Curse of the Crimson Throne

Prelude to study
Becoming a better man and better team part 1

I’ve been on the streets for a while before I met this guys. They helped me get revenge on the one that hurt me most and for that I am greatful. Though I still feel the burning inside.

There is something else I have to do. I’m not sure what that is. Am I supposed to become a better mage or now that Geadren Lamm is dead am I just supposed to turn my life around and become an entertainer, something the locals seem to enjoy?

As I find that we will have some time before our next adventure I must take some time to think of the choices I’ve made and what I want in life. I have much to learn, though I also can’t deny that my allies are in need of my services if they are to survive on this path they have chosen.

I see great potential in Hecate though given her past and the nature of her magic she is unlikely to gain entry into the Acadamae and will need my guidance to learn new spells.

As for the others their gear is too mundane to handle the dangers ahead, especially if the Hell knights are involved.

I must divid this time equally amoungst myself and my friends. I shall spend time learning the secrets to harnessing the fire that is inside me and pass on what I can to Hecate. For the others if they are willing I shall craft them some wonderous items.

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Night of the Long Knives
Treason, Cannibals, Spiders and Knifesies

We make our way to the traitors’ lair at All the Worlds Meat. Asking around the squalid neighbourhood, we learn that the ‘cowhammer boys’ (when they’re not out selling their swords) are keeping the locals on-side with a daily handout of ‘special cuts’… Though they do have to sing for their supper… or dance, or otherwise humiliate themselves…

We arrive in time to see just such a spectacle in progress and I use the distraction to take a look around the back, while the others join the crowd for a closer look. The abandoned slaughterhouse is indeed back in business with a potential back way in through the animal pen. Satisfied, I head back around the front… to discover a small riot has broken out!

Hecate, transformed into a young woman is dancing with the allure of a dock girl, Milo is inciting a panic over a literal fire, and Pryo (no doubt responsible for the blaze) is fleeing a wheezing cowhammer boy!

Though this might be an opportunity for Pyro to learn a valuable lesson, I decide to follow and aid our Wizard friend as he runs off into the winding backstreets. It doesn’t take long for Pryo to outrun his wheezy pursuer and disappear from sight so I take advantage of the opportunity and deliver the tough with an ultimatum- A free pass, valid until midnight for him and his fellow turncoats if they turn themselves … or it’s the gallows.

We set up in the street opposite their hideout trying and try to stay out of site.
I say we but apparently Milo is one of those halflings who can’t work on an empty stomach and wanders off to the inn…

We wait. There’s sounds of an argument inside and finally Wheezy wanders out, sits down on the porch … and makes us instantly.

We try to close in all causal, giving him a final chance to surrender but he’s spooked.
There’s a brief wrestle for the door until Hecate hexes him to sleep and we leap in.
The shop front is cramped and our hosts come streaming in ready for a fight.
Hecate flings more sleeping hexes, I lay down a flurry of arrows and they start piling up in the door. where Pyro lights them up!

They wrestle on the floor using each other as human shields while I’m screaming for them to give it up. It seems however that the butchers’ life is too lucrative… and so they become the butchered.

Two dead, one bound, another flees.
We chase him into the slaughter room, corner him and truss him up with the other meat.

Another runs upstairs…
We follow…
And find Verik waiting for us with a vicious looking spear.
We prepare for a tough fight… until Hecate hexes him asleep too.

As I bound the traitor I remember why I like keeping the old witch around…
Not so sure about that damned Halfling though… Hope he’s enjoying his ale

We turn the place over, finding a few trinkets and a cache of coin.
We also find a few damning documents, showing Verik in the employ of a local noble called Amanda Arkana.
There’s one last, less savoury discovery in the cool room though. Turns out the ‘special cuts’ are not all animal… Not sure if that’s a comment on the populace or the times but it sure as hell put a chill up my spine.

Frog marching the captives back to the Citadel, we bump into a drunk guardsman who insistently mistakes me for a friend. Having drank himself stupid over the King’s Death we drag Grau along with us… I’m sure the Watch could use another able body… Once he sobers up…

When we arrive, the Field Marshall is chatting with Vancarab, a haughty, veteran swordmaster, who takes an immediate ‘interest’ in Hecate… Guess he likes them more mature.

Together they lay out our next assignment.
Apparently some Cheliaxian Ambassador called Darvaine is trying to increase his political influence by buying up Corsovan real-estate. If we can dig up some dirt on this demon-lover, we might be able to tip the balance back in the city’s favour.
According to Vancarab, local underworld figure Devargo Barvasi might be able to help… We’re given a sack of bribe moneys and instructions that should he not prove cooperative, we have the authority to take any action we deem necessary…

Devargo or The King of Spiders as he’s known, is owner of the Eel’s End in Old Corsova. Made up of 5 dry-docked boats, Eels End offers all manner of vice including gambling, drugs and prostitution.

Vancarab shows us the way. The decks are crawling with commoner and noble alike. We move about, above and below deck to get a feel for the place and its owner.

Pyro and Milo wander into the brothel where they learn that the Ambassador is a frequent visitor there…

In the Dragon’s Den we learn from it’s inebriated clientele that The King Of Spiders (so named because his chambers are supposedly crawling with them) was a smuggler until his ‘falling out’ with Stanis Seven Fingers, that he’s possibly having an affair with his Madame and that he currently supplies the Arkana family (there’s that name again) with Shiver.
I also learn that I still need to keep an eye on Hecate who leaves with a sack full of illicit substances.

We lurk about on the main vessel trying to weasel our way into the Spider’s web, until Milo manages to bluff our way in. Be careful what you wish for.

Resplendent on his Purple Throne, The King of Spiders is a dangerous looking villain, probably well capable of doing his own dirty work. His namesake too is clear with every corner and surface, including his body, covered with cobwebs and crawling with spiders.

Behind him, hanging from the rafters is another oddity, a caged, purple Psuedo Dragon, looking, not surprisingly a little despondent.

We push our way through a pack of toughs who he dismisses to a nearby banquet table. Milo, his work apparently done joins them.

We get straight down to business and make our proposal; the dirt on our mutual Ambassadorial acquaintance in exchange for half of our bribe monies (The Field Marshal said we can keep anything we don’t use). It takes a bit of smooth talking but he seems agreeable and comes back with a series of counter proposals…
At first he wants Hecate thrown in for the bargain, though for what purposes he’s ominously vague. Hecate for her part seems she might agree… but thankfully refuses.
Which is when he makes a second counter proposal.
He will except the gold, if we also entertain him with a game of Knifesies.

Knifesies is a colourful, local game where two opponents stand atop a table, wrists strapped together and attempt to scoop up the bettings of onlookers before their opponent slits their throat with the knife on their hip… Not always fatal but I think our hosts’ co-operation is depending on a good show…
And it looks like it’s up to me to provide one!

My opponent is a thin sweaty thug who apparently owes ‘The King’ a debt of his own.
They bind our wrists and we mount the trestle.
The last of the bets are piled high between us.
Milo then yells out, challenging Devargo to raise the stakes. His wolf (of all things) against the Pseudo Dragon.The Kind of Spiders can’t resist

No pressure guys.

I scrutinise Sweaty, his gritty wrist writhing nervously in the binding against mine.
He’s taller than me, but at 5ft nothing that don’t say much.
He’s thin, but now we’re up close there’s muscle on that wiry frame.
Sweaty’s got a mean scowl but as he watches me, calmly trying to centre myself, I catch a hint of trepidation.
He’s carefully eying that gold too, probably gonna scoop before he stabs… If I go on the offense I could end this quick

Devargo stands, silencing the small but loudly jeering crowd.
Sweaty tenses up, eyes darting from knife to gold.
Milo pushes to the front and makes a masterfully crafted, but seemingly off-hand comment about how badly this is going to end for Sweaty.
The crowd like’s his snipe but Sweaty clearly does not, looking a little shaken…

Was this Milo’s ploy all along? If it was, it certainly worked. Maybe there’s more to this Halfling yet!?

No more time for speculation. It’s on.
The onlookers start yelling and sweaty indeed bends down to scoop up the treasure, eye’s flicking to the knife on my belt.

But I’m no good with a blade, If I can’t use my bow, I like to get hands on…
I yank on Sweaty’s arm and punch him hard in the chest.
Sweaty forgets the coin and goes for his knife. He’s no slouch either, cutting deep across my arm.
For the first time I feel a bit claustrophobic. No, I must focus.
He looks for a second like he might go for the gold again, until I throw a second punch that goes wide.
He’s in for the kill now. He slashes and misses, but he turns face on and I see an opening.

Devargo is salivating.
He can see the opening too.
I could kill Sweaty now, and that might be what’s needed to get ‘The King’s’ cooperation.
But that’s not who I am… and anyway, there’s always spectacular alternatives to killing.

I twist Sweaty too his knee and axe kick down across his raised thigh.
There’s a sickening crack, a yelp of pain and his face Ashen, slumps in an unconscious heap.

The crowd howls, the Pseudo Dragon stands up it’s cage, my companions cheer and the winners rush forward to collect their gold.

Devargo gives me an appreciative nod.

We leave Eels End with half our bribe money, a tidy sum of winnings, a Pseudo Dragon called Majenko and a box of letters, each incriminating the Chelaxian Ambassador in a scandalous affair.

Field Marshal Croft is pleased…

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The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen!
Fortune, Destiny and Patriotism

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!

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