Curse of the Crimson Throne

A rogue's gambit

In finishing with the manor we were no closer to finding our lost bard. He was nowhere in the manor, I was sure of that. We could either go back to the bar and drown our sorrow and go “oh well” or we could use the resources we had at our disposal. Like it or not we had someone who knew where and what was going on everywhere in the city. We could go to Eel’s End and talk to Devargo Barvasi, the Spider King. He owed us a favor, and favor from a man like him is very valuable indeed. Was this man’s life worth us using this favor? After heated discussion, the decision was made to cash it in.

I was not too thrilled to go back out there. It’s not that I don’t like the place, far from it, but it is the fact that Carista and Adelaide are there. To say I have a chip on my shoulder about them in an understatement to say the least. The people that normally crowded the place were long gone but there were a few about. As we walked past the House of Clouds I saw Carista step out of the shadows and walk with our escorts. She made a point to walk beside me.

I didn’t want to deal with small talk, so I jumped right to the point. “Is she still alive?”

“Yes, but barely. The red veil did a number on her. It will be quite some time before she can return to work for you.” Carista walked by me, looking straight ahead.

“Oh she is not coming back!” I laughed, and glared at her.

“And why not?” Carista sincerely looked offended. “She was a good worker, and took good care of your customers.”

“Besides the fact that she was hired to be kitchen help, and the thought of washing sausage casing made her turn green, there is no way Kess will let her step foot back in the bar.”

“And what would little miss fortune teller do?” Carista scoffed.

“I believe the term is, ‘Cut a bitch’, comes to mind.” I gave her a side long glance.

Carista’s step faltered for a moment. “I’m sure Mr. Priest in tight pants over there would forgive her and protect her. “

I couldn’t stifle the laugh, “Oh really, you expect a cleric of Ragathiel, a man who has sworn to assist those in achieving vengeance for grievously wrongs done to them to simply, ‘Forgive and forget’? You MUST have been breathing the Dragon’s Breath’s vapors if you believe that.” I shook my head at the brazenness of the woman. “Adelaide should be happy she still has her life. She is lucky I am not after her head. Because of her Devin tried to come see her and became ill himself. Thankfully, he will live, but given her treatment of him, she dare not show her face around the bar because her life is not worth it.”

“Point taken.” Carista groused, and continued to walk next to me. After a few moments she again spoke. “If Adelaide cannot work, I want someone else there.”

“No.”

“Your master’s bar is a good place for information. It is a neutral ground and a center point for intelligence in the city. I want a contact there.”

“Let me guess, even Devin told you to piss off when you tried to get him to spy for you.” I smirked at her. Carista glared at me. Her silence told me what I needed to know. Carista had tried pushing Devin and it back fired on her.

“You owe me Perdita. I saved your life.” Carista tried to push the point.

I scoffed, “Hardly. You used me for your own purposes, simple as that. The problem is that I have out grown you. You have no sway over me anymore. Are you going to say I was a thief? Some may believe you or they will see me as someone who changed her life and is now doing well for this city and the kingdom. You have no sway with me.”

Carista began to get highly irritated, “You need another serving girl and I want one of my people there.”

“To report on us? No.”

“The bar is too valuable of place even without your intelligence. I want a contact there.” She began to get seriously agitated.

I eyed my friend to see if they were going to do anything. I had a feeling they were watching her but wouldn’t pull a sword unless she tried something. “It is true that many that are members of your church are useful; however I want to pick who I want. “

“Fine then who? Prudence? Rosie? Charity? Any of them would be excellent workers.”

I smirked. “And any of them could end up dead once their multitude of sins came to light. No.” I gave her an evil grin, “I want Trudy.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Trudy, or no one.” I smirked at her. I had known Trudy for a long time. One thing I had to say about her was she was loyal, and it wasn’t loyalty to Carista. It was to her deity Calistria. She believed gaining knowledge for the betterment of the world, not for one’s self; which had always put her in conflict with Carista. Trudy would gather information on a cheating stealing spouse to allow the poor neglected wife to receive recompense; while Carista would use the information to blackmail the husband, AND the wife. If helping out meant a few rules got bent, Trudy wasn’t opposed to it, but it better be for a darn good reason. The best way to incur Trudy’s wrath is to bully someone she cares about. To say she has a chip on her shoulder against bullies of all kinds is an understatement. I’d like to see Carista try to bully Trudy into taking the job, but we shall see if she takes the job. Would Trudy tell our secrets to anyone? No because frankly she would agree with most of the stuff we do anyway, and would help out if she could. As long as we do things for the greater good, her moral compass should point similar to ours.

“Fine. Soon as the whole plague thing blows over I’ll send her your way. I need her here for now helping with the sick. My side business has taken a serious hit, but my healing has increased. One must do what one must.” Carista crossed her arms in a huff.

“Indeed” I eyed her as she broke off as we came to the Eel’s End itself. She gave a slight bow and went back into the shadows. I knew I would need to watch my back. Carista, like myself, prefers to play the long game. She would attempt to get back at me at some point, however, for now she had bigger concerns to deal with.

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The End of the Nail

My city weeps.

I approach the alley with head low. My blade, made in the image of His holy weapon, rests within its hilt. The weapon feels light, ready to explode off out in righteous justice.

The young woman continued to scream. She was young, attractive, her willowy features were clearly elven. The effectiveness of the Nail in cowing the citizens, combined with the plague, had cowed the citizenry into submission. This young woman was brave enough to venture the streets, defying the curfew, and was caught.

These members of the Nail were going to punish her. The first held her tight, keeping her grappled. The second was keeping an eye out, ineffectively as I stood in the open and he had not noticed me. The third, the leader, was unbuckling his sword belt.

“And thus I clothe my naked villainy, with odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ…” I say, standing some ten feet away.

My words cut through her screams and she finally sees me. The Knights of the Nail don’t even look at me.

“We’re with the Nail,” the First says, still working on his breeches.

“…And seem a saint, when most I play the devil”, I draw my sword.

“Get lost,” the Second calls.

“He’s armed,” the third calls out from behind the girl.

I bring my blade down into the the First’s shoulder, the simple leather armor not proof against my magical blade. It cuts deep as I feel His Spirit imbue my muscles with heavenly power.

Before the FIrst’s knees begin to buckle, I withdraw the blade and step forward. He gurgles once as his heart, cut in two, fails. He falls forward, a freshet of blood covering the stone.

The second Nail pulls out his longsword and swings clumsily.as the third tosses the girl aside and reaches for his blade.

The second screams and swings again. I deflect the blade down and drive my left foot into his groin. He screams and doubles over, staggering backward.

The third draws his long sword and calls out. I turn to face him as he charges. The swing is clumsy as he follows through, over extending himself. I duck under his swing as he passes by me. I lift him into the air, using the flat of my blade into the back of his knees. I can see his eyes wide as I slam him into the ground, driving my weapon into his chest, splitting his ribs.

The second, crying, is a young man, no more than 18. He holds his long sword before him, feebly. Tears run down his face as he paws at his groin with his free hand.

“Don’t kill me!”

“You’ve been judged, and found wanting,” I say as I bring my blade down. The blade flashes in red and gold as it cuts through hair, skin and skull.

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 14
Changes

Another morning, another day. This plague that is rampaging through the city. Hundreds of people are sick, hundreds of people have died, and I fear that it won’t be over anytime soon.

In the middle of this all, ever since the keep I have been feeling strange. Something inside me has been going on. My gut burns, my head swirls, and not from the infections of filth fever I’ve had. I thought, no, I was floating at one point. I sensed the magics within an item, saw its glow emanating from it. I felt something surge through me. I started to listen to Aerich’s prayers, and stories about Ragathiel. I was not a follower of any god. While I did grow up and worked for the Temple of Sarenrae, I never followed, but respected their beliefs.

When Thousand Arrows was murdered I lost my way. I was angry, mad at the world. Narmo was a big help staying by my side for awhile, but it was the faith I found in Ragathiel. Turning my anger and thirst for revenge into vengeance. There must be balance.

I wonder what is going on at the castle with Lady Ileosa Arabasti, and less importantly the King. They have been silent through most of this. I am sure hiding out this great plague.

Things are changing for us all. Change for the better remains to be seen.

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Sometime the worst punishment is silence

I had a bit of trouble sleeping with everything happening lately, and I was up early cooking breakfast with my mother. She and I didn’t talk a lot but when we did it was nice. We made quick and easy work of things. Honestly the night had been uneventful and we were prepping for what was to be a long day. We were going to look into a ‘plague’ party one of Ithamore’s family friends had thrown, actually it was a family friend’s son we were going to go look for there. He was a bard of some sort, and had been hired to work this party a couple days ago, and had yet to return home. This was never a good sign. Devin ripping into me for not going after Adelaide continued to nag at me like a hidden briar. Adelaide had betrayed us. She was currently in the home of a cleric of Calrista. Other than in an actual temple, there is no better place for her to be when having the red veil. My hope is he doesn’t go out and do something stupid.

I was bringing out the breakfast to sit on the bar for the other’s to grab when I heard the coughing. Seeing my mother cough and sputtering because some flour fell on her head from an ill placed jar made me at first smile, but when I continued to hear the coughing after she stopped, it made me worry. I had just seen Guntha in the kitchen helping my mother with ingredients for tonight’s dinner, so it wasn’t either of them. The rest of the group was eagerly tucking into the breakfast I had laid out. The only one missing was Devin. Aerich and I found him curled up in a ball by the fire. He did not look good. He already had the rash, and it was spreading from his face to his neck and shoulders. His lymph glands were already starting to swell. Aerich did what he could, but it was now up to Devin himself. Hopefully the herbs and medicines that Aerich had given him would help him make it until the next morning. Live or die, Devin was in for a long road ahead.

Before I left, I asked him for the truth. There was no way he could have gotten the veil if he had stayed in side and had followed the protocol we had in place. We kept a stick quarantine, no one going out or in except Ithamore, myself and our friends. He could only say “I’m sorry” as the wracking cough took him. He knew I knew he had gone to Adelaide. There was nothing I could say that would be worse that the disease he now had, or if my guess was right, the betrayal he felt inside from her.

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Innocence betrayed

Devin carefully made his way down the street, careful to stay to the shadows. He didn’t want to chance running into Perdi or the others. Perdi was in her room recuperating from the veil herself, but knowing Devin’s luck they had gotten her out of bed to help with whatever they were doing. He didn’t’ want to take any chance. If anyone could find him it would have been Perdi. He wasn’t sure which would be worse, the berating for his stupidity Caranga would give him when he got home, or the look of betrayal and silent outrage Perdi would give him. That is why he could not be caught!

It had been simple to sneak out the back window and down the street when Caranga was in Perdi’s room. The rest of the group was gone. Guntha was in the cellar tending to the casks of ale and bottles of wine. She had not seen him, so all was well…right?
He had to know if Adelaide was alright. When she had not come to work two days before Perdi had not been phased. He couldn’t belive his ears when he heard Perdi say she could stay where she was and good riddance. Devin couldn’t believe Perdi could be heartless. What got him more was when her cleric friend had AGREED with her? He couldn’t believe Perdi would just … just leave her to die.

He had tried to confront Perdi about it but it hadn’t gone well. She kept saying Adelaide was a spy and that she was where she belonged, and bringing her to the bar would do not good, and in fact make it far worse! It couldn’t be true. Adelaide had loved him and had been his friend. Yet she had disappeared on him several times the previous year, and things had been suspicious after she came back to working nights for the bar. There was always a tenseness between her and Caranga. So what if she didn’t want to deal with the animal guts, and blood. She was a lady who served, she didn’t’ get messy. Yet… for every good thing he could think about her the more Perdi and the other’s words would cut a little bit deeper of truth. He had made up his mind to see her for himself and get a straight answer.

A few hours later he returned with his answer. His lip was bloody, he had fight bites all across his knuckles, and he had the imprint of a hand across his face. He had gone to when Adelaide lived, and found what it really was, a brothel. He found her working there as a serving girl for the men there. He could still see the signs of the plague on her face. He had tried to ‘rescue’ her from the place since she obviously was there against her will. The slap to his face told him otherwise. Adelaide had cured him of the notion that Perdi and the others were lying. Adelaide admitted that she taken the job to spy on Perdi and the others. She didn’t’ want to go back there if she could help it. She hated working there. She wasn’t some kitchen girl. She was a well-bred lady who deserved to work in finer places. He was nothing but a sewer rat who got lucky. When he reached out to touch her again to try to make her seen sense, that is when the beating started from the goons. He managed to get a few blows in to them before their boss showed up. Thankfully she took pity on him. She took him to her lavish office. He knew her. His mother had worked for her. He pleaded with the women to help Adelaide see sense, but all the woman did was laugh at him. She told him SHE had been the one to get him and Adelaide the job at the bar. SHE had created the whole thing so that a spy could watch those ‘heroes’ but Adelaide got sloppy. She had gotten found out and got burned for it. Now she was working off her punishment as everything she had gathered was now useless to her. It was then that an offer was made. Devin could take Adelaide’s position at the bar. He could get the gold Adelaide had been paid. All he had to do was pass along to certain people what the people of the bar did, and who they spoke to. It would be so easy, so simple to just write the notes. It would be easy money.

He face grew hot with embarrassment. He had not listened to Perdi. She had been telling the truth. Every word about Adelaide was true, and now this harlot was offering the chance for him to take the tramp’s place as lap dog. It would be so easy to betray them, but he realized his life meant more than that. Forget what Perdi would do to him if she found out. Forget what Kess could do to him with her magics. Forget the torture that Ithamore could rain upon him. And the damnation that would happen to him when Aerich found out. Oh no, he couldn’t look himself in the eye in the mirror anymore if he betrayed the only people who ever really cared about him. He told the women where to shove it. She warned him that she had a long memory and that the Savored Sting would get him one way or the other. He told her to beware because she was but an insect and he planned to carry a very large swatter to squish her like a bug if she ever came near him again. With what little dignity he had left he limped his way home, not caring who he ran into.

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A day lost
Meanwhile back home...

Being stuck in bed all day while my friends are out in the city doing who knows what is making me twitch. Looking like someone tossed a whole pot of red paint on me and aching all over is not fun. I feel like someone has been kicking me repeatedly in the kidneys. Thankfully I am better off than our friendly monk. He is continuing to run a high fever, but it has stabilized. Whatever herbs and such Aerich had given him has helped him. Resting all day makes me more and more ansy the longer I lay here. There is so much I should be doing but I know I need to rest in order to get better. I heard a knock at my door. “Come in.”

In walked a tea tray with legs, well that is what it looked like. Actually it was my mother carrying a huge tray loaded with tea pots, soup, toast and jams. “Morning lazy bones, ready for some food?"

“If it is your cooking, sure.” Perdi sat up in the bed.

Caranga set the food on the bed before Perdi. “Thankfully the pantry is stocked so I have food for both you and Boshi. “

“You havent’ been touching him, have you?” I looked at her concerned.

“Oh heavens no. I might put chicken soup on the table next to him, but touch the boy? Not on your life.” She poured tea foe Perdi.

“Good.” Perdi took the tea and began sipping it. The warmth seemed to seep into her bones and help with the aches.

Caranga sat on the end of the bed. “How bad is it really? Don’t you dare try to lie to me. “

Perdi sighed as she picked up a piece of toast, “Near riots at the churches, bodies piling up of the unfortunate poor. Thankfully after what happened yesterday it is no longer just the rich being healed but now the poor do not have to pay to be healed.”

“The churches were charging for healing?” Caranga said surprised.

“Not Sarenra. Abadar was charging 150 gold pieces to remove disease. They were treating people but removing the disease with magic was costing a fortune. That is why is a blessing to have Aerich here. He was able to remove it from me, but was unable from Boshi. Thankfully he is a wonderful healer and was able to treat him. Hopefully that will help him in the long run. I’m still going to look like hell but I am feeling better. I will say your cooking always make me feel better. “ Perdi smiled

“Sweet talker. “ Caranga smiled, “I take it the city is on lock down?”

“All gates are locked down, and quarantine is in effect. They are bringing in food but it is only through one gate, and coinage is going through vinegar treatment.”

“Are we going to be ok here?”

“For the moment, before word got out about the quarantine I bought an extra week of food. We are loosing money have this place closed but I think it is safer to keep the place closed for now. “

“It isn’t my shop so it isn’t my money but it does make sense. That doesn’t mean I like the fact I am not making good tips. “

“Instead you are taking care of me and grumpy Boshi.” Perdi smirked.

“Yeah lucky us.” Caranga sighed, “Be that as it may, I need to get back to the kitchen to help Derik and Guntha. I have them organizing the pantry, and inventorying the liqueur cabinet.”

“Is Derik still mad at me?”

“A bit, he hates the fact that you did what you did but he can understand why you did what you did. His feelings are hurt but he will get over it. Give him a few days to get over it.” Caranga patted Peri’s arm as she left the room.

Perdi sighed and set to work eating the lunch her mother had made for her. It was not often that she got to be served good food made by someone else, much less in bed. She had much to think about while she waited for her friends to come back. She silently said a prayer that her friends made it back, because knowing her friends’ luck they would need all they help they can get.

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Journal of Perdi - Back in the City
The beginings of the plague

Perdi returned to the bar after her shopping trip. She had bought another week’s worth of food for the bar. It had only been a couple gold pieces but it would have to do for now.
As Perdi came in the back door she was met by Derik. “Hey, everything alright?”

“No.” Perdi grabbed his arm and dragged him back into the bar, and shut the door.
“Caragana! Adalade! Guntha! Get in here!”

It took just a moment for them to get into the kitchen. Perdi turned to Guntha. “Guntha and Devin, get everyone that is not the boss’s friends, or us out of the bar. NOW! Do NOT touch them. Get them out the door. “with a nod they went back into the main room, and from the sound of things they had the few customers that were in there moving quickly.
Looking at the other two, “We have a confirmed case of a plague starting in the city. We need this place locked down. No one but us and the boss’s friends are to be allowed in that door. That being said a delivery man will be arriving soon. He is NOT to get out of the cart. He has already been paid . Just unload the supplies then come back in. That is all. Do you understand?”

A chorus of “yes” responded. Looking at Adelade, Perdi said, “If any of you want to leave here, go somewhere, buy something, do it now before things go into lock down.”
Caranga and Perdi looked at each other as Adelade grabbed her shawl and ran out the door. It was safe to assume that she was going to Old Korvosa to warn her other masters.

A couple minutes later Devin and Guntha returned to the kitchen. “Where is Adelade?” Devin asked.

“She went home.” Caranga sighed. “She may or may not be back.”

“What does that mean?” Devin asked.

Before Perdi could say anything the delivery bell sounded.
“Devin, and Guntha help me with the delivery,” Caranga directed the two assistance, and gave Perdi a knowing look. Perdi could only sigh.
--
The next morning Perdi was working on her famous porridge as Devin brought in another keg of ale. It would go well with the porridge and hopefully hold of the illness. “Perdi, have you seen Adelade yet this morning?”

“No I haven’t.” Perdi continued to stir the pot.

“Aren’t you worried about her?”

“Devin, I don’t think she will be returning anytime soon.”

“What do you mean by that? Aren’t you worried about her?” Devin began to get angry at her.

Perdi refused to look at him, “ Adelade either has the red veil and is sick, OR she is with her masters. Either way she won’t be returning to us anytime soon.” She began to ladle up to food.

“What the hell do you mean by that?”

“Devin, she had been spying on us the whole time we were in the city a year ago. She has been working with a cleric that works for the spider court. If she is ill then the cleric can help her, and is better off staying with her to get treatment. “

“You are just going to leave her there? Are you going to go after her?”

“What good would it do? There is nothing we can do for her now. Right now it is safer to say in here.”

“Do you not care about her?”

“Of course I do, but it is hard to have sympathy for someone who was especially stabbing me in the back for over a year. Once this plague is over we will check on her, for now we just need to survive.”

“You are heartless.” Devin stormed off.

Perdi sighed. His words cut. She wasn’t heartless and she was worried about Adelade but for right now there was nothing they could do for her. Caranga came in the room, saw her face, and came off and patted her back. She took the bowls from Perdi as she dished them up.

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My City Weeps

The city screams, her muffled cries break my heart.

I cannot deny her.

I wrap my white cloak around me and crouch down on the shingle, staring down onto the streets.

I am a cleric. My lord, Ragathiel, is not a god of mercy but righteous vengeance. Every tear my city weeps is another shout of anger from my Lord. The plague delivered onto her, brought on mysterious black sails, has drawn me to her defense.

In our absence, the Church of Asmodeous instituted a draconian law that their toadies, the Order of the Nail, are all too happy to enforce. The Order was useful as an existential threat. Now they were a danger to the city and its residents.

I see a young woman move quickly through the alley, her cloak drawn around her. It is after curfew. The Nail has already found her. Two knights, dressed in plain clothes, were shadowing their target.

Saying a small prayer to Ragathiel, I can feel his wings cover me. The spells I cast protect me as I return to the streets.

“Stay back,” I hear her say. I hear the sound of steel clearing scabbard as I raise my hood around my head and approach.

My city provides for me. She gives me everything I need. And I’m her angel.

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The Harrow for Seven Days to the Grave

Everyone gets 4 harrow points

The Varisians know that Fate is a plan known only to the Gods, but the hearts of men determine the path and shape of its coming. You may use these Harrow points to accomplish any of the following. Remember, though, the Fates are also fickle. Any points unspent by the end of the adventure are lost.

Constitution Rerolls: Spend a Harrow Point to reroll any one Fortitude saving throw, Concentration check, or other Constitution-based d20 roll. You must abide by the new result (although if you have additional Harrow Points remaining, you can use them to attempt additional rerolls).

Fast Hit Point Recovery: Spend a Harrow Point after resting for a minute to catch your breath and recover from your recent ordeals—you heal a number of hit points equal to your class level and 1 point of ability damage (but not ability drain) each time you do so. You may spend a Harrow Point in this manner once after each encounter.

Damage Reduction: Spend a Harrow Point to gain damage reduction 3/—. This damage reduction persists for the duration of the encounter in which you spent the Harrow Point.

Character Card Notes
Aerich The Brass Dwarf (LN) Combat with Jelistina (+2 on con rolls and temp hp X2 character level)
Boshi The Tangled Briar (LE) Combat with Girrigz (+2 on con rolls and temp hp X2 character level)
Perdi The Sickness (NE) All encounters in the sick ward (+2 on con rolls and temp hp X2 character level)
Thorn The Mountain Man (CN) Combat with the Hungry Dead (+2 on con rolls and temp hp X2 character level)
Ithamore The Wax Works (CE) Combat with Rolth (+2 on con rolls and temp hp X2 character level)
Kes The Desert (CG) Combat Yvicca (+2 on con rolls and temp hp X2 character level)

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 13
Korvosa & Vengeance

It’s been about a year since I have been in the city. I left the city after the day my world was shattered.

Lies.

Betrayal.

Corruption.

Death.

These were a few of the things I left behind. Now returning the city looks different, but I still smell the putrid stench of its existence. You can put a fresh coat of paint on something to cover something up, but what is beneath still is there, festering like an infected boil, just ready to pop.

I left this behind because I needed to be free. Coming back here only puts me back in shackles. This city needs a savior, a hero, or heroes that will be it’s champion.

~Thorn


The city is different, the streets cleaner, no beggars, people working; like street sweepers, builders, and repairing the roads. Thorn looks at his friends and help escort the Lady Ileosa home. Parting ways from his friends he stands there in the city listening to it. People passing him by, the conversations, the reconstruction. Narmo nuzzles his hand, snapping him back into reality. He looks at his trustworthy animal companion… Something is not right here.

Thorn heads to the Temple of Sarenrae, where he grew up, and once held the Master Huntsman position there. A place he called home, but he left in a hurry that day. Perhaps he still can.

Walking up to the gates of the temple he looks at it, he’s looked at the temple before many times, but it all seemed different now. Opening the gate he steps in and heads down the path to the stairs up to the temple.

“Thorn.”

Stopping he turns to see a familiar face, a red headed woman approach him, “Olivia…”

Olivia walks up to him and grabs him by the arm, “You… Come with me.” She escorts him into the temple post haste.

“Hey…” Thorn begins to protest as he is dragged along.

“Do shut up until we get to a safe location,” she responds harshly to his protest. Eventually, Thorn, Narmo, and her arrive in an abandoned barracks. She closes the door behind her and then approaches him.

“Safe? Olivia, care to tell me what is going on?” Thorn straightens himself up.

She shakes her head, “I want to say it is good to see you Thorn. It’s been awhile since you left… abruptly. I feel like we need to talk in private.”

“Yeah well,” he says rubbing the back of his head, “With all that went on in the city, and personal reasons. I made a quick exit. I needed to get out of town with my companions and Lady Ileosa’s offer just came at the right time.”

Olivia shakes hear head, “A very convenient time.”

Thorn looks about, “Why are the orphanage barracks so barren, Olivia?” He says looking about.

She sighs, “After you left things changed. The city changed. The orphanages were taken over by the Church of Asmodeus. We…”

Thorn looks at her in horror, “Asmodeus!”

Olivia frowns, “After you left. We found a new hunter. A… unscrupulous fellow. He didn’t start off that way. He kind of just appeared at our doorstep. He seemed fine at first. Then as time went on he was not as kind as you. We had to buy the meats from him, which we did after all we had mouths to feed.” She pauses, “He took up residence in your old shack and he he recruited some of the orphans to be hunters with him.”

Thorn raises an eyebrow, “I see. I guess it is more efficient that way as long as the laws of nature are respected.” Now he pauses too, “Hm…”

Olivia looks at him, “I sense that you want to ask something Thorn.”

Thorn nods, “I left with some unsettling business with Steven that day. He revealed to me some things that were disheartening.”

Olivia looks at Thorn, her eyes wide, and they begin to swell with tears, “So… you don’t know.”

Seeing the stern demeanor of Olivia just fade away before his very eyes, “Steven?”

Olivia she breathes in hard, “Steven is dead. He was stabbed in an alleyway not to far from here and left to bleed out.” She turns her head from Thorn, “You were a prime suspect.”

Thorn take a moment to process this information, stumbling he sits on a nearby cot, “Dead…” He holds back the emotions feeling very responsible for this revelation. “Suspect? Me… I… No. Never would I.”

She walks over to Thorn, “This I know, but when you left, a bloodied knife was found in your residence by the new hunter under your bed covered in the dirt, and Sister Margret saw you two fighting.” She kneels by his side, “It was a little too suspicious, a fight, you leaving, finding the boy dead, and the knife.” She rests her hand on his leg, “I prayed to Sarenrae every day for weeks, when the truth was finally revealed.”

Thorn looks at the hand, “The truth? The truth is that I failed Steven. I was so distraught with what he told me. That he could be involved with Thousand Arrows’s death…”

Narmo’s ears perk up at the name.

Olivia, “The truth set you free from being the prime suspect. A dark, and mysterious presence… a force of hatred, and evil was the answer I got. A man. A man in black.”

Thorn looks at Olivia and he tilts his head, “What was the name of the hunter that took my spot?”

She looks back at him, “He called himself Raven Slate. He is no longer with us… As I said he was a untrustworthy fellow. He and the orphans he recruited stole from the church and left our coffers barren so we couldn’t keep the…”

Thorn grunts and balls his hand up into a fist, “Raven… Black… Slate… Black. I’m sorry Olivia, but this was all my fault. Thousand Arrows, Steven’s death, the temple being robbed, the orphanage being shut down… It was something Steven said to me about a Mr. Black. Apparently this Black fellow has a grudge against me. I’m not sure who he is, but once I find out…” Thorn stands up and he vows as sense of intense emotion overcomes him, “…vengeance.”

Olivia scurries back from Thorn looking at him seeing an aura about him and she mutters silently to herself, “Ragathiel…”

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