In the midst of celebration, six adventurers within Korvosa’s population of twenty thousand are brought together by grim tidings of fate. Amaryllis the bard, luring customers to her fortune-telling stand with glittering golden eyes, turns to her Harrow deck and finds a card from a different Harrow deck stacked neatly atop her own. Aleathia, newly arrived in the city, wanders cautiously through the crowds and meets the puzzled Amaryllis when a timely gust of wind sweeps a Harrow card into her path. Cortland, a Shoanti barbarian who guards the Skoan-Quah peace emissary in Korvosa, curses the pollen-ridden Korvosa as he covers up a sneeze, and curses again at sorcery when a Harrow card shoots out his dripping nose. Orlan, another Shoanti from the Skoan-Quah, blinks in surprise when a Harrow card flutters out of the pages of his textbook from the Endrin Military Academy. Miku, after perfecting her beauty with a prayer to Shelyn, momentarily wrinkles her forehead in confusion to see a Harrow card tucked in her mirror’s edge. Louis, a young street urchin, returned to his gang’s most recent hideout and was horrified to find a Harrow card the only clue to his friends’ disappearance.
(GM Aside: I forgot what we actually had everyone doing in game when they received their cards. If you remember what your character was doing, please let me know so I can update my notes!)
Each of these unique Harrow cards glow with magic, and upon their backs silvery writing reads: Do you know the crimes of Gaedren Lamm? The Guard pretends not to, but you and I are alike in our opinions of justice. Come to my home at 3 Lancet Street at sunset. Others like us will join, and Gaedren will face his fate at last.
Despite their varied interpretations of the message and their suspicions, the six adventurers met at sunset in the small home of Zellara. The Varisian fortune-teller thanked them for coming and explained her purpose in such mysterious contact: she knows where Gaedren Lamm, long-lived criminal of the Korvosan slums, is currently hiding, but cannot hope to fight him herself. She begged the motley group to avenge her son’s death and the scores of kidnapped orphans Gaedren has killed over the last half-century. Having sworn a Varisian Blood Oath against her only son’s murderer, she desires nothing in payment but Gaedren’s demise, but mentioned the small hoard of stolen goods Gaedren keeps as an additional bribe for help. When the band of adventurers agreed, Zellara told them all she knew of Gaedren’s forces.
Before they left, Zellara offered to read each person’s fate within her Harrow cards. She explained that each of the cards that called them to her home was a spirit akin to the receiver, and represented their fate.
Amaryllis’ card was The Dance.
“The Dance is a delicate framework of time and fate. It is the interwoven steps of all creatures within the harmonies of the universe. You are the dancer, who moves in rhythm with the Dance. You can hear the patterns shifting around you; see the choreography that all dancers follow; and know where best to play your part. Beware the hypnotizing lure of the Dance lest you find yourself unable to make your own steps. With a single misplaced note of discord, the entire performance can collapse.”
Cortland’s card was The Avalanche.
“The Avalanche is a card of disaster. It is an unthinking, unrelenting force that overruns all in its way. Much of your life has been such, tumbling headfirst down a steep pit of obstacles. You have no path to guide you, yet you are strong because of this. Caution yourself to slow down before the charge, to consider the earth-shaking effects of your power, and you can become the destruction of old to make way for better change.”
Aleathia’s card was The Marriage.
“The Marriage, as I’m sure you can guess, is unity. People, ideas, kingdoms, abilities; the card can stand for all things that come together. You are the union of these forces, a representative of the drastically different. The symbol of the crown on this card marks it as a spirit of Charisma. Your character is a binding power in and of itself, and with that strength you can join that which would otherwise shatter. Take heed, however: once wedded, the Marriage cannot be severed. A ruinous combination can destroy the children it bears, or twist its creations into unintended consequences.”
Louis’ card was The Twin, stained with his own blood.
“Is this your blood on the card? Then the Twin is more than just a Harrow – it is literal. The spirits that I called for help have brought you to me for more purpose than my own. There is a duality of fate that has caught you and will tie you to your other half. This is the most wary of any Harrow cards, as it represents a hidden or reversed meaning that cannot be divined. You are both surrounded and filled with indecision, deceit, and divided loyalties, and you must walk a razor’s edge to keep the balance evenly split.”
Miku’s card was The Survivor, also stained with her blood.
“The Survivor is aligned with goodness. You have been, or are going through an ordeal of some kind. Surrounded by the fallen, you carry the burden of hope – your blood on the card indicates that this reading is literal. Your very life is the means to the future, to survival. The struggles and the loss you must weather are enormous and weighty, but you alone can bring about the rebirth that is needed in the coming times of devastation.”
Orlan’s card was The Forge.
“The Forge evokes strength through diversity. You have faced much in the past to get to the person you are today, and that trial by fire has hardened you into a strong and just warrior. Your fate will constantly be tempered by hardship and suffering, and it will continue to hone you into a great man unless you succumb to the fires and burn to cinders. While the Forge shapes you, so too are you a Forge that can shape your situation and surroundings. Let your hammer strike to the anvil, crafting the life you live as an example to others, but beware the sparks that fly from every clash of metal on metal.”
With some last divinations, Zellara bid them best of luck and swore she would be watching and praying for their success through every step of the journey.
Miku, vowing to rejoin as swiftly as possible, rushed to the temple of Shelyn to better prepare for battle.
Upon Amaryllis’ clever plot, the newly-banded team decided to let the tricky bard sneak into the building while her allies poured oil onto the loading area of Gaedren’s squat. Once inside, Amaryllis tossed the child-eating guard dog Bloo a piece of drugged meat that put him to sleep, then seduced the foul-smelling Yargin, Gaedren’s right hand man. As Yargin eagerly blessed the anniversary of Korvosa’s founding for what was undoubtedly his luckiest night’s celebration, Amaryllis made her attack. Fumbling for his wands in surprise, Yargin barely managed to throw a few splashes of acid, each one missing horribly, at the nimble bard before she cut him to pieces.
Outside, meanwhile, the fishery’s wooden loading area was lit ablaze, and the rest of the party smashed their way inside through windows, excepting Aleathia. Choosing to shoot through the windows instead of leaping into the fray, the elven Aleathia cursed the fishery’s poor lighting and cramped spaces as her arrows flew ineffectively. Orlan and Louis took on the childlike gnome Hookshanks, who had tried too late to run to the aid of his boss Yargin. They made short work of the bullying thug, and Orlan cuffed him to the heavy table to be dealt with later. On the other side of the small building, Cortland charged into the fray with his massive greatsword and cut down each thug that stood before him, often needing only a single powerful swing to fell his enemies.
After unlocking the door for Aleathia to finally make her way inside, Louis rushed to the aid of the captive street urchins cowering in the lower level of the ground floor. Amaryllis joined him on the balcony, flinging her starknife in defense of the fleeing children. On the opposite side of the same open room, Aleathia’s arrows joined Cortland’s gory sword in shearing through Gaedren’s lackeys.
Chained to a post down below, Gaedren’s insane pet half-orc named Giggles was hopping with excitement for battle, his focus on the blood-soaked Cortland. As soon as the human thugs were out of his way, dead at Cortland’s feet, Giggles gleefully charged the Shoanti barbarian and attacked with brute, unarmed strength. Orlan, catching up after ensuring that Hookshanks could not easily escape, joined Cortland in melee battle while Aleathia and Amaryllis gave aid from a distance. After a long and impressive battle, Giggles was finally killed as Cortland sank to the ground from his many wounds. Amaryllis hurried to provide him what little healing she had available, hoping that Miku would catch up soon to help.