Curse of the Crimson Throne 4E

Nearing the End

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since we joined together as a band to seek our vengeance on Gaidran Lam. More than a year since Korvosa was our true home and not some burning shell of its former self. The city I used to run through the streets of with my brother and where I lost him. The pain is still there, but dulled. All of our adventures have been practically suicidal (well, for maybe River and Larisha), the thought of the future wasn’t really something I considered, until someone in our band, Larisha more than likely, asked what we would do when it was all over. What would we do when the queen or whatever is possessing her, has been defeated and we go back to our regular lives. Whatever regular might be.

I joked about how much coin I’d get with all the fame that has been attached to Harrow’s Justice. Maybe I could go into private security for royalty or the nobility, but know that deep inside that’s an old path that is no longer attractive. The crew doesn’t need to know that, let them go on thinking all I care about is money, it’s more than likely we’ll lose more than a couple in this last fight. Truthfully, another reason I’d not voice my true feelings is that I’m not sure how much of my new sentiment is actually me, or this deity living inside me who seeks to become relevant and worshiped in a modern world. I do know that I now have an unusual thirst for knowledge and the desire to help others from the Gaidran Lam’s of the world who would rip them from their families, abuse them and ultimately destroy them.

So we head to another Thassalonian ruin, to confront her, or it, whatever ‘it’ may be, waiting for us just inside. I’m not one of magic, just fast and deadly with a bow, which seems rather useless when confronted by such dark forces. If I survive, I will have to think about the future, which is somewhat daunting. I won’t be the same person that walked into that crumbling house so many months ago, and that might be a good thing.

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Ugly Truths
in which our brains are scoured

Our wizard and invoker have come to a realization that something has finally gone our way. Having finished battling the reluctant Castothrane (Pharasma rest him!), we have unlocked some fortune in our favor. With two anchors gone, we are able to turn undead as well as able to rest fully.

...not that there is great time to rest…. we have less and less time until the chains could start resetting. And with this, I suspect our fortune will dwindle.

Roaming on the third floor, we open a small space to find a secret door. It cannot be picked by Arith, but the three arcanists are able to work a Knock spell and open to reveal many thousand gold coins worth of non-decomposing ritual components. Larisha, Mattea, and River split them evenly.

As we continue, we emerge onto a balcony with improved defenses of sharp points on the balcony. Lachellis wandered too close to the edge, and was bum-rushed by a gargoyle. The creature narrowly missed dragging him off the edge. For this we are thankful – if angry that Lachellis took such a foolish rish.

In the next room is a gong that Lachellis and Arith identify as that used to summon guards. As River and Larisha look into the room – something happens to River. His imp attempts to emerge, but fails. Mattea spots nothing unusual, the same with Maya. Lachellis notes that there is no dust in this room, but we choose to move on rather than exploring.

Next is a second balcony with sharp flanges. We look at it, but we do not go out to be attached by the gargoyles. We wind through a series of empty rooms and find a large, heavy door with a barred grate. It opens to a corridor with some coverage but no roof. at the end of the corridor, there is a similar door. Although we fear it is a gargoyle-trap – we make it through the door with no attack. As we enter the room…

There is a puddle of water in the center of the room – which is nearly empty of furnishing. There is a wide bed hanging a few feet off the floor by chains suspended from the ceiling. There is also a throne overlooking a set of manacles on the floor. A nearby fire grate holds a collection of torturing tools. In outset, spiraling alcoves, there are a set of statues, objects d’art, and other interesting or valuable trinkets.

There are several persons in the room – the most commanding is a winged, devilish Ashmede female made of iron and flesh. With her are four males, armored and with horns, although not of the same race or type of thing. She directs them, in a careless voice, to: “Kill them.” And Pharasma help us, they nearly succeed. Although we start with a good showing of immobilizing the enemy, several of us are stuck with exploding acidic tar-babies. The others are attacked by impish assassins. In the middle of the fight, the door slams shut – leaving the wizard and the ranger alone in the bedroom with the evil flying creature.

But this is not the worst of the battle. We are peppered with questions – each aimed at an individual, but our minds are opened to the Harrow’s Justice for both the question and the question.

To Larisha: “Who in Harrows’s Justice most deserves to die?” (no answer) To Mattea: “Besides yourself, whom of Harrow’s Justice would you most want to save?” (the healer) To River: “Besides yourself, who is the most useless member of the party?” (Mattea, of those damned Harfiks) To Lachellis: “Besides yourself, whom of Harrow’s Justice would you allow to die?” (no answer) To River: “Besides yourself, whom of Harrow’s Justice would you leave as an anchor?” (Arith, because he’s all about standing guard forever.) To Lachellis: “Amongst Harrow’s Justice, besides yourself—” (I’m not answering any more of your fucking questions!) To River: “As a former worshiper of Aroden, are Chelexians the foremost people of the world?” (Obviously, yes.) To Lachellis: “Do nobles inherently ruin any system that you know of?” (Fuck you! I’m still not answering any of your questions!) To River: “Besides yourself, who among Harrow’s Justice is most likely to betray the group?” (Larisha)

Finally, finally! All the enemies outside the room are destroyed. Arith swings open the grille in the door and teleports inside. Lachellis bull-rushes the door, and yet he is unable to break it down. He looks through and gestures – Maya comes gasping back to life. The slime devil on River asks one more question – just for spite. “What is the worst secret you could reveal to the other members of Harrow’s Justice?” (I’ll take that one to my grave.) This makes the devil so mad that he wounds River to the point of unconsciousness before he leaves.

The aura that prevented divination is gone.

The throne has stones worth 20,000 G, if we should take the time to pry them out. There is no mattress – instead, the bed is filled with coins. We leave the coins, but take 132 gems – roughly 13200G. We find three magic items, suitable for Lachellis, Maya, and Mattea. We also find a golden circlet – the one that must have been used to make Castothrane attack us. After Larisha vents her (impotent) fury upon it, we bring that along as well. Perhaps if Castothrane is resurrected as an anchor, we can use it to keep him from attacking us.

In the search afterward, River brushes up against a skull – and a rolling voice pours out in a story. Our best guess is that this is the story of his death. We try others, and we get a similar result. It is revolting. What kind of creature would do this?

We survived. We heal, using as few resources as possible. But the conversation that follows is about the questions that the demons answer. It goes better than I thought it might, though – the discussion is mostly about whether or not it was the best idea to answer the questions or to be hit with the massive psychic damage that we received otherwise. Much much less painful than it could have been.

We carry on, as we must. Some of us desperately need to rest, but the chance of resetting an anchor is to high. We plan to rest after the last anchor. If only we can make it that far.

As we approach the donjon, we see that all openings have been sealed in lead, and the exterior has been scrawled with arcane and religious symbols. We find an area that forbids passage – either good in, or evil out. The Count disables this long enough for us to pass. Through we go!

We enter a room – the creature that steps out looks mummified. He says something that none of us can understand in Ustelav. Shadows emerge, writhing. A brawl ensues. We manage pretty well for our present wounds… until the last moment, when the mummy explodes. Arith, Maya, and Lachellis are all infected with mummy rot. To cure them will take three hours – it’s time we cannot spare, but it’s a situation we cannot leave to fester. We do what we can because we must.

...and then, once again, we seek out our foes.

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After the Danse
In which we encounter Captain Castothrane

In the dirt near the moorings where the quay used to be, there is something small and shining in the dirt. When Arith picks it up, it is a platinum coin with a stamp still visible – this may well be the coin that Mandravius (Pal) left to the Gods in gratitude for their safe passage. (And yes, we left it, regardless of its incredible value to a collector… it was given to the gods, after all.

We debate resting, but choose to go to the tower before we do so. we’re in fairly rough shape – but we will be so for all the time we’re here.

We trail through a set of storage areas, a barracks, a smithy – none of which have anything either surprising or useful. As we keep ascending, we enter a sulfur-smelling room with undead hounds.

Arith and Lachellis cannot identify them. River, however, finally identifies them as Niscean war hounds, which as a pack will bond with a single person. Fortunately, we avoid the fight entirely. After another barraks and other useless rooms, we encounter a war room. Although it is filled with interesting items, it is seriously out of date. Not out of date is the huge armoured figure that turns away from the table and focuses on us. He does NOT look friendly.

Arith and River hit him hard at the beginning of the fight. He retorts by… um… spitting out a miniature self. This second creature flanks Arith, and the large one grabs him. The General beats mercilessly on A, then takes a bite out of him. He chews with every evidence of satisfaction. Arith escapes his grasp with a teleport, and the creature turns his aggression toward Lachellis. Once again, he produces one of the miniature replicas of himslf. River manages to temporarily turn each of them against himself – and thereby kills the smaller creature.

It continues, but - sooner than we would have expected - the creature explodes into a group of the four smaller creatures. They swing futilely at River, but miss him. We finally rout them. We expected that this was an anchor, but it turns out he was not.

The party rests – tries to. Lachellis seems to have not gotten a good night’s sleep, although the rest of us sleep like (forgive me) the dead. On waking, we determine that we must now face the donjon. As we approach the doors, we see that the doors hold not only a bas relief of demons and priests cavorting with the souls of the damned, but also skulls with spiked chains running through them – the symbol of Zon Chthon. Instead of attempting to break through the doors, we take the stairs to the next floor and hope for another way in…..

Back down to the second floor, and most of our search shows very little resistance and empty rooms.

In the banquet room, we find cold fires, dark brown stains, and a dias with thrones. As we enter the room, a figure manifests. He is ghostly and large – and he is bound by three chains.

This! This is the object of our quest. But we realize that a confrontation now would be hopeless The chain spirit cannot be destroyed while the chains exist. He would be gone for mere minutes. Lachellis is the only one who was too far in to get out—but Larisha acts fast and teleports Lachellis to her; they both take only minor burns when the door bursts into flame.

We continue our explorations, although with an even more somber outlook. We pass by the banquet hall, but this time we run by in a wary and hurried manner. We go back up the stairs in the front of the castle. We enter a hallway full of meaningless things – and Captain Castothrane.

One of the two captain’s minions moves through the wall and casts a fireball into the group of us. It hurts! Lachellis steps up, and the rest of us are not far behind.

In the very first offense, Larisha is knocked unconscious by a powerful attack from Castothrane. While she is brought back by River, the fight doesn’t get much better. The warriors are hard to hit – and they do quite a lot of ongoing damage. This is complicated by the minions’ ability to blind us.

During the fight, we come to realize that Castothrane is compelled to fight us – he does not want to do so. The usual implement in doing so is a golden circlet. In this instance, the chain is surely working just as well. When we finally overcome him and his minions, another chain is broken. We feel the evil lift from the room, and we feel resurgeance as our vigor comes back.

And yet – two more chains to go.

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The First Tether Snaps
In which we kill a party member, but only for the first time....

posted by River Arrington and Larisha Biora

Finding an early courtyard we of course provoke everything in sight to attack us. Fine plan except for the huge Umbral Dragon that was doing fine before we came in. After a drawn out fight, we dropped the creature and watched in fascination as the first Tether for the central Chain Spirit snapped free. I determined quickly that we had roughly 24 hours to destroy the Chain Spirit before it could re-establish it’s tether on another creature.

The time is now growing rather short.

we start to explore the castle with a new urgency, attempting to find the other three tethers within our new day long time limit.

We try to stick to the first level of the castle for now, finishing out those rooms before we move to the second floor. We strive for methodical, but frequently only hit haphazard. We enter into what is apparently the “Guest Quarters” which are all apparently capable of getting locked up from the outside. We garantee that we can get out and then move forward, attempting to clear the area in our search for the other 3 tethers.

Found Items 5 Art Objects each worth 2500 (taken) 1 level 18 magic Item (taken by River) large chest of gold/plat off the center courtyard (left there due to weight)

Searching, we find a lot of meaningless rooms and then, interestingly, a statue with a bag over his head. We knew that something must be wrong with the statue, but Lachellis could not be satisfied until he tried to find out the what and why. Therefore, we allowed him to check it out. With a little assistance, we found that there was no fireballs – but something did happen to Lachellis, the only one of us who stared at the statue while it was uncovered. We saw immediately that something was wrong with Lachellis, but none of us identified the issue until he led us to a tower – and refused to leave. His refusal, so out of character for our full-speed-ahead warrior, gave context to the presence of a dwarf who died for no apparent reason…. Larisha performed a ritual that removed this affliction, in the process knocking Lachellis dead.

Lachellis was saved from the spirit storm only because we had been graced by Shaunti magic to grant some protection from the death magic in this place. While this revival was terribly fortunate, we have to be aware now that our stoutest melee fighter is bereft of this gift.

Having recovered from the trap, we keep going until we find ourselves in a floral themed ballroom, which Maia manages to activate. We find that the room is filled spectral dancers and a single creature – the Dance Macabre.

Both Lachellis and Maia join the Danse immediately. River landed the first hit with a blast of radiant light that obviously disconcerted the creature. Larisha desperately attempted to turn the creature and the crowd of ghostly dancers around it. Her efforts finally pay off, pushing the creature and its minions against the wall. Matea followed with an effective rebuke of the Danse Macabre, but we all succumb to the impact of its will, or to the massive necromantic damage that it inflicts.

And on it goes… with the creature dominating most of us in turns.

Eventually we triumphed against the horrible undead, but the triumph was accompanied by some consternation as we realized that we must use Gentle Repose in order to keep him down for more than an hour. We did so, but this cost us another precious hour. We fear we need to sleep – which could be an unavoidable use of our precious time here in this pressure cooker of the Scarwall.

It is 1PM at the end of the encounter in the ballroom. Time flies, no matter whether you’re having fun or not.

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In the Courtyard of the Skarwall

posted by River Arrington and Larisha Biora

In the foyer of the Skarwall, we find a truly odd battlefield – ancient corpses of humans and orcs dead in a hard-fought battle. The butchery painted the walls with blood, now dried and flaked, but the corpses were subject to a spell that ignored the centuries – perfectly fresh as if they were newly killed. No necromancy acted on the corpses, a strange occurrence in this place, and we realized why when a grotesque composed of corpses formed and attacked us. This horrible thing lasted several minutes in combat before dissolution into several animated several corpses, which all continued the attack. Fortunately, they were somewhat more fragile – although the wounds they caused were grievous. We dispatched them with some difficulty, and then we continued on.

Shortly thereafter, we had an encounter which frightened even Harrow’s Justice into a pause. A figure formed of black mist arose and pronounced that we could not take Serithel. This frightening remnant wore a holy symbol of Aroden and magnificent armor, and it seemed nothing loath to attack us if we simply stood mute before it. And too, it mentioned Serithel – the sword that we are there to get – the only thing that will kill Casavon.

The spirit that we encountered was furious at being trapped in this place and at the Skarwall’s betrayal, presumably that which led to the orcs successfully invading it. We mollified the spirit with pleas for the necessity of our mission to kill Casovan and our sincere desire to effect his release if we were capable to do so.

Fortune was with us – the spirit left us without a fight, generously granting his armor in aid of our mission. It was magnificent artifact armor, and the party had some difficulty in determining who should wear it. With its flexibility, anyone in the party could use its assistance.

In the kitchens, Maia, Mattea, and Arith are suddenly crispy! The rest of us, having seen nothing that occurred to make them so, hurry with them out of the room. After a brief interlude to ensure the party members are back to healthy, we continue the exploration. As before, we have rooms and rooms of nothing at all – either threatening or helpful.

Finally, we arrive in the courtyard at the heart of the Skarwall. There is a a crumbling well, with an entrance to the donjon, gargoyles on the wall, as well as a door to the East. This door seems oddly ajar, as if left open in a hurry. We choose to explore the Eastward door, although Lachellis kept a wary eye on the well and the door to the donjon. Only…

A dragon! A black dragon emerged from the East gate toward which we were heading Maia got a couple of amazing attacks on the dragon, stunning him with her amazing archery skills. As we entered the combat, the dragon was joined by two gargoyles. No – four! Four gargoyles!

Maia dispatched one of the gargoyles most handily, and survived a stunning attack that left the rest of us briefly helpless. Unfortunately, this allowed the dragon to concentrate his power on Maia. He stunned her and damaged her, allowing a remaining gargoyle to harm her.

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The Skarwall's Foyer
We enter the Skarwall, no really, I mean it this time

posted by River Arrington and Larisha Biora

Stepping inside the gates of the Skarwall, we are confronted with a large room littered with the freshly killed corpses of a massive battle.

The bodies appear to be the fallen hordes which assaulted this castle some several hundred years ago. As we get about half way into the room, the corpses slide together and rise as one entity to attack us. Battle ensues!

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We've dealt with worse...right?

posted by Maiadra “Maia”

Every time we go into a major challenge or battle, I think it’s the worst we’ve ever dealt with. We triumph and live to fight another day. We get close, but still haven’t lost anyone yet. This Skarwall is a whole other can of worms…and undead worms at that.

After we took the front battlements from the orcs, I volunteered for first watch. I went up to the roof to get a better view of our surroundings and definitely got weirded out by what looked like a serpent of some kind just below the surface of the river surrounding the fortress. Would come head to head with that little beast the next day when we battled with the undead to cross the bridge into what seems to be a nexus of the undead. The magic types like Larisha and River were muttering about chains and trapped souls and some other mumbo jumbo. Not like I have any super magic powers that might trigger some craziness in what looks to be just a jumbo-sized haunted house with yet another sword we need to save the day.

Why can’t it be a special magic arrow? Always the sword. Everyone knows melee fighting is overrated. And damn the gods (current and defunct) if I don’t get dominated in almost every fight to shoot my own party! Talk about getting old, I even got this stupid fairy head piece to thwart such attacks, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I used to think it was funny when I was forced to shoot River, but now I’m more about shooting the bad guys and less about wasting my time. Besides, makes me look weak-minded every time it happens and I’m anything but weak, no matter what body part it is.

So into the dark fortress we go. Wish someone would teach me how to teleport, that seems to be a pretty useful trick in a fight.

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Entering the Skarwall

posted by River Arrington and Larisha Biora

Approaching the bridge, we find the way blocked by undead. River, Mattea, and Larisha all stopped short to take in the sheer impact of the Skarwall. We knew that it would be full of undead – both fascinating and horrible – but the overwhelming necromantic aura that steeps this castle is terrible.

The undead are chained here – there are four chains and an anchor keeping the spirits trapped. Even those who are dispatched by intruders will return after a time as incorporeal spirits. Worse, any living being that stays in the castle for a week will be unable to leave, guaranteeing that the soul storm has fodder – what do they care for the time it takes to win by attrition? When the poor creature dies, he will join them and stay to defend the castle shoulder-to-figurative-shoulder with those he came to defeat and free from this horror.

In a hard-fought battle, we took the bridge into the castle. The spirits joined the spirit storm, to later reenter terrible servitude to the castle.

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At the Skarwall

posted by River Arrington and Larisha Biora

Approaching the Barbican at the Skarwall, we discover that the fortress is occupied by Orcs. After 5 minutes of debate, we decide to walk down the road and approach. It turns out that the defenses of the Barbican are set up to defend from the Skarwall proper, not from the road. we split up the party for some reason, Arith, Laori and Maia heading around the back with stealth while Lachellis, Mattea and Larisha went into the brush. The Shadowcount, Asyra and and I went invisible down the road. Lachellis kicked things off by loudly announcing his presence with planting two battlestandards. He rarely does anything quietly.

The orcs indicated their pleasure at the display with a few arrows aimed in Lachellis’s direction. Orcs poured out onto the roof of the Barbican, shouting in their brutish language. An older-looking orc emerged as well, wearing a wolf’s head and carrying a glowing staff. He was accompanied by another carrying a carved large oak pole with suspicious faded brownish splotches. He proceeded to attack Lachellis and company most fiercely.

Mattea observed, “Um, we look really outnumbered.”

Asyra stepped in with her chain and took out one of the orcs on her first blow. From the far side of the structure, I heard shouts of orcs; although i do not speak their language, it sounded to my ears as if Arith, Laori and Maia may not have been quite as stealthy as they’d hoped – or else they’d come to the end of their patience and opened up an offensive of their own.

The battle before us raged on, the old orc with the glowing staff opened up with a blast of divine fire that hit many of us. The Shadowcount looked indignant that his clothing was singed. At least, that’s what I saw through the haze of “Ow! Shit!” clouding my vision.

I learned later that Maya found an opportunity to climb over the wall, after those three had dispatched an (according to them) inordinate number of orcs who struck hard as they died. The others followed suit.

This may have seemed like an intelligent move, up until the mob who had been attacking us decided to go after them instead. Later reports were that our team had a rough time of it, but the biggest threats ran away the end of the fight.

we set up fort in the Barbican and prepare to rest through the evening in it’s relative saftey. The night progresses with some problems. Maia, Lachellis, and Arith are all affected in their turns by the enemy messing with their emotions. The dead target them each and work with their pasts.

Crossing the bridge to the castle proper in the morning, brings us in between the two gargoyles. We can see the body of a dead orc on the far end of the bridge. The day looks to be exciting.

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Fellow Travellers

posted by River Arrington

Having defeated all but a single Bodak in the cavern complex we found, we set a guard rotation and rested the evening. The fight took alot out of us and few were in any real shape to move on. The evenings rest went well, and accomplished all of our goal when we walked into this hole in the ground – a place to sleep. Being what and who we are though, we couldn’t help but press forward. We don’t even know the word retreat.

The place ended a short distance away in a small room. The old god whose temple it was still had some defenders around and we managed to dispatch them with some difficulty. I was regretting that Lachellis was in rearguard against the return of that Bodak.

On leaving the complex, we stumbled upon a pair of demonic/devilish lackies summoned up by the Dean of the Academy back in Korvosa. Apparently it’s dawned on them that we are affecting things, and now events are getting worse. I’m surprised the Academy masters are concerned, or that they they believe we might have a hope of success – but there ya go. I got us away from that duo as quick as possible in an effort to stave off any fight between us. That didn’t seem like a solid way to end our encounter.

From there, it was across the plains to the Flood Road and then north to the Scarwall. The plains were notable only for the finding of the Necromantic Plains we had to pass. Thousands of dead Shoanti watching us ride across the path was a bit freaky. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any orcs though.

With Maia’s help applying my theoretical knowledge of the area to the actual geography, we passed safely to the Scarwall and found the crater it sits in. Oddly, we were greeted by some old acquaintances – Laori Vauss, Shadowcount Sial, and the Shadowcount’s hireling. They were bickering at the entrance, all apparently headed to the same place we are. What luck. Arith set down the basics of how we were expecting to proceed, but we offered no other objections to them coming along. I’ve a feeling that things will go swimmingly until we find the Sword, and then all hell will break loose.

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