A Ghoulish Surprise
Arlynn, Ashla and Egan awaken to acrid scent of bodies being burnt en mass in the Gray District. Zandu, meanwhile, wakes up at the Sticky Mermaid feeling crummy but it’s not until he reaches Zellara’s house that Egan recognizes that he’s suffering from Blood Veil. It takes both of Egan’s remove disease spells to cure him.
Arlynn travels to the Gray District, where porters have hauled cartfulls of bodies to be burnt in mass graves. The paladin joins a cleric of Sarenrae and a cleric of Pharasma in praying over the bodies. Their meditation is interrupted, however, when the last cartfull of corpses causes the mass grave to collapse into a another chamber below it. A ghoul pokes its bare, pale head out of the new hole.
While two clerics try to contain the situation, Arlynn races back to Zellara’s to rally the rest of the group. Zandu pauses to stock up on alchemist’s fire before they proceed back to the Gray District. Several ghouls and a ghast have emerged from the smoking crater to attack the clerics.
The party engages them in combat, but the fight grows more challenging as a shift in the wind sends a plume of foul smoke from a nearby pyre billowing across the battlefield. The five heroes (and Majenko) struggle against smoke inhalation, giving the undead abominations an advantage. But the party’s strength of arms and the power of Arlynn’s faith ultimately prove enough to overcome the monstrosities. Egan also makes the canny move of dousing the pyre with create water to clear the air of smoke. After successfully tricking and striking a ghast, Slim is stricken with paralysis and infected with ghoul fever. It takes two charges from the wand of remove disease to cure him.
Once the ghouls are vanquished, the party ignites their burrow with Zandu’s alchemist’s fire, hoping to finish cremating the bodies and eliminate any other threats. An investigation of the burrow discovers a small tunnel twisting off to the west. Following the tunnel, the party ultimately arrives at an ancient crypt.
Altar of the Pallid Princess
The crypt contains six sarcophagi — five unopened — as well as a desk and an altar to Urgathoa, goddess of gluttony, plague, and undeath. The area appears to have been well-trafficked until quite recently. Arlynn immediately feels a powerful evil pervading the place, while Zandu detects necromantic energy in the sarcophagi.
The party decides to have Arlynn pry them open one by one and then collectively destroy whatever is inside. But opening one sarcophagus alerts the denizens of the other four and the party soon has a desperate fight on its hands.
The crypt is guarded by five armed and armored skeletons, their empty eye sockets ablaze with a pale green glow that clings to their gear as well. Perfectly silent, the skeletons attempt to surround and eliminate the party, who find that swords are less effective against bones. The tense battle is ultimately concluded by Arlynn and Ashla, the former dismantling a skeletal warrior with a devastating blow and the latter lopping off the head of the last abomination.
A thorough search of the place discovers some notes, none more recent than several weeks ago, scribbled by the leader of the Urgathoan cult, someone named Lady Andaisin. According to her writings, the cult was preparing for some “grand project” in service to their goddess. One note mentions Rolth the necromancer, who was apparently trying to join the cult in order to get closer to Lady Andaisin. She is unimpressed with him, but intends to make use of his limited abilities.
Arlynn has Egan deface the Urgathoan alter with stone shape an the party then travels up through the secret mausoleum entrance to the crypt and into the daylight. They notify Bishop Keppira d’Bear about the desecrated tomb and she proceeds to reconsecrate the place and dispel its Urgathoan taint.
From there, the party heads to the citadel, where they find Field Marshal Cressida Kroft mulling over a map of blood veil infections. They notify her of their discovery of the altar and she agrees that it seems likely the cult had a hand in the plague. The presence of a full-fledged cult makes them the second-biggest threat to the city after the blood veil itself, particularly since they seem to view Rolth as a chump.
Cressida tells the party that although the druids are tending to Guardsmen who fall ill in their duties and the clerics of the city’s temples are healing as many victims as they can, their supplies of potions and wands of remove disease are running low. At the very start of the plague, the Cerulean Society bought up every such potion and wand not in the emergency stockpiles and are presently scalping them at ridiculous prices.
The Field Marshal asks the party to use their connections to have the Society turn over its stockpile, or she’ll be forced to march into their dens in the city and confiscate the supplies personally.
The Devil You Know
On their way to the Sticky Mermaid, the party is confronted by a ragged, filthy man suffering from the blood veil — recognizing Arlynn as a servant of Iomedae, he demands that she cure him. Almost immediately, the rest of the party vanishes, escaping via magic (Zandu & Egan) or simply fading into the shadows (Ashla & Slim), until the paladin is left alone with the angry plague victim. Arlynn says that she can’t cure him, but is doing all she can to fight the plague, and mollifies him by tending to his myriad cuts and bruises.
In the mean time, Eagle-Egan beats Expedious-Zandu to the Mermaid and lets Kyra know about Cressida’s ultimatum. As the rest of the party trickles in, the halfling woman explains that the Cerulean Society has already sold off its stockpile of remove disease wands and potions. Half the noble houses in Korvosa have bought up their own supplies, but Kyra says that the number one buyer was in fact the Temple of Asmodeus.
Zandu stays behind to deliver a truly spectacular reading from the Book of Joy and buy drinks for the house, while the rest of the party stops in at the Bank of Abadar. They learn from Ishani Dhatri that the river water does not appear to be tainted with the plague. When he hears that the Asmodeans have been hoarding healing supplies, Ishani is outraged. He explains that the faiths of the city were supposed to pool resources to fight the plague. Ishani also provides some background on the Asmodeans, who were invited to Korvosa to placate Cheliax and have been feuding with the Bank of Abadar ever since over who has the right to verify and witness contracts in the city.
The party returns to Cressida to relay the information from Kyra. The Field Marshal explains that the Asmodeans have wormed their way deep into Korvosan politics, with strong ties to the Acadamae and its noble backer House Ornelos, as well as retaining the protection of the Cerulean Society. The party concludes that the only way to force the Temple’s hand is catch the Asmodeans doing something illegal. They plan to investigate the Temple’s rumored connection to slave trafficking in the sewers.
That evening, Zandu sends a letter off to his family in Cheliax asking them to look into the background of Dr. Reiner Davaulus, the head of the Queen’s Physicians.