Death & Taxes
After conferring with Commandant Marcus Endrin about an expedition to the sunken ship, the party returns to Zellara’s house to rest and plot their next move. Before they can get settled, though, they are visited by a city tax collector accompanied by four Gray Maidens. He requests that they pay an income tax on their earning from the Korvosan Guard. Once paid, he also asks to see their deed to the house—squatters in the homes of the dead have become a major problem, and no one has seen Zellara in weeks.
Thankfully, Zellara’s illusory image emerges from one of the back rooms and convinces the tax collector that she is renting the house out to the party. Slim then steps in to claim that he saw squatters in an abandoned house a few blocks away. With a tip of his tricorn hat, the collector and his entourage tromp off.
With that matter dealt with, Arlynn shares her plan for reaching the sunken ship: They will hire a boat to taken them to the center of the river, then disembark with weighted anchors that will swiftly carry them to the bottom. Ashla endorses the plan, elaborating that the anchors should have cables for the boat crew to draw them back up quickly.
Egan is able to treat Zandu’s lingering infection from the devil’s halberd, but neither he nor Arlynn can cure the sorcerer of his lycanthropy affliction. As soon as they are able, Zandu intends to purchase a dose of wolf’s bane to try to purge himself of the wererat’s curse.
Egan visits Faunra at the Citadel, where the Blood Veil is taking an ever greater toll on the guardsmen the Elf is treating. Egan asks her if he can borrow her shark companion Silver for the expedition and she agrees, with some trepidation. The area around the ship has become somewhat notorious among the river wildlife.
Before dark, Arlynn swings by the orphanage, which remains on lock down. This has kept the children and remaining staff safe from the blood veil, but it has made the place seem even more prison-like. From there, the paladin does a quick patrol of the neighborhood, stumbling across an angry crowd hunting for suspected wererats to attack for bringing the plague to the city. Arlynn is able to convince them that she has dealt with the wererat threat and urges them to turn their attentions instead to helping their neighbors weather this crisis.
After a restful night at Zellara’s, the party prepares to sail out onto the Jeggare River. While the others secure a patrol skiff from Sable Company, Slim swings by Racker’s Alley to quickly check for anything suspicious. Within the crooked alley, he find a large pile of dumped plague corpses, some of which feature tell-tale bite marks on their necks and wrists. He also finds a hole ripped into the wall of one of the neighboring buildings. Slim does a quick sketch and sends it to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft along with a short message.
The Wreck of the Direption
Sable Company provides the party with a boat captained by one Rogar Saltspear, a grizzled dwarf with a peg leg. He takes them out to the approximate site of the sinking and Egan casts water breathing on the other four adventurers before diving into the water and transforming into a shark. Rogar sets up a plank for the adventurers to walk and gets his men to beat a drum ominously. Zandu and Arlynn play along, while Slim and Ashla simply plunge into the dark, brackish waters of the Jeggare River.
Shark-Egan and Silver circle around the others as they sink to the riverbed, kicking up a small cloud of silt. It takes them twenty minutes of slow slogging to find the sunken ship, even with the sharks’ help. The ship lies on its side in two pieces, having broken over a rock outcropping. While the bow sunk in a way that allows explorers access to any of its decks, the stern cleaved to the rocks it fell up, limiting entrance to its lower decks. The adventurers investigate the bow first, which bears an ominous moniker along its fire-scarred hull: Direption.
The party disturbs a nest of silt eels that had relocated to the wreckage, but Ashla and Egan are able to calm them. Inspecting the forecastle and the galley, the adventurers find them curiously empty of the normal supplies. After having difficulty swimming, Zandu casts spider climb on himself, which he soon extends to Arlynn and Slim as they scramble over the stern of the ship’s hull. Silver is dispatched to patrol the perimeter.
The door to the captain’s quarters is swelled shut, so the party is forced to awkwardly bash it in. Inside they find the ruins of a four-poster bed. Tangled in the floating sheets and linens is the body of a man wearing simple black robes and the ibis mask of the Queen’s Physicians. Arlynn searches the man to discover a brass unholy symbol of Urgathoa in his possession. (The others have to prevent her from instinctively destroying the corpse fly badge.) As best the paladin can determine, the man drowned to death.
While the rest of the party investigates the cabin, Shark-Egan picks up the scent of a third, unidentified shark as well as something fouler, both inside the ship. Following the wildshaped druid’s determined gestures, the adventurers enter the Direption’s hold through a gaping hole bashed in through the water line. Inside, they find the half-eaten remains of the Sable Company team sent to investigate the ship.
They also find dozens of identical boxes floating eerily in the quiet darkness. Arlynn opens one to find it contains only an air bubble. The others are waterlogged and also mostly empty, though a few contain bits of flesh or dead rats infected with Blood Veil.
Lair of the Sea Hag
Venturing up one deck into the crew quarters, Arlynn is immediately attacked by a large, powerful shark while a smaller jigsaw shark waits in the adjacent room. Slim enters stealthily after Arlynn to join the fray, but as the two of them confront the sharks, the creatures’ mistress swims out of the shadows.
The sight of the grotesque Sea Hag sends a shiver down their spines, but thankfully they are able to resist seizing up in disgust. Arlynn calls out a warning that they are facing a monster “nastier and more horrible that you’ve ever seen.” Slim simply warns “don’t look at it!” The sea witch fixes him with her evil eye, but the slippery rogue is able to shake off its effects. Irked that her powers have been resisted, the hag swims into the fight with a pronged fishing spear.
Despite the warning, Ashla and Shark-Egan soon join their companions, likewise overcoming their disgust at the sight of the creature. Zandu remains below, granting his destined powers to Ashla as she battles the sharks. After destroying the hag’s smaller summoned shark, both Egan and Ashla summon creatures to distract the sea witch while Slim’s rapier snakes in for deadly thrusts.
But the hag is no pushover. She pirouettes like a graceful fighting fish, striking first one adventurer than another. Yet fortune—or perhaps the Harrow cards—smiles upon Arlynn and Slim, as each blow against them somehow never lands quite right. Even so, as the fight progresses the waters darken with red blood and Slim draws near collapse.
But after the hag’s companion shark is finally slain, the rogue is able to pry away her spear and she instead attempts to flee. Slim brashly gives chase, accompanied by Ashla’s summoned dolphin, but it is Zandu who delivers the killing blow via magic missile.
After warding off a curious jigsaw shark, the party surfaces with the remains of the Sable Company expedition, the body of the sea hag, and the corpse of the Queen’s Physician. They also bring with them an unopened coffer obtained from the sea hag’s body as well as another small container Ashla found pinned under a metal bed frame in the creature’s lair.
Leaving the Sable Company dead with Rogar and his men, the party carts the Queen’s Physician corpse via tarp-shrouded floating disc to Citadel Volshyenek, where they request a private audience with Cressida.
The Field Marshal meets them in a ground floor chamber, eager for news from the wreck. After ensuring that the room is completely sealed, they inform her of the previous expedition’s fate and then unveil their find. The Urgathoa symbol and the presence of a Queen’s Physician aboard the plague ship is troubling enough, but the adventurers have even more evidence to provide.
After Slim unlocks the coffer, Zandu retreats to a safe distance and then opens it, revealing its contents as a plague-infected dead rat and 50 pieces of silver. The box itself exudes a faint necromantic aura. Arlynn recalls that Brienna Soldado claimed to have found a similar box washed up on the riverbank also containing 50sp, but they were never able to find the coffer.
The second box contains a collection of ledgers, invoices, and the deed to the Direption, all from a group noted as “B7,” titling one “R. Davaulus” with ownership of the ship and a cargo noted only as “specimens.” Slim confirms the documents’ authenticity with a quick inspection.
Ashla hypothesizes that the Rakshasa could have replaced the real Dr. Davaulus—that could be him on the table—and be orchestrating the entire crisis. She and Slim also speculate that it could be a plot by Cheliax to deliberately weaken the city.
Cressida warns that they must proceed very delicately. She will call for the cleric Ishani Dhatri and have him cast speak with dead so they can get some further answers from the corpse. Confronting Davaulus, however, could prove very challenging. The Queen’s edicts have given the Chelaxian doctor powers approaching martial law within the city. If the badly depleted Guard attempted to arrest him, it could spark a civil war—or worst.
Cressida suggests that they investigate the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden, an old warehouse that the Queen’s Physicians turned into their headquarters. All plague victims who can’t obtain magical care are required to go there for treatment. If Davaulus is in league with the Urgathoans, then they are likely facing a fate worse than the blood veil. Cressida wants the party to search for any additional evidence of the Queen’s Physicians’ connection to the blood veil and the Urgathoans—and if possible, quietly arrest Dr. Davaulus.
But the adventurers decide to investigate the bodies Slim discovered (a task Cressida was gearing up to do herself, given how short-handed the Guard has become). They hope to find more clues about the Urgathoans and their connection to the blood veil.
The Field Marshal has Grau Soldado and a squad of his most trusted men guard the evidence room. Ashla quietly has Majenko keep an eye on the chamber to ensure the evidence isn’t moved and Zandu places a mental alarm on the room to alert him if anyone unauthorized enters.
Inside the Citadel, Egan tracks down Faunra to thank her for letting Silver accompany them. Faunra is pleased to have helped and relays that she has more news for the party. A friend of her father’s at the Elven Embassy saw the missing musician Ruan and a thin, rat-faced man being escorted away from Carowyn Manor by two Gray Maidens the morning after the party. The men were loaded into a prison cart and driven off. Egan gives a surprised Faunra 100gp for her assistance.
The Quarantine of Old Korvosa
After a restless night at Zellara’s, Slim and Zandu rise early to swing by the Sticky Mermaid and share their findings with Kyra. But as they approach Old Korvosa, they discover that every wooden bridge to Endrin Isle has been destroyed and Gray Maidens have erected a massive barricade across the old stone bridge to the district. Town criers warn that by order of the Queen, the entire district of Old Korvosa has been placed under strict quarantine. No one may enter or leave.
Desperate to find out if Kyra and the Cerulean Society escaped the blockade, Slim journeys to Twitcher’s Tavern in the Shingles. The cramped and smoky dive is even more crowded, as frightened lowlifes have flocked to it for news.
Slim learns that Kyra and many others, including a substantial portion of the Society’s leadership, remain trapped in Old Korvosa. The quarantine was imposed in the middle of the night, with no warning. There are Gray Maidens patrolling the shore, ships blockading the water access, and hippogryph riders in the air, a crackdown unprecedented in living memory. There’s no way to access Old Korvosa through the sewers and no safe route through the Vaults. The district is effective off-limits for the foreseeable future.
But Slim and Zandu have no intention of leaving their friend trapped inside the quarantine zone.