I Have to See a Man About a Corpse
While the rest of the Crimson Blades retire to the Farima Townhouse to rest after their adventures in the Thassilonian Vault below Castle Korvosa, Nox and Freya instead make for the Gray District. They are carrying the body of Freya’s brother Wulfrik Mikkelson, who Nox struck down mere hours before. The fighter had promised to bring him back, but can tell he still has a long way to go to make things right.
At the Grand Cathedral of Pharasma, they are seen by the cleric on duty, a young woman named Ramara. She offers two different methods of returning Wulfrik from the dead, one which would leave him in a weakened state but would cost less and another which would leave him in a stronger condition but cost twice as much.
Strapped for cash, Nox asks Freya about the urgency of raising her brother and whether she wanted to leave the city right away or rest up first. Freya says she wants her brother back now and admits that she needs time to figure out what they will do next. Nox then asks Ramara to raise the barbarian from the dead. The priestess circles the “patient,” swinging a censor in one hand while holding a large diamond in the other. The diamond flares with light and then turns to a lump of carbon, while Wulfrik gasps and wakes up.
After a moment’s disorientation, the barbarian tries to rise up to attack Nox, but Freya holds him back, telling him it’s too late. Wulfrik is bitter that Nox prevented him from upholding his duty to the man whose life he swore to protect. Nox insists that Amprei was endangering the entire city with his scheme and had to be stopped.
He also recounts how Amprei’s body morphed to become the skeletal monstrosity the party fought. Wulfrik insists that Amprei would not be foolish enough to endanger them or himself, while Freya notes that it was the ruins of the Crown of Fangs that warped the Ambassador’s body, a cursed relic that Nox brought into the vault.
She reminds Nox that he used the Crown of Fangs to compel her to break her oath to the man who had saved her life and her brother’s. Nox admits that he cannot take back what was done, but remains committed to making amends. He offers her his remaining gold to help the two siblings get by while Wulfrik recovers.
Freya says this is merely a down payment on the wergild he owes them, but her expression does seem to soften somewhat. She then helps her brother out of the chamber. As she passes by Nox, he realizes that she has tucked a scrap of paper in his pocket. One side reads “Three Rings Tavern” while the other reads “Be Seeing You.”
The morning of 16 Erastus, 4708
Calling on Cressida
Nox then returns to the Castle rest for the night. The following morning, he seeks out Field Marshal Cressida Kroft. He finds her on the battlements of Citadel Volshyenek, surveying the city. Nox fills her in on his adventures in the Thassilonian Vault below the Castle, explaining that he played along with Ambassador Amprei in order to uncover and thwart his plot. Though Nox admits that he fell under the sway of the Crown of Fangs, even as he tried his utmost to use its power to benefit Korvosa.
Cressida is relieved that the Crown of Fangs has been destroyed and Amprei’s scheme has been foiled, although the Ambassador’s death could complicate relations with Cheliax. Nox says they can spin the death, since Amprei had few friends in the capital and was scheming against other influential nobles in Cheliax.
Nox asks Cressida about the political situation in the city. She tells him that the Five Great Houses have voted to depose Queen Ileosa. Elections are to be held tomorrow to select her successor, although the voting is expected to last at least several days as all five of the Great Houses must reach consensus on a single candidate. She shares a letter she received today from Lord Tavius Jalento, endorsing Lord Toff Ornelos, Headmaster of the Acadamae, as the next King. The letter urges the other Korvosan nobles to lobby the Great Houses to select Ornelos.
Nox notes that they must act quickly. Korvosa has had enough magic and corruption to last a lifetime, and the city deserves a far better monarch than the Acadamae’s Headmaster. Cressida agrees, but notes that Ornelos is pulling out all the stops in his campaign for the Crimson Throne. She says that Vimanda Arkona is also rumored to be making a play for the throne, but she has yet to take any public action, which leaves Cressida concerned as to what she’s planning.
Cressida has also heard that Nox is looking to throw his hat into the ring. He admits this is so. He thinks a new start is needed for the city, represented by someone who can understand the needs of the people and the noble houses.
“I’ve lived many different lives in my short time on Golarion,” he says. “And I can think of no better calling than serving the city in its time of need.”
“You don’t need to persuade me,” Cressida tells him. “The ones you need to persuade are those five nobles, at least one of whom already wants to be king.”
Nature Abhors a Power Vacuum
She goes on to note that minor Houses like hers have no more say in the decision than the common people. Nox insists that they will need the common people’s support. She agrees that the opinion of the commons may play a role in the decisions, but so much of the vote involves favor-trading and legalized bribery.
Nox says he will do some digging and make it clear to the other nobles that the House that presides over the Acadamae is not exactly fit to rule. Cressida notes that Headmaster Ornelos has a reputation as prickly and unlikable, but his sprawling House has its tendrils in every aspect of Korvosan society: its scions serve in the government, in the Guard, in the Bank of Abadar, and as advisers to other nobles. They can leverage those connections to great effect.
As for Vimanda, her scheme is unclear, but none of the other Great Houses trusts her. Though her family has strong ties to the city, she herself is a relative newcomer. And then there’s House Leroung, which everyone expects to vote for the abolishment of the monarchy and a return to the Lord Mayor system that preceded it, which should keep the Five Great Houses from reaching consensus for at least a day or two.
Cressida explains that since all five of the Great Houses have to unite behind a single candidate, they could be deadlocked for days or weeks, at the worst possible time. The power vacuum leaves the city vulnerable to its external enemies and Cressida has had difficulty restoring contact with its outside settlements. Messenger birds don’t seem to be getting through, so she’s had to dispatch riders instead. At the moment, they simply don’t know what’s been happening since the rebellion rose up against Ileosa.
“I’m sure Magnimar would like to get their foothold on this side of Varisia,” Nox says.
“Magnimar, the Shoanti…” Cressida starts to tick names of her fingers.
“The Shoanti are thankfully holding due to our friends the Crimson Blades, since they became recognized as members of the tribe,” Nox explains. “The Shoanti have left it in their hands, though how long that will last is anyone’s guess.”
Cressida agrees, and the longer the succession crisis goes on, the more likely it is that someone makes a move against the city.
“Rounds need to be made to the Great Houses as quickly as possible,” Nox says.
Cressida offers to assist him. She says that she believes he is the best option of the three candidates and has certainly proven his worth to the city. But goodwill can only go so far. She asks what he would have her do to support him.
“You have a better lay of the noble politics in Korvosa,” Nox says. “I know what I would do in Cheliax, but I don’t think that translates here.”
The Field Marshal’s Guide to Politics
Cressida gives him a quick overview of the process. The seneschal, Neolandis, will preside over the voting process but cannot cast a ballot himself. There are Five Great Houses, all of whom must agree on a single candidate, which means he will need to persuade some nobles to pick him over themselves.
- House Jeggare: Nox fought alongside Mercival Jeggare during the boggard attack. Lord Endrin is also a vassal of the Jeggares and could be influential. But it’s unclear what they want, since they are already the richest house in Korvosa. Cressida recommends that Nox speak with them first.
- House Zenderholm: Lady Zenobia is the Chief Arbiter of Korvosa, strict but fair. She is the most public service minded, but also dedicated to tradition and honor. Nox thinks he could get along well with her.
- House Leroung: They will have to pick a side eventually, and are likely to be more open to a newcomer than an established house. They run the University of Korvosa and are perhaps the most progressive of the Great Houses. Nox thinks there could be an opportunity to raise the profile of the University and get it out of the shadow of the Acadamae.
- House Ornelos: Nox will have to talk Ornelos out of seeking the kingship. (“The Crown would have come in handy there,” Nox says flatly.) Cressida is unsure what else could be offered to Ornelos, given his family’s influence and control over the Acadamae. Whatever he wants, it won’t come cheap.
- House Arkona: Vimanda has the sketchiest of reputations. Her control of the city underworld is widely known, but hasn’t been confirmed. Cressida warns that whatever else she says she wants, Vimanda’s true desire is power.
“It seems that the only thing we have going for us is being outside that framework,” Nox says.
Cressida notes that the goodwill he has earned does play a role, and each of the houses can be influenced to a degree by their clients and vassals.
Nox says he will start by having a chat with House Jeggare. He thanks Cressida for her insights and says that if all goes well, he looks forward to working with her more closely. She likes that idea, and thanks him again for his role in the boggard battle. He bids her farewell, and tells her to contact him should she need anything.
Nox heads to the Farima townhouse to change into a noble’s outfit, though recalling his previous ambush, he makes sure to wear a chain shirt underneath. He invites Remmy to accompany him as an escort. She jumps at the chance to get away from the townhouse, where she had been keeping the unusually downbeat Laori company. The Gray Maiden still wears the replica medallion around her neck.
A little uneasy about the optics, Nox advises Remmy to perhaps change up the color scheme of her Gray Maiden outfit.
“Perhaps try more Korvosan colors,” he suggests.
“What’s wrong wrong with crimson?” she asks, a little confused. “It’s one of the two colors on our flag.”
“Maybe focus more on the other color,” Nox says.
“Yes,” he says,“just kind of distance the whole Maiden aspect.”
“But that’s kind of the whole aesthetic,” she protests.
“Yes,” Nox says. “But as a personal favor to me, wear a different cloak or undercoat, please.”
“All right, I think I can rustle something up,” she says, retreating back into her room. A few moments later, she returns wearing a dark cloak over her Maiden armor.
They walk through the wealthy and established Heights District, in the shadow of Castle Korvosa, the Acadamae, and the Great Tower. Nox asks how Vigil is treating her. She calls it a “cool sword,” which irks him. He talks about how the sword was wielded by his great-grandfather, a paladin of Iomedae. Remmy hastily adds that she knows it is a great honor to carry the sword for him while he is unable. He hopes that soon he will be able to hold it once again.
An arrow suddenly zips out from Nox’s left, clipping off the medallion from around Remmy’s neck and carrying it off to the right. The medallion and the arrow suddenly wink out of view. Then the medallion reappears, tumbling down onto the ground. Nox and Remmy immediately stand back to back, swords out, as they try to spy the attackers.
The arrow came from a figure perched on the balcony of a nearby building, a figure Nox recognizes as Flint.
Nox charges after the medallion. The Flint double wounds him in the leg with an arrow, slowing him down. There are splashes in a nearby puddle and then the medallion disappears. Muddy footprints begin leading off towards a nearby alley.
Despite his leg wound, Nox lunges forward to try tackle the invisible person. It is a woman, wearing a chain shirt of some kind. Nox demands that they return what they’ve stolen. The woman responds by tossing the medallion off to his left. Remmy rushes after it.
Nox slams the woman onto the ground. “What part of give me back my item didn’t you understand?”
“You can keep holding onto me or you can get the medallion,” she tells him, “you can’t do both.”
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do! I can do a lot of things, a lot of very painful things. Now who are you. Take off your concealment. Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”
Remmy recovers the medallion, only for it to be shot out of her hand again. The Flint figure has reappeared perched on a different building. The arrow carries the medallion down a dark alley, out of view. Nox urges Remmy to go after it. The Flint double fires several arrows into Nox, wounding him. This does not help his mood.
“Let me go and you’ll stop being a target,” the woman says.
Nox rise to his feet, pulling the invisible woman up in front of him as a shield, and begins backing up towards the alley where Remmy had gone. The captive responds by whispering something in a strange language and Nox feels a cloud settling onto his mind, but shakes it off. He claps a hand over her mouth and leans in to whisper in her ear—but gets poked in the eye by its pointy-ness.
“Try that again and I’ll break your little neck,” he says. “Now would you mind calling off your fake friend of mine. No tricks.” He removes his hand from her mouth and places it around her throat.
The half-elf woman jabs him with a shocking arrow, the jolt rattling him enough that she is able to slip free. She immediately takes off running down the street, her footfalls kicking up bits of dirt as she moves at superhuman speed. Nox throws his bastard sword after her, causing blood to spurt out of thin air. Bleeding badly, she flees into the city. Nox activates his boots of speed and pursues, following the blood trail.
The half-elf weaves her way through the crowded streets and clambers along the Shingles, moving swiftly despite her injury. Recalling his time running a few “errands” for Amprei in the Heights District, Nox figures where she’s headed and tries to cut her off at the shortcut. However, the still-invisible woman manages to slip past him despite his best efforts.
Frustrated, Nox returns to find that Remmy secured the medallion somewhere on her person. The fake Flint has fled. Nox decides to quickly return to the Castle to change into his armor, vowing never to go out in public without it. Remmy finds nothing strange about this.
Wheeling and Dealing
Suited up in full plate, Nox arrives at the Jeggare Mansion. He is invited into a smoking lounge, where he is met by Lord Montayn Jeggare and his brother Mercival Jeggare, who Nox fought alongside during the Boggard attack.
After some small talk, Nox makes his pitch for their support in the upcoming election. The Jeggares have a list of favors they would expect in return from the next monarch: appointing Mercival as the next Commandant of Sable Company, appointing various other family members and lackeys to minor posts around the city, and transferring management of the Korvosan Mint from the Bank of Abadar to House Jeggare.
Nox is rather taken aback by these demands, but accedes to the mint request and the minor appointments. He tells them that he plans on appointing Lord Endrin as Commandant of Sable Company. Instead, he suggests Mercival could head up a new military organization he plans to institute to take over military duties from the Korvosan Guard. This large scale military reform catches them by surprise.
Nox explains that he wants the Guard concentrated on peacekeeping in Korvosa so that no other military force is ever needed to be called into the city. The new model army, meanwhile, would be open for the Jeggare’s to put their personal stamp on. Mercival and Lord Montayn agree to take the proposal under consideration.
With Remmy escorting him, Nox arrives back at the townhouse later in the day, as Arlynn and Flint return from their own adventures.