Champions of Old Korvosa

Lost Laboratory of Xin-Eurythnia (Part 1)
Session 22

Synopsis: A day after freeing the Jeggare Museum from a Mwangi curse, the adventurers are shown to the passage leading to the ancient catacombs below. A stairway descending deep into the earth opened into a series of chambers dedicated to the lost wizard-queen Sorshen, Runelord of Lust!

Detailed write-up pending

The Mists of Mwangi (Part 2)
Session 21

Synopsis: Continuing to explore the cursed exibit on the faraway jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, the party fought more museum exhibits brought to life by dark magic. And finding the idols that brought the curse upon the museum was only half the battle!

Detailed write-up pending

The Mists of Mwangi (Part 1)
Session 20

Chapter 4: Laboratory of Lust

Synopsis: In exchange for granting the party access to the forbidden passage under the museum, the party agreed to determine what strange magic had cursed the new exibit on the Mwangi Expanse. They would also try to rescue the six museum staff strapped within. Braving the strange magical mists that suffused the exhibit halls, the party discovered that the exhibit was indeed cursed! Fighting reanimated museum exhibits and magically transfored museum staff alike, they learned that a set of idols were the likely source of the curse. But finding the idols would prove difficult…

[Detailed summary pending]

Legacy of the Runelords
Session 19

Synopsis: The party chased the leader of the Cult of the Scythe Mother through a magical portal, but she managed to it close behind her, taking the key. Examining the room with the portal, the party found a map of the ancient Thassilonian city of Xin-Eurythnia… and determined that modern-day Korvosa was built upon its site. Using clues from the map, the party decided to try to explore the ruins of the Grand Library of Eurythnia… where the modern-day Jeggare Musuem now stands. But a meeting with the curator revealed a different set of problems.

Detailed write-up coming soon!

The Reliquary of St. Alika (Part 4)
Session 18

Synopsis: The party discovered that the catacombs beneath the Reliquary opened into lost Thassilonian chambers dedicated to Zutha, Rulelord of Gluttony. The Cult of the Scythe Mother had re-purposed the Thassilonian cathedral to gluttony into their own cathedral to Urgathoa, herself a goddess of gluttony. In that cathedral, the party crossed swords with Scythe Mother cultists led by Arazna herself!

Detailed write-up pending

The Reliquary of St. Alika (Part 3)
Session 17

Synopsis The party discovers the source of the evil suffusing the Reliquary vaults, but still find no sign of the Cult of the Scythe Mother.

Detailed description pending

The Reliquary of St. Alika (Part 2)
Session 16

Synopsis: Exploring the crypts below the Reliquary, the party discovers that an evil force has pervaded what had been a holy site dedicated to the dead god Aroden.

Fireday 21 Desnus 4704, afternoon

The party stood before the open passageway leading into darkness. Turgrox, who can see in the dark, entered first. He found a passageway that ran about 30 feet and ended in a spiral staircase leading down into darkness below. The rest of the party took out their light sources and followed. The stairway descended about 120 feet, ending at a small landing before a closed door made of stone. The door seemed that it was made to pivot on a central axis, but it appeared to be stuck. Turgrox and Zak threw thier shoulders into it, and the door slowly opened, making a loud grating sound. The party ventured into a large, high-ceilinged burial vault. The walls were lined with burial niches, from the floor to a height of about eight feet. The walls above the niches were decorated with carved symbols of Aroden, although several had been damaged. Eight stone sarcophagi tood in the room, their lids smashed on the floor beside them. Turgrox approached a sarcophagus, and an arm of blackened and rotting flesh shot out of it— and the rest of a ghoul bolted upright to attack! More ghouls rose from the other sarcophagi, and all sprang to attack the living. As the party fought the ghouls, four skeletal warriors climbed from burial niches and joined the fight.

The party was outnumbered, but they quickly realized that they outclassed the undead horde, and the battle soon turned in the party’s favor. After a minute of combat, all of the undead were in pieces on the ground.

Several passages led to other crypts. Following one, the party found itself in another burial crypt, full of niches cut into the walls. A single dessicated corpse sat on the floor, crumpled against the wall. As Darshan examined the corpse, it sprang to unlife and attacked, attempting to strangle the Vudrani druid. While it did manage to get its hands around Darshan’s neck, Zak hit it from behind with his greatsword, cleaving the thing’s head and left arm from its body, destroying it.

Another crypt contained more burial niches, and more Arodenite iconography that was partially smashed. While exploring this chamber, six skulls floated out of niches, and all swarmed Zak, biting at him with clacking jaws. Zak and the rest of the party were able to smash the skulls out of the air. In one of the burial niches, Turgrox discovered an interesting helmet that radiated magic., which he claimed.

The last passage out of the entry chamber led to another burial crypt with niches along all walls. In that room, Turgrox spotted a pressure-plate on the floor. He managed to disarm it, and realized that the trap would have triggered a hail of dozens of arrows that would have struck anyone in the room. After a few minutes of work, the half-orc managed to disable the trap, and the party explored the room— which turned out to be empty. A passage led to the south.

To be continued… Next week!

The Reliquary of St. Alika (Part 1)
Session 15

Chapter Three: The Reliquary

Synopsis: After conducting a little research into St. Alika, the party paid a visit to the run-down Reliquary of St. Alika, in western Bridgefront. They tangled with a dangerous guardian, then successfully decyphered the clues to access the crypts below.

Fireday, 21 Desnus 4704

The party woke up to a gloomy, rainy, and unseasonably cold spring day. Checking on Basila’s health, she seemed to have gotten no worse, but no better. After a quick breakfast, they headed back to the library at the University of Korvosa to find out more about the Reliquary of St. Aliika the Twice-Martyred.

After just two hours of research, they learned that the Reliquary had been completed in 4435, four years after the death of Saint Alika, using funds originally raised to conduct a resurrection of the fallen paladin. The documents indicated that there were crypts below the public areas of the monument, but only the Church of Aroden would have access to them. Today, with the deterioration of the Bridgefront neighborhood in which the monument stood, combined with the destruction of the Church of Aroden, the almost 270-year-old monument has fallen into a state of disuse and partial disrepair.

The heroes then headed back to Bridgefront to the reliquary itself. The monument was built of light gray marble and stood 60 feet tall. The building took the form of an Azlanti temple: rectangular, about 120 feet wide and 100 feet deep, with a triangular roof supported by marble columns. A wide stariway led to a 20-foot-wide open doorway. Inside, the roof was supported by many smaller columns. A large raised dias stood at the back of the reliquary, on which lay a stone sarcophagus. A 15-foot-tall bronze statue of St. Alika stood on a pedestal behind the sarcophagus. Unlit bronze censers stood on either side of the sarcophagus. Behind the dais was an open doorway to a second chamber. The reliquary was illuminated by several everburning torches in iron sconces affixed to several of the columns.

The party entered the reliquary and looked around. Frescoes of the deeds of St. Alika adorned the walls, and Arodenite symbols were everywhere. Don remembered the saying written on the map they’d found on one of the cultists the previous day: Call the Watcher by name or face immediate death. Kneel before the twice-slain fool and lift your gaze to see the sign. Seek the Squire then touch silver to the second sign to find the way. He had no idea what the watcher’s name could be, but he decided to follow the instructions. He walked up to the dais, and knelt before the statue.

As he knelt, the other members of the party gasped in fear: suddenly, silently, and without warning, a gigantic spider with a humanoid head appeared in their midst! It bit Turgrox in the shoulder, then disappeared!

art by Jason Rhineville

Turgrox felt woozy for a moment, but managed to shake off the effects of the poison. Darshan recognized the thing as a phase spider: a creature that can hop between the material and ethereal planes at will— a dangerous opponent indeed! Weapons drawn, the party looked around for the beast, but couldn’t see any trace where it went. It materialized again, this time trying to bite Zak, but its fangs were repelled by the barbarian’s armor. Don began casting a spell, holding its last few words for when it appeared again. And when it did, he completed the spell before it could disappear. Don cursed the creature with blindness! Unable to see, it spat curses in common and then disappeared for a final time. “Wow! Neat trick, that!” said Zak.

Looking around, Darshan noticed something in large spider webs near the ceiling. Turgrox climbed a column to investigate, and discovered the dessicated corpses of several people— including one city guard, still in her uniform. He also found a small cache of treasure, presumably taken from the spider’s victims.

Don returned to the dais and looked up at the statue. For a brief instant, he saw a strange silvery sigil appear on the underside of the statue’s chin. It was unlike any symbol he’d seen before, but he would certainly recognize it if he saw it again. Examining the statue, censers, and sarcophagus did not reveal anything, so the party decided to explore the back room.

The back room contained a smaller shrine to Khundren, Alika’s squire, who fell by her side in 4431. The shrine consisted of Khundren’s sarcophagus, with a bronze effigy of the fallen paladin adorning the lid. When Don looked at the sarcophagus, he saw the same silvery sigil on the effigy’s helm. When he pointed it out, no one else could see it. Taking out his silver dagger, Don touched the blade to the sigil. Nothing happened. He then traced the sigil with the blade. The sigil winked out, and the party then heard a rumbling sound and the grinding of stone on stone. A section of the wall to the west descended into the floor, revealing a dark doorway to the east. Chilly, dank air wafted from the passage.

To Be Continued… Next Week!

The Grove Street Mortuary (Part 3)
Session 14

Oathday, 20 Desnus 4704, early afternoon

Surprised by the sudden appearance of a gang of Sczarni street thugs, the heroes were nevertheless prepared for battle. The thugs tried to stay between the heroes and the woman, and the heroes realized why as she cast a spell at Zak. Zak suddenly noticed that everything around him seemed to grow to be twice its size. Everyone else saw Zak and all of his gear shrink down to half his size, leaving him just three feet tall! “I guess we’re all looking down on you now,” quipped the sorceress. Don drew his wand of magic missles and returned fire, as Darshan drew his sickle and fought the thugs. Despite being half his size, Zak remained a formidable opponent, and found that he had gained a new advantage— he was now more agile and harder to hit! Despite not hitting as hard as he did at full size, Zak managed to drop one of the thugs, just as Turgrox successfully caught another thug off-guard and plunged his dagger between his shoulder blades. The sorceress cast another spell, engulfing half the party in a cone-shaped blast of flames. Unfortunately, her remaining guard happened to step in front of her just as her spell went off, and he was engulfed as well. The thug dropped to the ground, smouldering, but none of the heroes did. Turgrox then lunged at the sorceress, trying to pull her to the ground. She nicked the half-orc with her dagger, but Turgrox managed to pin her to the floor. Using the manacles they’d recovered from Ambrik House, they captured the sorceress.

The sorceress called herself Elleste, and claimed to be an apprentice to the wizard Ferista. She said that when she became Ferista’s apprentice, she had no idea that her master was involved in criminal activity. She said that she had been coerced into helping her cruel master into taking over this mortuary five years ago, under fear of her mistress removing her magical powers and selling her to orcish slavers from Kaer Maga. At first, she claimed to know nothing about the Cult of the Scythe Mother, save that cultists suddenly took over the mortuary a few days ago. Darshan was pretty sure she was lying, so Turgrox pressed his interrogation… at one point threatening to break all of her fingers so she couldn’t cast spells and then sell her to orcish slavers himself. At that threat, she confessed, and told the real story: She really is a wizard and apprentice of Ferista. Ferista is involved in several criminal activities, and has been using the mortuary as a front for years. She said that Ferista has a gang of about 20 people that do her dirty work, which includes selling drugs and body parts. She claimed that Ferista charmed Tirus Dreen, the owner of the mortuary, five years ago, and that she keeps him as a willing prisoner in his own home. She said that Dreen now thinks that Ferista is his adopted daughter who managed the business now that he’s getting older. She said that Ferista let the cultists move in about a month ago, and they were the ones that found the statue of Urgathoa behind the false wall. When asked about the zombies, she said that the cultists made a few, but lost control of one and that one attacked one of the gang members. He got sick after a few days and died, so they stowed his body in the morgue with some other bodies. But earlier today, all of the corpses in the morgue rose up and attacked, and those the zombies killed themselves rose up! She said that some of the cultists had barricaded themselves in a storeroom off the crematorium, Ferista is holed up in her own bedroom, and she used a rope trick spell to save herself and a few gang members— she then cast invisibility on the rope itself so that the zombies wouldn’t know where they were.

At that, Turgrox thanked her for sharing, then clonked her on the head with his sap, knocking her out. He then picked her up in a fireman’s carry and took her along.

Opening the door, they found themselves in a finely-appointed lounge. The room was lit by three sconces on which continual flame spells had been cast. The walls were decorated by Varisian tapestries, and in front of the fireplace was a white bearskin rug. A comfortable-looking divan stood behind a hardwook coffee table. A cabinet with glass doors held a crystal decanter of brandy and four crystal goblets. A beautiful marble statue of a naked nymph stood near the doorway. Turgrox unceremoniously dumped the limp form of Elleste onto to divan.

Just as the unconscious sorceress hit the couch, the statue of the nymph animated and attacked! Darshan identified it as a caryatid column: a magical construct that tended to break weapons if struck with them. Fortunately, the party had collected a fair number of mundane weapons from fallen enemies, and used those to fight the animated statue. The statue managed to strike Zak several times, but the party was able to beat it into submission, at the cost of ruining several captured weapons.

While Darshan tended to Zak’s wounds, Don and Turgrox searched the room. They found a bookshelf that held about two dozen books on various topics, including a tome about the crafting of magical constructs like the homonculus. While tapping a fine hardwood coffee table for secret compartments, Turgrox found a wand taped to the underside. Don identified it as a wand of lightning bolt. The crystal decanter held about a quart of excellent whiskey. Turgrox was fairly certain that the decanter and atching goblets were valuable. Examining the alcove where the statue had stood, Turgrox found a secret compartment that held a locked coffer that contained cash and a few potions. While searching the room, the spell that shrunk Zak wore off, and he returned to his normal size.

At about this time, Elleste regained consciousness. Looking around the room, she said, “Well, I see you met our guardian statue. I was just about to warn you about that when you knocked me out!! Ouch, by the way.”_ Turgrox glared at her. Darshan asked her where the two doors in this lounge led to. She said the door to the south was her room, and the door to the east was Ferista’s. Turgrox listened at the eastern door, but didn’t see anything. Darshan cast detect magic, but didn’t see any traces of magic on the door. Turgrox then picked up Elleste again, as Zak kicked open the door.

The room beyond was a finely-appointed bedroom, with a four-poster bed, more tapestries, a mahogany writing desk, and a wardrobe. Sitting in an overstuffed armchair was a blonde woman in a frilly dress, her hair held in place by a tiara. She appeared to be in her late 20s, She also appeared to be unarmed. “Welcome to my inner sanctum. Of course, you could have just knocked.”

art by ismael Bergara

Turgrox threw Elleste onto the bed. “Ooh, kinky,” she taunted. Darshan faced the seated woman, ‘’You must be Ferista.’’

“I am. I see you’ve met Elleste. As you can see, I am unarmed and pose no threat to you. So, let’s dispense with the niceties. What do you want from me?”

Don then asked what she knew of the Cult of the Scythe Mother. Ferista shot a look at Elleste, still sprawled on the bed. Her apprentice shrugged. Ferista sighed, and told the party the following story:

“Yes, I know of the Cult of the Scythe Mother. My sister Arazna is their leader. About 30 years ago, Arazna petitioned the magistrates of the city to officially recognize the church of Urgathoa in Korvosa. They refused. She then petitioned Queen Domina herself for a private audience, and to her surprise, the request was granted. The meeting lasted several hours, but in the end, Arazna stormed out. The very next day, Queen Domina issued an order to arrest and detention of every follower of the Pallid Princess and their leaders— Arazna in particular. In the scramble to arrest all of the Urgathoans in the dead of night, my sister’s husband put up a fight while Arazna tried to escape. He was killed, along with their three daughters. The Church of Urgathoa was effectively destroyed that night. While Queen Domina claimed that all of the Urgathoans arrested had been tried, convicted, an exiled, in reality they were all locked in the dungeons below the Grand Mastaba and executed. The Church of Urgathoa in Korvosa was effectively destroyed that day. Or so I thought.

“A year ago, Arazna contacted me by magic. She told me that she had escaped the pogrom 30 years ago, and had been nursing her anger against Queen Domina and her city every since. Arazna said that she had discovered references to a Thassilonian artifact lost in Belkzen that would allow her to enact the vengence she sought: this artifact was linked to the Pallid Princess, and could be used to unleash a zombie uprising in the city. Once the zombies were raging enough to be a true threat, she would go to Domina’s son, King Eodred. She would offer to use the artifact to end the zombie uprising in exchange for being named the new Queen of Korvosa. I offered her the use of this mortuary to her and her followers, in exchange for her to name me as the Chancellor of Exchequer once she’s queen. Arazna and several followers showed up about six months ago and started their preparations.”

Don asked if she knew where they were now. Feriesta said that she’d overheard one of them taking about the “tomb of the twice-martyred fool,” which must mean the Reliquary of St. Alika.

While she was talking, Darshan cast detect magic, and realized that Ferista was under the effects of several spells— including one spell that could mask her actions. Seeing through the illusion, he realized that she wasn’t actually sitting in a chair or wearing a frilly dress: she was standing at the ready, clad in no-nonsense leather armor, with a rapier in her left hand! Darshan interrupted her story, and demanded her to drop the illusion, which she relucatntly did. Turgrox then confiscated her rapier and spell component pouch.

“I’ve told you what I know. Take what you want, just leave Elleste and me alive and intact. I swear that you’ll never see us again.”

After a short conference, the party agreed. As Turgrox tied her up, Darshan asked, “One more thing— how come you’re in charge of a mortuary?” Ferista sighed and explained that it was an excellent front for the black market in humanoid body parts. She said she had convinced Tirus Dreen, the owner, to take her on as a partner. When asked if she’d used magic to gain Dreen’s confidence, she unabashedly said, “Yes.” Having enough of her, Turgrox knocked her out with his sap. He then did the same to Elleste, who managed to get in a, “Not again!” before blacking out.

Leaving the two wizards unconscious on the bed, the party ransacked the room, finding several valuables (although not Ferista’s spellbook.) Among the valuables recovered was a pair of magical eyeglasses They then locked the door from the other side, and Turgrox used his lockpicks to completely jam the lock. “It’ll take some doing to get this door open. Of course, they’re wizards, so they’ll get out eventually. At least they won’t be following us!”

On the way out, the party broke into Elleste’s room, and ransacked that as well. They found more valuables, including a few spell scrolls and Elleste’s spellbook. At that, the heroes left the mortuary and returned to the Stirge and Hammer to figure out what to do next. On the way back, they passed a pair of Korvosan Guardsmen, and reported that they had heard the sounds of a fight at the Grove Street Mortuary. “The guards should release Dreen and find those wizards we left behind,” suggested Don.

“Hopefully,” remarked Darshan.

To be continued…Next week!

The Grove Street Mortuary (Part 2)
Session 13

Oathday, 20 Desnus 4704, late morning

Standing in the basement of the Grove Street Mortuary, the party watched in horror as the barred oaken door to the next room burst open from the other side. A dozen zombies shambled into the room, seeking the living to destroy! The party fell back, using the narrow passageway throught which the zombies had to pass as a bottleneck. Zak stepped back, and threw his javelin of lightning down the narrow passage. With a crack of thunder, the javelin turned into a lightning bolt as it left the barbarian’s hand, which streaked down the corridor into the next room. Two-thirds of the advancing zombies fell to the electrical charge, and the party made short work of the rest.

Pressing into the next room, the party discovered a large cellar chamber with a huge oven set into the far wall. The floor and walls were slick with buckets fresh blood, and about a dozen bodies and severed body parts littered the floor. Several of the corpses seemed to be in a state of decomposition, while many of the fresher ones had been gnawed upon. Three more zombies attacked, which the party put down quickly. Searching the room, the adventurers found some salvagable gear and other valuables from the corpses. The ovens appeared to have not been lit in years. Turgrox noticed that it would be relatively easy to climb up the chimney to the mortuary’s grounds. A battered heavy wooden door led south, and an open passage led north. A ramp in the western wall led up to the storeroom above. Zak noticed a set of bloody footprints that headed up the ramp, and realized that it was the same set they’d seen earlier.

The northern chamber appeared to be a morgue. A dozen tables were neatly lined up along the walls, all bloodstained but empty. A few bloodstained tarps lay on the floor next to some of the tables. A shimmering silver seal was set into the floor, which Darshan determined was magical. Also in the room was a tarp-covered gurney. Under the tarp was a disturbing sight: a collection of body parts from small-sized humanoids: mostly gnomes and halflings, but some could have been from human children. Darshan’s examination of the seal determined that if a corpse was placed on the seal for a minute, it would cease rotting for as long as it remained in the room. Don suggested that this room had probably been the embalming room when the mortuary was really operating as a mortuary. Searching through the room, Turgrox found a set of old surgical tools that still appeared to be in good condition, as well as several dusty bottles of embalming fluid.

Finding no other way out, the party returned to the crematorium, and Turgrox listened at the door to the south. He heard someone on the other side whisper, “Shh! I think they’re checking the door! Get ready!” The half-orc noticed that the door had no lock from this side, and was barred from inside. With his greatsword drawn, Zak gathered his strength and kicked the door in— surprising the three Scythe Mother cultists that were inside! Shouting, “Parise the Scythe Mother!” one of the cultists cast a spell as the other two defended him with their scythes. He targeted Zak with the spell, and stage-whispered, “Reap them!”

art by Tamas Baranya

For an instant, Zak was filled with a desire to strike down Turgrox, but he quickly came to his senses and cut down one of the cultists instead. Positioning himself well, Turgrox buried his shortsword into the other cultist’s belly, twisting the blade on the way out. The cultist crumpled to the floor. Don blinded the spellcaster, who clutched at his unholy symbol to utter a malediction, as Darshan used a wand to hit him with an unnaturally cold chunk of ice. The spellcaster cursed the adventurers in the name of the Scythe Mother, and a pulse of dark energy pulled at their souls. Yet none of the heroes fell. Blinded, the priest of the Scythe Mother could scarcely defend himself against Turgrox and Zak’s attacks, and he also fell, cursing the adventurers.

Searching through the priest’s possessions, they found another crudely-drawn map of the Vaults below Korvosa. This map was similar to the one they’d found on the night of the initial attack. The target listed on the map was Exemplary Execrables, the theatre of the macabre in Old Dock that had also been targeted that night. On the back of the map was written, “Call the Watcher by name or face immediate death. Kneel before the twice-slain fool and lift your gaze to see the sign. Seek the Squire then touch silver to the second sign to find the way.”

Finding no other way out of the crematorium, the party returned to the main cellar, and took the open passageway to the south. They passed a side-passage, and followed the corridor for about 200 feet, where it connected to a secondary sewer line in the Vaults. “This must be how they come and go unnoticed,” offered Don. Returning to the side passage they’d walked by earlier, about 20 feet in, they found a ladder bolted to the wall leading up into a shaft. Turgrox climbed the ladder and found that it ended at a trap door about 20 feet up. The trap door was unlocked, and the rogue threw it open. The room above was lit by daylight, and he was assailed by the stench of sweat, urine, and rotting meat. Climbing into the room, the half-orc found himself in a filthy one-room apartment, apparently in the carriage house by the entrance to the grounds. A glance around revealed several stinking fetishes of bone rotting flesh hung from the cieling by twine or wire. A cloud of flies buzzed angrily through the room. Not wanting to search further, he retreated down the ladder, closing the trap door behind him.

As the heroes continued down the passage, they heard guttural moaning ahead, and the sound of many hands beating on and scratching at a door. They entered a room that appeared to be a ruined barracks, with bunk beds overturned and smashed. A dozen zombies were attempting to get through a closed oak door, and didn’t seem to notice the PCs behind them. The four adventurers each tossed a flask of alchemist’s fire at the zombies, and several caught fire and burned. The rest attacked. By now, the party had gotten pretty good at fighting zombies, and dispatched the shambling corpses while escaping serioud injury.

However, before anyone had a chance to catch their breath, a rope suddenly appeared, seemingly suspended from mid-air. Three Sczarni thugs slid down the rope, followed by an attractive dark-haired woman who appeared to be of mixed Varisian and Tien heritage.

art by Paul Taaks

The thugs pulled shortswords, and the woman said, “Nice work on the zombies. Sorry you have to die. Get ’em, boys!”

To be continued… Next week!


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