12 Erastus 4710 AR
After several forays into the Fenwall River Delta exploring the boundaries of the City of Stilts the Explores decide they need to regroup and return to Melfesh. As they reach the mouth of the Yondabakari River the Explorers and their Sczarni crew see dozens of small houseboats, rafts, & barges spread out along the shores of Lake Syrantula. It seems the whole of the impromptu Flotilla district has been expelled from the city. Vitale, Portia, & Vito Barbasti beg their Patrons to find out whats happening by seeking out their family head, Madame Zia Barbasti. The Explores find the Stardancer, a shallow currach with a Varsisan vardo placed atop it, a most ungraceful craft belying it’s name.
Aboard the Stardancer the ancient Madam Zia Barbasti greets the Explorers, notably the ascetic Thorvin Silentread, rescuer of her grandniece Portia. The Sczarni matriarch explains the recent events in the realm. Among the most notable the War Chieftain Thousand Bones of the Shoanti Sklar-Quah was assassinated on the road from Korvosa to Kaer Maga. His retinue was maimed and his head taken preventing all but the most powerful of magics of reviving him or revealing the murderer. In retaliation several small hamlets and farms between the village of Sirathu and Abken were razed and burned. Abken itself, a peaceful farming commune, was visited the most horrific of retributions. A Black Skull, a powerful cursed necromantic relic of the Everwars, was unleashed upon the unsuspecting village. Refugees still streamed into Melfesh for protection. The garrison was ordered to march to the village but its response has been hindered as Major Crispin was thought a deserter & defector to Magnimar. To quickly bring order to the Kingdom, former General Oerik Vancaskerin assumed the mantle of Governor-General. One of the first decrees the Governor-General made was to disperse the Flotilla along the docks. In the ensuing roundup Anatoly Barbasti was taken into custody trying to bribe his usual connections.
Madame Zia consulted her Harrow deck and provided a reading for the Explorers forseeing a powerful destructive force at work behind the troubling events, one that the heroes may be able to stop. But it is also a power that may nearly break their will and the struggle could topple the prevailing order in Varisia.
The Explorers quickly agreed that Major Crispin needed to get back and they needed to speak with their Patron, and perhaps rescue Anatoly. Escorted to the Barbican the first thing they noticed was the Hellknight presence in the fortress. Speaking first to the Chaplain of Abadar, they were soon ushered in to see now Governor-General Vancaskerin & Korvosan Guard Captain Marcellanus Wintrish. Major Crispin pleaded his case, backed by the accounts of the Explorers. Vancaskerin placed Major Crispin back in command of his Marines, but cited Korvosan Law that until a proper military tribunal could decide on the case, governance of the city and the garrison would remain under his control.
Walking out through the open parade grounds the Explorers are observed by the Hellknight signifier Dendrane, an open devotee of Asmodeus. Now in charge of the customs duties on the river he agrees to allow Hykak and Dolgrin down to see Anatoly Barbasti in the dungeons of the Barbican. While questioned by the pair the Barbasti headman tries to pass on a message for his smuggling ring to “move the black shipment.” This leads the group, after passing some time at the Three Thirsty Stirges, to track down the sczarni river pilot Vito. Heading to an address he gave them to meet at in a few days as he fenced their loot, they find another of the Barbasti money making schemes in action… a pit fighting ring. To pass the time waiting for Vito to come collect the nights take, Hykak & Dolgrin bet themselves agains the nights final fighters a Giant Mantis and Monstrous Scorpion! Halfway into the fight a squad of Hellknights break into the warehouse subduing attendants. The sczarni quickly fight back against the heavily armed riot squad. Their bagman tries to slip away by jumping into the fighting pit but falls badly wrenching his knee. Seeing an alternate route out the Explorers make a fighting retreat to a rain soaked sewer outlet that leads to the river… where the meet Vito waiting in a rowboat, the shrewd smuggler already well aware of the raid. He tells the group that they were duped by the Hellknight signifier Dendrane. Anatoly was charmed and used them to expose another piece of the Barbasti’s dealings in Melfesh. Vito encourraged them to get out of town before the Hellkinghts scooped them up for questioning and wait for him to get their loot sold.