Curse of the Crimson Throne

The Fall
Part 1 of Kesali's Climb

Kesali carefully brushed away some of the loose debris from the thick wooden plank supporting her tiny bruised frame. It was damp from the broken sewer line, but the pipe must have completely collapsed because the water stopped pouring and diminished to a slow trickle. She carefully laid out one of her scarves before she pulled her cards out of the wrist sheath where she stored them for quick access. The cards were old, much older than herself. They were a gift from her adopted Varisian family. Their insights guide her future, while their worn edges and occasionally creased cards remind her of the past, the many people, and choices that led her to where she is now; trapped in a 4 foot wide seemingly bottomless shaft created by the fall of the heavy bell from a collapsed temple built on top of generations of older, poorly constructed, ramshackle structures in this pitiable neighborhood of old Korvosa.

She started to shuffle the deck, but stopped abruptly when she heard the odd clomping and moaning of an otyugh from deep below her. The illumination from the dancing light spell she cast might draw its attention, but it’s so far down, that it was worth the risk. She’d fought them before, but never when she was so completely alone. If she hadn’t managed to grab onto this ledge, and she hadn’t died from the fall, surely that creature would have finished her off.

Taking a deep, slow breath, she looked upward. She had willed her floating lights to drift up. She knew she could send them as far as 100 feet, but sometime before they reached their limit, they stopped. The shaft was covered by the wreckage. There was no way to know how deep she had fallen. Were there other survivors? “Oh, Gods, how many people must have died?”

She waited for some sign of a rescue, afraid that if she shouted out for help, it might draw the attention of the Otyugh, who was now speaking out loud in a slow groaning voice, “S-o-o-o-o H-u-n-n-n-g-r-y-y-y, Gnarlug is so hungry.”

“Is Gnarlug talking to himself, or is he talking to me?” she quietly feared. “Does he know I’m here?”

She had no idea what to do, so she did what came naturally. Again, she began to shuffle the cards of her Harrow desk. The sound of the cards wasn’t too loud, but still she prayed to Desna that the ravenous sewer monster would not hear her. She asked of the cards, “How can I get to safety?” Then she played the nine cards in the typical 3 by 3 layout. Sure there were other layouts possible, but this was how her Nona (grandmother for you gadjos) taught her.

harow-reading.jpg

In the first column, representing the negative past or the darkness that has come before she played The Avalanche. Clearly this represents the panicked riots that have frequented the city for the last year, from political fear, plagues, and starvation. The city has been in a state of disaster.

As she reached over to reveal the cards in the second column, representing the present, she nervously knocked over the remaining cards. She quickly grabbed them but not before one of the cards fell of the board, and down the shaft. “DAMN IT!” she shouted, not even caring about Gnarlug below, as her family heirloom drifted out of sight.

She continued what would probably be her last reading with her family’s deck. She revealed two significant cards, yet both were misaligned. Representing the positive present, she placed The Crows. Typically this would symbolize murder, violent crime, or the violent loss of someone or something dear. Missaligned, Kes read this as the possibility to avoid or escape the violence. In this case, meaning that it is possible for her not to die in this dark, damp hole.

The second misaligned card was The Cricket. As she realized its meaning tears swelled in her eyes. Misaligned, The Cricket was a treasure that is lost after traveling. In this case it clearly symbolized the loss of the card from her now incomplete family harrow deck.

All that was left to do was reveal the cards in the third column, the future was literally waiting to be revealed, but for the first time in her life, she was afraid to turn over the cards. They had already betrayed her once today. She was considering putting them away when she realized that Gnarlug wasn’t making any more noise. She sat still and listened for what felt like forever, and then… she heard him.

“I – hear – you,” he moaned, dragging the words out. “I hear you up there. Gnarlug is hungry, and Gnarlug is coming for you.”

She heard the sounds of wood cracking and shifting as she imagined the monster using its three large legs and two long spiked tentacles to climb up through the rubble in the dark shaft. She could have sent her lights down to see, but she just didn’t want to know. “Gnarlug is getting closer,” he said is his usually breathy groan. “Gnarlug can smell you now, and you smell fresh.” The sound was getting much closer as Gnarlug’s climb hastened, but then Kes heard him make an odd guttural noise, and then she heard the sound of wood smashing as Gnarlug slipped and fell back down the shaft, ending his fall in a loud, pained yelp, and sudden silence.

She didn’t move or make a sound for several minutes. The monster was either dead or unconscious. Eventually, she lowered her light downward, and saw that Gnarlug’s fall caused more rubble to block the shaft some 30 or 40 feet below her. Even if he survived, he wouldn’t be able to climb back up that way.

Kes decided that if she had avoided being Gnarlug’s meal, perhaps her future was worth knowing so she revealed the last of the cards in her reading. The card of significance, The Waxworks, was positioned as her negative future. This card represented a dark and terrible place of torture, imprisonment. It also symbolized helplessness, and paralysis. She Knew that this could only mean that she was truly trapped, alone and helpless. She put what was left of her harrow deck away, and began to sob. There was nothing she could do. If her friends were here they could climb to her and look for a way out, but she was alone. Eventually, her spell ended, and the light went out. She could have cast it again, but she didn’t see the point. The last card was played. Her fate was sealed. She was going to die here, alone, in the dark.

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Back in the kitchen - part 1
A stranger at the door

A few weeks after the plague ended.

The bar had closed 3 hours before and the early morning workers would be arriving in the next hour or so for their morning breakfast and ales. Devin and Guntha where finishing putting the bar to rights while Caranga was starting the breakfast preparations. Things were still lean but she could still get the things she needed for blood fritters, and of course their famous spiced portage. Carang could only sigh as she stirred the portage pot. They tended to sell more portage pot when Perdi made it. She had changed the recipe slightly when they were at that keep place, and Carang had yet to figure out what the secret ingredient was that made Peri’s far better than hers. She had hoped that Perdi would settle down and help more with the bar, but that was proving to be difficult.

Perdi spent much of her time brokering deals, and selling the goods that their little band of misfits had acquired recently. Caranga couldn’t really complain that much given the money that Perdi had reinvested in the kitchen it’s self. The better tools and knives had paid for themselves the first week.

She had just about put her hand into the batter to fry up the fritters when there was a knock at the back door. This caused her to raise an eyebrow because the morning deliveries usually wouldn’t arrive for another couple hours. Anyone coming at this hour was either, very drunk, very hungry, or very stupid. “Devin, get the back door for me. And be on alert. Who ever it is doesn’t know the routine around here.”

Devin came in from the main area, leaving Guntha to refresh the kegs and casks behind the bar. If trouble were to happen Guntha could easily come running if she was needed. Devin made sure his ax was next to the kitchen wood pile. If he needed a weapon it was easy with in reach, and didn’t lookout of place. He opened the door mid knock. “May I help you?”

He had half expected to see a pschodragon with another imp ear. After the one pshodo dragon had been staked their back door a few months ago, there had been fewer of them coming to claim the bounty, but those that came earned their bounty well. It was true that the first thing he was an imps ear being held before his face, but he didn’t expect it to be held by a teen age girl. “Can I help you?”

“A friend of mine said if I came to this door with an imp’s ear, I could get some food.” She presented the ear closer to Devin’s face.

“That is true, but who was your friend?” Devin swiftly took the ear from her. “Go sit over there.” He pointed to a stool in the corner. He kept a close eye on her.

“Gricknarg. He is a pschodo dragon. He speaks highly of this place. He said if I ever get desperate to try this.”

At the word desperate Caranga sat a plate of eggs, fish, and bread on the table next to the girl. “Eat up. Spring may be coming but that is not to say the wind isn’t cold off the water.”

The girl took her first bites of the food, making noises that made Devin blush a bit. He began stacking up wood, but keeping an eye on the girl. “What made you so desperate to come here? To earn a hand out from us takes some doing.”

The girl licked the juices off her fingers. “I lost my sleeping spot, and my benefactor is currently stuck over in Old Korvosa, so that makes things a little difficult. Besides, word has it that you might haven an opening here.”

“What makes you say that?” Caranga wiped her hands on her apron.

“Rumor has it that your serving girl won’t be returning anytime soon.” She closed her eyes and savored the last bite of fish; then tore off some of the fresh bread to wipe up the egg yoke off her plate.

Devin’s hand wrapped around the handle of his ax, as he hefted some wood closer to the fire; they had heard from the spice vendor a few days before that he had seen Adelaide running toward the bar a couple of nights before like the hounds of hell were after her.
He did not see any one chasing her but he said she looked in a bad way. When Caranga question him how he knew it was Adilade he responded that her distinctive hair color, and the red stole Adelaide always wore when she was out. He had lost sight of her about a block from the bar. “Who told you that?”

“My boss, who else,” The girl shrugged, and she wiped the last of the egg off the plate. She looked up to see Caranga and Devin eyeing her. “What? I haven’t touched anything expect what you handed me, besides why would I steal from someone who just fed me?”

“Why indeed? “ Caranga hefted one of her cast iron skilled. “So why did you REALLY come here?” By now Guntha was standing in the kitchen door way, a polished club in hand.

“Whoa whoa, I’m not here for trouble.” The girl stood up and tried to maneuver herself so that she could get near the window or door, but the others were not making that easy.

“I came here for food, a warm fire, and a job. That’s all.”

“What did you do with Adelaide?” Devin started forward with his ax.

“I don’t even know her.”

Caranga’s eyes narrowed. “Yes you do, you are lying. Tell us why you are here.”
The girl looked back and forth between them. She started to make a move for something when someone shouted “Because I asked her to!”
--
A little bit later a pot of coffee was being poured into large mugs. “Now that you have your coffee, care to explain who the hell she is?” Devin pointed at the girl standing by the door.

“Teresa Raine Ulani Damonica Yevon Peregrine other wise known to her friends as Trudy Peregrine, former ‘cleric’ of Calistria, and old friend of mine from my old life. ”

“But what is she doing here?” Caranga asked.

“Carista Swordhand sent me to her.” Trudy thumbed at Perdi. “Said she had a job for me that would be worth my while. What I didn’t count on was this whole plague thing.”

“Perdi, we really can’t afford another person here right now. With all the stupid red tape the officials have been throwing at us, we are lucky to break even.” Caranga sighed.

“We need a new waitress, and an extra pair of hands around here.” Perdi glared at her mother. “Whether you like it or not, Adelaide is not coming back. To get Carista off my back about not letting Adelaide back, I agreed to take on ‘one of her people’, that person is Trudy.”

Devin eyed Trudy, “That is a good reason not to trust her. I still think she had something to do with Adeliane disappearing.”

Perdi laughed, “Oh please. If there is one person I know is not in Carista’s pocket it is Trudy.”

“Why?” Devin crossed his arms, giving Trudy a look that showed he didn’t believe her.

“Because I think Carista is a lying whore who would stab you in the back at her earliest convenience.”

Caranga raised an eye brow, “That is a start.”

“Long story short, Carista had been trying to manipulate Trudy into something she is not willing to do. I offered her a way out. Trudy knows I have reasons I want her here but at least I’m honest about the reasons.”

“Now that you got me here, what are you going to do with me? “ Trudy eyed Perdi.

“As I said before, we need a waitress. I need a training partner. You want honest work that doesn’t involve lying on your back. We can help you.”

Caranga huffed, “But like I said, we can’t afford her Perdi. We can barely pay ourselves.”
Perdi smirked, “Give her my wage.”

“Pardon” Caranga’s jaw dropped.

“Soon as the estate is finished I’m moving over there. I rarely get to work a full day here at the bar, yet I’m still being paid. It’s not fair to all of you. Pay Trudy for the work I can’t do.”

“That is all well and good,” Devin made an effort not to look at Trudy. “But she is no cook, and if I heard you correctly the only meat she has served is not for public viewing.”

Before Devin could continue his rant, he felt the hilt of a blade smack him across the face.

“It would be wise NOT to say that again.” Perdi laid a hand on Trudy’s shoulder.

“I get that impression.” Devin wiped his bloody nose.

“And you need to watch your temper. I know why you did it but that is the last time. If you got a beef with anyone take it outside. Do you understand?” Perdi spun Trudy to face her. Trudy nodded, not meeting Perdi’s eye.

Caranga cleared her throat to change the subject, “Devin had a point. He may not have said it in a polite way but he has a point. Trudy, is there anything you can do to earn your wage here?”

“I understand Lady Kess performs here often.”

“She does, but not enough as we would like. She is in VERY high demand. Why?”

“I can dance. It wouldn’t be as good as Kess’s performance but would bring in some extra funds. I can waitress and help out as much as I can. Look I just want a chance.”

Devin shrugged, “Worth a shot for while. Come on, I’ll show you around.” Devin motioned for Trudy to follow him into the main room.

When they were gone Caranga looked over at Perdi. “She is just here to be a waitress , huh?”

“That was the plan.” Perdi smiled.

“That is the plan for Carista, but not for you.” Caranga wiped her hands and went back to her cooking. “I was the one who taught you how to look for what most don’t see. You are up to something.”

Perdi gave her a seemingly innocent smile. “What ever would I need a human female who appears to be my same age, height, build, skills set and has an affinity for disguise as much as I do languages?”

“Uh huh…” Caranga grinned and dished up some fritters. “And now she owes you one. Nope I have no idea what you might be up to. I just ask that you keep me out of it. “

Perdi smiled behind her cup of coffee. “No promises.”

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 20
Fall of the Emperor

“Korvosa is the largest city found in the wilderness area known as Varisia.”

“Old Korvosa is the oldest part of the Varisian city of Korvosa. It covers all of Endrin Isle. It is the poorest, most overcrowded part of the city.”

“Still quarantined, cut off from the rest of the city because of the Blood Veil. The sprawling slum contained by roadblocks and guardposts, Old Korvosa is left to fall into despair, fear, and anarchy.”

“Food, any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, in order to maintain life and growth.”

“The supply has been strictly rationed to the privileged, and even held hostage to the highest bidder, or to the ones willing to have themselves used as unwilling thieves, warriors, slaves, and even in prostitution.”

“A man that has all this power calling himself the savior of Old Korvosa, the Emperor.”

“He proclaims he is a sovereign ruler of great power. He controls the food, the trade, and his army of victims.”

“More like dictator.”

“One that vengeance must be taken upon.”

“Together with my allies in Ragathiel’s name punishment was inflicted and retribution exacted for the wrongs he has done.”

“The citizens of Old Korvosa can have a resemblance of a normal life once again.”

~Thorn

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 19
The Lady and I

As I was sitting in my garden one fine day, Katherine, one of my ladies, came in and informed me that Thorn was there to see me. I remembered him of course. He was a friend that had gone with me into exile last year, while I was in mourning for my late husband. He and his friends had provided protection, and companionship during that trying time. He had shown me how to shoot a bow and how to recognize different animal tracks. He had also helped me deal with some hobgoblins that thought they could attack me and had kept his mouth closed on how that turned out.

Thorn stands there in a great hallway of the castle. He looks at the finly woven tapstries that line the walls, and various works of arts, portraits of the royal bloodlines that ruled in the castle while he waits for Katherine to return.

Several guards walk by, looking at him. Some mutter about him after passing by. Servents rush by, laundry service, maids, butlers. All of them muttering several things.

Trying to listen he stalks the shadows nearby, but just as he is about to hear anything of that could be of importance a hand touches his shoulder, causing him to jump and letting out a shrill yelp, turning to face Katherine.

“The Lady is ready to see you now, Sir Thorn,” she bows, and showing him the way.

Thorn was lean. He was tanned from long hours in the sun, he had an engaging smile when he cared to show it, and he had a quiet confidence about him that was quite appealing. Overall a very pleasing young man.

I had told him I would teach him how to utilize his sorcery abilities when he was ready so I figure that was the reason for the visit. It would sure break up the daily routine.

I looked over to smile at Merrin only to be reminded, once again, she was no longer my bodyguard. Venster had needed her to take over the operation of what use to be the Order of the Nail after the execution of their old leader Lector DeVri.

I needed her close to the King and not tied to me. This would also distance her from me so in case things did not work out she might have other options. I thought she would also be quite good at this and should have the opportunity. I would miss her though.

Turning back forward I straightened my posture to properly greet the earnest young man.

He came forward and sketched a quick bow as I extended my hand for him to kiss.

“M’Lady,” Thorn bowed, kissing her hand. It is a pleasure to see you again.

We exchanged some small talk and then came around to the reason he was here. Sure enough it was about guidance in using his gifts and I explained about the will and the word and how he could unlock his potential.

“Ever since the battle with Daughter of Urgathoa and witnessing Aerich’s embodiment of Ragathiel I have felt different; A fire in my gut.” Thorn went on to explain that he felt different like some hidden potential unlocked within.

After several retelling of tales about his adventures and experiences with his companions Thorn relaxed and watched the Lady.

She showed him some minor cantrips and then helped him call forth his own abilities.

Thorn stood there feeling like pressure, built up inside him needing to be relased, a charge of energy.

Meditating with the Lady, and letting the feeling flow through him he had to think about what he wanted to do before he did it, mimicing Lady Ileosa.

“Light which burns beyond crimson flame, let thy power gather in my hand!” Thorn touches a rock in the garden and it flares to life the rock begins to glow like a torch, shedding light around the radius of it.

Proud of himself he tries it again several times, casting the Light spell, very basic, but handy.

It was slow going but we made good headway through the afternoon before I needed to go in and dress for dinner. We made some arrangements to meet again in a couple of days and then bid him good night.

With a bow, kissing her hand good bye Thorn departs, “Have a good evening m’lady.” Leaving her with the promises of several more meetings to study the ways of the arcane arts and the basics of spellcraft. He laughs… Never before did he want to learn, but times have changed, he is changing. A quasi-divine power burns inside Ragathiel.

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Thrill of the Hunt Part 18
Evolution

“It can feel like pressure, it can feel like wind blowing against your skin, it can feel like water flowing through you, some feel a rush of energy, some feel nothing at all. The feelings are different for everyone.”

“Personally for me magic is like a strong energy almost like electricity. It gives me a sense of being one with the very core of nature. It is hard to explain other than the fact that it is wonderful.”

“When I first came to the orphanage they must have sensed something within me. I didn’t feel it, see it. All I saw was a rambunctious kid. A youth that couldn’t sit still. I got into mischief, trouble, and grounded on more than one occasion.”

“The sisters tried to explain magic to me, but finally gave up. My mentor and friend Liopicat who raised me. He had used magic and showed me them magics, but I had little to no interest. I learned to fine tune my survival instincts and the laws of the land.”

“Magic, or as I found out my quasi-divine bloodline awoke in me. As I bore witness seeing gods appear before me during the Bloid Veil plague, only having a taste of that power within before, became unlocked, unleashed and my faith in my god grew. I felt connected.”

“I have evolved, I have become something else. My new destiny is ahead of me and I must meet it head on.”

-Thorn

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Getting Life back to what we consider normal

Life is getting back to normal, well a normal as a day as we ever get. The bar is doing alright. We are making ok money but it is getting frustrating with all the stupid red tape. I get that food prices are higher but since when do I need to have a licensed permit to buy food. If had just been one thing I would have thought it was a fluke. However between the tax paperwork being “lost”, and the extra “fees” and “licenses” that we are now being required to have so we that we can do business, it is getting ridiculous. I get it that there people who don’t like that we took down the Order of the Nail. Yes they supposedly kept order in the city, but at what cost. Their leader was conspiring with those who brought the plague to our shores. Give us some credit her, we did it for the greater good, but what does it matter to you red tape monkeys.

To many that we are still alive is a miracle. We all we on death’s door when that THING charged after us. Aerich stopped and slowed the creature long enough for us to get to the safety of the elevator. His sacrifice still would not been enough to save us, however when his GOD stepped in and scared the thing off, and resurrected him. Now that would scare the thing. Scared it so much it blasted it’s way through the roof of the elevator and out and away from everyone. It took some doing getting back up the shaft and back to the warehouse.

With everyone, and ever thing out of the Urgathoa temple. Nothing like a temple to the goddess of disease, gluttony, and undead to put you off your feed for a while. I was able to search it properly. We made off quite well with the treasures we found. I was specifically intreged by the rapier Doctor Reiner Davaulus had been carrying. It seemed to cut deeper on those of human blood. I was tempted to sinmply add it to our items to be sold but Aerich convinced me it would be of use should the Order of the Nail decide to come a visiting again. I now carry it as my primary weapon.

The influx of gold has been a boon for us. I was able to upgrade my armor and get a few protection magic’s. I also was able to enchant my new blade to penetrate easier into my opponents flesh. Given the creatures we have been up against I invested in a few specialize items to help us. I have found it is better to be safer than sorry. All the time to sell our items, and finding people to make the items we are wanting has cut into my cooking time. My mother has been taking over more and more of the kitchen duties. I don’t mind it too much, but I honestly love cooking for people.

One of the up sides of the temporary influx of gold Aerich was able to have his church built. Given that is an actual resurrected cleric of his God of retribution. Yeah it brought in more donations that he anticipated. I have given my room at the bar over to my mother, and I have taken a room at the church. I’ve become the unofficial cook of the church. Personally I think Aerich just likes to have a private cook, but that is just my opinion. By splitting the duties between my mother and I means she can take the early morning cooking and set up duties, where I can take the late night close the house duties. She has been pestering me to find a replacement for Adelaide. As far as I know she is still in lock down in Old Korvosa. If she has any sense she will stay there, or at least away from the bar. I fear what will happen if Devin gets his hands on her lying cheating ass. Speaking of which he is doing much better now. He is really enjoying working in the bar. He works the overnight shift by helping Ithamore with late night alcohol at the bar, and some early morning prep for my mother. For now he seems happy with it.

There have been big changes in the city. Obviously the Order of the Nail is no more, it is now the Grey Guardians, or something like that. There were so few left of Sable Company and the general guard they were lumped together to make this. Maybe it will keep the peace without beheading people every night. The Queen has married her former brother in law. It was a political marriage but she did what she must. At least there was plenty of food and drink then, and we were rewarded for our good deeds. How if the rest of the city would see what we did as a good thing and not be such jerks to us it would be appreciated. I must go. We have been asked by Commander Kroff to visit her about something she needs done. I just hope it is not another plague. I’m sick of them.

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The Harrow for Escape from Old Korvosa

Everyone gets 2 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.

Intelligence Rerolls: Spend a Harrow Point to reroll any one Intelligence-based skill check. You must abide by the new result (although if you have additional Harrow Points remaining, you can use them to attempt additional rerolls).

Flash of Insight: Spend a Harrow Point to be able to make a skill check in an untrained skill you don’t normally have ranks in. You gain a one-time +5 insight bonus on this skill check.

Arcane Wrath: Spend a Harrow Point to increase the strength of an arcane spell as it is cast. This spell gains a +2 bonus on its save DC, a +4 bonus on its caster level check to overcome spell resistance, and a +2 bonus on any attack rolls needed to strike the target.

Character Card Notes
Aerich The Wanderer (NG) Combat with Sivic the Dark Sphinx
Boshi The Vision (CN) Encounter with Salvatore Scream
Perdi The Joke (CG) All encounters involving Pitts Swastel
Thorn The Inquisitor (LN) Combat with Sanshiir the Beatific One
Ithamore The Rakshasa (LE) Encounters involving Bahor
Kes The Hidden Truth (LG) Combat with Vimanda
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Thrill of the Hunt Part 17
Beloved

In the dark underbelly of the city, Mr. Black sits in his throne room. The sewers an underground conduit for carrying off sewage or rainwater… And secrets.

Lizabeth, still chained looks at the floor in disgust, praying to her goddess to be freed.

“Lizabeth,” Black leans forward pulling her red hair back, “Your god won’t help you.”

She pulls away violently, some of her hair being pulled free, “She works in mysterious ways. You will see…”

He laughs at her, “Tell her to bring it on.” Smiling, “I like a challenge.”

The door to the chamber opens and a man walks on in towards them, kneeling before Mr. Black. “M’lord.”

Mr. Black nods, “What is your report, Carter?”

The man looks up, “The entire city is plagued with the Blood Veil. People are dying in the streets, their homes. The city is on lockdown.”

“And what of the ranger, Thorn?” He asks.

Lizabeth looks up at Mr. Black surprised hearing Thorn’s name having been there at the temple with him, “You leave him alone!”

Mr. Black backhands her, “Do not tell me what to do wench!”

Lizabeth falls back, blood trickling down the side of her mouth, a tooth falls out, holding her face.

Carter looks on, emotionless, but inside a rage burns within him seeing Lizabeth struck. “Thorn has been very active in the city trying to put out proverbial fires around the city with his friends.”

Mr. Black nods, rubbing his hands together. “Start more fires. I want him. I want Thorn! Hire some Blood Veiled victims, promise them a cure if they get me him!”

Carter nods, “Excellent plan, Sir. I will see to it personally,” standing up.

Dismissing Carter, “See that you do. Now begone.”

Bowing, giving a sly wink to Lizabeth as he turns to leave.

Lizabeth frowns and scoffs at him, “Disgusting.” Knowing that Carter is a friend to Sarenrae.

Carter walks out, but Mr. Black eyes him curiously, observing him. Turning his attention to Lizabeth, "Cure Disease, cleric. Now… " Feeling unclean and not wanting to catch the Blood Veil plague after a visitation.

Lizabeth gets up, and walks over, spitting before him a crimson red wad of spittal, “Sarenrae, grant me the power and the ability to show this fiend… your divine might to cast away any afflictions that may haunt this man…” Angry she casts the divine power upon him and frowns.

In the hallway he hears the spell being chanted and pauses for a moment, but continues on… He will save Lizabeth, his beloved soon.

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Sacrifice - Part II

Aerich ascended the stairs. The wooden catwalk creaked beneath his feet with each boot step. The torches gave the room a warm glow, rising above the putrid stink of filth contained with the vats below him.

Looking toward the doorway, Aerich saw the creature. The Daughter of Urgathoa stopped in the doorway and bellowed at him, green viscous spittle running down her lips and pooling on the ground. Her flesh was warped and deformed, pulsating with unholy power.

She raised a huge, misshapen fist and screamed again.

The cleric looked back in the direction of his friends, toward escape, toward the elevator.

Smiling up at him, tears streaking her face, Kes raised her rapier in salute – in good-bye.

Comforted, Aerich turned to face his foe. He felt like a tiny toy in a child’s game standing on the catwalk. The creature could simply fly past him or around him and continue its pursuit, saving him for last. That was unacceptable. He must threaten it.

Driving his blade into the wooden floor, he grabbed one of the ‘Priests’ Crossbows and notched a bolt.

‘Please, Ragathiel," he thought, "aid me…’

He fired. The bolt streaked out and struck the creature in its shoulder. The bolt didn’t seem to do any damage, but the creature screamed in anger and frustration. Drawing back another bolt, Aerich fired again. The bolt struck home, hitting dead center, sticking into the creatures twisted flesh.

The creature leapt into the air.

Aerich could hear footsteps on stone as he dropped the crossbow and pulled his sword free. He could see the Daughter’s twisted face, what little human remaining forever corrupted by the Pallid Princess.

He could feel his feet want to turn and run. Escape! Flee! His skin grew cold, sweat seemed to pool in his gloved hands.

Aerich raised his sword in salute.

The creature screeched, its face twisting in rage.

’I’m coming home, Aiori,’ he thought, as he shouted in response, raising his shield and preparing himself.

His mission was done. Aiori, and countless others had been avenged. Lamm would never hurt another person, his greed would not spill another drop of blood. She had died needlessly, blood spilt at too cheap a price. He would buy something more valuable with his blood because that was all he had to offer and all he had left to give.

Aerich swung his blade in a sharp arc, forcing the creature to land awkwardly or be gutted. The creatures screech nearly burst his eardrums as it landed next to him. The stench of its breath was like a fresh grave. He charged at the creature and slashed out with all of his strength, the magical blade running across the creatures chest. Black blood cascaded through the air.

The Daugther reared back and raised its mishappen fist over her head. Swinging down, its claws slashed through armor, flesh and bone.

Aerich fell.

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Sacrifice - Part 1

Aerich looked back at the creature, flailing against the stone wall. Already it was angling its arms to fit through the barely three-foot wide hole. They didn’t have much time before it was through the hole and the pursuit continued. The elevator was the party’s only chance.

Looking back at the ghastly creature, the abomination summoned by the Goddess of Disease and Pestilence, then back toward the elevator he gave it a quick thought. The distances were too short, the creatures speed far too quick. It would be a brief pursuit that would end with the death of himself and his friends.

“No time,” Aerich said.

Kes and Ithamore stopped and turned. “We have to get to the elevator, Aerich. We can pin it down here.”

Aerich looked back at the creature then at Ithamore.

Ithamore didn’t say anything. He had heard Aerich clear as day. He approached Aerich slowly, his face somber and thoughtful.

Is this it? Ithamore asked silently, their eyes meeting.

Aerich nodded once. Ithamore clasped the Cleric’s shoulder as Thorn and Perdi stopped, looking back.

“Take care of them, Ithamore,” Aerich said, his voice low and sad. “Good bye, my friend.”

The mighty fighter swallowed hard, wiping harshly at the sweat and blood from his face. Hefting his axe, Ithamore waved it at Thorn and Perdi. “Get moving!”

Thorn and Perdi looked at Ithamore in surprise, then headed toward the elevator with the large fighter.

Kes’ glowed. “Aerich, hurry!” she said, pulling at his hand like an eager child. “When we get to the top of the elevator, we need to…”

“Get going, Kesali,” Aerich said.

“What?” Kes’ face dropped.

“We don’t have the time,” Aerich said, avoiding her eyes as he looked at the twisted face of the creature. “You need to get everyone else out and prevent the creature from reaching the city. I’ll get you the time to prepare a defense.”

“No! Aerich!” Kes visibly shivered in horror. “We need you! I need you! Don’t do this to yourself!”

“They need you, Kes,” Aerich said gently, taking her head in his hands and brushing an absent strand of hair away from her face. Dropping to one knee, he kissed her gently. “Farewell, Gnomemaid,” Aerich said softly. “Your light will brighten this world, but it is time for mine to darken. Don’t grieve for me,” he pulled her close, whispering into her ear, “we should not mourn those who have fulfilled their destiny. Mine is fulfilled. Justice for my wife has been earned and her soul is now at peace. She and I will walk together upon the seven mountains of heaven very soon.”

Aerich stood and drew his sword. “Now, go, Kesali. You will need every second I give you.”

“Aerich…” Kess’ tears choked back her words. She stared at him, her mute appeal a scream.

“Go,” he said.

Stumbling blindly, Kes turned and made her way toward the elevator.

“Aerich,” Kes sobbed painfully, grabbing at Ithamore, “he…”

“I know,” Ithamore replied, “I saw it on his face. It’s been there since we met. It’s up to us now; we can’t let his sacrifice be in vain.”

Kess took a deep breath, wiping away the tears angrily, cleaning up as best she could. “Alright, I’m ready. Let’s go…”

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