Also, if I can use a reroll from Neva, somehow, then I'll do that as well. Knowledge: local 1d20 + 9
Neva places a hand on Copper's shoulder while he's thinking. "Pharasma sees all, call on her memory as well". She closes her eyes and says a little prayer.She peeks her eyes open and looks at Copper. "Anything?" she asks, reluctantly.
burn one use. 5 left.
"I've donee some work for some of the local guards, which is actually what led me here, but Im not sure I can think of anyone who might be of more help than any other, or any more trustworthy. Whatever we do with it is fine with me, I just think it needs to be done quickly. The less amount of time it looks like we are the ones who stole it, the better."
"With the Seneshal missing...well, let's call him as dead as the King to be realistic...I don't think my commander is in a hurry to meet the Queen." Senjin scratches at his jaw. "They say she likes her luxuries..could be this will put her in a good mood. Good enough to reward us outright. We stopped some looters and came across this in their haul. Two good deeds right there!" He ends with a look around ata the others and a shrug.
Copper and Senjin rack their brains, but they don't know anyone (well enough to trust) in either the Korvosan Guard or the Sable Marines that would be in a better position than them to present the brooch to the castle. Although Copper does know that royalty would hardly stoop to being directly involved in this sort of thing directly and the castle steward would be the person that probably administers the reward for whomever claims it.
Although it takes him more time than expected and takes him more time than he'd hoped, Rutter is able to find the goods and services that he sought out. As often happens in a crisis, the black markets are responding quickly to the crisis and are functioning better than their above-the-board competitors. 5 GP for the services at the brothel.
While out and about, Rutter asks a few surreptitious questions about the reward. It seems that Griswald was telling the truth about it, and also that it was advertised as being given "no questions asked."
"Unless anyone can think of anything else, then I think we ought to make a decision soon about this thing. Personally, I'm for taking it to the steward to get the reward. Getting out of town could prove tricky, and the more people that know that we have it before we turn it in, the better chance we have at someone turning us in.
I think between Senjin and Neva, we ought to have good enough 'character witness' that they ought to believe Senjin's idea about the looters."
"Yeah, our best bet is probably just to take it to the castle, as we were planning originally. They'd probably be glad to have this back for only 1k. And if they'd wanted the thief, they would've offered the reward for them instead."
"Though I think our story should be that we bought it cheap off an orphan pickpocket who didn't know what he had. If pressed, we say he told us he grabbed it from his boss's stash after a vengeful gang broke in and killed him. A little truth makes a little lie ring true."
She turns to Rutter and adds, kindly, "If you are confident in the lie, then give it. But if you have doubts, better to go with the truth. I doubt that your earlier vigilantism will raise much concern, given the state of the city. But I defer to your judgment in this matter."
On the advice of Copper and Rutter, the group approaches Castle Korvosa from the south, as the Great Ramp there is the one usually used by petitioners of the public folks. Usually you would be ushered into a courtyard to wait, but these are far from normal times and the gate is locked and barred. Guardsmen with pikes and crossbows keep a wary watch on you from the walls, while their lieutenant interrogates you about your purpose for visiting the castle. After some discussion, once the brooch is shown to him, he lets you inside. He sends a runner to announce your arrival, in the meantime, he informs you that to proceed inside the castle, you will be required to leave your weapons here under the watch of the guards. They frisk you thoroughly before allowing you to proceed.
If anyone is not willing to leave their weapons or submit to inspection, they won’t be allowed any further. I’ll assume for now that you all are agreeing to these terms, but you can stay behind in the waiting area if you wish. They don't concern themselves with magical items, only obvious weapons.
After about 20 minutes, the runner returns and a nervous group of heavily armed guardsmen escort you up through the castle. Many stairs follow and you eventually reach the top of the ancient pyramid that the castle uses as foundation. You emerge into a large circular chamber with a high ceiling. A wide stair of white marble winds around the edge of the room up to a doorway high in the wall. Stained glass windows allow in the light of mid-morning, illuminating scenes taken from the storied past of Korvosa.
However, the beauty of the artwork in the room pales in comparison to the woman standing at the base of the stairs. Dressed in a suit of ornately carved plate armor, a long sword-hilt rises prominently over one shoulder. She waves the guards away, and they almost scamper back down the stairs, so eager are they to obey. Turning her dark blue, almost indigo, eyes to you, she speaks curtly: “Greetings. They tell me you’ve something that belongs to the queen. Is this correct?”
You recognize the woman as Sabina Merrin, leader of the Queen’s personal bodyguard. She was once the protégé of the famed weapons master Vencarlo Orisini, whose family has been influential in Korvosa for generations. Sabina left the school under dubious circumstances after a
bitter duel with her former master
Neva handed over her crossbow without complaint and submitted to the search without question. Such things would be normal entering any noble house, much less Castle Korvosa during a riot.
As they settled down to wait for their escort, Neva felt the tension building. She smiled slightly, finding the situation similar to her work next to the birthing chair: waiting and stress; everyone wants this to end in happiness, but everyone knows it could go very wrong.
Embracing this similarity, she fell back on some favorite stories and jokes, sharing them with the others. She remembered most of the Shoanti story of the “Sunrise Maiden”, but asked Senjin to fill in a few details. She told the one about the Magnimaran merchant and the Korvosan urchin who bests him at a game of wits. And she sang (quietly, conspiratorially) the lewd little doggerel about the gnome and the unicorn, finishing it as the escort arrived.
She noted the nervousness of the guard and appreciated the stress they must be feeling, but soon focused on the climb. “This is a damn set of stairs!” she thought to herself. “I’ll be sweating and tired when we get there…but I suppose that’s one of the reasons they build castles up high.”
As they entered the circular chamber, Neva took in the marble and the stained glass. She supposed it should be beautiful and inspiring, but it just reminded her of the gulf between rich and poor that was so stark in Korvosa.
However, the beautiful, armored woman soon took up all of Neva’s attention. Neva didn’t know her, but hoped someone did. She absentmindedly placed a hand on Rutter’s shoulder, whispering softly “By Pharasma, I hope one of us knows who we’re dealing with.”
In response to the imposing woman’s question, Neva responded simply, “It is” and bowed slightly.
Neva can't make a DC 15 Local, as she's untrained. So, I'm preemptively giving a re-roll to Rutter using Recall.
I'll do a Sense Motive on the woman now, and be watching her closely as we converse.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
Finally, I'll try to judge her attitude as we move forward. I might try a Diplomacy check soon, but I want to get a feel for her initial attitude before I risk it.
Rutter cursed himself on the inside for bringing his new kukri. He should've known they'd have to give up their weapons, and he suspected things probably go missing from their guard station quite often. He studies the faces of the lieutenant and guardsmen closely, in case he needs to track them down later.
He's glad Neva came along. Her chattiness makes him feel less conspicuous. He even recognized the story of the Magnimaran merchant and the Korvosan urchin, though he noted that the merchant wasn't killed at the end of her version. He was barely listening to the doggerel, until a couple choice words he didn't expect her to know grabbed his attention. He grins as he listens to the rest. Effing gnomes!
Knowledge (local) 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Reroll: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28 Actually, with that roll, he may know her in the biblical sense! : )
The woman had a look about her, that Rutter should've known her, but it wasn't until Neva spoke that he was sure his suspicion was correct. Bugger! Even though he had no reason to be confident that they could get out of a castle full of guards if everything went upside-down, all delusions were swept aside when he recognized her.
"Yeah. Er, yes... ma'am. We.. er, I, bought this off a young pickpocket during the... uh, night. He didn't know what it was, but I thought I recognized it from descriptions I'd heard.... I'd heard there was a reward for it." Rutter offers the brooch, turning it to display the symbol Griswald had used to identify it as the queen's.
Knowledge Local 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
Copper stands by quietly, awaiting a direct address from the woman or an opportunity in which he feels he could help the situation go more smoothly.
Senjin sizes up the state of the guard. The nervousness on the walls. They are safe enough in this castle, it is a mighty fortress. But it could be an island too..a lonely island.
He surrendered his axes to the guards. Then followed his companions.
After the wait, he was not sure who greeted them, but she carried herself as a warrior. Moved well, despite the heavy armor, and the leather on the sword pommel was well worn. She was a warrior and not playing dress up during troubled times. Only thing, Senjin stayed alive this long by keeping his head down, politics in the castle was way...above his station. He had no idea who this woman was, but he doubted it was the Queen.
Those are some Knowledge rolls! Copper and Rutter may have been Sabina's stalkers in the past.
In addition to the information above, you both also know that Sabina was originally part of the Korvosan Guard before Queen Ileosa requested that she be re-assigned to her personally. Sabina serves as Ileosa's handmaiden, bodyguard and, if rumor is to be believed, lover. She is rarely far from the Queen's side and is one of her most trusted confidants.
Also, you know that having her deal with this matter personally is unusual, the Castle Steward would usually be the one that would deal with this sort of thing.
As Rutter produces the brooch, Sabina steps eagerly forward to examine it, seeming to ignore his awkward explanation. As she turns it over in her hands, a smile breaks onto her face. ”Yes, this is indeed the brooch that was lost! You have done the Queen a great service by finding it for her. She will wish to thank you in person for its safe return.” She motions for you to follow her as she begins to climb the marble staircase.
”Now, I do not know your faces or names, how would you like me to announce you to the Queen?”
Rutter looks around, confused and suspicious. Don't these people have more important things to do? He thinks of giving a fake name, but he's afraid she might figure out he's lying by some magical means or another. "My name's Rutter. But, really, it's not necessary. We were glad to help... for the reward." He follows reluctantly, looking around for the guards he expects will join the escort or for any hidden spellcasters in place to ensure that the visitors speak the truth.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
Sabina nods at your introductions as she leads you up the stairs. At the head of the stairs, she opens a massive pair of ornately carved oak doors. The seal of Korvosa is worked into each door, the hippogriff and salmon both inset with precious metals and gems to glitter in the light that fills the heights of this glorious antechamber. Rutter keeps his eye out for any hidden guardsmen or other observers, but sees none.
Beyond the doors, a high, vaulted chamber floored with the same white marble opens before you. You briefly register the same sort of expertly crafted stained glass windows and wall hangings that you saw below, but your eyes are quickly drawn to the woman on the throne. Despite being swathed in an elegant black mourning gown and having her face obscured by a veil, she radiates a stunning beauty, the like of which you have only seen in idealized statues of the goddess Shelyn. The deep black is all the more striking against the blood-red fabric that pads the fabled Crimson Throne she sits upon.
Sabina strides towards the throne before stopping a respectful distance away and announcing in a clear, loud voice: "I present to you Senjin of the Sable Company; Neva Vallastol, midwife and priestess of Pharasma, Copper Fratello and Rutter." She gestures to each of you in turn. The sound of her voice jars you out of your initial shock at meeting the new ruler of Korvosa and you follow Sabina's lead in performing the proper kneeling bow of obeisance that she performs before the Queen.
Of course, you don't have to pay her this respect, but I'd assume that your characters would given their backgrounds, feel free to back-track and put in your actions if this would not be the case.
She motions you to rise and only then do you notice the small coffer that she holds in her lap. Sabina hands the brooch to Ileosa with a flourish and a smile and then takes her position standing at the left side of the throne. Queen Ileosa speaks to you in a soft, yet firmly authoritative voice:
"This brooch was stolen from me some time ago—I had not expected to see it again, truth be told. And yet, here on my darkest day, you come before me with kindness. The return of this brooch is much more than an honorable deed. It is inspiration. It is hope."
"I love Korvosa, as my husband did before me. His death has shocked the city as it has me, but I will not see his legacy destroyed in death, and I shall not see my city torn apart. All Korvosa stands at the precipice of a disaster wrought by her citizens—these riots cannot continue. You have already done my heart a great service in returning this bauble to me on this dark day, and you shall be rewarded. Yet, perhaps you can serve your city more."
"If you so choose, I shall have Sabina see to it that you have an escort of guards when you leave here—they can see to your safe journey to Citadel Volshyenek. I shall send word ahead of you to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft to let her know you are on the way—the Korvosan Guard is stretched thin, and it can certainly use the aid of heroes such as yourself. I assure you that the compensation will be more than a Sable Marine or priestess would earn and you would be doing a great service to the crown that I would not forget. Now, I need to retire to my personal quarters—my grief has drained me. Again, I thank you for the kindness you have shown me, and I hope your days of serving the crown are only just beginning."
At this, Sabina takes the small chest from Ileosa and hands it to Senjin, who finds it to be quite heavy in his arms. Queen Ileosa rises and with a whirl of her mourning dress, leaves through a door behind the throne. Sabina looks at the four of you, waiting for your response to the Queen's proposition.
Sense motive to detect the sincerity of the queen, not that it particularly matters to Rutter: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
This visit took an unexpected turn! Rutter smiles to himself. No good came from knowing Hookshanks. I suppose it makes sense that all good would come from killing him. He doesn't really believe that, but it is an ironic coincidence. What really sold him was the mention of pay. He'd heard bad things about the queen, but it sounds like she wants what any leader would want, so who cares if she's just a golddigger. Wouldn't we all do it, if we had the chance? Besides, what can a bunch of shingle rats know about what a queen thinks?
"I do recently find myself without a job, so I could use a steady source of income. I'll accept the offer."
You get the sense that Rutter is not being sincere about his interest in steady employment.
At the queen's "request", Neva's heart sank. When a ruler on the Crimson Throne asks you to "help me or deny me", there's not much of a choice...unless you are weary of this mortal world.
Thanks a LOT, Zellara, she thought to herself as she turned to Sabina. She tried to keep her face solemn as she bowed slightly and said simply, "I accept."
Rutter's DC 19 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
Sense Motive 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Copper is a little surprised at Rutter, but also realizes they likely have little choice in the matter. Payment aside, the young Varisian does have other things on his mind, and is not shy about giving them voice.
"I'll accept as well, though before we go, I wonder if I might make a small request. Last evening, I was asked by the Varisian Guard to locate a small child who had gone missing by the name of Niklos Korda. I got swept up in the events of last night, and wasn't able to locate him. I wonder if you could have someone look into it for me? I'd hate for my services to the Queen to keep me from reuniting a child from his family."
Senjin scratched at the thick stubble on his chin. "The Company and the 'griffs are the only family I have right now. I am happy to serve the Queen, but if it can be..perhaps during these times of strife as a..whats the right word?...a lay'zon..yeah, a lay'zon..a go-between..perhaps to help coordinate between the Guard and the Sable Company. An official letter from he Palace to help smooth some feathers, would ease my mind and make it a lot easier to lend my axes to this plan."
Sabina nods at your assent and seems to be pleased about your decision to go along with the Queen's plan. She raises an eyebrow at Rutter's statement, but doesn't say anything about it.
"I'm glad that you have agreed to help the Queen in these dire circumstances. I'll arrange for a letter of introduction and one to General Endrin of the Sable Marines explaining Senjin’s temporary re-assignment as a layz-on. And you won’t have to worry about boring patrols either, I believe that Field Marshal Kroft will have more interesting things in mind for heroes such as yourselves. I’ll also send special mention of this child for you Copper, hopefully the Field Marshal will know more about the situation."
She escorts you out of the throne room and down the stairs, where she calls for a guard escort to take you the rest of the way. ”And treat them well.” She says to the guards, “These fine men and women out-rank you now.” You are escorted back to the original anteroom, where your weapons are returned to you, everything appears to be in proper order. Soon a page arrives with two letters bearing the royal seal, one addressed to Field Marshal Kroft at Citadel Volshyenek and one to General Endrin of the Sable Marines. The guards stand ready to open the gates when you are prepared to take your leave.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Senjin gives the small chest a gentle twisting shake. "Who would have thought that the revenge business was so profitable?"
Senjin will take the letters and turn to his companions with an awkward smile, "Welcome to the Guard...I guess I can understand now the King giving in to her whims...a hard woman to say no to."
Neva smiled back at Senjin and gave a small bow to accept his welcome to the Guard.
She was very relieved to be out of the castle, and was feeling a bit giddy as she turned to Copper. "You are right, Master Fratello. It would be dangerous at any time to walk long in Korvosa’s streets carrying a lock box, even without riots! I suggest we go first to Zellara’s, compose ourselves and then report to the Citadel."
She paused for a moment, and then smiled ruefully, feeling a little less relieved. "Of course, the Field Marshall might have work for us that will make our chest-laden stroll seem pleasant in comparison." She laughed, shook her head slightly, and followed the others back onto the streets.
Appraise on the chest: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3 I think we may need to pay someone to take the chest off our hands...
"I've always found the best way to protect your money is to spend it. I wouldn't mind getting another well-balanced blade. If you need help finding anything you want, I might know someone who can get it, even in these times."
1200 GP should come out to 300 each + whatever we sell the box for. But Rutter won't argue if everyone wants to stash the money and go directly to go see Kroft.
We ought to either drop the box off at Zellara's or sell it before moving on, I think. No reason to go carrying it through the city. If we decide to take it to Zellara's, though, I suggest someone occupy the guards, just in case we dont want them knowing where we have been meeting.
"Oh, yeah." Rutter recalls the paladin having to carry Senjin to that creepy church. "Yeah, I'll pitch in for one of those, too, if they're not too much."
Copper nods in agreement with the others, as the group collectively reads Neva's mind.
My in-character and ooc voices were saying the same thing. :-)So, it sounds like we're going to leave the guard escort, move through the city to a place where we can split up the coin, shop for a used wand of CLW and then report to the Citadel. DMC, let me know if we find such a wand, but otherwise I think we're ready for the Field Marshall (or whoever we meet on the way).
If we are able to locate used Wands of Shield, Color Spray or True Strike, let me know. Im not sure which one Id like to get if I have an option, so a price on used ones would be great, as would suggestions for which one to take, if ive got a choice.
When the riots began, the anti-government militia that Jericho had joined forces with saw an immediate opportunity to make a bold move against the royal forces. They took a guard outpost and were quickly trying to bring together an alliance to hold their section of the city against the soldiers under command of the Queen. Unfortunately for them, they were caught unprepared by one of the first regiments of Hellknights to enter the city. Although his companions were put to the sword, Jericho managed to use his old Guardsman’s uniform and quick wits to convince the mercenaries that he was a captured member of the guard.
They took him to Citadel Volshyenek, where he was recognized as the drug abuser and deserter that he truly was. However, he also had many relations, especially his grandfather Jopid, and friends in the guard and with the severe shortage of manpower, the Field Marshal was convinced to give him one more chance. She has informed him that he will be confined to the barracks until a special unit from the Queen arrives for duty. It only been a day since his last fix, so he is not in dire straits, but already he feels the shiver calling for him.
1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 231d20 + 20 ⇒ (18) + 20 = 381d100 ⇒ 591d100 ⇒ 411d100 ⇒ 841d10 ⇒ 8
Tracking down the wands is tough in the unrest, but once again, Rutter’s contacts and knowledge of the streets come in handy.
You find a Wand of Cure Light Wounds with 38 charges left for sale for 600 gp. You also find an almost empty Wand of Color Spray (8 charges left) that is offered for 120 gp.
Let me know if you want to buy either or both.
Having had some success in tracking down the items the group was looking for, you make your way to the Citadel. It is an impressive structure, but you can’t help but notice that there are far more guardposts than guards on its walls. However, the two at the gate seem to recognize you by appearance and wave you through. One of them escorts you into the central keep to a well-kept, but not pretentious office.
There a dark-haired human woman in red armor rises wearily from her chair behind a desk to greet you.
“Ah yes—you are the ones sent by Queen Ileosa. Greetings— my name is Cressida, and heroes of your caliber are exactly what Korvosa needs now. You’ve been on the streets. You know better than me how bad things are out there. It’s breaking my heart to see Korvosa tear herself apart like this. Every little bit of aid we can get from upstanding citizens like you helps. If you’re willing, I’d very much like to retain your services as agents of the Guard. I don’t need to say, of course, that you’ll be well compensated for these services.”
She motions to the guard that escorted you here and says to him: ”Fetch Jericho, he’ll be accompanying these fine folk.” After he leaves she continues.
“Korvosa’s got enough troubles as it is without my own men losing their way and going rogue. As much as it pains me to admit, though, this has happened several times already. Many guards have deserted their posts, more concerned about friends and family than the city. I can understand this, yet not all of the deserters have family—some of them are simply using the riots as an excuse for personal gain. One such man is Verik Vancaskerkin. Worse than a lone deserter, he’s convinced a small group of fellow guards that Queen Ileosa is going to ruin the city. This Jericho, who you will meet shortly, served with Verik and I believe that it was Verik’s influence that led to Jericho leaving the Guard. He was captured in a raid on a similar group of rebellious men. He has fully repented and as his family has a long-standing history with the guard, I’ve decided to give him another chance, although you should watch him closely.... I’m not sure he can be trusted”
At this point, the guard returns with Jericho. Cressida motions him in and continues, ”Jericho, you’re being given your chance for redemption. Perhaps it takes a deserter to catch a deserter; you know Verik Vancaskerkin, and I’ll wager you know what he’s been up to. “
”Right now, we’ve got a city-wide crisis on our hands, and I need all of my guards working with me to see us through. A deserter is worse than a lost resource—it’s an infection. I can’t afford to pull any of my other patrols off duty to deal with Vancaskerkin, and I’d rather not expose any of them to him anyway, since I neither want Vancaskerkin to infect more guards with his talk of secession, nor do I want some overly patriotic guard killing Vancaskerkin outright. I need impartial, skilled talent. Like you.”
”Vancaskerkin and his men have holed up in an abandoned butcher’s shop up in Northgate—the place was called All the World’s Meat. I need you to check out the place. Try to avoid killing any of the deserters if you can, but if you must, they brought it upon themselves when
they threw in their lot with Vancaskerkin. For him, I’d really prefer it if you could capture him alive and return him to me for interrogation, but if he makes that impossible, I’ll accept his body as well. Finally, see if you can find out why Verik deserted—if there’s more to it than simple personal politics, I need to know immediately. Bring me Verik alive, and there’s another thousand gold in it for you. Dead, he’s only worth half that.”
You do indeed know Verik, as he previously served in your regiment. In fact, it was his spirited invective that first gave you the idea that perhaps the monarchy was wrong and there were other paths than those the Guard offered.
Copper will indeed buy the wand of Color Spray.
When Cressida starts addressing the group, Copper stands by, a serious look about him, only pausing to give thie Jericho fellow a half smile and a quick nod before giving his full attention back to Cressida.
When she finishes speaking, Copper asks, 'Any idea how many other guards he might have 'infected', ma'am?"
I dont suppose Verik Vancaskerkin is any relation to Orik Vancaskerkin from Rise of the Runelords, is he?
Senjin looks Jerico over. He grinds his teeth trying to hold back a look of disgust, but addresses Cressida. "Diserters aye? Never had much use for them. My axe will have a hard time holding back. But, I know how to follow orders, and will bring this Verik back....alive if he cooperates."
Before this meeting, while the others store the chest and shop for wands, Senjin will offer Nevca 150gp toward the healing wand before he sets off to deliver his papers back at the Sable Marine Barracks. On his way back he will look to add a dwarven waraxe to his arsenal, if not, a battle axe. He will wear this axe on his back for when the bardiche is impractical in close quarters.
Neva can put in 300 towards the wand of CLW. If Copper, Rutter and Senjin each put in 100, we're there. I promise to use it on you at least 4 times, hitting your break-even points vs. potions. :-)
Neva listened intently, committed to the task, but hopeful it'd mean they'd soon be free from the city government and its dangerous politics.
She wondered what Cressida might mean by "interrogation", but felt it would be unwise to ask.
And isn't there a Vancaskerkin in Second Darkness?