Previously, the adventurers split their time rather evenly between the library of the Bournemouth academy and the Landsdowne auction house. The library allowed them to find out more information regarding the Age of Fear, certain legends and about the probably destination of Lord Destan’s trip. The auction house was the scene for an auction where a Lyrium crystal pendant was being competed over by two groups of elder races, both intent on buying the rare crystal. In the end the dwarves walked away with the crystal, appearing to have the deeper pockets.
First Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262
(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)
While Emrys was sleeping off his hangover from his visit to the Golden Cockatrice from the night before, and Astrid took the horses and carts to be sold before their voyage the next day, and James spent the morning in training to the point of gaining some level of clarity on what happened to him inside the Sheridan mansion that night where he was separated from the group, Luca and Emma returned to the library of Bournemouth academy to finish up some loose ends to their research.
Emma researched the story of admiral Karadin, gaining some insight in the history behind the song that Muirgheal had sang to her right after she had bonded herself to it. While an interesting story, Emma had hoped for a better understanding of what the trident was trying to convey to her, or even if it was trying to convey anything to her at all.
During this time Luca was frustrated in his efforts to find out more information about lyrium crystals. After hours of research yielded nothing of value, Luca concluded that the library may have been sanitised of information regarding the rare crystals and that a different source would like be required to learn how to make use of the crystals. He decided to take a walk around the library to clear his head.
When Luca came upon the luxurious reading room in which Lady Ulrikke was performing her own studies. Luca had noticed that she, too, had been frustrated in her attempts and he found her staring blankly out of the window while her guards had made themselves scarce. After a brief conversation, she revealed that she had been researching the sightings of skaven, khazra and minotaurs in the south, west and north of the Daerlan empire, respectively.
Emma was asked to join the conversation with Lady Ulrikke and introductions were made. Lady Ulrikke shared sketches of the beastmen she was researching. The skaven were identical to the ones the adventurers had encountered at Lynnecombe. The khazra were half goat half man and similarly savage and tribal, like the skaven. The minotaurs, however, seemed disciplined, martial, well armed and armoured.
Lady Ulrikke shared that some within the empire thought the beastmen to be set loose upon the empire by their rivals, Lyria and Hellmark. She was also keen to hear details about our adventurers’ encounter with the skaven in Lynnecombe and she was surprised to hear that the beastmen had been found in the heartland of the Lyrian kingdom. She gladly accepted Emma’s advice to seek out the curious leather armour at the Landsdowne auction house which was made of the same strange leather that the skaven wore.
The last thing that Luca and Emma agreed upon with Lady Ulrikke was that they could use Falka as a go-between, should either one of them manage to uncover more valuable information regarding the beastmen, while Emma implored the young noble woman to use her influence and standing to find a way to get the empire to work together with the Lyrian kingdom in the defence of what she believed was imminent; a new Age of Fear.
Falka delivered her treatise on the Age of Fear to Luca and she was paid her fee. Two items of curiosity were described therein that went beyond what was commonly known; namely the name and description of Aureus the Golden One, a very long lived saint of Paladine who was one of the founding members of the Senhadrim, as well as the dichotomy between rural and urban populations in Lyria and their different views on the un- and supernatural. This was caused by the devastating decline in the human population in Lyria. Humanity only saved themselves from extinction by banding together and hiding behind the thick walls of ancient fortresses.
While Luca and Emma were at the academy and Emrys was recovering from his hangover, James and Astrid had found a seedy, waterfront bar where they – well, mostly Astrid – found some entertainment by getting into a fist fight with five lewd men. The fight was eventually broken up by the Bournemouth city guard, who promptly arrested the men. Astrid lost a tooth and had gotten some scratches, but she seemed to have enjoyed herself tremendously. James was intent on finding a high quality house of delight, but was disappointed to hear that there were no such places around. They decided to head back to the River Stone.
The adventurers came together at the River Stone and discussed what to do with the remainder of their time. Astrid had booked passage to Blackbridge by way of Egremont for the following morning and everyone had felt that their time in Bournemouth had come to an end. A decision was made to shop for some supplies that would be useful on the road to Pinefall, and one last stop would be made at Alfred Barnaby’s Concoctions & Decoctions to see about the healing potions.
Arriving at the curious alchemy shop they found that the door was locked. Right as they were about to depart, Alfred appeared to peer at them through the window and opened the door. He seemed scatterbrained, even for him, but let them into the shop. He was sorry to inform him that he didn’t have access to his potions. He seemed troubled and with some prodding the adventurers managed to get him to explain what was bothering him.
It seemed that his basement laboratory, where he kept his stock of potions, was curiously haunted by a strange spirit of an older lady. A deal was made that he would part with five healing potions, one for each of the adventurers, if they could take care of the spirit, that would be one thousand gold crowns worth of materials. The adventurers agreed and descended through a trapdoor into the basement below.
The basement was made up of two adjacent rooms. The first was mostly used for storage while the second seemed like a well-stocked laboratory. Shelves lined with books, tables filled with beakers, cups and tubes, and many curious items and cauldrons. Along one of the bookshelves the glowing apparition of an elderly lady could be seen hovering. She seemed not to take notice of the adventurers.
Emma could hear the muffled sounds of water running somewhere in the distance, and noticed that one of the walls of the second room seemed to have been recently bricked up. The brickwork was rather shoddily done and it gave Emma an idea. She asked Emrys to take out Toruviel and use it to cast a blast of wind against the wall. Emrys reluctantly shuffled forward until he was within range of the wall, all the while keeping his eye on apparition who still seemed to ignore the adventurers.
Emrys used Toruviel and the shoddy brickwork caved in to reveal that the room originally was much larger and that behind the wall lay the corpse of the old woman, surrounded by flies and rats which scurried away. Also, there was a grate which lead to the Bournemouth sewers.
The moment the corpse of the lady came into view, she screamed “Nooooooooooo!” and flew at Emrys, passing right through him, taking his breath away and casting icy frost all over his body, causing him a great deal of pain. At that point everyone went into action. Emrys retreated as Astrid and James engaged the apparition while Luca went for the body, believing that he should burn the body in order for the apparition to disappear.
Casting flames onto the body while James and Astrid fought the apparition, Luca ignited the body and Emrys fanned the flames, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. In the meantime the apparition was proving very difficult to defeat and it vomited a noxious stream of vapour towards Luca in retaliation for setting fire to her corpse.
Emma took Muirgheal and used it to the stab the apparition with great success. The apparition then revealed itself to be more than just a normal ghost as it turned from the old woman into a hideous pesta, a foul undead creature who brought with it plagues, blights and diseases.
Noxious fumes, disease and an unnatural hardiness, it took every once that the adventurers had to offer to defeat the pesta. A bizarre turn of events turned Emrys’ hair silvery white and his eyes radiating with an almost celestial light. This seemed to startle him as much as everyone around him.
Near the end, Luca unleashed scorching jets of fire in an attempt to best the undead creature, but instead igniting the built up noxious fumes, which horribly burnt both himself as well as James and Emma. Luckily, Emrys and Astrid managed to defeat the creature and use the ample stores of healing potions to revive the others.
Once Emma was conscious again she used the healing powers of Sedna to heal most of the wounds suffered at the hands of the pesta. James searched the room and found a cache of healing potions of different kinds, a potion of fire breathing, and a set of beautiful boots, which Emrys, with a little help from Toruviel, instantly recognised as Boots of Elvenkind.
Emma still felt incredibly ill and so it was decided to leave the basement and confront Alfred. He seemed relieved that the adventurers managed to defeat the pesta but was tight lipped about the body behind the false wall or about how it got there. Fearful that the adventurers would turn him into the Bournemouth guard, he offered a magical dagger as payment for their services after the adventurers said that the cache of potions had been lost in the fight. He was encouraged to tread very carefully, knowing that the adventurers would be keeping an eye on him.
Emrys and Luca decided to return to the river stone. Emrys donned a hood and blindfold in order to conceal the strange change he had undergone while fighting the pesta. At the same time, Emma wanted to visit the river Bourne outside of the city in order to perform a cleansing ritual in order to heal herself from the disease that the pesta had inflicted upon her. She was accompanied by Astrid and James. The returned to the River Stone in the early evening.
The adventurers decided to eat their dinner in their room together. Mostly so that they could have some privacy and keep the strange appearance of Emrys a secret. Luca decided to run one last errand and purchase two pearls that would allow him to identify any magical items that they might find while on their path, while also looking into the properties behind the dagger that James had found in the laboratory.
The dagger turned out to be a Dagger of Venom, which spawned a conversation about the morality of using such an item. It was decided that nobody had any deep moral objections against the use of the dagger. At least none that they openly shared.