Exvorum the dark priest led the trio to the hall of the master slaver Korvo-Doom. The banner of the Golden Devil West Company wafted dreamily over the heavy wooden double-door, the entrance to his hall. The flag bore the smiling horned yellow demon with a crown floating above its head against a white field bounded by a blue border.
Jíen briefly contemplated on how strange it was that a creature like the Company should exist. To him it was a landless country with a fleet, an army, and lords, granted a Board of Lords. However, the idea that such a beast could survive on money alone did make a sort of sense, as money is power, the most material kind anyway. But knowing the impermanence of all things he brushed those philosophical concerns aside.
The priest with the shaved head approached the door and knocked with an uneven staccato. When the door cracked open, he whispered what the trio assumed to be a password but couldn’t overhear. A servant threw open the doors and Exvorum gleefully led his guests into the hall which was abuzz with activity.
A tall skinny Ivoran man in fine silk robes also with a shaved head greeted the group. He introduced himself as Ilhand interpreter and right hand of Korvo-Doom. He enjoined the trio to sit at their places beside the dark priest’s neophytes. The five young men were dressed in black robes similar to their master each also with a shaved head. Tattooed around their wrists and their necks were the links of black chains.
The table was already set with wood-ware and tin plates as well as wine, ale, and especially whiskey. There was also bowls of fresh fruit and nuts from all over the Westlands and along the Ivoran Coast. It was not long before the slaves and servants had everything in place for their master’s feast. It was not long after this that his guests began to ooze into the hall one after another.
Before long the hall and thus was populated with Doom’s guests, top members of the Swampers’ Guild, an ogrish fellow with a bullwhip pulling along 3 gladiators with spiked collars on golden chains, several roguish men and a few women, and an out of place noble couple in fine clothes. Naked pleasure slaves in chains lined the hall, both male and female humans, their flawless bodies and soft skins oiled and gleaming. Jíen found the atmosphere in the crowded hall a bit stifling, too many warm bodies.
After a while, the chatter amongst the presumed villains rose to a constant low rumble with the occasional outburst of raucous laughter. A slight fog of incense and pipe-smoke coalesced above their heads. Suddenly Ilhand emerged from a stairwell behind the head of the long table and announced, “The Prince Scourge of Hyval, Defiler of the Light, Whip of the Enslaver, I present Lord Korvo-Doom!”
Only after the last syllable had died which had been dragged out for effect did the master-slaver Korvo-Doom emerge from the very same stairwell. Draped in fine white gold-gilded silk robes with a golden chainmail shirt underneath he approached his tall-backed black lacquered chair in a surprisingly graceful manner as a downcast slave scooted it out for him.
Korvo’s shoulder-length platinum-blonde hair was square cut so as to exhibit his flawless pale face which had the appearance of an angelic very young man with scintillating crystal blue-eyes. It was in contrast to his heavily muscled and sun-tanned arms and broad muscly chest, he had to weigh in somewhere around 250 pounds and was very tall around 6’5”.
As the master-slaver sat he signaled with his hand the rounded sapphires on his gold bracers glittering in the bright lamplight. A slave began to pour out assassin-berry wine, a few of the more refined guests could tell just by the strong sweet smell.
Korvo-Doom made a short speech to which Jíen paid little attention. Then those wishing to squeeze in a little butt-kissing session began to purpose ever more pompous and increasingly ridiculous toasts by turn in the evil-angelic figure’s honor. Dravor cut-off the ogrish fellow in his enthusiasm and purposed a surprisingly brief and slightly awkward toast which seemed to please the slaver slightly. Jíen rolled his eyes.
When it came time for the priest Exvorum to mount his toast he first produced a spectacular chalice from a black lockbox that one of his neophytes had unlocked and then took away.
The chalice was silver with a gold inlay and had five large rubies inset in the cup and five bloodstones on the base. He held it aloft presenting it as a gift to Korvo-Doom. In response, Ilhand then produced a black box of his own which when opened revealed a gold mask in the likeness of a grinning demon encrusted with gems. With some ceremony, they exchanged both items.
Steaming pork dripping with fat, thick green soup, and oven-fresh bread were brought to the table on silver platters and bowls. The slaves that had been standing against the whitewashed walls of the hall moved to the guests and intermingled (as it were). The feasting began in earnest but to Jíen there was still a little tension in the air and amongst the indulgent guests as if something had yet to be finished; an incomplete ritual.
Unexpectedly Korvo-Doom turned towards Jíen. The young necromancer seated just on the other side of the dark priest’s retinue. He spoke in perfect Dead-Lander to the young necro-mage inquiring as to how he had found himself in Xuun and had a few questions about his fighter. Bludbaer was standing behind Jíen in laughable imitation of a bodyguard.
The necromancer had inquired about Shadow-Scale but found that Korvo-Doom had an unreasoning hatred of all Scaels (and maybe all Naga). When Jíen inquired of Korfin, the slaver had never heard of him. The angel-faced slaver however was familiar with the Silver-Owl. They chatted for a bit more.
Korvo then signaled the other two, Trantox the assassin and Dravor the blackguard, to lean in as he presumably had a business proposal for the three. He would consider it a big favor if the trio would help in clearing up a little matter. He continued on to say there have been multiple open attempts on his life by certain members of the Hyvalian Theocracy.
He was sure that the offenders are those that had traveled to Xuun on a ship that was currently at harbor. The ship’s name was The Golden Wind, a Hyvalian vessel with junk rigging and grand golden sun-casting rays painted on its sails. Should the church officers on that ship come to harm he would pay 200 gold devils per head (the Company strikes its own gold pieces stamped with the company’s logo, a grinning devil face, and worth about one-half a gold piece each).
He also extended the deal to any theocrat head they could deliver to him. Dravor immediately shook Korvo’s hand and accepted the deal for the whole group. Trantox wholeheartedly concurred and Jíen just shrugged. That business concluded the master-slaver clapped his well-manicured paws together, the concussion silencing the lusty party.
Without warning Korvo-Doom snatched the wrist of the naked slave-girl on his lap and slit her wrist to the bone with his dagger. He held the gushing wound over the dark priest’s gift, the silver chalice. The red stones on the vessel glowed venomously and the girl’s cries of protest cut off with a squeak.
She paled, her eyes went dead, her once milk-smooth skin curdled, and pruned about the eyes and lips. The flow of blood was an instantaneous torrent washing the entirety of the blood from within her body containing it in the impossible capacity of the small silver cup. Korvo-Doom flung the limp corpse to the side. It flopped onto the flagstone floor of the hall.
The master-slaver and apparent devil-worshipper took a drink and passed the bloody vessel to the priest who did the same and thus the cup continued around the table with each guest obligated to take a hearty drink.
When it came to Dravor’s turn he immediately stood and pledged his service to Korvo-Doom before drinking. Again, Jíen rolled his eyes and then wondered if the blackguard had foolishly become a thrall of the devilish-slaver.
Deciding to rib the blackguard a little Jíen shouted out “Hey! Where’d he go! I can only see his boots!” Of course he said it in Deadlander so only Korvo-Doom and Ilhand understood. They snickered. Dravor shot a harsh sideways glance at the necromancer.
After the blood ritual, all of the tension had bled from the room. The festivities moved to that more akin a delirious orgy rather than a ritualistic feast. Jíen pointed to the corpse of the girl questioningly as slaves began to drag her away. Korvo nodded in acknowledgment and then threw a dismissive hand gesture.
So right there, as an orgy heaved and sweated around him, the young necromancer animated the corpse of the slave-girl. Jíen left word with Ilhand, whom was coldly overseeing and not participating in the greasy festivities, on how to contact him should they require his services. The necromancer took his leave with both of his creatures.
Sometime later after leaving his creatures in the tomb, Jíen decided to have a peek at the Hyvalian ship Korvo had mentioned. He went to the docks and found that the ship was at anchor in the middle of the deep lagoon that served as Xuun’s harbor. His curiosity satisfied he figured he should be the one to formulate the plan of attack.
The next night the trio gathered once again at the Troll. Trantox brought up a plan about “eliminating the competition”, a Scael gladiator with a 5,000 gp bounty on his head. The assassin even knew where they were, the Silver Scale Tavern. Dranor on the other hand wanted to fulfill the promise the trio had made to Korvo-Doom instead. This time Jíen sided with the blackguard. Trantox sneered at him.
The plan the trio came up with after a few minutes of both planning and arguing was that they would find a crew member of the Golden Wind, assassinate him, and Jíen would then reanimate him. They would then have the zombie crewman row them out to the ship and help them get aboard. That was when they would “slice and dice” as it were.
The Poisonwood assassin oiled his dagger with venom and agreed to follow through with Jíen’s plan. Immediately, just as they rose from the table, Dravor called for a vote, which overruled Jíen’s plan. The pair even tried to get Jíen to agree to row the boat out to the ship for them after he lost that vote.
Me (Jíen’s Player): “I have one freakin’ ARM!”
To Be Continued…