Upon arriving in Athens our heroes scoured the city for information about the faceless idol they had found. Their search was hindered due to the unnatural plague sweeping the city. Upon reaching the temple of Aesclypius. packed with the sick, they met a rather harried priestess, Aspasia. She recalled having seen such a statue a long time ago, in the room of an older priest known only as the Phrygian. This plague, she knew, was like none other. Usually she could read the dreams of the sleeping, but these unconscious people slept as though dead, with no dreams, just a black oily mass where the dreams should have been.
Screams and crashes at the temple altar drew their attention. Rushing to the altar they beheld a striking and imperious priestess in red commanding two rough looking men to search for something amid the offerings and temple supplies. Diplomacy failed and Vasilius and Anaxalitus attacked the two men. During the fight the horse-headed golden torque on Anaxalitus’ forearm slithered into his hand and became a gleaming golden shortstaff, which paralyzed one of the men upon striking him. The two priestesses faced off, but Aspasia tossed down a clay snake which came to life and unnerved the red priestess. After seeing one of her companions locked in stasis and the other injured, she bid him escape, then bit a poison tablet and took her own life, falling in the sacred bath.
The man tried to flee over the rooftops, but Vasilius was relentless in his pursuit, using the power of the harpy’s wings, now his cloak, to glide safely to the ground and to speedily reach the criminal.
Back at the temple the wounded man was healed, and between him and his compatriot, Boulo and Gendarn their names, the story emerged of how they had been hired by Theramis, the priestess of Eris, to seek and destroy the temple’s incense. This incense had been newly imported and was so popular it was being used in all the temples… and this was what was making the people of Athens so ill.
Using her skill as a druggist Aspasia made a new blend of incense, sharp and medicinal, and spread the word that the old incense be disposed of, as it had displeased the gods, and that this new incense would heal the suffering of the sick. She also identified the poison as silverthread, a sweet-smelling exotic plant extremely difficult to prepare.
No priests or priestesses had fallen ill during the plague.
Further inquires at the docks found that the shipments of thanatosweed had been imported to Athens by Pamphilos.
Aspasia and her fellow priestesses laid out the body of Theramis, and found a brooch featuring a golden apple and three snakes eating each other’s tails. This was identified as an artifact of Eris. The priestess also wore a ravishing anklet of pure jade and jet, and as Aspasia held it, she just HAD to put it on. The compulsion was overwhelming. Once on, it looked so fine and fair that she hadn’t the heart to remove it. Her spells now seemed to be harder for others to resist though.
Both Vasilius and Anaxalitus had fine clasps made for their cloaks – of Hades’s helm and a crossed spear/chalice symbol respectively.