Curse of the Crimson Throne Book 2: Seven Days to the Grave
Author lukkychukky

Although the flames of rebellion have been reduced to embers, peace is a short-lived comfort for Korvosa. From the red-tinted windows of Castle Korvosa’s galleries and vaults, the increasingly morbid dreams of a new queen drift down upon the crawling, filthy citizenry below. What are mewling masses and simpering slaves to a high-and-mighty monarch? Why bother with the smothering obligations and unending exercises of rule? The life of a queen would be ideal, were it not for her subjects. Her Majesty has long mused on the subtle culling of her city’s chaff, and royal coin can buy even the darkest dreams. With help from agents willing to commit any atrocity for gold and the zealots of Golarion’s foulest gods, the madness of Queen Ileosa takes form—a form with tattered sails and a hull festering with death.

Even before she gained control of Korvosa after her husband’s death, Queen Ileosa was looking to a future where she ruled a city scoured clean of those she deemed undesirable: Varisians, Shoanti, and especially those of the lowest class. She’d already contacted the Red Mantis for aid in engineering her husband’s death, and while she was frustrated to learn of their policy against direct regicide, they could still aid her indirectly, supplying her with the poison needed to do the deed herself.

But her husband’s death was not her end goal; it was merely a starting point. She knew even as she secured that first dose of poison that once he was gone and Korvosa was hers, she could spare no time before starting the next insidious stage of her plot. She contacted the Red Mantis again, asking for assistance in how best to take care of Korvosa’s rabble—Ileosa wanted a city in her own image, and in order for this to come to pass, those of Varisian descent, Shoanti blood, or simply the poor luck to be among Korvosa’s lowest class had to go.

Here, the Red Mantis had the perfect answer, for one of their highest-ranking assassins, a woman named Kayltanya, had long been an avid collector of sinister afflictions. She had recently come into the possession of a sample of fungus infected with a deadly and mysterious disease known as Vorel’s phage. A plague, Kayltanya reasoned, would do wonders for fulfilling Ileosa’s desires, especially if it could be engineered to target specific ethnicities. Yet Vorel’s phage, for all its deadly nature, was difficult to spread and relatively easy to recover from.

And so Kayltanya put Ileosa in contact with a cold-minded sociopath, a Chelish “doctor” named Reiner Davaulus. Reputed to be a “gentleman’s killer,” his modus operandi forsakes blades and bloodshed, favoring the path of sickbed poisonings and “accidental” deaths. When Kayltanya contacted him, Doctor Davaulus considered the assignment a fantastic challenge, and swiftly came to Korvosa to meet secretly with Queen Ileosa. Soon thereafter, he became the primary point of contact between her and the Red Mantis. At the doctor’s suggestion, the Red Mantis also brought in two additional specialists on disease to help him weaponize Vorel’s phage: the cult of Urgathoa (led by a zealot named Andaisin, recently fled from Nidal) and the vampire Ramoska Arkminos (a scholar of diseases and necromantic contagions like vampirism). Offered significant fortunes from the Korvosan royal vaults, these nefarious scholars and cultists worked together to engineer a citywide assassination.

Within weeks, the foundation of Queen Ileosa’s plot against her people was laid. The group she and the Red Mantis had gathered swiftly crafted the perfect epidemic to plague the city. The result was a more potent and infectious variation with dramatic symptoms sure to panic the populace. The Urgathoans named their creation “blood veil.”

Using methods perfected by Lady Andaisin and enhanced by Ramoska Arkminos, Davaulus planned a double-tiered infection targeting Korvosa’s lifeblood: its coin. In an operation overseen by Arkminos, a small fortune in Korvosan silver was tainted with blood veil using a magical container called a death’s head coffer (see page 433). The silver would be scattered throughout the city, particularly in the poorer quarters or directly into the vaults of the Bank of Abadar, where its taint would target the priests best poised to combat the disease and those most likely to unknowingly disperse the coin into the city. Finally, the conspirators engineered the arrival and sinking in the Jeggare River of the Direption, which would given the all the appearances of a plague ship, as a ploy to draw attention away from the tainted silver. Anyone seeking the source of the disease would uncover the clues pointing to the Direption, and thus waste valuable time chasing a red herring while the sickness only spreads further.

Her wishes fulfilled, her new dark allies marshaled, and her mind brimming with insidious dreams, Queen Ileosa gave the nod that launched a ship with black sails and opened her city gates to a pestilence unlike any Korvosa has ever known. If blood veil is allowed to run its course, not only will Ileosa have crippled the city’s ability to resist her future plans and made Korvosa into a place more “suitable” for her warped sensibilities, but her final pacts with infernal and ancient fonts of power will grow all the more potent.

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