Perched on a rooftop in an unsavory corner of Corsova, bow across my lap, I watch the address, wooden shack in the Varisian style. Two people approach separately and enter the door. After a time, I climb down and follow them in.
The room is warmly lit and the smell of fresh food wafts from a hamper on the table. We sniff each other out like alley dogs, until we finally share the same handwritten notes that invite us here tonight with the promise of revenge against the same man… Geadren Lamm.
I had a friend that I met on my way to this city, an old if powerful woman who played with fire and got addicted to Shiver. It took weeks to get her off the stuff and in the process came across a lot of other wretched addicts. Too few have someone to drag them out of that pit of despair, too many deaths, so many vulnerable lives wasted. I’m no hero, but predators push my buttons… I kicked in a lot of doors and roughed a lot of pushers until I got a name… Geadren Lamm….
My two co-conspirators are a surly looking halfling called Milo (with a lupine pet) and Pryo, another human with the air of some sort a magic user, subconsciously touching a large ring on his finger. As I venture to sample the food a woman enters. Varisan like the décor her name is Zallara with a warm greeting and an apology for her lateness. We sit and discuss the business at hand. Her story is all too similar to ours, perhaps worse. She lost her son to Geadren. She however has had better luck tracking him down… with her Harrow deck! We three agree to follow her intelligence and deal with him once and for all. Before we leave she does a reading for us all. I’m skeptical but if she’s right about our target then maybe I’ll trust her rather ominous foretelling of our future.
We head for the old Fishery which she claims is his hideout. Asking around the local inn and on the street we luck out with a young beggar. He seems to be eager to inform on his ‘employer’ and tells us about his legitimate ‘Slurry’ operation and the less legitimate enslavement of street kids to process the fish waste. Apparently we can expect a few toughs including a half-orc thug and an alchemist…
But we also get directions to a spider infested secret entrance.
We creep along a rotting pier and into the hold a dry-docked ship without alerting the guards.
The beggars warning about spiders doesn’t do them justice and they nearly prove our match… We find the secret entrance but Milo is too injured to continue.
I remember an old friend living nearby, not only someone who could help, but someone who has her own grievances with Geadren… The same person in fact that brought me here… I head out to Hecate’s hovel and it doesn’t take much convincing her to join us. We are soon back in the ship’s hold, Milo healed and (now four), climb through a porthole, onto a walkway under the Fishery and up to the back door.
I listen and amazingly, hear Geadren’s voice!
Wasting no time we burst in.
Geadren is counting his spoils while his Half Orc tough suspends a child by rope over a pool… and a waiting crocodile!
There’s no parlay.
Geadren draws out a crossbow.
I can’t shoot the orc for fear he’ll drop the boy, so start shooting the beast in the water.
Milo and his wolf go after Geadren.
The Alchemist appears, with a thankfully temperamental wand and Pyro returns with blasts of his own.
The orc flees, releasing the rope and dropping the boy into the water.
My arrows can’t penetrate the reptiles scaly hide so I leap in after him, haul him out, and myself before the monster has us… Surprising even myself!
Milo make short work of Geadren while and Pyro deals with his crony.
After sifting through sacks of pickpockets’ leftovers we rifle through Geadren’s quarters.
There’s a chest filled with valuables and a fly-ridden box…
In it we make a shocking and grisly discovery.
The head of Zallara (and her Harrow Deck), long dead, and crudely preserved.
Just as we wonder at our recent meeting with her, she appears before us, as a ghostly apparition.
Apologising for her… subterfuge, she explains that she is indeed dead and has been for some time.
She ‘returned’ in an effort to orchestrate her revenge and thanks us for our help.
Almost as surprisingly, she offers to act as our kind of supernatural guide in the future…
But it’s not over yet… We head upstairs into the factory to clear it out. A few of the child slaves, fearing their master’s wrath put up a fight, but lose heart and flee when we route the nasty little gnome in charge.
He doesn’t get far. I don’t like lose ends, especially the kind that come back to bite you later… Too bad I couldn’t get my hands on the gnome’s dog which DID bite me…
Our task at an end we return to Zallara’s. It is as it was, but not.
It seems emptier, less lived in. The food is stale if not rotten and her possessions are missing, cobwebs and empty shelves all that remain.
We venture out again into the night and find a city in chaos.
Screams, chanting, riots in the streets…
Staying together for protection we push on, until we come across a patrol of Hell-Knights… Law and order Chellaxian style.
We follow and find them battling a massive, tentacled creature back into the sewer! According to Pyro these creatures lurk below the city eating sewage. Our Druid friend insists we intervene and all are shocked are shocked when it speaks. Apparently it fears whatever lays below. Milo’s tries to intervene. He bristles at them, we try to reason with them, but the Knights are not easily cowed.
While the fray continues, I leap down into the tunnels and find myself neck-deep in waste. I find another one of these creatures but it it seems is content. No sign of danger though, nothing that would drive such a formidable beats away.
I drag myself out as the knights finally force the unhappy creature down and reinforce the sewer plate.
They it appears are here to bolster a failing city guard in wake of the riots that grip the city.
The riot it turns out are in reaction to the death of our ailing King and the ascension of Queen Sabine in his stead.
All I honestly care about is getting these soiled clothes off and we disperse, agreeing to meet tomorrow in the market to sell our loot.
The next day, there is tension in the street but the conflict has subsided, at least for now.
We make a fair purse, but events take a turn when we visit the Jeweler with a broken brooch.
This treasure, taken from Geadren’s strongbox turns out to belong to the Queen, she has even offered a reward for its return.
We make our way to the Palace, a little nervously. I certainly hope we’re not taken as the thieves.
Not surprisingly they seem reluctant to admit us, that is until we mention the brooch.
Milo is asked to leave his pet along with our weapons but refuses, so Pyro, Hecate and I go on alone, unarmed.
We meet Sabine the queen’s imposing handmaiden who ushers us through to the throne room.
Despite myself I cannot help but be awed.
It’s an impressive space, obviously designed to inspire such emotions.
Then we are standing before Queen Ileosa. She is beautiful I think behind her mourning veil and addresses us with the regal poise.
She gracefully accepts the brooch and seems genuinely moved, even going so far as to say its return has given her hope. She shares what seem to be genuine concern and fears for her city and so, in addition to our reward, she makes us an offer of employment.
Like the Hellknights, she hopes we might help reinforce the guard, utilising our special skills wherever we might be useful.
We all agree and after the Queen takes her leave we make our way to The Citadel.
In the garrison we meet Field Marshal Croft, obviously under some strain because of current events but stoic nonetheless.
After arranging us permanent accommodations in a local tavern called The Three Rings she gives us our first assignment…
It appears that at the height of the trouble a number of guards have abandoned their post. Some have done so to protect their families, others like Verik Vancaskerkin are preaching treason. He’s apparently set up in an abandoned Northgate butcher’s shop called All the World’s Meat with a growing force of turncoats. She wants the problem handled quickly and delicately. She’s offering amnesty for any guards who will return to duty but she wants Verik back for questioning… dead if necessary (though at half the bounty!).
It’s been a long, strange couple of days, I only hope we’re on the right side!