Previously, the adventurers had made their way to the Inn at the Crossroads and rented rooms for the night. During the night, the room that Astrid and Emma were staying in was invaded by an intruder who trying to steal from them. Emma woke up in the nick of time and she alerted several others. Even though the intruder used many arcane tricks to try and prevent from being caught, eventually the pursuit ended with them tackling the thief to the ground. It was none other than the szygani Vadoma, whom the adventurers had met earlier at the seat of friendship.
She had tried to steal all of the strange red crystals that the adventurers had found in the catacombs below Lynnecombe. When Vadoma was questioned about the nature of the crystals, she explained that they were mythical Lyrium crystals, which were used in times of high magic to create legendary magical artefacts and fuel powerful spells. The adventurers decided to convince the guard to spare Vadoma the gallows, though not unanimously.
The following morning the adventurers continued on the road to Bournemouth, arriving late in the afternoon.
Ninth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262
(Silvermoon is waning, Bloodmoon in low sanction. Darkmoon is waning.)
Upon entering the city it became clear to the adventurers that the city was full of entrepreneurial types trying to make a living off of the innovations coming out of the famed Bournemouth Academy. Many curious goods were sold on the narrow, crowded streets. Despite it all, the city seemed joyful and optimistic.
A passerby was asked for a suggestion on where to stay, and two options were provided, either stay at The Golden Cockatrice in the Kettering district, or stay at The River Stone in the harbour district. If Ioun’s Isle, the island fortress at the mouth of the river which gave the city its name, was the beating heart of the city, then Kettering was its soul. The Golden Cockatrice was rougher around the edges than The River Stone, and so the adventurers chose to stay at the latter, considering it the safer option, having been the subject of a nighttime intrusion and sitting on a pile of platinum.
The horses and cart were left in the care of a stable master by the name of Siggi, and the inn was run by Elmond, a large, dour-faced man, and Bella the Barkeep, a rotund woman with a pleasant face. A large room was arranged that would house all five of the adventurers and some food was consumed.
All the while Emrys talked to two of the young girls on staff at the inn, as well as Elmond, for more information about Lord Destan. It appeared that Lord Destan had housed Gorden, Jenna and Mark, the three Sheridan guards that accompanied him, at the inn, but he himself had stayed at the prestigious Landsdowne auction house. Elmond could also share that Lord Destan departed after staying in Bournemouth for a short few days, heading to Blackbridge.
It was decided that Astrid, Emrys and James would stay at the inn and get an early night’s sleep, but that Emma and Luca would make their way over to the Bournemouth academy to see whether they could start their research early. Luca had a contact at the library that he wanted to find as soon as possible.
The two made their way from the inn to Ioun’s Isle and entered the academy campus. The atmosphere was academically vibrant, with students spending the warm summer evenings on the lawns and in the parks on the isle, studying, debating and dreaming up new ideas and theorems. The duo noticed that Ioun’s Isle was being guarded by Crownguard, not the city guard.
The two found the library easily and found it to be open and accessible. A hall the length of a hundred paces, lined symmetrically on either side with bookcase alcoves with large windows providing as much natural light as possible. The floor was covered in polished wood and several reading rooms were available on either end of the hall. Librarians were busy helping researchers and students or were busy organising and returning books to their proper place. Two hundred thousand books were at their disposal.
Luca started asking the librarians after his contact Falka and they seemed confused at the mention of the name at first, but eventually brought him to a librarian they called “Faulkner”, a name that was recommended to Luca by a man called Shakeslock when he visited the Seat of Friendship the day before.
“Faulkner” turned out to be the person Luca had corresponded with, and she was delighted, if somewhat surprised, to see him. Luca explained the reason for his visit and his hope that she might help him find the information he was looking for. Once it became clear to Falka that they were looking for Lord Destan she explained that several rides ago she also helped him find information that he was looking for. The stars seemed to align and Falka brought them to a luxurious reading room for them to use.
Luca wanted to repay Falka by allowing her to read his precious tome. They had corresponded about the contents of the tome in the past and the prospect of going through it made her excited. When she started paging through the book she got very cross and accused Luca of playing a trick on her, revealing that each page in the book was empty. Luca was mystified as he saw the infernal scripture he had always seen when reading the book.
Emma decided that it was time for her to retire to the inn, but Luca had no such intentions and decided to try and work throughout the night. He had a lot of ground to cover and little time to do it in. Falka excused herself for not properly introducing herself to Emma and introduced herself as “Falka of Dunagore.”
When Falka finally formally introduced herself to Emma as “Falka of Dunagore.” Emma asked Falka if she knew about the legend of an admiral who was betrayed by a female companion at Dunagore, which she had picked up from one of the songs that Muirgheal had sang to her. Falka recalled a tale about an admiral by the name of Karadin who had fallen to foes after being betrayed by his daughter.
Emma would be back to help in the morning and departed for the inn. Falka kept her home in Kettering and would accompany the priestess part of the way and Emma saw an opportunity to ask Falka some questions and get to know her better.
Apparently, Falka had grown up on Dunagore Mount where the Order of the Shield makes its home. Her mother was a cook in the service of the order, while her father was an armsman. She was noticed to be intelligent by the Knight Chronicler of the order and she was set to work for him. Eventually she was sent off to study at the Bournemouth academy, where she studied at the Depart of Ancient History. She was mostly interested in finding out why the hall- and doorways of Dunagore Fortress seemed to be made for people who were much taller than people are now.
Tenth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262
(Silvermoon is waning, Bloodmoon in waxing. Darkmoon is low sanction.)
The following morning it was decided that Astrid, Emrys and James would explore the city and procure some supplies. Astrid would also try and arrange for passage to Blackbridge on a river boat later in the day, first promising James to back him up as he would explore the seedier parts of Bournemouth in search of information. Emma would once again head for the library to help Luca out with the research.
The trio found market square and Tolliver square back to back in the centre of the city. Market square was chock full of stalls selling mostly foodstuffs. It had not gone unnoticed that many of the items going through the harbour district were also staple food, produce and fodder. Fairfields, of which Bournemouth was the defacto capital, was known to be the breadbasket of Lyria and many destinations beyond.
Tolliver square was a more dignified square where House Tolliver, the most prestigious house in Bournemouth, kept their mansion. The Daerlan empire also had a rather prominent consulate on the square.
Wandering around the streets of Bournemouth the trio stumbled upon a shop called Alfred Barnaby’s Concoctions & Decoctions, devoted to alchemical ingredients, dusts, ointments, salves and potions. Inside they found a curious, older gentleman who was running the establishment, who had many different healing ointments and potions for sale, which was something that Luca had asked James to be on the lookout for. There were many other items, like a potion which supposedly allowed the imbiber to breath flame like a dragon of legend. Alfred Barnaby turned out to be a horrible negotiator, but despite that the trio decided not to buy anything (yet.)
The next stop for the trio was the Landsdowne auction house. They found it on the southern part of the river, which was rich and heavily patrolled by city guard. Two guards in the employ of the auction house stood out front. After a short chat, Emrys managed to convince them to allow him an introduction to Villem Landsdowne, who ran the auction house. After convincing Villem that Emrys was working for the Sheridan family, they spoke about Lord Destan and him staying at the auction house during his visit to Bournemouth. The family apparently never purchased anything at auction, but were notorious for having sold many curious and magical items. Lord Destan did show an interest in a set of leather armour which he claimed to have a curious origin.
With this information in hand, Emrys and James decided to visit Ioun’s Isle and find Emma and Luca. Astrid headed down to the harbour to find passage upriver to Egremont and Blackbridge for the second day of the next ride.
Emma had since made it to the library and had met up with Falka and Luca. Falka had uncovered one part of a poem that mentioned the Crimson Tower, which Lord Destan had found during his research. The poem was incomplete, and Lord Destan had spent a lot of time trying to find the rest of it, but to no avail. The morning was spent trying to find the companion piece. Again, the stars seemed to align and the second piece of the poem revealed itself to the researchers.
When summer is at full ascent,
The spectres rise, the veil relents.
And those the lake of light condones,
Bear witness to a great torment.
Be still and heed the fright’ning tones,
Of rending flesh and breaking bones.
An evil which does not belong.
Hark! The crusaders’ painful moans!
When darkest moon stands full and strong,
You hear their wicked, fiendish tongue.
The evils try to draw you near,
With anguish of their victim’s song.
Your heart is steadfast and sincere,
Go find the source of pain and fear,
And scratch away the thin veneer.
The crimson tow’r might then appear.
Pursuing thus the tow’r of lore,
The white eye is to be explored.
Prepare and wait for day to break,
And look along its placid shore.
As light of dawn creeps ‘cross the lake,
And water seems to be opaque,
The scarlet walls will come ‘to sight.
Descending shade will a bridge make.
The bodies displayed like a blight,
Robs you of all your earn’d delight.
And walk across the wet you ought,
For time to enter is finite.
Inside you go to time forgot,
Before the tow’r returns to naught.
Replay events will be your lot.
And hope you find that which you sought.
The subject of the next topic to research had just come up when Emrys and James arrived at the library and found the others in the reading room. They shared the information they had found about Lord Destan with one another. Falka had left the group in order to search for a map of Pinefall and the village of Bristlecone, which she knew to be the destination for Lord Destan’s onward voyage.
It was at this time that some of the group started to notice that the library was becoming more and more devoid of researchers. Soon, it was discovered that a noble lady dressed in expensive black clothing, wearing her blond hair in a tight bun, accompanied by four guards armoured in black armour with silver trimmings, was ordering the library be shut off from the public. A quick inquiry at one of the remaining librarians revealed her to be Margravine Ulrikke von Rosenberg, a student at the academy’s faculty of Diplomacy and Statescraft. She was the daughter of Count Ardel von Rosenberg, the Imperial ambassador to Lyria, who, in turn, was the younger brother to Duke Eggbert von Rosenberg, the Suzerain of Fintra, a very powerful nobleman in the Daerlan empire.
Emma quickly assumed that since the adventurers were using the luxurious reading room, it was very possible that they were going to be ejected from the library as well. Luca seemed unconcerned but James began checking whether or not the windows could easily be shattered to make for a hasty exit should things get out of hand.