Curse of the Crimson Throne

Sabin's Tale (DM)

Sabina was loyal to her City and her Queen, assigned to protect her the day of her arrival for marriage to the old king they became fast friends and Sabina found someone to love again (platonic) She thought Ileosa shared these feelings, had circumstances been different it may have even bloomed beyond courtly love. As it happened she stood by the queen after the death of the king and through the time of troubles that followed but something was changing and Sabina damn’s herself for not seeing it sooner.

As early as Ileosa’s attempt to execute Trina Sabor for the assassination of Eodred II, Sabina began to finally realize that something was dreadfully wrong with her idol. Her fears were confirmed after Ileosa began moving forward with the establishment of the Gray Maidens. Sabina certainly didn’t object to the foundation of a new military wing, but she did object to the use of magic and torture to force loyalty. Yet Sabina had seen enough to know that openly opposing the queen was no solution either—so instead of taking direct action against Ileosa, Sabina accepted the charge of leading the Gray Maidens. Where she could, she lessened the impact of the queen’s cruel methods with secret kindnesses. Yet still, many women who were drafted into the service proved too headstrong. Ileosa executed some of them until Sabina convinced the queen that it would be better to imprison them under Longacre Building, “since some of them, given time, might well realize that serving as Gray Maidens is the better choice.” Unable to authorize their release, Sabina did the next-best thing—she made regular secret trips to the Longacre dungeons to ensure that the imprisoned women were as comfortable as conditions would allow, and that they weren’t being abused by the Gray Maiden guards. Yet the forced recruitment of Gray Maidens was only one of the ways that Ileosa had turned against Korvosa. With each passing week, Sabina learned of a new atrocity: Ileosa’s bargaining with devils to gain more power, the appointment of Togomor as “seneschal,” the murder of Marcus Thalassinus, and—most recently—the enslavement of a hateful and destructive dragon. Sabina long since realized that Ileosa never loved her—further, that Ileosa has never loved anyone, with the possible exception of herself. Yet by that point, Sabina was in too deep. She felt powerless to change the unceasing brutality on her own, but continued to use her close proximity to temper the queen’s cruelty whenever she could. The stress of the situation became nearly overwhelming, and when she learns that the PCs returned to Korvosa—those same heroes she met what feels like a lifetime ago on the eve of Eodred II’s death—Sabina realizes they might be her only chance for redemption and to save the city from the woman she thought she loved.

The Castile
History (Neolandus)
While Castle Korvosa itself is only a few hundred years old, the pyramidal foundation upon which it was built is much older than that, dating back thousands of years to the ancient empire of Thassilon when the city of Xin- Eurythnia sprawled at this location. Other remnants of that time still stand in Korvosa as well; the strange sculpture known today as Gatefoot is merely the tiniest part of an immense statue of Sorshen, the Runelord of Lust and ruler of the city, and the Pillar Wall once supported a winding processional used by Sorshen on her tours of her domain After Thassilon collapsed, much of Sorshen’s nation sunk into the sea. Over the thousands of years to follow, erosion saw to the destruction of much of Xin-Eurythnia, and what erosion didn’t claim, the Shoanti did. The Cheliex followed and here Korvosa stands today.

Knowledge gained

While constantly under the watch of guards in the castle itself, the surrounding areas are mostly abandoned today (that dragon was the last straw for many), and can provide cover to parties seeking a stealthy approach to the castle.
Many of Korvosa’s citizens (including most of the rebels) have a working knowledge of the castle’s second floor, primarily the main stairway, the entrance hall, the antechamber, and the throne room itself. Cressida and a few of the guards are relatively familiar with the rest of the chambers on the castle’s second floor, but have never been on any of the lower or upper floors.

Neolandus and Sabina’s knowledge of the castle is much greater; between the two of them, they can provide a relatively detailed map of the castle to use to plan out their attack, including secret doors and hidden chambers. Of course, knowing the castle’s layout is only part of the solution. While Neolandus has been out of the castle too long to be able to provide useful information about its current guardians, Sabina can provide information about a few of the more important inhabitants. Over the past several months, she’s been spending more and more of her time outside of the castle, as she’s been feeling increasingly unwanted therein; she hasn’t ventured beyond the second and third floors much at all. She knows that Ileosa’s been recruiting devils to aid her, but isn’t sure how the queen’s been able to pull this off—she suspected a link to the Acadamae, but her investigations into that area have so far shown no support. She knows Ileosa herself has some large hell hound guards, that a horned devil named Mavrokeras guards the towers (although she’s not sure where he lurks), and that three barbed devils known as the Yallops have been increasingly annoying and disruptive. Sabina also knows that the Red Mantis moved in on the third floor, but Sabina avoids contact with them and their leader (whom Sabina hasn’t seen, but who she has heard speaking to the Red Mantis minions a few times). Finally, she explains that Ileosa has grown even more cold and grim of late, and for the past several weeks she rarely left her bed chambers. She certainly hasn’t called for Sabina’s companionship since she started wearing that “ugly new crown,” and Sabina has finally admitted to herself that Ileosa likely never loved her—an admission that has gone a long way toward pushing her to finally turn against the monarchy.

Basics
The castle itself is built of black marble; the walls and ceilings are made of stone, although a significant part of the third floor and most of the attic level are made of wood.
Roofs are tiled with burnished brass shingles. Many rooms feature both arrow slits and larger windows, although the larger windows are protected by bars. Doors mostly are made of strong wood and can be locked (Sabine has a “master Key” but is not sure how extensive it really is) although most of the doors remain unlocked. Ceilings are typically 20 feet high.

Getting Inside
Castle Korvosa is a big structure, and there are numerous methods to enter it, not all of which are under guard (although most are). Sabina can provide the following list of entrances, although she warns them that by the time they move on the castle, the inhabitants are quite likely to have changed some guard patterns or traps to account for her betrayal. Physical Entry: There are numerous physical entrances into the castle via door, window, arrow slit, or even chimney or soil pipes.—most of them have guards posted nearby.

Sabina recommends the secret entrance via the armory if asked her opinion, although approaching via flight while invisible gives them the option to enter the castle from any number of locations (in which case Sabina’s recommendation changes to the hole in the floor of storage area that the dragon uses to gain entry to the castile).

While looking into the Acadamae connection she overheard Togomor imply that due to a falling out / discrimination between him and the Acadamae mages most of the castle’s magical defenses and wards have failed. He seemed confident that the “new guests” will make up for this.

Patrols
Three types of guards make regular patrols through Castle Korvosa: erinyes devils, Gray Maidens, and Red Mantises.

Erinyes Devils: There are erinyes stationed in the guardroom on the castle’s ground floor.

Gray Maidens: There are 24 Gray Maidens active in Castle Korvosa. Of those, 10 are always stationed at guard posts, leaving the remaining 14 split between patrols and rest in one of the two barracks). A patrol of Gray Maidens consists of two, with the patrols moving in clockwise rotations through all unlocked areas of the castle, remaining for a few minutes in each room to ensure all is well. A patrol is active on the first floor, second floor, and third floor at all times. Again this was before Sabina’s betrayal and may have changed.

Red Mantis: The Red Mantises remaining in Korvosa relocated to the castle at Ileosa’s invitation. They patrol the castle’s third floor, keeping to the shadows and moving stealthily.

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A night out (Karne)
Karne returns to the temple of Irori

Leaving the room was simple, Irori had granted me the wisdom to see the way to walk between worlds by focusing my ki. With a moment’s concentration, I was on the roof, hiding in the shadows. The others slept below me, and even though Edulwulf’s senses were keen (when he wasn’t raging) but I could move silently when I chose; wrapped feet made far less clatter than boots along the tiled rooftops. I planned to be back before dawn, but just in case things went poorly, I left a note with my destination. Irori admonishes pride before wisdom. With luck, they would never know I was gone. Scanning the sky overhead for danger, I was once again almost overwhelmed by the multitudes of colors and shapes since my vision had returned. I had learned to deal with the setback, as any loyal servant of Irori would, but I was glad to have my sight back. Satisfied that I was not about to be swarmed by angry imps, I I moved through the midnight gloom and leapt down to the street below. Pulling my robe closed, I ventured out onto the streets. Just another peasant.

This city was…changed. A cancerous blight had grown over my home. The riots were bad, an illness of the mind; the blood plague was worse, an illness of the body; but this was the decimation of Korvosa’s very soul. The Grey Maidens patrolled the streets, but these humans had torches which ruined what passed for their pitiful night vision. Ducking into doorways or hiding on rooftops was easy enough. Cautiously, I made my way back to the temple district. I had to know. If things were….bad…I did not want the others to see. Comrades in arms, I would give my life for them, but this was a matter of the faith.

In the temple district, I passed many boarded up buildings, temporary fortifications against the storm. Apparently, some churches had tried to wall themselves in, turning inward as the tragedy loomed around them. Some churches had tried to protect the weak, I could see their skeletal remains as the weak and terrified had stripped them of their resources. Their pious images defaced; their shrines, toppled. These were desperate people. They needed our help. There were a few two legged scavengers about. People willing to prey on the weak and the lost. The crackle of lightning around my fists scattered them into the sewers like the rats they were. Even alone, I was far too much trouble for the likes of them and they knew it. They would wait for much easier prey.

Finally, I came upon the home of Irori. There had been no hiding here. There had been no overrun by the needy. This had been a battle! Glorious battle was met here! The priests of may have Irori fallen in honorable combat, but they made the bastards work for it. Discarded pieces of armor were strewn about the disarray of floor; cracked helmets, broken swords, discarded arrows, stray pieces of plate mail. This was not the doing of the rabble Grey Maidens. Surely, this was some of the Devil Queen’s own guard at work here. Sabina’s personal warriors had a play in this. They saw righteous resistance and they attempted to stamp it out with overwhelming force of arms. The people of Irori would not sit idly as this menace overtook the city. They had spoken right and true! They had died for their righteousness. But, they had died with their spirits intact.

Wiping away eyes suddenly wet with tears, I turned and there, on the back of the door, fresh paint with the open palm. Some of them had made it! The faith had not been extinguished by the monstrous Queen and her devils! There were fighters left. Not here, probably scattered throughout the populace. Like me, they would be fighting. I will go back to my friends. I will play whatever part that Irori had made for me in this conflict. I was elevated from the street urchins for a reason. Irori had seen purpose in me. Now, it was my turn to repay Korvosa for saving my life. Placing my hand within the symbol, I made a silent prayer.

In the darkness, a thrown dagger barely missed my bowed head. Sensing my distraction, the scavengers had returned. Perhaps they think to find me overcome with despair. Instead, they find me filled with indignant purpose! These street rats will trouble no others in this city.

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There's No Place Like Home... (Reka)

I am home, finally home. While Queen Ileosa has done an admirable job of lessening the population stress on the area, there is an unnatural taint to the air, so I’m pretty sure she’s not doing it for the environment. I’m worried because the river has not even greeted me, and we have been back for days. If she’s permanently harmed Jeggare, I’ll turn into a ferret and eat her face.

The group seems to be a never-ending parade of adventurers. Not only have we lost Aubron and Droskar, but now Sial, Laori, and Blackmoon. We seem to have acquired a very enthusiastic young woman who stands out even more than I do! Probably because she’s so very shiny… and loud. As soon as we were able to get into the city, we made our way to the Grey to meet with our contacts in the Resistance. It was good to see Kressida, Neolandus, and Vencarlo again, but man were they downers with all that bad news, not to mention the giant list of things we’re expected to accomplish!

I mean, we managed to check one thing off, exposing that fraud Blackjack-wannabe for what he is (a genie?!). Still, I don’t know how we’re going to break into the palace to get at the fraud seneschal and Sabine (who Kressida thinks needs to die, despite what Vencarlo and Neolandus believe). Well, I know how I would break in, easily, but with Edelwulf and that Amelia in the group, the rest of the party doesn’t stand a chance [of sneaking in- ed].

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Encroaching Darkness
Scarwall - Karne

The evil of this place is nearly palpable. Here, in this foul place, we are faced with a powerful servant of Zon Kuthon, the thin tapestry of trust we had formed became unraveled. Laori Vaus has been our ally in the past. She helped us against the Emperor of Old Korvosa, she saved Aubron from the otyugh, and she took care of the artist and got him out of Old Korvosa. On the other hand, Sial provided us with shelter in the Shadowlands. In that balance, my trust is with Laori. The struggle we all knew was coming finally came about. I made my choice.

I avoided Sial’s foul magics as I attempted to remove him from the fray. His chain demon was the primary threat, but she would back off if Sial was in danger. Watching her deadly chains, I missed the foul touch of the death priest. I fought the vile magic coursing through my body. As the darkness encroached around my vision like tenebrous, tendrils the last thing I saw was Sial’s sneering face; and then, darkness.

“No! Irori! Why have you forsaken me!!?!?” I cried out in despair. I thought the sound echoed in the chamber, but it wasn’t my voice. Laori was sacrificing herself to become the new caretaker of the Star Tower. How did we get here?


Escaping the shadow dragon, we entered the actual crypt of the Zon Kutha hold. There were ghosts of the dead priests wandering the halls. We ventured down into the base of the structure and found an ancient, dead creature of power. Sial engaged the creature and they spoke in the guttural tongue of the creatures of the dark. I don’t know what Sial discussed, but we were granted passage to continue. We entered the deep crypt and found the Star Tower caretaker. He barred our passage until one of us agreed to take on the mantle of caretaker.

In a moment of strong character, Edelwulf, volunteered to become the caretaker for all time if he could be reunited with his daughter. I am touched by his willingness to sacrifice and his love for family. I am proud to be one of his many companions. But the caretaker refused. And that is when the dark priests went to war. The chain demon tricked noble Edelwulf into attacking Laori, Reka became a giant beast, and Aidan faded into the shadows. Laori’s fell powers were no match for Edelwulf’s steel and she fell first. Fleeing to accept the caretaker’s offer.


In the aftermath of Laori’s sacrifice, we prepare to move deeper into Scarwall. I sit on the floor, meditating; trying to keep myself from wallowing in despair. A white tiger appeared to me in the darkness. Shining brightly the tiger only looked at me. I pleaded with it for my sight. I begged to be whole again. The tiger just stared. And that was when it occurred to me. I was marred for failing to be perfect. This is my penance for failing to keep my faith strong in the face of a test. I nodded in understanding. The tiger nodded and padded off into the darkness. I could feel the power of Irori washing over me. I will take this test and I will pass it with pride.

Hopping back up to my feet, I nodded to my companions and prepared to proceed. The curse of this place will not defeat me. Irori is my guide now. I will trust in his strength.

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A crumpled note that looks like it's been eaten... (Aidan)

Journal entry 96

The keep continues to provide new macabre horrors. As we trudge forward (the rest of the page is damp, torn, and – if one inspects closely – appears to be eaten… as if by a half-wit barbarian or savage…

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I Grow Tired of Death and Pain... (Eldwulf)

Once again…the dead rise…

The pile of bones in the corner…another tormented creature. This castle is never ending both in size and the magnitude of its evil. Every room stinks of rot and death…and nothing….nothing is as it seems.

Karne made the mistake of moving too close to an oven…only to have the entire room engulfed in flames…

We go up a set of stairs and we are met by skeletal Minotaurs…and at least these creatures are solid…my blade and flail can strike something real…the apparitions, specters, ghosts of the dead are on every hallway, in every corner, and constantly watching us…always watching…

Aidan is visibly shaken, it would appear that his magic has little effect here. Aubron has been lost to the shadow realm…and now…NOW while we are knee deep in bones, and ghasts, and ghouls…it appears that Sial does not trust Laori and she does not trust him.

Sial says Laori is a traitor…so he confided with me, Karne said Laori confided in her and told her as much about Sial…so perhaps…perhaps there will be more new corpses in this tomb of the dead before we make our way back to Korvosa.

And as we trudge forward, still the image of my daughter haunts me…I continue to see her…once again I heard the cry of that little girl…I knew it could not be her…but she seemed to be in so much pain…never ending pain…I fought my desire to go into that room, I fought the desire to rush in and save her…I knew better…but I could not help myself…I had to help her.

Again…another pile of bones…another tormented soul…I grow tired of this pain and death!

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WORST.DUNGEON.EVER (Reka)
Seriously... the worst.

While I welcome the chance to fight alongside my companions again, I fear for the safety of Jeggare, and feel a sense of urgency to finish this and return to Korvosa. Together though, I believed we could defeat the blight of evil and rescue our fair city.

Unfortunately, I had not accounted for the blight to be quite so… blight-y.

From our first steps into the Scarwall, across the bridge, we were set upon by an army of undead. Corpses marched across, led by an even stronger undead, mounted upon what must have in its day been a magnificent horse, though it was constrained under the yoke of oppression. The skeletons were faster and stronger than we expected, quickly surrounding Karne, Edelwulf, and Black Moon. My spells, while appearing to work, had little effect. I worry that it is the miasma of undeath that pervades this place, perverting the natural order of things and weakening my magic. Honestly though, the creepy dude seemed to have little luck, and even Edelwulf wasn’t able to hit enough of them to contain the onslaught, driven forward by their infernal leader. It was only through judicial channeling of his god that Black Moon was able to kill the majority of the undead while the rest of us attempted to unhorse the leader. It wasn’t until Karne was able to knock the lance from his hand that we were able to subdue him and release the poor horse from its unnatural life.

From there it was a frantic run through what seemed a killing chute – running through corridors full of arrow slits as Edelwulf, Karne, and Black Moon attempted to break down or lift door after portcullis after door.

When we finally made our way out of the killing chute, we entered a room of death. It was full of corpses – fleshy, recent corpses – though those corpses bore a layer of dust. Extremely unsettling, the others began to note that the corpses were moving! Before I could get a sense of what was happening, the pile of corpses reached out and grabbed both me and Black Moon and began dragging us in, apparently to consume us and add us to the pile. It was disgusting, anathema to everything I am. I did the only thing I could think to do, and call upon the power of nature to grant me the form of a fire elemental. The corpse pile did not like that, but it was not as damaging to it as I had hoped. It was a near thing, but we managed to kill (? again?) the pile and escape the room.

This whole place needs to be set on fire and cleansed by a storm.

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The Journey to Scarwaul Begins (Karne)
Into the Shadowrealm

Following an evening of insightful dreams and shared experiences, the party sets out on their journey to the Belkzen to find Scarwaul. Aidan was somewhat more, put out by the harrowing experiences, and needed some extra time to recover. Black Moon Stands Against the Tide has joined our group. He is a Shoanti warrior with a mighty hammer of power. I look forward to having him join us.
~
" Irori spoke to me! I had a vision! I am on the right path! The Master of Masters approves of what I am doing and is guiding my hand! I will not fail!"
~
Aidan brings us all into the Shadowrealm and we cross leagues in moments! In the actual shadow realm, we come across some denizens of the Shadowrealm. Edelwulf is somewhat upset by the unusual scenario and we engage the beasts. They are insubstantial and we decide it is best to flee. Edelwulf , on the brink of rage, is not reasoning well. I save him from himself. Tying him in a lock of limbs, I bring him along. We flee across the dark plane until we find a tower. It is the home of the worshippers of Zon-Kuthon. Their goals are similar to ours. The two gods are on the same path! Surely, our success is guaranteed! Sial is somewhat mysterious, but Laori is as generous as always. They give us some advice, which is mostly similar to what Reka already told us. It is good to have allies in the struggle against the Fel Queen!

We continue along our path and arrive at the edge of Skarwaul. Immediately on arrival, our position is given away by the human’s need for light. BAH! Glorious battle is joined! Arrows rain down on us from the ruins. Orcs are upon us! We engage them and the arcane powers begin to mix. A thick fog appears in the middle of the battlefield. This is the cover we need to turn the tide! Then, there is a second cloud of fog, but this cloud is full of noxious fumes! Surely these orcs have a shaman among them! We flee to a secluded section of the building and continue the struggle. The mighty Edelwulf was laid low by the fumes! He will be cleaning that armor for many hours to come. The orcs were dispatched, I didn’t identify which of them was the shaman. Surely, the shaman perished in the acid pit. Foolish shaman undermining his very own companions with such fel magics! I am so glad we have Magisters as talented as Aidan!
~
The area was clear of orcs. Their face paint is unfamiliar to me. I am of mixed emotion, being around villain orcs. I have lived in Korvosa my entire life, this is….different. These orcs are definitely villainous, and I feel no fault in slaying these orc savages. I will meditate on this as I center myself for the trials ahead. I have to calm myself and think clearly if we are to discover what has happened to Aubron. He failed to return with us from the Shadowrealm. I suspect his dealings with the shadows have finally brought him a comeuppance, but we must pursue our friend to know for sure.

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Shoanti legend (DM)

Hundreds of years ago, a Shonti warrior returned from a great battle with a relic of evil. The foe, a dragon, would not die, even when struck down by a holy sword and burned in a pyre for days. The bones of this beast rattled on with a vile life still. There were split up and taken to the ends of the earth so that they could never be reunited again. The Shoanti were trusted with the fangs of the great serpent. Taking them to the southern tip of their land and entombing them in a great pyramid that rose on the shore since time immemorial, the broken fangs were interned for all time. Or so it was thought. 500 years ago the Cheliax came from across the sea and with conquest in their eyes and bloody thoughts in mind; they seized the lands from the Shoanti and raised the city of Korvosa on the very spot – constructing their seat of power, castle Korvosa, atop the ziggurat. The Shoanti failed to take back their sacred place and feared the day would come when the evil with in would be unearthed. That day has come now, unleashed by the Queen Ileosa of Korvosa.

To Belkzen we must now travel, to find the citadel of Scarwall and hopeful the sword Sitheral, that we may cut the crown of fangs from the queen and stop this doom before it spreads.

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Celebrations and Omens (Edelwulf)
What a Party!!

After finally passing all of the trials and tribulations that were necessary to become Shoanti and later on members of the Skarclaw clan, the time finally came to throw one hell of a party and to finally eat and drink…hell with the last three days holding up ridiculously large pillars and minimal rest it was good to sit, enjoy the fire, and drink.

And what drinks they were…I swear after staring at that pyre for what seemed to be an eternity, I began to see figures dancing in the flames…almost like a vision of things to come…a darkness that will come across the land from the north, dragons rising to the south, and a three eyed raven saying something about winter is coming…which is a good thing as far as I am concerned…it is scorching here in the cinderlands...we could use a cooling down…but as I said…there must have been something in those drinks because before long I swear I saw my daughter dancing amongst the throngs of Shoanti.

But it could not be…I saw her cut down by that butcher, however, I have seen enough wonders and magics to know that this life is not the final stop but merely a beginning, so I looked for her…then I ran after her…then I finally saw her enter a tent and upon stepping in…I was back in Old Town, on the docks by the warehouse…the ware house where the riots first started, where I had lost my joy. There I was finally able to speak to her again…but she was not at the great gilded hall with my ancestors. No…she was trapped in that wretched sess pool of a city, Korvosa, trapped on this plane by thequeen, or more likely, by that ancient evil dragon which she now serves and seems to control more and more each passing day. She was scared and alone. As if taking her from me was not punishment enough, as if making her suffer at the hands of that mad man was not enough, no…the gods have truly spit upon me and my daughter…

So, I will spit in the face of their plans…on the spirits and by the strength of my ancestors, I vow to release my daughter from this plane, and I swear upon her soul that my sword will cleave the head off the queen to get it done!

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