You have been asked to come see Cressida. Before you can act however, several Grey Maidens appear and inform you that you have been summoned to appear before the queen at Castle Korvosa. Instead of being taken into the keep itself you are guided to the public square north of the ziggurat. The command to appear may have been news to you but it appears news spreads fast as a crowd of hundreds – thousands maybe – fills the courtyard. Upon the raised stage are Queen Ileosa, Sabina Merrin (clad in her Grey Maiden armour), a fabulously corpulent man dressed in finery, Cressida Kroft, Marcus Endrin – the commander of the Sable Company – and Dr Dauvalus. The latter is healed of his injuries and gives you a smug smile as you approach.
First, Cressida rises and addresses the crowd.
“Trusting these people – these heroes – has without question been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” She addresses you, but loud enough for the crowd to hear. “Auria, Tay, Teddy, Mila…you have laid your lives on the line time and again for the benefit of the city. You have lost and sacrificed for us and I thank you.” She turns to the crowd again “They have saved countless lives – some of you among them, no doubt – and we will forever be in their debt. It is for that reason that I am officially deputizing them as members of the Korvosan Guard. The plague may be dying but there is still a great threat to the city and these heroes will be integral and fighting it.”
A brief dark expression cross Ileosa’s face at the word heroes and again at the deputization.
The crowd cheers in response, a roar of approval. Cressida pins a badge on each of you in turn, thanking you personally, before returning to her seat. The cheering finally dies down and the queen rises to speak.
Dr Dauvalus looks puzzled by all this but his expression returns to a smug smile as Ileosa rises.
As the address begins, Queen Ileosa – wearing a new crown, adorned with some manner of animal fang – announces triumphantly “The plague has been defeated, yet Korvosa remains wounded. Yes, these individuals have done a great service to the city and we will be forever in their debt.”
Dr. Dauvalus starts looking very nervous. He shifts in his chair. Whatever he had been expecting, this was clearly not it.
“Money is so crass and mercenary a reward but perhaps this small token will help alleviate that debt somewhat.” Sabina hands each of you a 5,000 gp writ in reward for your services, as good as gold for any purchase made within Korvosa’s walls.
Though her words speak of tanks, it is clear this short speech is grudging.
“Not all is well within the city, however. The Order of the Nail has shown its true colors and fled like cowards into Citadel Vraid. Worse, both the Korvosan Guard and the Sable Company have suffered terrible losses over the past weeks. Neither group is fully capable of continuing as Korvosa’s protectors, and thus, to shore up this fault, I name the Grey Maidens as the official new protectors of Korvosa, with my trusted friend and trusted ally Sabina Merrin taking on the difficult role of Korvosa’s new general.”
“Trust…it is a difficult thing.” She glances at Cressida as she says this. “Through exhaustive investigation is seems that those I entrusted to help fight the scourge of Blood Veil turned out to be the very ones who had inflicted it upon us.”
Dr Davulus starts to look a little panicked. He tries to rise but a Maiden appears on either side of him.
“This man,“ She gestures dramatically at Dr Davulus, “This man deceived me! He used my trust, my family's trust, to gain position and power in the city. It was he and his hand-picked group of ‘physicians’ who manufactured Blood Veil and who spread it throughout the city. This group has been disbanded. Those we could find have been jailed, the rest are to be arrested on sight. As to the good doctor, he will be executed for his crimes.”
The crowd gasps. Dr Davulus leaps to his feet and begins to protest his innocence but he is grasped by the Maidens at his side. “Take him away before he poisons us all with his lies!”
A glance to the PCs. Is that…triumph?
The Doctor again tries to protest but a swift punch to the gut from one of the The Maidens steals teh breath from this lungs and he is dragged. Eventually the crowd settles down and Ileosa continues.
“Sadly, that is not the end of the unpleasant tasks that must be down. I have discussed this at length with my new Seneschal, Togomor,” she gestures to the corpulant man seated among the dignitaries. He nods graciously in return, “and we have reached a regrettable consensus. Combating the plague dealt a mighty blow to the city’s coffers and we simply cannot afford luxuries such as the care and feeding of the Sable Company’s hippogriffs any longer."
Marcus Endrin looks angry but far more composed at this news than you'd expect.
"Coupled with the company’s relative incompetence in helping to deal with the recent unrest and the fact that the its commander, Seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis, fled the city rather than stay by my side in our time of need, I am immediately disbanding the organization. All of the company’s holdings will be surrendered to the city. Commandant Endrin, please step forth to surrender your badge of office.”
Endrin rises, trembling as he does so. He reaches for his badge, but instead of handing it over, he throws it at the queen, striking her cheek. Everyone – the queen included - is shocked into paralysis for a few moments, long enough for Endrin to bellow out, “Your shameful reign ends now! Korvosa will be free again!” An instant later, his bow is in his hands, aimed at the still-frozen queen. Endrin fires and his aim is true. The arrow strikes Queen Ileosa in the right temple, sinking deep into her skull.
Yet she does not fall.
With incredible speed, she regains her composure and yanks the arrow from her head. Before blood from the wound has time to run all the way down to her jaw, she’s standing before Endrin. Her free hand whips out and seizes him by the throat, lifting him off the ground and holding him up for all to see. An instant later, she stabs Endrin’s own arrow up under his jaw and out the side of his face with a spray of blood.
As Endrin’s body crumples to the ground and Ileosa imperiously shakes his blood from her hand, she cries out in a strong, clear voice, “This shall be the fate of all enemies of Korvosa! Mark well his punishment! It is only the first!” A moment later, Togomor rushes forward, taking Ileosa’s hand and teleporting her away. The resulting chaos quickly becomes a riot as the Grey Maidens wade into the crowd and begin exacting brutality upon it.
Cressida motions to you to follow her and you all flee to Citadel Volshyenek, stunned and horrified by what you have witnessed, and knowing that things have indeed taken a turn for the worse in the city.
It has been a while since you have visited Citadel Volshyenek and it is shocking to see the state of it. The Citadel is grossly understaffed with only two guards standing at the citadel entrance – the ever-loyal Ros and Guil – and no one else to be seen. The Citadel's halls are silent and empty with refuse and trash scattered here and there, dust gathering in empty barracks, and an overall state of creeping neglect hanging over the place like a pall. Cressida Kroft looks haggard as she ushers the PCs into the central keep quickly, leading them into the depths of the keep to a doorway that, when opened, reveals what appears to be a room filled with fog. Beyond is a plain-looking chamber with a single long table – on which sits a small closed coffer – and enough chairs for the PCs and herself. After everyone is seated, she speaks in a low voice. "We can speak freely here, the room is protected by a permanent mage’s private sanctum."
After many minutes of confused conversation about what you all witnessed, Cressida speaks in commanding way of hers that instantly drive you to silence.
“Korvosa is dying. No, strike that. Korvosa is being murdered. Killed by our queen. The evidence you’ve uncovered that links her to the plague is damning enough, but now that she’s disbanded the Sable Company and reallocated our own funding to the Gray Maidens, she’s more in control now than ever. I dare not move against her, as my guards would be executed to the last fighter by her Gray Maidens before sundown. But she must be stopped. And I know of no one else but you to do this deed.
“Whatever foul magic the queen has wrapped herself in is obviously of the highest order. Endrin’s aim was true, and his shot should have dropped her. I had feared he was going to take matters into his own hands like this, but hoped he would find it within himself to find a better route. If only he could have waited.
“You see, just this morning, new information came to me. Vencarlo has been one of my most trusted sources of information regarding the public; it’s hard for an officer of the Korvosan Guard to get honest opinions from the citizens, and Vencarlo’s observations on these topics have been a godsend, particularly since the plague started. When the queen quarantined Old Korvosa, I’d feared his messages would end, yet he managed to find ways to smuggle updates to me every day. Recently, he wrote of discovering something of vital importance regarding the queen. He mentions something about dark magic and a pact with a devil, but until the events of this morning, I found his claims difficult to believe. But even more astounding, he hinted he’d found a lead on Seneschal Kalepopolis, and implied the man might still be in hiding in Old Korvosa!
“That was the last I heard from him. It’s been several days, and I’ve started to worry for his safety. The rumors about riots and gangs seizing control of entire neighborhoods in Old Korvosa are disturbing. Certainly, the plumes of smoke we all see rising from fires on the island are proof that as bad as things are elsewhere, they’re probably worse in Old Korvosa.
“Ileosa has neutered us to the point of near-uselessness as it is and I can see a time in the near future when the Korvosan Guard is officially disbanded. Until such a time I will do my duty to this city with everything I have…which at the moment is you. I spoke true when I said trusting you may have been my best decision I’ve ever made, for you hold the possibility of Korvosa’s salvation. Seek out Vencarlo in Old Korvosa – I believe you know where to find him – and learn more of what he’s discovered about the nature of our queen’s increasingly violent and destructive turns of personality. Ironically, you should actually be safer in Old Korvosa, since the queen’s quarantine has cut off the island entirely, and word on the street is that she plans on leaving it to rot. She won’t think to look for you there if you maintain a low profile and avoid confrontations with the Gray Maidens. Once you contact Vencarlo, we can only hope what he’s discovered will suggest a course of action we can take to save the city!”