It's the little thing that kill
A magical plauge is disrupting the city of Blue Marina. Victims are found poisioned and covered in weals and, oddly, pennyless. Can the players solve this crisis before rich and poor are destroyed?
Marlifus the Silver cradled his daughter in the circle of his withering arms. She sobbed into his cadaverous chest, traumatized by yesterday's events. She was an attractive woman, straw colored ringlets of hair, fine features, and the grace of nobillty. She reminded Marlifus a great deal of her departed mother, his wife, a kind and beautiful woman from a minor noble family who dared to follow her heart and marry a landless wizard. Now his daughter's features were marred by bruises, her beautiful smile lost in the cut on her lip, her grace stolen by injuries.
She had gone into port to look at some fabric to make a veil for her sister's wedding. She found drunken sailors instead. They had gagged her with one of their sweat stained bandanas and dragged her to an alley for their entertainment. She was found by some of the crew from the ship they were traveling on when Marlifus had been worried what was keeping her.
'There, there,' Marlifus said as he patted her head, 'You will be as radiant as every at your sister's wedding. I can only pray the groom's attendents are wedded or one of them will surely ask for your hand as well.' His daughter gave him a genuine laugh and a hug, beaming at him through her tears.
'I will retire for the night now, papa, and dream of my husband to be.' she said. She gathered up her torn dress and left to return to her chamber.
Marlifus went over to traveling chest and whispered the command word to open it. He withdrew a small box from inside it. The box was old but sturdy, the various cracks on its surface worn smooth by age. He opened it and gazed upon the wealth inside. Several rubies and emeralds glittered, candle light played off copper and silver coins. He whispered a single word of awakening in an old tounge.
The treasure inside split open and small, flying insects hovered above the box. Their wings glistened and shimmered in the light. They looked much like a cross between a dragonfly and a scorpion, powerful, fat pincers flanking their heads, long tails ending in wicked barbs.
Marlifus lifted a mug of the watered down ale sailors called 'grog' and drank to excess on shore leave. He commanded the insects to land on the rim and taste it.
'Whenever you taste alchahol, know that your host is prey. Wait untill your host is alone, then kill it.' Marlifus watched as the insects drank in the grog and remembered. He spoke a word of slumber and the insects returned to the box and folded themselves away and their magic worked upon themselves to let them look once more like treasure.
Marlifus went up on deck and gazed over the aft rail. He looked at the low lights of the port that had laid it's tainted hand on his family. The lights clung low to the beach, looking like some a bizzare fish of the deep, lost and rotting on the ocean's shore. He lifted the box up and whispered 'Blue Marina' and tossed it into the ocean. The box bobbed to the surface, then slowly started drifting towards the lights.
'Dreadful how a nice port can turn sour just because of a few diseased dogs.' Marlifus jumped as the captin came up behind him. 'I'm very sorry for what happened to your daughter there, Master Marlifus, if I'd known that port had become host to scum like that, I would have insisted your daughter had an escort. All pasengers will from now on.'
'Thank you for your concern, Captin Derrin,'Marlifus replied, trying not to look at the bow he'd cast into the ocean, 'I hired you for my travels because you run a honest and sober ship. I was curious, where will your travels take you once you've delivered us to my daughter's wedding?'
'Likely we'll take on some supplies in port and return to Blue Marina to deliver them. Did you want my men to look for the assalants?'
'No, that won't be nessecary.' Marlifus assured the captin, 'I was just thinking that my daughters and my soon to be son-in-law would like to travel some and see more of the world. Do you know of any ports on interest you could be able to take us and perhaps a few other guests to?'
Captin Derrin and Marlifus the Silver spoke for some time and agreed on a two month trip up the coast to several cultural centers. 'Long enough for Blue Marina to be consumed by it's own corupt nature and declared cursed by all who survive' thought Marlifus.
Marlifus isn't intent on killing the whole city, but wants to destroy the scum that hurt his daughter and they people who get rich from supporting those scum. He hired Captin Derris to keep him away from the port and out of harm.
The box that Marlifus sent to Blue Marina contained four bugs called Miser's Doom. The most numerous are the coppers, called Bronzes. They respond to the scouts and attack the hosts the scouts locate with their poisionus tails.
The silvers are called, simply, the Silvers. They acts as the scouts and, once the host is killed, lay the eggs in the corpse's skin. Their stingers are ripped off when they lay eggs and they die from the process. If a Silver's stinger can make its way to the victim's heart, there is a 5% chance it will produce a Queen. Other egss have a 25% chance of being Silvers and a 40% chance of being Bronzes
The emeralds are called Royal Assassins. They are much stronger than the Silvers or Bronzes and hunt and kill their prey alone. Royal Assassins are further empowered by use of their spell ability, the ability to fly through solid matter up to 6 inches thick. There are very few Royal Assassins and the Silvers cannot lay the eggs to produce them.
The rubies are called Queens. They lay the eggs that produce Royal Assassins and the other insects. Ruby eggs have a 25% chance of being Royal Assassins, 30% chance of being Silvers and 35% chance of being Bronzes. Queens cannot lay Queen eggs, but Queens do not die from the egg laying process. Queens have the magical ability to spray a mist that silences area up to a 20 foot radius and shuts off the senses of those exposed to the mist, rendering them blind, deaf, without taste, touch or smell.
The insects emerge from the corpses of their hosts after two days. The larva are flightless, and oddly rather flamible, and look much like cockroaches for a day before cocooning them selves to look like adult bugs, copper and silver coins, emeralds and rubies. After two days of cocooning, the bugs awaken if they are exposed to the trigger, in this case Marlifus chose alcohol. The bugs live for a week after awakening, scouting for hosts, using thier chameleon like power to disguise themselves as money, and then killing their hosts and laying eggs.
The insects can be killed if they are exposed to high temperature before the larva eat their way out of their host. Burning the body, or boiling it in oil or water will drive the immature larva out and kill them.
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? Responses (13)
Wow. This is a really twisted plot. I think it'd be a blast to play.
If you can't fit it in, easily used as a legend of the fall of a city. Can explain ruins that nobody dares to visit...
....are the still there?
Now I wonder, what happens when the festival season occurs, and the normal people get drunk.
Once the city begins to thin out, they should move into the countryside. A pity if there were vinyards out that way.
And if a travelling someone gets their body shipped home, the plaugue might appear in another city.
Bioweapons can be nasty that way.
Wow,this is indeed dark,the tale of the wrathful wizard that curses an entire city to damanation.
A really nasty little bio-weapon I can't wait to use it
*evil GM grin*
Could even be released by the PC's on 'accident' as well to put the burden on them as the creators of the scourge. Great, yet horrible, idea!!!
AMAZING!!...there, I don't think that word has been used.
What about if the PC find the bugs in some loot? maybe an ancient treasure form a lost port, maybe a burial chamber. They could see that a plague is developing wherever they go, but not know why or how, this could be through rumors and at every tavern, they would hear that the last place they visited has been quarantined because of a mysterious plague!
Perhaps the eggs only kill when they hatch, and one of them is infected, giving them very little time to get to Marlifus...
So, where, perchance, did the wizard get them in the first place? They make quite a brutal revenge weapon indeed.
Besides a few spelling errors, there's nothing I'd change. A cool twisted plot (how come I never voted on it?)