Curse of the Crimson Throne

To Those Lost and To Those Who Remain
Battle of the Crimson Rain Part 5

The day after the battle came. Though the storm in the sky had dissipated, the storms in the minds of the Champions had not. Each of them struggled with what had transpired and how that changed them. Some had their resolve only hardened while others had questioned their own.

Blackjack sought validation amongst those who came before and from peers. Some sought redemption for past actions so they may move forward, such as Ari and Clara. Some sought to distract themselves from the horrific chain of events that led them here, like Anja and Orion.

Regardless of what they did to cope with what happened, the Champions decided to take Hawke’s body back to his hometown; a growing port town called Sandpoint located on the Lost Coast. After saying their goodbyes to those who couldn’t come with them, the Champions and their companions gathered around Strog and were at the northern gate of Sandpoint.

Not long after their sudden appearance, the Mayor Belor Hemlock approached and greeted them to their humble town. Seeing the body of the man he looked after in his younger years, he quickly understood what had happened and offered them a place to stay, along with directions to key points in Sandpoint. While most took this time to go with the flow, Anja immediately asked for her nephew. Knowing of who she spoke of, he told her to visit the “Drunken Mother” who resides in the Cathedral.

Ari told her friends that she would secure lodging at the Rusty Dragon Inn, while the rest of the Champions took Hawke’s body to a mausoleum that the town made for him. However, Orion pulled Grunt to the side to ask the ranger for advice about how to honor Hawke the Shoanti way. While Grunt had no solid ideas due to his lack of proper upbringing, he suggested talking to the mayor about it since he was born within an actual tribe.

The heroes, along with their friends and allies, led the body to his final resting place, next to his beloved friends, Anri, Stein, and Friede, that Rand took from him ten years ago. The High Priest of the cathedral, a Desnan cleric named Abstalar Zantus, informed them of a larger ceremony they were going to hold for him later on in the day, and that all of the citizens were probably going to come. He advised them to relax beforehand and to find the time to unwind while they are here.

Though they thanked him for his advice, the Champions told him that they had business to attend to before then. Anja, Clara, and Blackjack prayed in the church for a moment before continuing with what they had in mind. Anja asked for the “Drunken Mother” and after some cloak and dagger conversations, she, along with Blackjack, Clara, and Ari (after she secured lodging), were led to a priest cell far in the back of the cathedral. They slowly opened the door to see who this mysterious person was.

Upon opening the door, they were immediately greeted by Joseph as he hugged his aunt and said hello to the rest. This much needed display of family and affection was followed by an elderly dwarf woman in priestly garments. After some discussion, she revealed herself to be Friede, the dwarf cleric of Cayden Cailean who followed Hawke in his adventure. Believed to be dead, she explained that the Drunken God saved her the day that Rand Gilver betrayed all of them.

In awe of the woman who raised Hawke when he was a child, the heroes present bombarded her with questions. Though there were many, Friede answered as many as she could. Anja asked about Cayden Cailean, while Ari asked about Rand Gilver. Clara asked about Hawke while Blackjack was simply in shock of the whole situation.

When Ari asked for more information on the Thassilonian Empire, Friede pointed her in the direction of the local sage, Brodert Quink, which led to her immediate departure. She quickly found her way to the scholar’s home, and after introductions were out of the way, found herself asking many questions about the ancient empire. Building a quick rapport with Quink, Ari has decided to study with him during her time in Sandpoint so she may discover more about Rand and his connection to it.

Clara had asked about Hawke and the trial that he went through to gain the name Stormhawke. Friede answered that apparently a large Thunderbird appeared before him one day and challenged him. According to Hawke’s own words, the gigantic bird will only appear when it believes you to be worthy. With these words, Clara found herself a small area to focus on the blade and hoped to communicate with it. While she was able to talk to the spirit of the blade, it told her she was not ready yet for its full power. Not wanting to waste the time, she tried to recall any memories from her time within the Gray Maidens. Almost triggering a breakdown, she happened to remember a Vudrani woman who looked like she could be related to Ishani. This woman did torture Clara while she was there, but that’s all Clara remembered. She spent the rest of the day relaxing before the ceremony.

Orion met the mayor at his office at Town Hall, and inquired about Shoanti burial rites. While Mayor Hemlock informed him that he renounced his heritage a long time ago, he did tell the young rogue about a rite that involved two identical necklaces bearing the deceased’s spirit animal. The living would keep one in remembrance and the other would be buried with the dead. Orion and Hemlock came to the conclusion that Hawke’s animal would be, unsurprisingly, a hawk, and Orion set out to the market to find a jeweler and a blacksmith. He spent the rest of the day procuring the necklaces and some new weapons, during which he met up with Blackjack within the bazaar area.

Blackjack took the time to sell some items and looked for some items to buy but with no luck as everything was too expensive at the moment. The merchants in town didn’t have enough money to pay for all of the gear they had. Blackjack, however, took the rest of the time to contemplate what he wanted to say at the ceremony.

Anja spent her day with Joseph and Friede, asking questions and drinking some alcohol with the cleric. After a while, Friede decided that Anja was worthy enough to wield the bracers gifted to her by their god. Anja was in awe of the simple bracers that provided a great surge of power from the Accidental God. Their discussion went on for some time, before Anja and Grunt decided to relax by the seaside before the ceremony.

Around late afternoon, the citizens of Sandpoint proceeded to the cathedral to pay respects to their favored son. As Father Zantus began the ceremony with kind words about the Hero of the Storm, he encouraged those who wished to speak on Hawke’s behalf to step up and say their final words to him.

All of the Champions rose to speak. Clara spoke of living up to her hero’s name and reputation and of vengeance against the man who took him from this world. Anja spoke about how he inspired her to do more for the people around her, despite his belief that he was a failure. Ari spoke kind words about the man she once had a passionate dislike for, saying that she was remorseful about his death. Orion spoke of how Hawke gave him a chance to be more than what even Orion believed himself to be and his determination to be the man Hawke saw him to be. Blackjack spoke about how Hawke inspired him to go beyond his limitations and to fight with more than he had. Others rose up to speak about Hawke when he was younger, telling grand tales about how he had saved them, or how he never stopped trying to make the world a better place.

The town and their visitors mourned the hero many of them grew up with, but they knew his work wasn’t finished. The heroes knew they need to prepare for their trip into the Cinderlands and thus decided to wait a week to gather their resources and wits. The Champions’ resolve hardened with the passing of their hero, knowing that the most dangerous leg of their journey was just around the corner.

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When Lightning Strikes Twice
Battle of the Crimson Rain Part 4

Staring down each other in the midst of the battlefield, the Champions glared at their tormentor, Gaedren Lamm. Now truly a monster, Gaedren Lamm flaunted his new vampiric powers as he showed the heroes his power over the minds of their friends. During this time, Ari attempted to sneak behind the mind controlled allies, attempting to bind Strog before he could unleash his powerful magic on the group but was spotted by Clara and Gaedren. The battle ignited as the two forces clashed.

Strog opened the battle with a powerful spell to shape the land into difficult terrain, then followed up with spells of magma and blizzards. Grau attempted to apprehend Ari by first disarming her then attacking her but to no avail. Clara, knowing Blackjack’s and Orion’s preference for skulking around the battlefield awaited to use spells to nullify that advantage before entering the battle head on. Unbeknownst to the heroes, Benjamin was also caught by Gaedren and was sent to kill Brealyn due to his knowledge of her powers. Meanwhile Gaedren jumped into the fray to try and kill Anja and Blackjack.

With the environment itself being ravaged during the battle, the Champions used all their might to fight their nemesis. Orion used his tricks and attacks to try and incapacitate Clara. While this worked for a bit, Clara was able to escape from him to join the rest of the battle. Blackjack attempted to stop Strog himself since he realized the man might cause a lot of problems unhindered. Ari was able to escape Grau to fly back up and began a barrage of arrows towards Gaedren, hoping to put him down for good this time. Anja and Brealyn focused on Gaedren though with Brealyn’s injuries, their efforts were not as effective.

Though they were scattered the Champions began finding a way to defeat their enemies without hurting their allies, leaving Gaedren alone in the battle. Taking massive damage from Anja, Ari, and Brealyn, Gaedren attempted to flee via his gaseous form, but Anja and Brealyn weren’t going to let this man escape. Using her divine might, Anja captured Gaedren’s form and forced it into Jade’s mouth crushing his body and utterly destroying it in the process.

Tensions rose between the heroes, despite their victory, due to Blackjack’s and Orion’s decision to attack their friends. Their arguing almost escalated until Hawke was thrown through them into the ground. Almost collapsing from the damage he took from Rand Gilver, he shouted for all of them to run away while he tried to finish it.

Though one of their greatest enemies fell, another arrived to take his place in the form of Rand Gilver. Having enough of their continued interference, Rand unleashed his overwhelming presence upon them, forcing them to kneel before his power. Most fell under his influence, with the exception of Clara and Strog, though Strog was too afraid to try anything else. Demanding that they all stay out of his way, Rand set his sights on the weakened Hero of the Storm.

As he approached, he demeaned and belittled the Champions’ attempt at heroism. Stating Blackjack follows an ideal that is not his own. Claiming Anja is aimless in her attempts to be a hero. Telling Clara that she is obsessed with sacrificing herself to no avail. Declaring that despite his actions that Orion knows that his dreams are unobtainable. Going so far as to tell Ari,

“You know I’m your ideal, and you should know that your dream never comes true.”

Clara tried to attack him, even unleashing a powerful shock, having little effect, as Rand impaled her and broke her hand as she tries to stop him. Grunt attempted to stop him but was struck so hard, his armor caved in and he fell unconscious. Anja attempted to heal Hawke before rushing the King. Blackjack attempted to stop him but his attacks were beneath the Rune-Piercer’s notice. Brealyn was too injured to try anything. Orion simply laughed at Rand’s logic. Whether it was truly bravery or an attempt to hide his insecurities is unknown but regardless it got under the rogue’s skin. Leading up to Ari standing between the two, hoping that he still wouldn’t raise a finger against her.

Staring each other down, Ari attempted to reason with Rand one last time. Despite his claims that he won’t be stopped, her words gave Hawke enough time to recovering. As he stood up, he told Rand that he wasn’t afraid for the same reason he wasn’t afraid of any of the evils he fought in the past. Something appeared on that day that the Champions never thought could exist, fear in Rand Gilver’s eyes.

In a flash, he appeared before Rand Gilver, using the last vestige of his arcane might to knock him into the air as he declared in a thunderous voice.

“I WILL DEFEAT YOU RAND, BECAUSE YOU ARE A VILLAIN, AND I’M A GOD DAMN HERO!”

Blinking out of sight and reappearing above the King, Hawke slammed down upon his spear, channeling whatever power he had left. The strain against the King and his weapon was too much as it cracked. Giving in that little allowed Hawke to push through his defense, cutting his spear in half along with Rand’s right arm. Standing victorious over his old friend, Hawke demanded that he stand down.

Rand, still with fear on his face, admitted that Hawke was stronger than the two, but wasn’t going to give up. Something about his statement caused Clara to black out, which may have helped her avoid the looks of horror upon her friends’ faces. As the darkness lifted from her eyes, she saw her rapier impaled into Hawke with burn injuries exactly like what happens when she uses her shocking grasp. Horrified at what she did, she broke down in despair, frantically apologizing to Hawke. Taking the opportunity, Rand rose with the tip of his spear in hand, looked down at the man he once fought side by side with. In the moment, Hawke, now kneeling in pain, looked around to see the new generation of heroes and asked simply.

“Would you say I became a hero?”

The question was ended with Rand stabbing Hawke through the heart, killing him on the spot so it seemed. Cries of anguish and rage erupted from the heroes as they rushed in after Rand Gilver. With a sullen look on his face, he turned to walk away, calling for a retreat; All the while being lambasted by the Champions for the unforgivable deed he had committed. After making no progress on hurting or killing the King, he turned to face his opponents to end their lives if they wished to fight him so desperately. His determined look quickly melted to one of terror as he looked past them, stating it should be impossible.

Looking behind themselves to see what could cause this rapid shift in his mood, the party is left aghast at the sight of Hawke standed. His arm and leg broken, his body barely holding together, he stood there almost defiantly. Sword ready to fight again, Hawke stood firm before Rand. Blackjack went back to his mentor to stop him from hurting himself even more, only to discover that Hawke was standing by willpower alone. Unconscious and about to die, Hawke still found the strength to stand up again and to face Rand once more, truly showing everyone what it meant to be a hero.

In his fear, Rand began to retreat faster along with his army. With the exception of Ari, who angrily shot arrows after her former idol, the Champions gathered around the deceased hero, crying in agony at the loss of their friend. Many of their allies soon found them, realizing the horror of what transpired. After mourning their hero, the Champions and their allies returned to the Black Bird Ranch, to rest. Many spent their night alone, contemplating if they even could finish their mission.

One man, though, tried his best to show them that they were stronger than this. Strog brought all who were there and attempted to rally them around Hawke’s sacrifice and the love of their city. Whether it helped or not remains to be seen.

The Champions had a lot of soul searching to do as they had to discover who they were and what they were doing. Deciding to at least take Hawke’s body back to his hometown, Sandpoint, the Champions must make a decision before too long or Korvosa, and all of Varisia, may fall.

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Storms, Be Our Shields
Battle of the Crimson Rain Part 3

A dragon dead before them. The sounds of swords clashing around them. The feeling of relief as many of their friends are safe now. The Champions’ minds turned towards hope as the battle raged on around them. They had saved many people and stopped many enemies. Though they relish in the fact of their accomplishments, they knew it was not done yet as there were more to save. With Ari high above the battlefield, she points out that Trinia, Grunt, and Cressida were in danger. They were surrounded on all sides and it seems as if their squads were decimated.

The group made the decision to save Trinia first since they assumed she was the weakest and needed saving the most. Before Ari could see the rest of the battle before her, the Champions bolted towards the innocent bard running away from a Black dragon.

They reached her before the dragon could destroy her, firing arrows and spells to draw the dragon’s attention. However, the heroes realized it wasn’t alone as several Gray Maidens moved in to apprehend the supposed Kingslayer. Blackjack, Anja, and Orion decided to split from Ari and Brealyn to save Trinia, while the two of them debated how to bring down a dragon.

Firing arrow after arrow, Ari used her divine might to damage the creature as Brealyn caused Jade to grow wings, flying up to the terrible wrym to distract it. All the while, the others fought against a cadre of Gray Maidens surrounding Trinia. One by one, the heroes were able to fend off the unrelenting attacks of the fanatically armored warriors. Though some damage was taken, the fall of the Dragon from the sky signaled their victory in this skirmish. After making sure Trinia was fine and telling her to keep other important creatures distracted, they darted to where Grunt was last seen to save Anja’s lover.

They arrived to see Grunt standing alone against his enemies. Defiant in the face of the largest black dragon on the field and his Red Mantis entourage. With a roar, Grunt engaged his enemies, believing it would be his final fight. His acceptance of death swiftly turned into hope as his friends came to his rescue.

Ari began raining vengeance-imbued arrows upon the massive beast as everyone else rushed to Grunt’s side, showing their defender that he is not alone in this fight. Blackjack and Anja focused on the assassins along with Grunt, as Orion began to climb the back of the dragon. Brealyn had Jade disrupt their movements as best as she could, beginning with keeping the dragon on the ground instead of letting it fly off.

Almost reminiscent of old times, their teamwork prevailed in fighting off the gigantic black terror before them. The assassins fell to their blades but before the final blow against the dragon was struck, the beast took off in flight, finally getting away from the earth elemental keeping him grounded.

Orion held on as best as he could, trying to get some precise attacks in while the beast flew off. Distracted by the pest on his back, the dragon didn’t realize the archer upon a flying carpet giving chase. Ari poised herself in a long ranged stance, took aim, and released a single arrow towards the black shadow in the sky. Finding its mark within the nape of the draconic scourge, the dragon’s final breathe is that of a roar as it plummeted back to the ground. Orion used his feather fall ring to allow safe passage back to the earth.

Adrenaline pumping through their veins and victory in their minds, the Champions rejoiced as their friend was safe once again. Anja held him close as Blackjack made sure no other assassin was coming. Brealyn, relieved that her old friend was safe, joined them in celebration, and Ari watched content that Grunt was safe. Orion booked it back to the group as fast as he could, hoping to regroup before the next threat came their way.

But their joy was for naught, as another body flew by their heads, crashing beyond them with a sickening crack. The lifeless body’s face twisted in horror from the onslaught it just endured. The Champions looked towards where the body was flung to see a new yet familiar face sneering at them. The rejuvenated face of their sworn enemy, the one who united them in the first place, Gaedren Lamm stared them down. He laughed as he believed his vengeance was finally at hand. Snapping his fingers, he revealed that he had picked up some help along the way to kill them, with Grau, Strog, and Clara bearing weapons and spells, ready to unleash upon the Champions.

The heroes’ final bout with the terror of the past was before them. The final page of their terrible beginnings was about to come to a close.

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Lightning, Be Our Blades
Battle of the Crimson Rain Part 2

An invisible yet understood line divided the two armies. An army of mercenaries, guards, and citizens stand together across the way from a sea of grays, reds, and blacks. Heavily armored and well trained Gray Maidens create the body of this extension of Ileosa’s will, with Red Mantis Assassins and Black dragons to reinforce the visage of tyranny and fear.

Parting the vast army with a combination of awe and fear, the King of Korvosa moves to the front of the opposing army. His mere presence causing discomfort and fear amongst the ranks of the Champions’ allies. Despite the heavy rain pouring down on the battlefield, all felt beads of sweat beginning to form as the oppressive sight of the enemy commander became clear to all.

The Gray Maidens stood their ground as their king slowly walked forward. The morale of the revolution began to waver as Rand picked up speed. He reached the halfway point between the two armies as a squad of rebels shouted out and charged him, his presence breaking their discipline. With passion and fervor, they rushed the inquisitor with swords drawn and shields up, only to be met with the overwhelming power that the King possessed. The sight of their comrades being decimated by a single man galvanized the rest of them. So began the Battle of the Crimson Rain.

The two forces clashed in the fields outside Harse. The larger but less experienced rebels against the well trained and well-armed Gray Maidens. The Champions watched as many of their allies and friends ran into the fray to fight against their common enemy.

The Champions began to scan the field for any allies who needed them. Their eyes came across two of their friends who could use reinforcements, Ishani the Cleric and Grau the Guard. Believing Grau could handle himself longer than the more pacifist priest, they rushed to Ishani’s aid.

They arrive to find him surrounded by multiple Gray Maidens. However, the overwhelming skill and power the Champions possessed made this battle exceedingly easy for them to rescue the cleric of Sarenrae. They asked him to be more careful since he is their only hope if someone falls. Seeing the wisdom of their advice, Ishani left the battlefield to go into the healer’s tent to cure the wounds of any soldier coming in.

After confirming Ishani left the battle, the Champions searched for Grau to make sure the swordsman was still alive. They found him but instead of soundly trouncing his opponents, he too was surrounded by Gray Maidens and a couple of young black dragons. With the assistance of the Champions, Grau was able to survive the skirmish and went on to fight in another area of the battle.

The heroes looked around to find other friends to assist. They initially saw Hawke facing off against a large Black dragon. Before they could reach him to help, however, Hawke slayed his enemy before him and moved on to find Rand Gilver. Giving the battle another look around, the group saw three other allies in trouble. They saw Benjamin surrounded by several of his old comrades from the Red Mantis Assassins. They also saw Strog trying to defend the town of Harse from another group of Gray Maidens. Finally they witnessed Vencarlo Orisini facing off against a dragon of his own with a fearless expression.

Worried about how Clara would react if Benjamin were to die, the party decided to go save him from his former allies. While normally able to face off against any Red Mantis Assassin in combat, even Benjamin couldn’t fight off five of his former comrades by himself. However, with the Champions’ assistance, he is more than able to fight off the less skilled assassins. Thanking them for their help, Benjamin jumped back into the battle, disappearing within the crowds.

As the party looked towards the other two allies in need, they realized they couldn’t save both as they were going about it. Not having any of that, Ari decided to go save Strog by herself. She told the rest of them to go save Orisini from the dragon bearing down on him. Knowing they couldn’t stop Ari from saving her friend, the rest of the heroes made haste towards the aging swordmaster.

They arrived to find Orisini outmatched against the dragon. Not surprising since he is more used to fighting people, not terrifying creatures of the swamp. Anja rushed in to save her master from the dragon and began to hold it at bay. Blackjack and Brealyn followed to offer her back up, and Orion tried his best to reach a blind spot. Together they were able to rescue Orisini once again. He thanked them and said he needed to make sure Hawke was doing alright. He told them to be careful as he pushed his way through the battle to find Hawke.

Ari made her way back to her allies stating that she was able to save Strog from a slew of Gray Maidens. Together again, the Champions surveyed the battlefield once again to search for allies in peril. Ari, flying upon the magic carpet found in Arkona’s mansion, had the best vantage point and saw Grunt, Trinia, and Cressida deep in their own battles.

With determination, they pushed through their fatigue to go help finish this fight. Unknown to them, a dark figure stalks them in the heat of the battle, waiting for his moment to strike them.

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The King's Doubt
Battle of the Crimson Rain Part 1

A week past with the heroes mending their bodies from the recent campaign into the slums of Korvosa. Cressida called for all of them to come into the makeshift war chamber within Jasan’s house to discuss the information that they all had. They started with what seemed to be the simplest out of all of it, that being the turncoat assassin, Benjamin Zenderholm.

After being thoroughly surprised at the survival of not one but both of Clara’s siblings, they moved onto what Neolandus Kalepopolis had to say. The former Seneschal began his story with a recap of Kazavon, the ancient Blue Dragon chosen by Zon-Kuthon as his herald. The party informed him about how they knew about him from the information Salvator Scream and Laori Vaus gave them. Neolandus went on to inform them that the reason it is important is because Kazavon’s spirit has seemingly merged with Ileosa’s due to her finding the Fangs of Kazavon.

He told all present about his initial suspicions of the Queen after she began stealing the vault key to go into the Grand Mastaba. He played it off as the Queen being a slight bit greedy but as long as she wasn’t taking too much, he wouldn’t cause a fuss. That changed after King Eodred took sick and Ileosa’s personality seemed to shift. While the sickness was unexplainable and untreatable, he knew Ileosa had her hand in his recent illness.

At this time, Benjamin spoke up, revealing what had caused Eodred to die. A small vial of a unique poison called Fool’s Leprosy, meant to give the symptoms of leprosy but acts as a poison so that healers and clerics would waste their energy healing a sickness, rather than a disease. Seeing the pieces of the puzzle come together, Neolandus continued his story.

With his suspicions at its peak, Neolandus delved into the Grand Mastaba to see if she found something that could have caused all of this. What he found was an ancient stone chest with several blue dragon fangs resting within. The former Seneschal couldn’t believe that the stories were true and that these could possibly be the Fangs of Kazavon. According to the legend, each piece of Kazavon that survived his fight with Mandraivus is said to contain a portion of the tyrant’s twisted soul. Believing that the once mean-spirited but naïve Queen stumbled across this and was corrupted by the dragon’s soul, Neolandus needed to stop her from causing any more damage.

The former Seneschal went on to say that when he confronted the Queen, she threatened him with imprisonment followed by death if he kept up such “treasonous” talk. Shortly thereafter, Eodred passed away, and the Queen was looking for a scapegoat. With Neolandus earning her ire before, he seemed like a natural choice, leading to him escaping the castle to Old Korvosa, where he stayed with Salvator Scream for a few weeks.
With the anarchy and tension rising within the city, Neolandus knew that sooner or later, the Queen’s Gray Maidens would find him at Scream’s residents. With the best intentions, Scream sent him to the Arkonas since they were one of his patrons. Neolandus trusted his friend and proceed to their palace, only to be detained and locked away into their prison shortly after, to be used as leverage after Ileosa was deposed.

The rest was known to the heroes, due to their involvement with his rescue. Before they were given much time to process what they learned, Neolandus suggested that they go into the Cinderlands to gain the support of the Shoanti. According to the legend, a Shoanti shaman assisted Mandraivus in his fight against Kazavon and was tasked with the hiding of Kazavon’s Fangs. Since the Shoanti only pass down their history through oral traditions and the spirits, the only people who may know how to defeat Kazavon would be them. The Champions reeled back at this suggestion because many of them felt uncomfortable about leaving their home for an extended period of time.

To compound their dread, Hawke took this moment to inform them about the approaching army of Gray Maidens, Red Mantis Assassins, and black dragons. He asked them what they thought would be the most prudent course of action for themselves. He agreed that they should be the ones who speak with the Shoanti due to their relationship with Thousand Bones, but he also knew that their support in the upcoming battle would be invaluable. He told them that without them, there’s a good chance they would lose utterly with no chance of regrouping.

The Champions agreed that their friends needed their help first and foremost, and decided to stay for the upcoming battle. With the meeting seemingly over, the group split up to discuss the battle with some of their friends and allies. Blackjack spoke with Trinia about her joining them into the Cinderlands. Anja spoke with Orisini and attempted her first lesson with a group of soldiers. Brealyn went to relax a bit before her first large scale battle. Orion spoke with Strog about some enchanting and the possibility of making him small permanently. Ari also spoke with Strog but decided that she had other plans that night.

After everyone went to sleep, Ari left the camp under the cover of darkness and headed towards the enemy camp. Believing she was unseen, she continued onwards, not knowing that Brealyn was following her. After she discovered the Halfling, they had a small argument where Ari attempted to convince Brealyn to go back. The argument was halted when Ari discovered that Hawke was out there as well. He stated that it seemed like they had the same idea about trying to talk some sense into Rand Gilver.

Ari left them in a huff and proceeded to the King’s camp, with the other two following closely. The huntress stealthily made her way through the Gray Maidens’ perimeter and found the general’s tent. Along the way, she kept an eye out for her missing friend, Clara, hoping that she wouldn’t be here to fight.

She entered Rand’s tent. Not shocked that he knew that she was there the entire time, Ari stared at the Betrayer King and simply asked, “Why?”.

Their conversation continued for what seemed to be an hour as she asked, pleaded, begged for him to stop this madness. She asked why he served the Queen, why he was going to fight them, why he was turning Korvosa into another pawn of his grand plan. With a hidden anger, she kept berating him until she came upon the question that made even the King stop in his tracks. “Why do you fear Hawke?”

The seemingly ancient Inquisitor answered very simply, much to the surprise of Ari. “Doubt. He makes me doubt myself and my work.” Taken aback at the answer, she continually asked him about his doubt and how does Hawke cause him to feel this way. The King regained his composure and Ari realized there was nothing left to ask as he knew he wouldn’t tell. She got up to leave but was met with another surprise.

Before she could exit the tent, she was stopped by a Korvosan man. Though he looked familiar, he was far too young and healthy looking to be him. However, the moment this man open his mouth, she knew who the man was. Gaedren Lamm. Brought back again to cause the Champions problems, only this time he seemed more permanent and less mysterious. His fanged grin gave away what he became, a vampire. Somehow the old crime boss had risen from simple ghoul to vampire, but the how wasn’t on Ari’s mind. The only thing that was in her thoughts was the mounting dread that she had realizing that Rand Gilver may be beyond her saving him. Her only hope was the magus that she seemingly couldn’t stand.

As she freely left the camp, as Rand commanded his soldiers not to harm her, she came across another person she was looking for. The inquisitor saw her friend, Clara, readying her weapon and gear for the upcoming battle. Ari approached her but was saddened when Clara did not recognize her. Leaving the seal of the Champion behind on Clara’s bedroll in a vain attempt to help her regain her senses, Ari heads back to the outskirts of the camp.
She found Hawke waiting at the edge of the camp, waiting to see what happened but only saw Ari return with a grim look upon her face. After some tense words were shot at him by her, he simply offered to teleport both her and Brealyn back to their camp. Begrudgingly, Ari accepted and flashed back to their base.

The three of them went on their separate ways. The rest of the party came out, wondering what had happened. Ari brushed them off, so they decided to talk to Hawke, hoping he would have something to say. But not long after they left her, Ari had an epiphany. She believed that the reason Hawke caused Rand to doubt was because Hawke was a powerful practitioner of the Arcane Arts and was still a good person. He was never corrupted by the awesome power that he obtained. She thought that if Hawke could cause him to doubt again, Rand could be saved. With this hope, Ari ran off to find Hawke again.

The heroes all found Cerrick Stormhawke ruminating along the nearby river. The rain that had been battering the entire area for the last few weeks intensified as Hawke lamented his inability to help his onetime friend. Ari, however, barged in on his self-reflection and blurted out everything she thought she figured out. Hawke was impressed that someone might have been able to read the King’s feelings, and with this information, Hawke felt something rekindle within him. A fire that faded some time ago but has grown into an inferno. The fires of hope raged within him again as he remembered an important fact about Rand and himself. With determination and vigor, the Hero of the Storm raised his sword to the sky, channeling his power through it with an intensity not seen in years.

The Champions of Korvosa and the Hero of the Storm steeled themselves for the Battle of the Crimson Rain.

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The Escape
Escape from Old Korvosa Part 6

Surrounded on all sides, the Champions of Korvosa steel themselves for the upcoming bloodbath. Even with the unexpected assistance from one of the assassins, the party fears that they will not come out on top in this fight. The two groups slowly begin to move towards the heroes when Anja came up with a desperate idea.

Shouting to the hostile Meliya Arkona, Anja offers to help kill Glorio in exchange for safe passage out of the mansion. The initial statement gives the Arkona Matriarch enough reason to pause, but when the rest of the party chimes in for the same deal, Meliya smiles to herself. The party stood in fear, preparing to fight, holding their bated breaths until Meliya chuckles a bit and then runs in to kill the Red Mantis Assassins.

With a bit of hope rekindled, the party unleashes their powers and skills upon the hopelessly outnumbered crimson assassins. One by one, they fell to the combined might of Meliya and the Champions, along with the new ally they received in the form of a turncoat assassin. However, mid-way through the skirmish, Orion tries to attack Meliya “accidently” hoping to kill her quickly along with the assassins. While it didn’t work, Meliya did notice and took some offense.

With the assassins dead at their feet, Meliya turns to all of them, commanding them to enter the Temple of Chamidu. Within, Meliya reveals her true form and confirming the Champions’ worst fear about the Arkonas. With fox-like features, Meliya unveils her Rakshasa form to the party, instilling a feeling of dread within them, including their 3 new members, Orisini, Neolandus, and the assassin. Satisfied with her presentation, she began to negotiate with them about the deal they offered.

Anja, Blackjack, and Brealyn attempt to offer her their services and assistance in killing the current head of the Arkona family. However, Meliya wasn’t too ecstatic about the terms they were offering and negotiations were starting to go downhill. Ari, picking up on this, decides to hasten the final terms with an arrow directed at Meliya, unleashing her judgement upon the evil outsider.

The battle resumed as Meliya, completely outnumbered, did her best to kill the weakest amongst the group, starting with Vencarlo. However, the group did not allow her to get too close as they surrounded her and attacked with all their might. Rapier wounds, unexpected dagger strikes, and magics, both arcane and divine fell upon Meliya, slowly destroying her form. With sudden strikes, the assassin comes to the forefront to attack the monstrosity with great effect, drawing the rakshasa’s ire. Her anger towards him did not last, as Anja delivered a decisive blow with her rapier and skewered her upon her sword.

With blood trickling from her unnatural mouth, Meliya sets off one final trap within the Arkona Dungeon, causing an explosion and cave-in. The party hastens to the skiff to retreat out of the cave. Tension and fear ran high for all of them, especially those close to the veteran swordsman, Orisini, as he fell unconscious from a rock falling upon him. Anja and Blackjack were able to carry and revive him as they reached the boat. With her expertise, and Orion and Blackjack’s assistance, Anja was able to sail them out of the cave.

Reaching the Jeggare River along the north coast of Old Korvosa, the party quickly made their way across the waters. Taking great care to avoid any Gray Maiden patrols, the Champions reached the shore, and, taking Vencarlo’s advice, started their journey towards Harse to meet up with Jasan and to strategize their next move. Feeling the need to get their as soon as possible, the heroes began running non-stop for days, until their feet couldn’t carry them any further.

Luck seemed to smile down upon them as a farmer’s cart was passing by them along the way to Harse. Taking the risk, some of the group ran up to the cart to ask for a ride, and what they found shocked them. A familiar Vudrani man and smiling Korvosan woman were driving the cart, asking them if they needed a ride. Before the group could answer, the couple laugh, unable to keep the façade up, and revealing themselves as Ishani Dhatri and Trinia Sabor. The two tell the group to get into the cart and they’ll take them to the rebellion camp.

Surprised at this news, Trinia informs them about the rebellion building against Ileosa and Rand Gilver, and how Hawke and Cressida were leading the army. Finally able to catch their breath and rest, the Champions pass out on the ride there. Finally a chance to settle their minds and rest their bodies. Whatever they are grateful for right now, they know they don’t have much time. They know Neolandus has information for them about the Queen and how she rose to power so suddenly. They know they are going to be called upon to fight more. They know their battle against the evil Monarchs of Korvosa was just beginning.

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...But the Guardians are Not
Escape from Old Korvosa Part 5

The Champions begin their descent into the Arkona dungeon with a surprise. Finishing the long staircase leading deep into the island known as Old Korvosa, they are met with the sight of a lush jungle, excellently tended to and maintained even within the temperate climates of Varisia and the cave they are located in. The champions looked around to see if they noticed any of the guardians that Glorio had mentioned and to their luck, they did.

Standing at the same height as a living human, four skeletal like figures stood along the upper reaches of the cave, acting as a patrol for anyone attempting to get through their master’s garden entrance. The heroes also noticed that these skeletons were unlike what they had faced before in the Dead Warrens. These ones were covered in a fungi that they couldn’t identify, but if Glorio’s word could be taken as truth, they knew that this vegetation is what keeps them going.

The group begins their attack on the narrower path leading deeper into the cave, attacking the guardians with stealth and precision, at least for the first volley of attacks. Afterwards, two of the skeletons used their innate abilities to turn invisible and sneak up to the party, while the two others stayed back to fire arrows and spell upon them.

Anja and Brealyn took position in front of the party to soak up the majority of the creatures’ attacks, while Blackjack and Ari provided support with arrows, spells, and stealth. Orion, with the Haste spell placed upon him, jumped across the chasm to attempt a pincer attack against the skeletons attacking at range. During this fray, the guardians were able to land a few critical blows to the heroes and were even able to cause Blackjack to lose his balance and fall into the waters below, due a well-placed Enlarge spell.

However, their tactics were not suited to handle the onslaught that the Champions of Korvosa brought with them to every battle, and they were soon defeated. With the area seemingly cleared of enemies, the party maneuvers towards the network of bridges that lead down to the docks within this cavern, along with a large metallic door with Vudrani images depicting Chamidu. After clearing the one other room in the cave, realizing that it is just a bedroom with many sculptures, the party took position in front of the intimidating door.

The frontrunners of the group open the doors to find only two large Emperor Cobras poised to attack. Blackjack, Green Sheen, Anja, Brealyn, and Orion ran in to dispose of the two serpents while Ari provided suppressing fire from her divine bow. However, after the group ran into obvious Temple to Chamidu, they realize that the snakes weren’t the only thing in this room, as a lightning bolt fires from a creature much like the two from in the upper gardens. His animal features heavily contrasted the ones from above. While they were serpentine in nature, this one represented the more traditional look of his brethren with his orange and striped fur, showing his tiger façade.

The battle raged on as the Temple Guardian, Avidexu the Rakshasa, rained his magic down upon the Champions while his pets kept them at bay. With fire and lightning flying through the room, the party was being whittled down. Some were poisoned by the Cobras while others were attempting to take down the tiger-man. While he was finally brought down while he was trying to escape, Blackjack’s partner, Green Sheen, succumbed to his wounds and the poison and was killed in battle.

Enraged by the turn of events and his friends’ lack of empathy, Blackjack lashed out at his friends for letting Green Sheen die. The arguing didn’t last however, as the group reassured him that the only way to make his death worth anything is to complete the mission and rescue Orisini and Neolandus. Steeling himself to what may come, Blackjack rejoined the group.

With the combined abilities of Brealyn, Ari, and Orion, they were able to find a secret passage leading deeper into the Arkona dungeon. They believed that if Glorio was telling the truth, they would be arriving at the legendary Vivified Labyrinth next. They proceeded down the tunnel until they reached a set of double doors. They realized they were at the right location and prepared to storm the Labyrinth, however, whether by luck or fate, Brealyn accidently ran into a nearby wall and revealed it to be an illusory one. The Champions decided that they would investigate this passage before going into the maze in earnest.

The heroes went down the newly revealed passage until they reached a door. Upon opening the door after checking it for traps and locks, they discover this room to be a prison block. They hastily go through every cell looking for either of their targets and through their determination, they found one of them. Neolandus Kalepopolis was sprawled across his cell floor as the champions released a sigh of relief.

After healing and helping him recover a bit, the Champions inform the former seneschal about the current events since he went missing. Elated that people are fighting back against Ileosa, Neolandus tells the party that he has pertinent information about what is going on. However, he wants to leave first and he won’t leave with the old swordmaster, Vencarlo Orisini. He knew he came to the Arkona mansion to find him and he knows he was captured by Sivit, the darksphinx that patrols the Labyrinth. Seeing as how that aligned with Anja’s personal feelings along with the rest of the party’s, the group accepts the seneschal’s terms and return to the door leading into the maze.

However, before they go back, the Champions notice a set of doors that they decided to investigate first. As they opened them, they saw before them four great pillars of stone and wood leading to a ceiling at least 60 feet upwards. Deciding that they need to investigate closer, some of them went down to the obelisks. They were met with a surprise however, as masses of bones around each pillar sprang to life and reassembling themselves as elephants. Anja was able to deduce that the skeletons use their massive strength to rotate the chambers above, which the group was able to discover was where the Labyrinth was located. With this knowledge and against his friends’ wishes, Blackjack used the Rod of Wonder on one of the creatures. Lucky for him, it transformed the creature into a small animal thus making so that portion of the maze wouldn’t move.

The Heroes return to the maze, and open the door. Their suspicions were confirmed as Orion saw the small gap in the floor where they believed the pillars led to. They all entered the smaller room and used a lever that sprung the contraptions to life, slowly rotating the area they were in to a new location. They proceed to continue forward until they came to another platform and a door leading into it.

The party flung the doors open to reveal a massive creature sporting the body of a lion but the head was replaced with the upper body of a woman. The darksphinx stood before them with her two large blades drawn, ready for combat. However, Anja’s anger at the situation and Ari’s determination to get the group out as fast as possible led them both to use their divine powers to smite the creature quickly. Awash with a cathartic release, the party continued on to where Sivit had come from, finding her personal throne room. As they investigated the room, they quickly found Vencarlo Orisini strung up by chains against one of the pillars. Hastily, they unhooked the chains and released him, showering him with healing magic to resuscitate him.

He thanked them for saving him and completing his mission to find Neolandus. He informed them though that now is not the time to rest on laurels as there was one more evil within these dungeons that could come after them, Meliya Arkona. The party quickly retreats out of the labyrinth, thanks to Brealyn’s eidolon taking her to the outside. Their escape route in sight, the party sprints to the docks where they remembered a skiff tied to it.

But as their relief was starting to take hold, it was quickly taken away as they found five Red Mantis Assassins standing in their way. Not only that, but the light footsteps of a Vudrani woman is heard behind them as Meliya Arkona reveals herself to the group. All seemed lost until one of the assassins betrayed the others and killed one of them in a single strike. Reinvigorated for one last fight, the Champions of Korvosa prepared for one last fight in this god forsaken dungeon below the Arkona Mansion.

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Chamidu is Blind...
Escape from Old Korvosa Part 4

Night fell upon Old Korvosa and the heroes. Not a peaceful one nor a violent one, but one filled with turmoil. Each one dealing with an inner struggle they don’t wish the others to see. Blackjack was coming to terms with the revelation of his father’s fate. Brealyn was dealing with the fact that this group who obviously cares about each other was fighting amongst themselves over trivial matters. Ari was trying to rediscover her rage and drive after what Orion had said to her. Orion was spending another sleepless night working and dealing with his reintroduction into the group. Anja drowned her sorrows over Grunt being gone and Orisini’s possible demise.

Anja found comfort however within that bottle, as she sat in the Stinky Mermaid. As the new bartender gave her a shot of divine whiskey, she opened up like a cracked dam to the stranger. The man listened and offered his advice in whatever capacity he could. As the conversation went on, she asked a simple question, “Who are you and why are you here?”

The man responded with, “Well, you prayed for my help right? So I decided to visit”. The man pours her another shot as the realization came over her. She was speaking to Cayden Cailean, The Accidental God, the Drunken Hero. In awe, she asked for his help in the coming fights. Though he says he’s not allowed to directly help, that doesn’t stop him from passing on a few powers and abilities to those he likes. He offers Anja another shot, and as she drinks it, he shows Orion that he knows he is there.

Anja about passes out from that last shot, but before she does, the swashbuckler feels a surge of divine power fill her body as she becomes a paladin of Cayden Cailean. After she falls unconscious and the deity leaves. Orion carried her back to Orisini’s Academy.

Sleep fell upon most of the party as the storm rages on outside. They all wake up to the smell of Brealyn’s amazing baking skills and proceed down to the dining hall. Noticing that Orion never came back, Blackjack sent one of the rogue’s own men to go get him and bring him to them. While waiting for the Blackbird to show up, they began discussions about what Ari and Anja learned while at the Arkona Palace.

After Orion showed up, the Champions began their discussion in earnest, with Ari and Orion coming to an uneasy agreement that they would keep their alliance professional only. They laid out their two options. Either break in without notifying Glorio or speak to him again and possibly gain information on how to get through the palace’s defenses.After much discussion, the group chose the later.

They approached the mansion, and knocked on the door only to be greeted by a Vudrani female. She is shown the signet ring that Anja was given and she leads them to Glorio’s bath. The party walk in to see the Head of the Arkona family naked in his tub. He is glad to see them and tells them that he is willing to give them the information they desire. Under the ruse that he is just a concerned citizen wanting to help the party stabilize Korvosa, he tells the Champions about the marble Elephant within his garden that blocks the entrance into his dungeons. He tells them about the skeletal fighters who guard the upper cave and what they may be able to do. He warns them of two guardians. One is a mysterious outsider who can cast magic and has loyal pets with him, while the other is a powerful darksphinx named Sivit who has been down there since the Founding of Korvosa. He also tells them about the Vivified Labyrinth and how it moves frequently to throw off the directional sense of any intruders.

The Champions thank him for his help and then leave him. They are led to the doors to the Garden, where the female Vudrani wishes them luck offhandedly and leaves them to their devices. The party instantly enters the Gardens and almost immediately see the marble statue that Glorio mentioned. They approach and use the command phrase, “Chamidu is Blinded”, and watched as it moved to reveal a spiral staircase leading downwards. The party walked to the statue only to be fired upon by a barrage of magical bolts. They notice that two Vudranis are the source of the magic being used on them and began a fight to put a stop to them. During the fight, they notice that their magic and defenses were stronger than anything they fought before, even Rolth. The two casters were surrounded and decided to summon the Water Elemental that resided in the fountain.

The fight went longer than expected since they wished to conserve their major abilities and spells. Though they handicapped themselves with this logic for this fight, they came out victorious and what they found startled them. The two Vudranis transformed into beings with the likeness of a snake and with 6 of the slithering reptiles for hands. Ari and Brealyn were able to confirm these as Marai Rakshasa and that the party should be prepared for more if their suspicions were correct.

The Champions steeled themselves as they began to walk down the stairs with Ari noticing Glorio watching them from above with a smile on his face and confidence exuding off of him. The group descended down the stairs, prepared for the next challenge within the Arkona Dungeon.

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Of Sound and Fury
Escape from Old Korvosa Part 3

A powerful storm and an insane gnome. Those were the only sounds the Champions of Korvosa heard after the death of the chokers in the Emperor’s Palace. Rage like they never heard before bellowed from down the hall as rain began to fall from within the building. A barbarian of short stature charged down the hall to unleash his unbridled hatred upon those who dare enter his master’s domain.

This terror had a name and its name was Jabbyr. The heroes have never dealt with a strength and anger such as this before, but they had no time to adjust as they needed to finish this fight before they were overwhelmed. Orion did his best to draw a few of them away while the rest took care of Jabbyr and some guards. Pilts did his best to rally his men but they began to fall like flies before the trained skills of the Champions. One by one they fell until all that was left was the Emperor and his executioner.

The Champions, while powerful, were starting to feel the fatigue and damage from the battle. Hope seemed to come back after Orion and Brealyn dealt the killing blow on the insane Emperor of Old Korvosa, but the happiness was short lived as Jabbyr went into a blind rage and attacked anything near him. Blackjack stood his ground between the savage and Ari but found his life cut short by the Headsman’s axe.

Spurred by his sacrifice, the heroes acted quickly and slayed the barbaric executioner. Desperate for a way to avert his fate, they tried to bargain with Laori for his life. She took this opportunity to barter for Salvator Scream, both to speak with him privately and to take him away from Korvosa entirely. After agreeing to her terms, Laori attempted to resurrect the Blackjack with the assistance of Orion’s reminder of a past promise. Many minutes passed waiting to see if the ritual worked, waiting to see if life will return to the pure hearted vigilante. Ten minutes passed before breath returned to his lungs and life pulsed within him again. Though brought back by a dark god, the heroes were happy to have Blackjack back.

During this time, Anja, knowing she had no power to heal him, took this time to look for Joseph. It didn’t take her long to find him along with Salvator Scream as they were imprisoned in the same cell. Anja felt much of her grief and burden dissolve at the sight of her nephew, alive and well. After making sure he was unharmed and healthy, Anja awaited the rest of her friends to speak with the macabre artist

The whole group plus Laori proceeded into the old Emperor’s room to speak with Scream. They allowed her to talk to him in private but went back on their word to listen in to their conversation in different ways. They were surprised that she asked rather mundane questions about his art and what inspired him to paint what he does and why is blue such a predominant color in his work. The Champions are skeptical at best at these questions and were curious to her true intentions. After a few minutes, Laori came out of the room and said that the artist was available for their questions.

The first thing they noticed though was a messy cell that doubled as his work space. Many paintings were scattered across the cell and found out that his life hanged on his ability to provide Pilts with beautiful art. Out of all of these, though, one caught their eyes: A massive Blue Dragon lording over a immense castle. None of them thought this to be of any important until Blackjack pointed out that the castle was Scarwall.

That tidbit of information changed their perspective of Laori and her presence here as they begun to realize that somehow Salvator was inspired by the story of Kazavon either though he had no idea who that was. The party began to accuse Laori of wanting to bring back the ancient Great Wrym only to have a disgruntled Laori tell them that her actual mission to ensure that he never comes back. The party was taken aback by this and were confused seeing as how she worshiped an evil god.

Deciding to focus on the matter at hand. The party asked the artist where did Orisini go after he talked to Scream. Scream told them he sent him to the Arkona mansion after Vencarlo asked him about where Neolandus was. Since the Arkona’s are one of his patrons and he trusts them, Scream thought it was best to send both of them there.

After finally believing her and tentatively trusting her to take Scream and Joseph out of Old Korvosa, Laori began preparations to leave the group. Grunt, at this point, offered to Anja that he would leave too with Joseph to watch the youth. Though she was distraught about the idea of losing both Grunt and Joseph for the time being, she steeled herself to it and agreed. Grunt, Joseph, Laori, and Scream all leave through the shadows, literally.

During this time, the rest of Pilts’s men arrived and awaited whatever fate these heroes had in store for them. While Blackbird tried to enact his plan of having them help the people of the city in his own particular way, Ari took great offense from this exchange and began threatening any of those who would join Orion. They argued for a time in front of the thugs until Blackjack told them to have their domestic dispute elsewhere and that he would handle the thugs.

Ari and Orion left the open court and begun arguing in Pilts’s old room. During this time, Blackjack gave the thugs simple instructions to help the people of Old Korvosa and to be prepared for a possible revolution. He leaves them with these directions to check on the two who were arguing, but before he could reach them, Ari already had left, using the crowd as a distraction. Blackjack wasn’t able to follow them but Anja and Brealyn was.

The three women ran through the stormy night until they reached the sea. Anja, Brealyn, and Ari had a heartfelt talk that ended with Ari and Anja staying at the docks and Brealyn tearfully leaving them to go back to Pilts’s Palace. Ari and Anja continued talking until they were interrupted by the arrival of a handsome Vudrani man.

The man introduced himself as Glorio Arkona, the current head of the Arkona, and he offered them to come to his house to dry off. They accepted cautiously and proceeded to the Arkona Palace. Surprised at the displays of wealth and art within his walls, the two friends stayed within one of his parlors where they took the opportunity to ask him about Orisini and Neolandus. Chuckling, Glorio confirms that the two men are within his Vivified Labyrinth. Ari knew what this place was from rumors she had heard and was rightfully afraid of what could come next. Anja on the other hand knew that she needed to get into there regardless of the danger and kept pressuring Glorio for entrance.

Glorio told them that he owes them tremendously for bringing down Pilts’s and that he has been watching their progress for a while. He offered them the chance to descend into his family dungeon and tell them how to get past the first layer of security. He warns them that his sister, Meliya, has designs for Neolandus, and that she will try and kill them if they attempt to rescue him. He told them to either come to him again for the information needed to get past some of the security, or to sneak through the house if they feel that would be safer. He noticed that they were at an impasse so he gave Anja one of his signet rings and told her to present that if they go with the first choice.

The two leave after a tense departure and headed back to Orisini’s Academy. The Champions are excited that they finally have found where the two men are and anxious to get into that dungeon. However, some of the Champions know that Glorio Arkona hides a terrifying secret, one that could lead to all of their demises. The group sleeps, hoping that this storm will pass soon.

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The Storm and the Mask
Escape from Old Korvosa Part 2

Heavy rain and lightning in the distance. That is all that is seen by the Champions as they ran through Old Korvosa. Passing old buildings and run down alleys, the heroes are on a chase but not after any enemy or criminal. They were after Anja and Grunt.

After Anja and Grunt ran off with Vencarlo Orisini’s chest, Blackjack and Orion chased after her as the storm overhanging Korvosa intensified. Ari followed closely behind them as she fired warning shots at Blackjack. Through tears and anger, the group gave chase through Old Korvosa over a simple box. Each had their own reasons, each were uneasy with the others.

After reaching a collapsing roof, Grunt stopped to wait for the others. They arrived one at a time as Grunt readied himself to scold them. He stood in the heart of the storm to remind them of their real enemy. He pointed out the large Black Dragon flying over the castle. He reminded those with family in danger. He reminded them of the draconic ambition of the Queen and the mysterious motives of their new king, Rand Gilver. Grunt bore all of these feelings out for the group to remind them that hopefully working together will make Korvosa stand on its own again.

The party finally calmed down again after this and headed back to the Academy to rest and regroup. Anja looked through the chest again, this time with Brealyn, and truly took some time to see what it had to offer. Amongst the treasure and equipment, she found an amulet with the name of each and every man who took up the mantle of Blackjack. After much soul searching, she decided to let everyone take something from Vencarlo’s box to help them in their journey.

Blackjack took the amulet and saw the memories of the previous Blackjacks. He saw the truth of Vencarlo Orisini but most importantly, his father. Knowing the truth of what happened to his father, Blackjack accepted the mantle of Blackjack and unlocked the true power within the amulet. But power was not the only thing the amulet offered, as it told him who was responsible for his father’s death; none other than the Queen Ileosa. Thanking Anja for the chance to know the truth, Blackjack suggested they discuss their next move.

After resting, the Champions planned out their next course of action, which led them to the house of the artist, Salvator Scream. Blackjack had a previous run in with the painter so he was interested to make sure he was alright. The group packed up and headed to his home with some renewed vigor.

They found the place surrounded by several well fed Otyughs, but after some careful planning and assistance from a surprisingly chipper cleric of Zon-Kuthon, they destroyed them with ease. The cleric introduced herself as Laori Vaus and did not even try to hide her allegiance to the Lord of Pain. The group found out that she wanted to find Salvator Scream as well albeit for more benign reasons. During the conversation which they took inside the artist’s lair, they found an old friend, the Varisian Harrower, Zellara. While Ari kept her mouth shut in hopes no one suspects the truth about her, she felt relieved that no one questioned how the old woman got into Old Korvosa. She performed another Harrowing for them for old time’s sake and hurried them on their way as someone knocked on the door.

Answering it, the party is surprised to see a man dressed in finery with a long large scroll. The man proceeded to read a summons to the Emperor’s palace to discuss their recent intrustions on his territory. The summons directed them to appear the next day but being the dashing heroes that they are, the Champions decided to go that night in a midnight raid.

Splitting up into two groups along with Laori Vaus, the group attacked the Emperor’s ramshackle palace. Brealyn, Green Sheen, and Laori attacked the front while the rest of them used Anja’s newly created grappling gun to enter through a hole on the fourth floor. While the front group had great success in defeating the guards there, the stealth team did not have too much success as they disturbed a choker nest.

Though the chokers and initial wave of guards was defeated, the Champions realized that their problems were just starting after they saw an angry gnome kick down a door, brandishing a greataxe.

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