Previously, upon returning to the Sheridan estate from the ancient catacombs, the adventurers and the companions they picked up in those mysterious depths — the Lyrian knights, Bartosz and Brandomiir — were hailed as heroes, while there was a lot of consternation at the arrival of the four Kaedwyni orcs, who were prompty given “boarding” in the stables and two armed guards making sure they did not leave their “accommodations.” Meanwhile, a celebratory feast was arranged and the adventurers were asked to take up another quest; finding the Sheridan middle brother Destan and returning him home to Lynnecombe. All the while, the adventurers grew fearful for the fate of the Kaedwyni orcs.
The adventurers had just concluded their negotiations with Lord Jonathan for the task of retrieving his younger brother, having been promised a staggering one thousand gold crowns each, a cart and two horses for their journey and another one thousand gold crowns for expenses. It was clear that the Sheridans would not spare anything to get Lord Destan home safely.
Sixth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262
(Silvermoon is waning, Bloodmoon is waning. Darkmoon is in high sanction.)
When the negotiations were concluded, Emma requested permission to perform a ritual of confirmation for Bartosz, to acknowledge the ordeal he has gone through and to confirm his new standing as a local hero, in front of his community and the gods. Lord Jonathan was indifferent to the idea at best, but Ser Benten supported Emma in her initiative.
Later, in light of their coming effort to free the orcs from their imprisonment, it was decided to make sure that the orcs had some arms to defend themselves with on their long journey back to Kaedwyn. While Luca wanted to raid the armoury, Emma objected to that claiming that it would be a gross breach of the laws of hospitality which were extended to them. At most, she would be willing to part with her own arms and gear. Astrid quickly offered two hand axes and her great sword, the latter was deemed too hard to sneak into the stables. Emrys offered a dagger and Luca rolled up the weapons in a blanket and put them aside for when the time was right.
Luca suggested retiring to the chamber he shared with Emrys in the servant’s building and spend some time analysing the magical artifacts they had retrieved from the catacombs using a ritual he had learned from the book he always carried around with him. He would hopefully learn more about the weapons, their history and their magical properties. And more importantly, learn whether they would be dangerous in the hands of the party. Luca approached Lord Marcus with his plan, who nonchalantly parted with the twin swords he had claimed as his own.
Luca used a pestle and mortar to crush to dust the pearl he had received from Benten earlier. He mixed it with wine and created a thick paste with which he drew an arcane circle filled with infernal symbols. He sat inside and took Lord Marcus’ swords in his lap and divined their origin. One by one he did this with each of the weapons, ending with Emma’s trident. What Luca learned surprised him; the history, the exact nature and potential of the weapons remained unclear.
What was clear was that the twin swords were supposed to be wielded by one person and lost their enchantment when wielded separately. They — no, it — was called Gladia. It required bonding between weapon and wielder and once such a bond was created would the features of the weapon become clear to its user. It was also clear that through this special bond, the weapon would grow in power as its wielder would gain experience and power.
Toruviel was the name of the elven sword that Emrys had laid claim to. The magic surrounding the blade was old and ancient even for elven standards, and was almost solely comprised of transmutation magic. The difference with this weapon’s bond was that it would be a bond for life, unlike that of the other weapons. The bond could only be lifted if the weapon would be destroyed or if the wielder perished.
When Emma was still a little hesitant to hand her trident over to Luca, he decided to inspect his own staff instead. Blackstar it was named, and he found that it greatly boosted his abilities as a warlock. The types of magic that it emanated were varied, but a strong necromancy stood out.
Finally the Sister of Streams relented and handed her trident over to Luca who divined that its name was Muirgheal and that, like the others, its power was closely linked to those it bonded with. The magic surrounding it was varied as well, with enchantment, necromantic and transmutation.
Everyone departed the chamber with their weapons while Astrid and Brandomiir, who had been there to witness the ritual, left a little disappointed, having expected to see more fireworks or learn more about the weapons than they did. Brandomiir said that he had witnessed the identification of magical items before, since he knew some runewrights.
Emma went to find Bartosz and found him stringing a row of crossbows in the armoury. She and proposed the ritual she wanted to perform to Bartosz. He claimed to be a follower of the Platinum Father but admitted he was raised in the faith of Chauntea, his father being a gardener in Lynnecombe-upon-Lyn. Emma explained that Chauntea is supported by the life-giving streams that Sedna holds domain over. Benten suddenly spoke from behind Emma urging Bartosz to accept the offer.
“It is a great honour to be chosen for such a rite by a Lady of the Lake. It’s especially auspicious for someone who has grown up on the bank of an important river.”
Bartosz started to get excited and asked Emma when and where the ritual would take place. Emma told him that it could be performed that very evening in the courtyard of the estate. He asked if he could invite his family and she encouraged it, even going so far as to offer to take over his task of stringing the crossbows so that he could take off and inform his family and bring them back to the estate.
Meanwhile, Luca spent time with Blackstar, while Emrys took the time to attune himself to Toruviel. Emma followed once she was done talking to Bartosz and she and Muirgheal bonded, too. Muirgheal immediately sang to her.
“Beware, beware, the daughter of the sea.”
“Beware,” I heard him cry.
His words carried upon the ocean breeze,
As he sank beneath the tide.
When Bartosz later arrived back at the estate, he had half of the village following him in festive procession. Another feast had been prepared and people made merry. Eventually it became time to perform the ritual. Emma took centre stage on the landing at the top of the steps leading to the entrance to the mansion.
Those blood-soaked coasts of Jagg’d Shore,
Where sailors fought and died.
The Admiral fell at Dunagore,
because… she left his side.
Everyone gathered at the bottom of the steps and Emrys started expertly playing the lute he had borrowed from one of the servants in accompaniment of the ritual.
Words were spoken to acknowledge Bartosz ordeal and his return from the wilderness into the waiting arms of the community he grew up in. He was no longer the adolescent they knew, but now was an adult and one who strengthened the community as much as the community strengthened him. Bartosz was lead in a vow of dedication to the community as well as the Gods. He was then washed in Sedna’s holy waters.
At the start of the ceremony Bartosz older sister had made some teasing, playful jests at his expense that drew friendly giggling from the crowd, but by the end the community stood in awe of the new man standing in front of them. They cheered him on!
In the meantime, Luca had secretly slipped away from the ceremony to go to the stables, intent on freeing the orcs from their captivity. When he approached the entrance to the stables he noticed that the two guards were not at their post. When he eventually stepped inside the dark stables, he noticed that the orcs had extinguished the lights, and could barely make out the two unconscious guards, tied up in the corner. The orcs were armed with the weapons that Luca provided, as well as the arms they had taken from the guards. Brandomiir was there as well, having beaten Luca to the punch.
Quickly, Luca bid the orcs a safe departure and they sneaked out of the stables. Brandomiir and Luca returned to the ceremony just in time to witness the end of it. While people were cheering and the orcs were using the hay-filled sacks they had taken off their cots to climb over the spiked walls behind the stables, hounds could be heard barking ferociously. It didn’t take long before captain Mollen noticed the two missing guards and she immediately went to toll the warning bells!
Confusion erupted among the villagers and servants, and for a moment both Emma and Emrys weren’t sure what to do, so they lead the villagers to the well while the servants were fleeing inside the mansion and the servants building.
Why this? Why this, oh Daughter of the Sea?
Why this? Did you forget your seaside days?
Always the pride of our kingdom’s eyes,
How could she go astray?
Captain Mollen had quickly formed a squad of six guards and had retrieved the crossbows from the armoury, eager to pursue the fleeing orcs. Ser Guillaume and Ser David had joined Emma and Emrys and took over the care for the villagers. Bartosz, together with Dame Julie and Dame Madeline, ever the friends of the orcs, had followed the guards in pursuit of the orcs. Brandomiir retrieved his arquebus and was running out of the gate as fast as his short legs could carry him. Luca and Astrid made their way in pursuit, too, and somewhat reluctantly, Emma and Emrys also joined the chase.
They found the orcs not far south, on the high bridge over the stream leading to the river Lyn, being held at crossbow point by the six arbalists, under the leadership of captain Mollen, who was ordering the orcs to surrender their arms, while Bartosz was trying to deescalate the situation and prevent any bloodshed. Captain Mollen was unwilling to listen. Korath and Kaedan had lowered but not dropped their weapons, while Summi had taken an aggressive crouch and Garr was pacing from one side of the bridge to the other, pumping himself up and getting more enraged by the minute.
When Emrys tried to talk to captain Mollen, he was confronted by vicious riposte with a thinly veiled racist undertone that told him that the captain would not be reasoned with. He positioned himself to the side of the arbalists and quietly drew Toruviel…
Bartosz had not given up trying to talk sense into the captain, while placing himself protectively between the arbalists and the orcs. The Lyrian knights did the same, flanking Bartosz on either side. Dame Madeline kept her halberd disengaged, and Dame Julie left her swords sheathed, but did protectively hide behind her shield. Luca had also tried to convince the captain to stand down, but when that didn’t work, he commanded her and the nearest arbalist to flee the scene.
The arcane words he uttered impacted the captain and arbalist hard, and they fled with a startled cry, roughly pushing their way past the other guards. This shocked the group of arbalists so much that one of them yelled “fire!” and five bolts went flying. That’s when Emrys used one of Toruviel‘s innate powers and sent a gust of strong wind to fly into the projectiles, knocking three of them aside. One of the arrows bounced harmlessly off Dame Julie’s shield, but the last buried itself deep in Bartosz’s chest.
Suddenly there was a flurry of movement from the orcs, as they all jumped over the edge of the stone bridge, plummeting in the rough water far below. In seconds they were washed away beneath the white froth of the stream below.
Bartosz sank to the ground, bleeding from his chest and mouth and the light quickly faded from his eyes. Emma ran towards him, mumbling a prayer to Sedna even before she laid her hands on him to heal him from his otherwise mortal wounds. The Lady of Lakes heard her words and responded and the bolt was pushed from his chest and the wound mended itself neatly. Breath once again filled Bartosz’s lungs and his eyes opened wide in panic.
The irony of it all was not lost on Emma. Even though the other adventurers knew nothing of her stringing the very crossbows that eventually were turned on the man she sought to cement as a local leader and hero, they all felt that perhaps they had overstayed their welcome in Lynnecombe.
They returned to the estate to gather their things and depart. Lord Marcus was more nonchalant about what had occurred, saying that he would make the arrangement for them to get the cart and horses, as well as the small fortune that was promised to them for expenses. He believed that by the time they would return with his brother Destan that things would have calmed down and returned to normal. As they departed, he wished them a well;
Good luck. And may Mask soften your step.
The orcs had escaped what was likely a bloody fate, to test their mettle against the uninviting countryside of Lyria, where every soul they meet would see them dangling from a rope tied to the highest tree.
Bartosz would never be the same, as he saw more violence inflicted upon him at the hands of those he called friends and family more than the Skaven ever did.
The adventurers are once again in the employ of the “noble” house Sheridan, who seem a mix of equal parts ambition and mystery. Having never once been eye to eye with the patron of the house and having mixed feelings about the three other Sheridan lords they had to deal with. And now they are charged to retrieve a fourth Sheridan lord, taking them to Kingsport, Bournemouth and likely through the Riverlands and into the Silverpine Hills beyond.