Curse of the Crimson Throne

Sand Storms, Seething Shoggoth , and Secret Spheres (Droskar)

The journey across the Cinderlands was harsh but no more than expected. Our supplies held and Silent Wolf and Gregor brought in a little game some days. Eliza was a better cook that expected and Droskar and Two Moons told tales of the Shoanti at night (or Eliza sang). In the end we arrived at the acropolis well rested but just ahead of a fierce sand storm. Taking shelter in the mouth of the ancient edifice our retainers made camp while we sought the mark of Desna.

We found that the ruins were in fact Thessalonian far predating Korvosa or the Shoanti. And it seemed to have a pest problem – Krojun followed us but seemed to mean no harm, being trapped by the same storm we were sheltering from. He also meant us no aid and did not help when we were once again set upon by the red mantis assassins – whether they were here, waiting in ambush for us, or followed us in un-noticed somehow we will never know as they all fell in battle.

Exploring the depths of the crypt we found active magics despite the passage of eons. Finally, a large sphere carved in the likeness of the land expanded our thoughts and gave us great sprit visions (except Eldwulf who’s lack of spirt was shown to all). Upon returning to the mundane world those of us that were found worthy were marked by the goddess. Our task complete we wait only on the storm to break so that we may proceed.

The final personage to appear to us in this apparently teeming ruin was a worshiper of Zon-Kuthon with his bound …furry? In any case he requested that we stay in his magical fortress of bones and that he be permitted to follow us to " observe" our deeds. We politely declined on both offers but agreed to meet him when we return to Korvosa.

Oh, and Aubron awoke a terrible elder thing not of this world within the black depths of the penis pools.

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Really...This is the barbarian horde?!?! No Wonder they lost Korvosa (eldwulf)

Weeks of travel have brought us once again to Thousand Bones and the sacred mounds that his clan protect for the Shoanti that have passed to the next world. While it was good to once again speak to Thousand Bones and hear his wisdom, his clan did not have the necessary information that could bring down “our” queen and had little knowledge of the teeth of the dragon. While it was disheartening to hear that we had endured so long a journey for limited insight, we were told that the Sun Clan could better assist us and perhaps had the knowledge that we were seeking.

The month long trudge up to the mounds of skulls was the now the easy part of our journey. What I witnessed next only sunk my hopes of the Shoanti ever controlling their homelands again. First, the great warrior, Curmudgeon, challenges our weakest member, Droskar to a feat of strength….and DROSKAR WINS!!! Not a knock down drag out battle of wills and strength where Droskar got lucky or played an illegal gambit…nope, Droskar whoops him but good…it is almost not even a contest…and this…THIS…is their great warrior. They would stand no chance against the grey maidens should they be foolish enough to attack.

Then we start to hear of what is required of us…What is required of us so that the SHOANTI do not go marching off to their doom!!! SO MUCH RAGE!!!!
1. Go see the Sun Clan…but they do not trust you…so
2. Go see these other guys to get a truth speaker….but they will not trust you….soooooo
3. Go to the Thrall Mounds of Go Fuck yourself get a shiny for the truth speakers….
4. So that they can tell the Sun Clan that we are not shameck….so that
5. They do not go raging off to war against Korvosa … and this way
6. We find our how to stop the queen…..

Let it all burn…Fire cleanses all…..it si the Cinderlands after all….

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Test of Strength (Karne)
Rolling through the plains

Thousand Bones and One Life, chief of the Skull Clan, have been very helpful in meeting with us and trying to help undermine the power of Kazon working through Queen Ileosa. That is, until we are interrupted by the less than friendly Krojun (Eats What He Kills) of the Sun Clan. He spoke at length with Droskar in the language of the Shoanti. Even without knowing the language, I could tell that hard words were being exchanged. Before too long, it was clear that a challenge of strength was coming. Edelwulf was the obvious choice, but Fancy Pants was insistent.

Leather straps were tied to their ears and they went through excruciating pain in a test known as Sredna. Krojun seemed to have Fancy Pants clearly out matched, but he held in. Much to our surprise, Droskar showed great reserves of inner strength, Irori would be proud. All of us were really impressed, no one more impressed than I. I have said prayers to Irori in his honor. Fancy Pants no more, his name is Droskar, proud Shoanti Sorcerer, and our companion. After the exchange, the Shoanti looked on us with much more respect. Outsiders in name, we seem to have made great inroads to the Skull Clan.

The Skull Clan do not have the information we need. We must seek out the Sun Clan, however, they will not talk to outsiders such as ourselves. We have to prove to them that we are worthy. It is our task to face the “Mountain that crawls and the fire that roars.” We can only do this if we have proof. A truth speaker is needed to verify our task. We must first travel to the North West in order to contact the Lyrune -Quah and earn the services of a “Truth Speaker.” The Lyrune-Quah are fine worshipers of Desna.

The Lyrune-Quah respect travelers and seekers of new knowledge. We must first travel to the Acropolis of the Thrall Keepers to search for the mark of the Sklar-quah. The Thrall Keepers are said to venerate the symbol of the 7 pointed star. That symbol doesn’t seem familiar to us, perhaps Aidan will be able to decipher it when we get there. Thousand Bones and One Life presented us with several gifts to aid our travels. The journey there we are being scryed by some foreign power and our journey is being paralleled by Krojun.

Along the way, we have come across the skulls of slain Shoanti with bright red crossbow bolts in their eyes atop a spear. Silent Wolf tells us that this is the mark of the Cinder Crawler, who kills lone braves in the plains of the Cinderlands.

We approached a series of passages in the steppes. There are pockets of flaming gas scattered throughout the plains, instant death to the unwary. Before we could explore it very well, we were set upon by a stampede of aurochs. The thunderous roar of their charge was deafening. We scattered to safety and Aubron used his shadow magic to create a wall and divided the herd. Surely, we are near the Acropolis, but now, with a full belly of roast auroch we prepare to roam the plains again.

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Enter the Dustbowl (Karne)

We had taken leave of the town of Harse. Staying only long enough to gather some supplies and attempting to keep a low profile. We split off to allow Vencarlo and Neolandus to continue on to Janderhoff via a separate course. The Queen‘s assassins are on our very heels and we can perhaps confuse our trackers by pursuing separate destinations. If not for Vencarlo’s skill with the blade, I would fear for their safety in the wilds.

In the wilds of the loose forests, Aubron fell afoul of some wicked weeds and developed an unpleasant rash. Fancy Pants believes that he can cure it with his urine but Edelwulf believes his special “salve” will do the trick. How I long for the closed off streets of Korvosa. These wilds are…uncomfortable. Edelwulf lost his senses to that devil mask. Aiden managed to “fix” it with his sorcery.

Continuing to Kaer Maga, we found a collection of oily rogues with nothing but murder, thievery, or begging on their minds. I was glad to be free of that place as soon as possible. Surely, Aubron knew some associates among the villains we encountered.

Using the elevator, we ascended to the bare flats of the Cinderlands. Nothing but bleak, open plains and enormous boulders. This area is so, very…….open. I would give fine silver for the busy sights, sounds, and smells of Korvosa. Our second day in the wilds, we were attacked by enormous eagles! They swopped from the skies on wings of death. Talons like spears and beaks like swords! Through a combined might of sorcery and skill at arms they were defeated. Gods above, what monsters live here.

Shortly after the fight, some Shoanti warrior joined Fancy Pants. They spoke a lot of barbarian speech. Meh. We continued to the Skull Clan’s camp and met with some of the other Shoanti. Thousand Bones is here and they have a pet dragonne? I hope we don’t have to stay here long. I have dust all over me. I want some juicy sweet snacks from the streets of Korvosa.

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Out of the fire and into the Cinderlands (Droskar)

Having made a seemingly clean escape of old Korvosa by boat, we quickly made our way to a safe house Vencarlo had established on the mainland. To prepare for the journey ahead Droskar and Adian returned to Korvosa to collect supplies only to find they were being watched. A magical escape lead to a false sense of security that was shattered later that night when were once again set upon by the feared Red Mantis assassins. Although we carried the day (er..night?) the last assassin warned the “she” would still be coming for us before he went on to meet his maker.

Traveling to the northwest we came to a small farm town where Vencarlo had old friends to help hide us as well as having an old companion join us once again. Here we learned more of the evil that has befallen our city from Neolandus.

It seems the queen had been wandering the catacombs of the castle, catacombs that predate even the Shoanti that lived here before Korvosa was founded. These catacombs were supposed to be haunted and held a dire secret – they were the resting place of an evil artifact called Midnight’s Teeth. An artifact that Neolandus believes actually contain the essence of Kazavon, an ancient blue dragon from the time of the Rune Lords. He thinks that the queen now wears this artifact as a crown and that she is possessed.

As it was the Shoanti who were the guardians of this artifact before they were slaughtered and driven from their land it is them we turn to now in hopes of understanding and thereby overcoming this shadow that has befallen us all.

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Escape from Old Korvosa

The moments after the battle itself were somewhat of a haze. Edulwulf, Aubron, and I had finally managed to fell the foul, otherworldly creature which had been the power behind the horrors of the Arkona household. The few thrusts of Aubron’s rapier seeming to do more damage than the mighty swings of Edelwulf’s greatsword. The hellish creature had the lithe body of a beautiful woman with the snarling, vicious head of a fox! It had been a horrible sight! Worse, the foul creature used the skills and talents of a monk! Never before had it occurred to me that my monk talents could be used as a tool of evil! The discipline and dedication to order it takes to gain my abilities are intense! I sacrificed so much to become what I am. My entire world view is changed. I will have to speak to the priests of Irori to understand what this means. I am sure I looked the dullard; staring at the corpse as Edulwulf and Aubron stripped it of its valuables. The overwhelming “wrongness” of the entire scene had overcome me. The deathtrap which was the labyrinth overhead; the monstrous, animated corpses of the behemoths which moved the very floors above; and this shape shifting monster. It had been too much. The foul creature even controlled shape shifting minions! How long had Meliya’s spy been among us? Disguised as Droskar’s dagger, what foul secrets had it been whispering into Fancy-britches’s ears? He would bear some watching for a while. Even now, Droskar stood apart from us, apparently something unsettling had passed between him and Aubron in the room beyond the illusionary wall. No telling what tricks those two were up to. The naturalist, Reka, snapped me back to the present. Aidan had secreted Vencarlo and Neolandus to safety. We had to make our escape.

Working our way back to the main caverns, we found Aidan and the two men preparing the ship. Aidan’s careful spell use had surely been our salvation in the catacombs behind us. The evil monk was skilled in our martial craft as well as in the use of spells. her agility and powers may have been too much for us if he hadn’t overcome her with his powers. I will no longer look on his books and robes with disdain.

Settling into the craft, I noticed that there was no clear passage out of the cavern. Aidan pointed at one of the walls and I took another look. Sure enough, there was yet another illusion! These rakshasas were creatures of a thousand deceptions! Setting free from the dock, we made our way towards the wall. No sooner had we left the dock than a wicked roar revealed the largest reefclaw I had ever seen emerging from the deep pool at the base of the cavern. As usual, Aidan was the first to react, he let fly several balls of magical energy from one of the wands in his robes. Edelwulf bellowed a challenge at the creature as Reka began chanting one of her prayers. Neolandus took cover in the ship while Vencarlo defiantly readied his rapier in arms barely strong enough to hold the weapon steady. Aubron disappeared into the shadows as Droskar reached into his robes for a rod, saying, “This thing is NOT immune to fire!” And the world exploded in a wave of heat and steam as the fireball exploded just behind the reefclaw. It seemed to take everyone a few moments to recover from the shock. Even the creature reeled in combined pain and fury. In the reprieve, Edelwulf and I appear to have had the same thought as we both reached for the remaining two javelins Meliya Arkona had used to such drastic effect earlier. When we turned back to the beast, Aidan had managed to temporarily ensnare the beast in magical webs securing it to one wall of the tunnel. With such a precarious position, we knew that would not hold it long. Turning and throwing in swift motions, we let the javelins fly. In mid air the flying steel turned into bolts of lightning striking the creature with thunderous claps! It was wounded, severely, but not quite enough. It began tearing at the webs. In a moment, it would be free and our escape route would be in peril of falling to its monstrous claws. Edelwulf and I stared at each other as we realized we were out of ranged weapons.

With a firm nod, Edelwulf drew his great sword and went to the aft of the ship, bellowing challenges at the beast, Vencarlo at his flank, rapier gleaming with an inner light. I took up a position near the dock, my fists glowing with crackling energies, ready to distract the beast if it came towards the boat. Reka, understanding my intent, joined me on the dock and let loose a cloudburst at the creature. It seemed to chitter its annoyance. as it closed on us. “If it snaps the mast or cracks the hull, the ship is done for!” I yelled, “Protect the boat!” Just then, another bolt of lightning sped from the boat to strike the reefclaw exploding its head in a shower of exoskeleton and sizzling gore. Looking for Droskar or Aidan, I saw Aubron standing with an outstretched rod and a look of surprised wonder on his face.

“I didn’t know it could do THAT!” he said. Edelwulf exploded into laughter as Droskar and Aidan grumbled something about “wild magic.” Making our way to the ship again, we departed for the ocean. With Droskar, Aubron, and I navigating, it was a simple matter to avoid the patrols in the dark. Once the main danger was over, I turned my attention to the seneschal. The rags and grime covering him do not effectively eclipse the regal bearing of the man. Sensing my gaze on him, he turns and regards me carefully. He looks each of us over, then looks to Vencarlo. The two of them nod at each other, and then Neolandus clears his voice to speak.

“You are just the kind of heroes I was hoping to find! Only heroes of great skill and noble purpose can use what I have learned about the Queen to bring her terror to an end! What I know is far too dangerous to the Queen. She will not suffer my return to the city. We must travel elsewhere. Vencarlo has suggested we journey to the nearby town of Harse, where he has allies to keep us safe while we plan our next move. " For some reason, Aubron perks up at this bit of news. Surely, it is something nefarious. I will have to keep a special eye on him among the simple village folk. Neolandus continues, “But first, tell me what has transpired in the city since the death of the King. I must know!” Aidan and Droskar go through a collection of our adventures since the death of the King. At the retelling of the failed assassination attempt by the head of the guard, both Neolandus and Vencarlo are in shocked alarm; Vencarlo curses under his breath. Neolandus nods sadly to himself, “It is as I suspected. The Queen has become something more than human. She has found a way to channel the power of a draconic warlord long thought to be dead.” Droskar leans in a little closer. “As long as she wears the Crown of Fangs, she will retain great power! There may be no way to defeat her,” he looks out over the water as the sun begins to rise. “Unless…” he starts and then pauses to gathers his thoughts, “Many years before the Cheliax came to Varisia, the region of Korvosa was tribal land of the Shoanti.” Droskar’s eyes gleam with interest. “They believed that this area was the seat of a great evil. The keepers of this knowledge, if they still live, are hidden among the Shoanti tribes of-”

“The Cinderlands!” Droskar finishes for him.

“Yes, they are who we must seek, if we are to uncover the secret to undoing the Queen’s power.” With the rising of the sun, we make our way to the shore. We do our best to hide the ship and make our way inland towards the town of Harse.

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Ruffled Feathers (Reka)
Why does no one listen to me?!

The descent into the labyrinth beneath the Arkona estate went about as well as could be expected. The labyrinth turned out to be controlled by a series of levers that actually rotated the rooms! It was entirely too complicated, but I was unconcerned. We had Aidan to puzzle out the mechanism, Aubron in his Blackjack britches to find traps, Karne to knock enemies over, Edelwulf to hit said enemies, and Droskar to scowl and smell pretty.

It even went well at first. We faced giant cobras and a Rakshasa. With proper application of a pile of rubble and a few well-placed water balloons by yours truly, we beat them rather handily. I only had to heal Edelwulf once (or twice), but that had nothing to do with the pile of rubble he happened to have been buried beneath…

Flush with our success, we ventured deeper into the labyrinth. It was when we came to a hallway bounded on both sides by a mural that was eerily similar to a nightmare I had had several times that I grew uneasy. The rest of the party went down the hallway; I rather sensibly refused. Then, while they continued to not listen to me, the labyrinth shifted, with none of us pushing a lever. There was a new room behind me, and in it was Vencarlo! I healed him (because that’s what you do when an ally is injured), but he recoiled from my spell.

Of course, the party was so overjoyed that we had found him, they chose to overlook my comment about his reaction and my observation that it is rather suspicious that someone would rotate the labyrinth to help us find Vencarlo, who conveniently knew a way out of the labyrinth. The party, unthinking, chose to follow Vencarlo (instead of looking for the still missing seneschal) and believe him when he says that Glorio was behind everything.

I attempted to dispel whatever spell was making Vencarlo act unlike himself, but I seem to have failed, and he noticed. Following the party and raising objections the entire way, I knew I had to act. When we reached the second floor of the Arkona house, I created a mist and called for Glorio to flee. Something was amiss and I had to put a stop to it before something horrible was done that could not be undone.

Instead of finally listening to me, Vencarlo decried me as a traitor, and my friends listened to him! It was all I could do to change to bird form and escape to the gardens. I only hope my distraction was warning enough for Glorio.

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Into the Dark (Droskar)

With the emperor fallen, we attempted to impose some order on Old Korvosa. Slow work but necessary. Questioning Salvatore Scream we learned that Vencarlo and seneschal Neolandus were last seen at the Arkona compound. Despite the guards on the old fort wall we managed to get to their compound without issue. Once escorted in to see the lord of the house the house guards abandoned their post – curious?

Once inside we spoke to Glorio in his bathing chamber where the decadent noble admitted that it is Meliya who really rules and he has been manipulated against his will to do her bidding. He revealed to us that she did in fact have both Vencarlo and the seneschal held in captivity in a labyrinth under the house, and that her intent was to torture them for her personal amusement. Glorio was nice enough to explain how to gain access to the labyrinth and warn us that it is dangerous; however, he declined an invitation to join us. The more physical natured members of our party were not interested in forcing him to accompany us into the unknown, siding with Adian that it was unnecessary.

Finding the entrance to the labyrinth was easy; moving into its depths was not. We were immediately set upon by strange giant undead seeming creatures who appeared out of thin air, were immune to fire or fear, could fly about the room, and left stinking clouds of disease in their wake. We survived, but barely. Aubron has been magically shrunk, our spells have been depleted, but our injuries healed and we prepared to journey into the unknown depths in order to save our friend and perhaps all of Korvosa.

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The emperor and his new grooves

The Blood Veil still runs rampant in Old Town and the queen has left her subjects to fend and scratch for themselves in the streets. There is no food, water, nor fuel for many of the residents that still live there and with the Grey Maidens guarding every way in and out, it is no wonder that a fool’s idol like the Emperor was able to secure some power and take charge of the area. While he has no royal blood within him, given the amount of innocent blood that he and his lieutenants spilled while in power, perhaps he is related to the queen after all. In the end he was as hollow as the people that rule this city, the nobles that fight for the queen’s scraps, and a plague that needed to be dealt with like the one we had just recently conquered.

His men were a joke, one of them was finally able to lay a hand on me, or at least I think he did, his punch merely tickled my jaw, once 20 of them laid dead before us, and not a scratch could be found on any of us, the rest of his “army” turned tail and fled. While the sport of blood pig was a great time and Reka made a great showing of what a large eagle looks like, in the end the emperor, like all the other pigs before him, will be offered up to his starving wolverines. More fodder for the city and yet another sacrifice made in blood to the dark gods that have turned their eyes on this place.

Edelwulf

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There's something strange in the neighborhood... (Eldwolf)

The plague is over, yet a new disease has spread to Old Town…

The way she looked at me, the toss of her hair, and the grip on her steel, reminds me so much of my lovely Elandra. To hold her one more time, to see her in my arms, one last time…I thought these thoughts to be the pining of a fool…someone who was lost to be so long ago, a fool’s delirium, a past taken away from me too soon, too fast. Yet there in the throne room of this cesspool’s heart, while our queen was moving faster than I have ever seen any other mortal move, was my vision…that reminder and hope of a day that I thought I would never feel again.

As the captain of the hippogriffs lay dead at the feet of the queen, the panic and noise that followed just melted away as our eyes locked as if we were the only two left. AS I approached her to take her from the noise and despair, Sabina interrupted us. For now she gets to keep her head, however, the next time she flashes her steel in my direction, she will no longer have the means to grasp her sword!

While I have scoured every Gray Maiden I see hoping to once again catch sight of her, our mission to Old Town has reduced my chances of spying her as there is no order here ’cept for the gangs of grunts ordered around by the “emperor”. It seems that no matter who is in charge…once they get a taste of power they go mad with it…perhaps I should have abandoned my lot and gone with the Shanti to raze this place to the ground….yet if that would have occurred, would we have never met…perhaps there is more that needs to play out.

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