Balian stands victorious over the contract devil’s corpse. Previously Chyvvom’s frame was draped with animated scrolls that, like their designer, have now stopped moving. Sjo tries to recover the lengthy documents, finding a great number of them totally illegible. Elvira suspects that these contracts have been fulfilled and their signers’ souls harvested. Eleven parchments can still be read, although only Elvira masters the infernal language in which they are written. The young mage takes a couple of hours trying to decipher which mortals signed these contracts. She’s content to find queen Ileosa among them, but she also finds deals struck by Headmaster Toff Ornelos, Dean Messida Vost of Conjuration, Dean Orianna Delmore of Necromancy, Dean Norva Alessain of Divination and – not surprisingly – Dean Elgin Togomor of Transmutation, the queen’s new seneschal and Elvira’s admirer. Two other names of note are the leader of the Korvosan Hellknights, Lictor Severs ‘Boneclaw’ DiVri, and the head of his magic-users, Paravicar Acillmar of the Order of the Nail. Of lesser note are Headmaster Toff’s grandson Akmelek Ornelos, the pesky noble the companions met a few times at a party, and Terentius, the mad wizard the party defeated earlier in Belzeragna’s library. One unknown name, someone called Marijkal, completes the list.
Realizing that time actually runs a lot faster in this dimension, Elvira suggests staying here a few more days to study some of the contracts in greater detail; after all, every day spent in here corresponds with only one hour in the heroes’ home plane. The girl finds a comfortable seat in the library and starts poring over Ileosa’s contract first. Meanwhile Sjo examines the pocket dimension in greater detail, finding nothing more of interest, except the many books that probably offer a treasure of knowledge he hasn’t discovered yet. The healer convinces Puk and Balian to aid him in going through the tomes, putting all the books that are written in common and might hold some interesting information, to the side. Balian also notices that the empty flasks he and his friends found upon entering this dimension are now filled with a swirling purple energy that matches the pulsating force of the closed portal.
Over the next ten days the party uncovers some vital information in all the writings. Ileosa apparently struck a very advantageous deal, binding no less than thirteen devils to her service, seven Erinyes sisters, three barbed devils, one vengeance and one horned devil, and finally a creature called a Bdellavritra. She also bonded with someone named Zanzinaria, inheriting her strengths and powers. The price for these boons is her immortal soul, unless she manages to send 5,000 innocent souls prematurely to their deaths in a horrible fashion within one year after signing the contract. The document also stipulates that Ileosa must lend her assistance to a mysterious entity, only identified by a long number, and that she has to prepare Korvosa as an open ground for infernal use. Elvira also sniffs out a hidden condition that states that Chyvvom can summon Ileosa once per year to have her perform a task for him. It turns out that by slaying the contract devil, the companions actually did the queen a favor!
Seneschal Togomor’s contract is much more basic, simply granting the transmuter three wishes. Finally, Elvira studies Norva Allesain’s contract more closely, figuring the party could use the Dean of Divination’s help in locating either Zellara’s disappeared ghost or the long-lost Sun Shaman’s remains underneath the city. El is pleasantly surprised to find out that Allesain bartered to become the Dean of Divination in the Acadamae before her thirtieth birthday, implying that Chyvvom’s end of the deal has already been fulfilled. Now only Allesain’s payment remains: her soul upon dying! Elvira imagines that the young Dean would be very interested in acquiring Chyvvom’s copy of the deal. After all, destroying both her and Chyvvom’s version of contract number 9485631,4655:9027,9836641 would free her from paying the price, while she already holds the reward she wanted. That promotion won’t just disappear when the contracts are destroyed, so yes, the party has the perfect bargaining chip to get the Diviner to help them!
In the meanwhile, Sjo, Puk and Balian try to make the most of the time available by doing research in the library. Being limited to works in the Common language, they manage to find a handful of useful tidbits about devils. Zanzinaria, the creature Ileosa bonded with, turns out to be some kind of Erinyes queen, while bdellavritra are very rare outsiders, also known as belier devils, who look like enormous slugs. One side of their body ends in a lamprey-like mouth filled with row upon row of teeth. The other end sports three grimacing humanoid heads that seem to be in incredible pain. The creatures specialize in possession, using hosts to further their cunning schemes and intricate plans, preferring to manipulate events from behind the scenes like puppet-masters. When Puk finally tires of leafing through tomes about devils, he starts reading adventure books instead and accidentally makes the biggest discovery of all: the true history of the cruel tyrant who was defeated by Sun shaman Coja Eyes-Aflame and his allies so many centuries ago.
More than 800 years ago, as the nation of Ustalav was recovering from the rule of the Whispering Tyrant, the threat of an invasion of orcs from the neighboring Hold of Belkzen was very real. For generations, the county of Tamrivena – known as Canterwall in modern Ustalav – held strong against the orcs, its standing army of rangers and the tactical genius of its leaders more than a match for the orc hordes. When command of Tamrivena fell to Count Andachi, it quickly became apparent that he had not inherited his father’s and grandfather’s gifts of tactics and eloquence. Mile by mile, the orcs pressed into Ustalav through Tamrivena, and Count Andachi grew desperate. Nothing he tried stemmed the orc aggression. His desperate requests to the government of Ustalav for reinforcements seemed mired in bureaucracy. Even his prayers to Desna seemed to fall upon deaf ears. And so it was with a desperation born of fear that he fell back upon his ancestors’ one-time patron—Zon-Kuthon, god of pain and darkness. And in short order, his prayers were answered in the form a powerful and gifted mercenary named Kazavon.
The new charismatic general took control of Tamrivena’s army and whipped it into shape with his brutal discipline and knowledge of tactics and warfare, honing it into a military killing machine. When they marched into Belkzen, the undisciplined savages fell in waves. Tales of Kazavon himself riding in the vanguard and hewing his way through the orc lines while the arrows and blades of his foes bounced harmlessly off of him filled Count Andachi with relief. By the spring of 4043 AR, the orcs had been driven from their lands into the inhospitable foothills of the Kodar mountains, bloodied and defeated.
His task complete, Kazavon did not return to Ustalav. Instead, he set his forces to the construction of Castle Scarwall, from which he could remain vigilant over the surrounding lowlands. Yet in short time, Kazavon’s true goals became horrifically clear. Diplomats from southern Lastwall traveled to Scarwall, bearing gifts of triumph and promises of eternal friendship. Their overtures of peace were met with violence as General Kazavon captured the diplomats, flayed them alive and had their skins stretched over frames; he painted these skins with his new coat-of-arms, the fanged skull. The skinless dead were then animated and sent back south into Lastwall beneath these grisly banners with a counter offer—fall under Kazavon’s heel or be butchered.
Some among Kazavon’s own troops found his actions repellent, but Kazavon’s army had grown over the years as his number of victories mounted. His ranks swelled with mercenaries—half of his force bore no allegiance to anything but their general’s gold. Those soldiers who rose in rebellion were immediately quelled and executed, and those who attempted more diplomatic protest were tortured and fed to wild beasts.
Aghast at this turn of events, Count Andachi at last found his courage. He raised a new army, ragged and inexperienced, from the last remnants of his people and marched west to face his former general. In a bold offensive he laid siege to Castle Scarwall. Yet, with the next dawn, he was defeated by Kazavon’s forces. Hapless Andachi was captured, publicly tortured and degraded, and ultimately executed. These grisly deeds completed, Kazavon turned his attention east toward Ustalav.
For well over a decade, Kazavon ruled a nation of slaves, victims, and horror. Tales of fields of men impaled for the general’s amusement, of mass executions, of Shoanti tribesmen hunted like wild animals and then forced to slay their own women and children in carnivals of torture and terror spread throughout the neighboring regions. Whispers of cannibal feasts and vampiric orgies trickled out of Castle Scarwall. More than once, the forces of goodly nations marched on Scarwall, yet such was Kazavon’s strength that no army could face him for long. To a man, every warrior sent against Scarwall suffered the same fate as Count Andachi.
Yet where armies failed, a small and secret cabal of heroes did not. Led by a heroic soldier named Mandraivus, this group of Lastwall mercenaries, Shoanti mystics, and Ustalavi arcanists tore through Scarwall, laying waste to the warlord’s minions and pursuing him to the castle heights. Finally Mandraivus and his remaining companions cornered Kazavon and slew the tyrant.
Mandraivus remained behind at Scarwall with only a few loyal retainers in order to watch over the castle itself and prevent it from being reclaimed by the minions of Zon-Kuthon. Unfortunately, the victory was short-lived. The orcs confined to the nearby mountains by Kazavon’s armies took note of the death of their enemy and rampaged forth across Belkzen once again. A portion of the horde attacked Castle Scarwall, which was defended only by Mandraivus’s small and inadequate force. The defenders were quickly overwhelmed, but as Mandraivus was slain, the curse of Scarwall took hold. The wholesale slaughter of first Kazavon’s armies and then Mandraivus and his soldiers had suffused the fortress. In an instant, the orc invaders found themselves facing a host of vengeful spirits and slavering undead. It is said that only one of the orcs survived to make it across the causeway from the castle, the flesh of his face blanched completely white from the horror he had barely escaped. He brought word to his people of the haunting of Castle Scarwall, and the tribal warlords declared the site forever taboo, leaving it to the bloodthirsty spirits who now claimed it as their own.
These annals provide the heroes with some much-needed background on the myths they learned from the Shoanti. It strikes them, though, that the records do not mention that Kazavon was a blue dragon whose remains resisted destruction after the fight. Clearly, Mandraivus made sure to strike these terrible facts from history in order to safeguard the secret of Kazavon’s relics.
After ten days of research the party decides to return home. Elvira casts an invisibility sphere. Next everyone quaffs his personally labeled vial of purple fluid, holds hands and steps through the portal. The companions appear in the Acadamae grounds, right behind the Hall of Wards. Elvira immediately follows up with a teleport spell, instantly transporting the group to Tenna’s Bed & Breakfast. The heroes figure it must be a bit over noon of the day after the night they left the city. If Tenna is surprised to see her guests ‘get up so late’, she does not show it. As ever she is the perfect hostess and prepares a lovely meal. During lunch Elvira composes a short missive to Dean Norva Allesain:
We’d like to meet with you since we require your aid. In exchange, we can offer you something that concerns the number 9485631,4655:9027,9836641. If you agree to this mutually beneficial rendezvous, please come to the old courthouse on the cliffs next to the temple of Asmodeus at 2 o’clock tonight. Please come alone.”
The companions discuss what they want to ask from the Dean of Divination when they meet her in 12 hours. They need her assistance in getting Zellara’s lost ghost back and locating Sun shaman Coja Eyes-Aflame’s bones, something her considerable power in divining can possibly provide. They also require funds to have Spyder resurrected. Sjo does not master such ‘raising’ magics, but he knows that Archbishop Keppira d’Bear of Pharasma does. The spell is expensive, though, as it consumes a diamond worth 10,000 gold sails. Since party funds are running low again, they might just as well ask Allesain for a generous contribution.
After the meal Elvira walks into the street, where she picks out a random young boy. She casts suggestion on him to deliver her letter to the Acadamae. When the boy returns 25 minutes later, she hands him a gold piece, happy to learn that he did his job well.
Despite Balian’s impatience to see Spyder returned to life, the companions decide to put off visiting the church of Pharasma until they have the necessary ingredient for the spell, the expensive diamond. Of course, Spyder’s corpse is not the only one in Balian’s bag of holding, Illia Ean, the Cerulean Society’s halfling rogue is in there as well. The party would like to return her remains to guildmaster Boule, fully aware that good relations with the thieves’ guild might come in handy in the future. They head to the Arkona Palace in Old Korvosa, where Lord Glorio receives them as friendly as always. The nobleman is charmed to meet Elvira Campert. When Sjo tells him that they recovered Ean’s little body and want to deliver it to guildmaster Boule, Arkona agrees to take the burden off their hands and rewards them with the item they need: a 10,000 GP diamond. The charming lord is also interested to learn about Chyvvom and Belzeragna and seems to appreciate the trust the party now places in him. Finally they are working towards the same goal: put a stop to Ileosa’s evil!