The Last Horse Out of Korvosa
While the others review the cryptic summons, Egan Silentall wakes up feeling ill and is forced to treat himself with remove disease.
After filling in Slim with some quick background on Vencarlo Orisini, the party responds to the fencing master’s request by trekking over to his academy in Old Korvosa. Along the way, they see that the Guard has set up a quarantine around the Avenue of Arms where Brienna Soldado spent her silver. They arrive at the academy to find it closed for the day, but a wary Vencarlo lets them inside—except for Slim, who he does not know (and who Ashla won’t vouch for yet). Slim, however, sidles around the building to eavesdrop while Vencarlo leads the rest of the party into a curtained and shuttered study. Then the old duelist invites in his other guest, Trinia Sabor.
Vencarlo explains that after escaping from the botched execution, Blackjack brought the fugitive girl to his academy. The fencing master and the folk hero had crossed blades in the past and had developed a respect for one another. Vencarlo agreed to hide the girl until she could be smuggled out of the city. Unfortunately, he is being watched closely due to his anti-monarchist sympathies and all his usual contacts have gone to ground. So he has turned to the party to get Trinia safely out of the city. He advises against any flashy or grandiose escape plan, as the Korvosan Guard and Sable Company will be on the lookout for such attempts.
Ser Arlynn Farima suggests smuggling the young woman out through the gates with one of her family’s trading caravans. Using Ashla’s disguise kit and a bit of Zandu’s magic, the party gives Trinia the appearance of a merchant woman, while Majenko carries messages coordinating with the Farima caravan.
After cluing Slim in that they need to sneak someone out of the city, they set out at a leisurely pace, meeting up with the caravan and journeying down the length of Korvosa to High Bridge and then over to East Shore. Along the way, Slim makes a show of playing merchant, pausing to inspect and purchase various minor trinkets. Trinia plays along, but is always careful not to stand out from the group. Arlynn adds to the display by ducking out of the caravan to purchase a mithral sword from the blade shop Slicers and Dicers.
But along their trip, they continue to spot people exhibiting the telltale cough and red rash of Brienna’s affliction—as far north as Old Korvosa and as far south as Midland, far beyond the Avenue of Arms in North Point. Their progress is briefly impeded by the reemergence of the Mad Prophet, who warns that the gods are punishing the city for the sins of its harlot queen. Only when she is removed from the Crimson Throne will they show mercy.
Zandu makes a scene accusing the Mad Prophet of being Blackjack in disguise and the rest of the caravan is able to slip on by with Trinia. The madman is seized by a Gray Maiden, causing him to pronounce that “I saw you in my dream.” The warrior woman conks him on the head with a mailed fist.
After passing through an exit inspection, Trinia and the party pass through the gates. Once they are out of sight of the city walls, Trinia thanks them for everything they have done for her and assures them she’ll be able to make it to Harse on her own. The party members then each make their way back into the city, trying to allay suspicion.
Slim returns to the Sticky Mermaid to give a somewhat guarded report of events to Kyra, who pays him for the info. He also alerts her about the quarantine ship’s cargo spreading infection through the city. Kyra says it might be a good idea for the Cerulean Society to stock up on wands of remove disease before the prices spike. She offers to give discount healing to Slim and the party, if they need it in the coming days.
Zandu shows up at the Mermaid a little while later, asking about the Book of Joy he ordered. Kyra presents him with a large, gilded tome, and after charging for it coyly suggests that the Calistrians’ are a little unimaginative when it comes to height differences. At the halfling woman’s prodding, Zandu gives a public reading of his new book to the raucous crowd, with Kyra the most enthusiastic participant. Afterwards, the two of them discuss the merits of Calistria and Zandu tipsily spills the beans about the party’s role in Trinia’s escape. Kyra then packs him off to bed.
Arlynn, meanwhile, checks up on the Midland orphanage, where Headmistress Aula explains that they have closed the building to most visitors and sent home staff who have fallen sick. So far, it’s allowed them to avoid any cases among the children.
The Queen’s Physicians
The following morning, the party receives a message from Ishani Dhatri urging them to meet with him at the Great Bank of Abadar in North Point. When they arrive, they find the marble steps to the bank crowded with poor, sickly petitioners who are being turned away by armored clerics at the entrance. Zandu, Egan, and Ashla find ways around the crowd while Slim handily slips right through it.
Arlynn, however, is quickly recognized as a paladin and swamped by desperate people demanding that she heal them. Before the crowd can get too grabby, Arlynn is able to convince them she is on important business at the Bank where she will work with the Abadarians to combat the disease. This placates the crowd, who instead begin asking about whether there’s a cure. Arlynn assures them that everything possible is being done as she enters the Bank.
Instead, a siege mentality prevails among patrons and clerics alike. The party meets with Ishani, who explains that they have seen far more cases of what is being called the Blood Veil than could possibly be accounted for by Brienna’s silver, including many among the Abadarians who have had no contact with the sick. Ishani explains that although the Bank of Abadar traditionally handles public health crises, they are presently in no shape to do so. He intends to go over his superiors’ heads and convince the Guard to take direct control of the response, but he needs an escort to get him safely to Citadel Volshyenek.
Arlynn is once again able to convince the crowd to let them pass and they are able to arrive at the Citadel without further incident. There they find Field Marshal Cressida Kroft introducing her troops to Dr. Reiner Davaulus and the Queen’s Physicians, who have been placed in charge of combating the Blood Veil by royal edict.
Dr. Davaulus welcomes Ishani’s suggestion and also asks Egan to reach out to the druid community to help coordinate a response to the plague. The doctor is cautiously optimistic that it can be contained, if they section off the city and restrict movement between districts. Zandu is skeptical of this approach. Cressida, clearly unsettled by the strange Physicians, says that while the Guard focuses on erecting quarantines and maintaining order, she’d like to use the party as troubleshooters to deal with other problems.
First on her list is the owner of the perfume shop Lavender, Vendra Loaggri, who has turned from peddling fragrances to hawking what she claims is a cure for the affliction. Cressida asks the party to investigate to see if her cure is genuine. Ishani promises to pay them 1,000gp for the task.
As the party departs, they see a new royal edict being posted promising heinous punishments for those who impede the Queen’s Physicians in their duties, who impersonate a Physician, or who hide or spread the blood veil.
Lavender’s Luxuriant Liniment
When the party tromps over to Lavender, they find a queue of eager Korvosans standing in a line that stretches nearly four blocks from the perfumery’s distinctive amethyst-shaded windows. Ashla and Arlynn interview patrons exiting the shop—after scaring one away, they speak to a man who has heard that the elixir, Lavender’s Luxuriant Liniment, can cure the plague and has purchased a vial just to be safe.
Slim and Egan, meanwhile, skulk around the alley behind the shop, while Zandu lurks at the alley entrance, trying to avoid contact with with the crowd. Slim spies a thug in a purple doublet emerge from an apartment facing the alley and carry a crate into the adjacent perfume shop. Slim quietly sidles over to the apartment door and unlocks it. Ashla slips away to join him, while Arlynn convinces another thug to let her speak with Vendra.
Inside the apartment, Slim, Egan and Ashla find a lushly decorated and perfumed interior. A careful search reveals a hidden door in the bedroom leading to the adjacent apartment, where Slim spies a third thug toiling over a big tub of something fragrant. He tries to sneak up on the goon, but haphazard debris on the floor betrays his movement. The thug ducks behind the doorway and shouts an alarm.
Inside the perfume shop, the two other henchmen charge out in response and Vendra tries to excuse herself. Arlynn insists that she stay. “Please,” she emphasizes, placing an armored hand on the hilt of her mithral sword. Vendra shrieks that this “false paladin” is trying to rob her and all hell breaks loose. Arlynn channels divine power through her sword and names Vendra as the false one. They each try to sway the crowd of frightened patrons.
Meanwhile, one of the thugs dodges a scorching ray from Zandu only to run into Ashla’s swords. Slim nicks the cheek of the goon in the lab, while Egan casts heat metal on the chain mail he spotted underneath the man’s purple tunic. Zandu responds to the sound of fighting in the lab by blasting in the door. The explosion temporarily dazes the beleaguered henchman, allowing Egan to get behind him and Slim to land a devastating strike. The blast is also the last straw for the thug facing Ashla, who complies with her calls to surrender.
Inside the shop, Vendra and the third henchman face off against Arlynn, with the merchant using her hired muscle to keep the paladin’s attention while she pierces a weak spot in Arlynn’s armor with a poisoned dagger.
Half-blind and roasting in his armor, the thug in the lab surrenders, leaving Egan and Slim struggling to keep him alive long enough to get him out of his super-heated chain mail. They eventually dunk him in the tub of water.
Ashla and Zandu sweep into the shop and Vendra offers to stand down. She says she was paranoid that someone would try to steal her cure for the blood veil and overreacted when the alarm went up from the lab. The party questions her about how she came up with her cure and she admits that she stumbled across it while fiddling with perfume components. But she says that the treatment has proven effective on some of her regular customers, such as a local dockworker who is in the shop right now.
Zandu and Slim take samples of the liniment from the perfume lab; to all appearances it’s mostly river water with some fragrant oils and purple coloring added. As far as Egan and Arlynn can tell, it has no healing properties whatsoever. The party lets the thugs go, but takes Vendra and her cure to Ishani. (Zandu pays her 2gp for his vial of the elixir).
The priest of Abadar agrees that the liniment is almost certainly useless, but at Zandu’s prodding agrees to investigate whether the river water might have any curative properties thanks to the sunken ship. Vendra will be held in custody while the liniment is investigated. If her claims prove false, she will be handed over to the Guard. If she was found to have been selling a false cure in the belief that it was genuine, she will merely be fined. If her intentions were more malicious, she will face steeper penalties. Ishani pays the heroes their reward and tells them that by shutting down Vendra’s operation they have saved many lives.
Afterwards, Ashla quietly checks up on the six regulars that first tried Vendra’s product. While all claim that it alleviated their symptoms, at least two of them are still infected with Blood Veil.
Zandu, meanwhile, drinks the oily and bitter-tasting liniment to see what effects it might have on him.