless Way
Meanwhile, Ashla has gone to the site of the Merciless Way Massacre, where residents have erected a shrine to the victims. The ranger questions the locals about the disappearances and strange activities in the area. No one has seen the kidnappings, but they have seen former Gray Maidens come by to pay their respects, usually around sunset. They have also seen a gang of strange people in dark hoods with black cloths drawn around their faces lurking in the area, though most suspect them to be part of the Cerulean Society. Lastly, a tiefling has also been spotted frequenting the area. Ashla sends an animal messenger off to Kyra, seeking confirmation that the Cerulean Society was active in the area.
Having obtained this information, Ashla settles into a stakeout of the shrine, until finally, around sunset, two scarred and brawny women cautiously approach to light candles. Ashla see a group of four dark figures lurking nearby, but does nothing. The four cloaked figures, together with four more identical people, rush out of two nearby alleys to attack the women. They move with a strange, jerky gait and attack with their bare hands, attempting to beat the women into submission.
The former Gray Maidens resist fiercely, drawing daggers. Ashla sees them stab the hooded figures repeatedly and even open a man’s throat, to no avail. After ascertaining that the attackers were seeing only to disable, not kill, the women, Ashla chooses not to intervene. The two victims are knocked senseless, then each is picked up by one of the figures. The rest of the group scatters, while the two kidnappers haul their cargo through the streets.
They try to throw off any potential pursuit, but Ashla determines very quickly that they are heading for the ruins of Exemplary Execrables, the old freak show that was once run by the man who would become the Emperor of Old Korvosa. The kidnappers carry the two women down a hidden trapdoor in the charred wreckage of the place. After sending an animal messenger to Arlynn notifying her, Ashla quietly follows them, just as Egan and the jackalope spirit arrive.
In the spirit world, the outline of the freak show theater and museum lingers on, semi-translucent and splashed with blood. Razorweed grows around the entrance of the trapdoor. The two figures hauling the captives appear as complete black voids—not merely shadows, but the absence of anything.
Dead Men Walking
Egan and the nature spirit follow Ashla down the trap door, which leads to what was once a basement beneath Exemplary Execrables. The two kidnappers are walking down a long hallway, at the end of which is a bright light. Ashla quietly trails after them, barely sparing a glance at the doors lining the hall.
The light at the end of the tunnel is from a pair of lanterns in a large room, which holds several tables and a small cot. One of the tables is overflowing with scrolls and scraps of paper, while the other has an assortment of sinister-looking knives and torture implements. The two kidnapped women have been chained to the wall and gagged by the two cloaked figures. A tiefling man, meanwhile, is cheerily sharpening a knife at one of the tables while whistling to himself. In the spirit world, Egan can see strings hanging off of the man.
Ashla creeps up behind him and then puts her twin swords against his throat. She asks him what he’s doing and who he is working for and warns him not to resist or he’s dead. The tiefling calls out to his minions and Ashla regretfully slits his throat. As the cloaked figures close in, she realizes they are undead and a grin springs to her face.
Meanwhile, the doors lining the hallway open and more figures shuffle out. These aren’t covered up like their fellows, making it clear that they are the walking corpses of dead men and women, all of them in their late teens to early twenties. Egan quickly casts spiked stone on the hallway, managing to snare most of the dead, but a half a dozen get through.
The corpses attack Ashla with their bare hands, but their moves are clumsy and only a few blows hit. Ashla cuts them down one by one, knocking one of them against the wall by the chained-up maidens. This startles them to wakefulness and Ashla asks them to make sure the dead man stays down. The two women stomp on the corpse, while the ranger finishes the remaining undead. She surveys the the spiked stones and calls out “Thank you, Egan.”
The maidens thank her for rescuing them and wonder what the hell the tiefling was up to. Ashla gives the papers a cursory look—they appear to be part of a larger ritual, involving human sacrifice. She also found a calendar, with the date 19 Eratus (three days hence) circled. The ranger scoops up the material for further review.
Outside the Lines
With Ashla out of danger, the jackalope takes Egan back to the surface. Racing across Korvosa, the spirit takes them up to the top of the Great Tower. From there, Egan can see lines of red energy stretching from each of the locations they visited, all converging on the Acadamae. Egan also senses the ley lines stretching out across Varisia. But where the ley lines intersect the red streams of energy, the ley lines simply stop.
The jackalope explains that the bonds linking Korvosa to Golarion are being cut, just as they approach the dark of the moon when the boundaries between the worlds are at their thinnest. If Korvosa is unmoored from Golarion when that happens, who knows where the city might drift? The jackalope also says that it remembers when Field Marshal Jakthion Korvosa arrived, more than three hundred years ago. His name and his bones are bound up in the city—not the land, but the living organism that is the city. And last night, the spirit saw through the eyes of an owl as raiders stole Jakthion Korvosa’s body from its tomb in the Gray District.