10th day of the 1st ride of Summer Flame, 1262
You can take a kid out of Kingsport, but you can’t take Kingsport out of the kid.
I’ve heard the boatmen say that sometimes but gave it little real credence. Sadly for us, this saying has a rather hard and unforgiving kernel of truth at its center.
We came onto the lake Llygad from the east, and came upon an abandoned village. Inside the village we heard the sound of a violin and discovered Szygani with three wains camping out at the waterfront. We reminded ourselves of the pledge we made after the Inn at the Crossroads and all the unfortunate business with Vadoma and turned our heels and headed south towards Bristlecone. One of the Szygani shadowed us for a while until James in some manner intimidated the lad to leave us alone.
At Bristlecone we discovered a number of things. We found an elderly lady running an expansive kennel and she provided a lot of information. We found out more from Lem, one of the more prosperous farmers of the hamlet, who will be providing lodging for us while we are here. Overall, the people have been very welcoming and kind.
We discovered that Lord Destan had indeed been to Bristlecone, under the guise of making an assessment of his family’s properties. Lord Destan was housed at the guest-quarters of Lem. We later investigated those quarters but found nothing much of note, outside a small pendant of a mask … well, possibly. We later found another one of those in the former quarters of one of Destan’s guards. They Sheridan estate was riddled with images of masks, so that seems to fit rather nicely.
Destan himself has been missing for a while now. Apparently he and his guardsmen, a local man, in fact the son of the kennel-matron, and a local tracker had gone out at some point. Only three returned. One of the guards, who succumbed to fatal injuries. The tracker, who was being taken care of by a lady called Isal-Bel, reputed to be a witch at least by the kennel-matron. And finally the kennel-matron’s son, who is being taken care of by his wife and mother at the kennel-house. They were all too happy to let me and Lucca examine the poor soul. And that’s where the problem is in fact. It appears that the living husk is there, but the soul is absent. The poor soul is beyond my help for now. Hopefully, by some miracle, if we resolve the whole business with Destan and the Crimson Tower, his soul will find its way back to its fleshy home.
When we were quartered at Lem’s farm we took some time to eat and rest. During that time I meditated and severed the bond between me and Muirgheal. I am troubled by the visions and the songs, not just for their content, but more so for the interference they provide for my true purposes: Service to this group that I find myself in and service to my true Mistress, the Lady of Lakes.
A little to the west of Bristlecone there is some manner of refuge. We learned that Lord Destan had tried to recruit two guides, but that the guides refused service. They had no need for coin, nor were they inclined to help Lord Destan meddle with the lake. The two guides confirmed that there can be haunting noises from the lake on warm nights and that they link these noises to the legend of the Crimson Tower. Not the kind of excitement they were looking for. Interestingly, none of the ‘free-folk’ seem to have been employed by Destan, so it’s a bit a mystery who exactly the tracker is that is in the care of Isal-Bel.
In fact the lake is source of much superstition. The villagers religiously follow the rule that none meddle with the lake in any way. They fear that they might anger the spirit that dwells there: Lady Lynne. We don’t know what this spirit is, nor can we get a convincing description from anyone. One of the free-folk trackers suggested that it was some manner of creature living in the lake instead of some spiritual apparition. We hypothesized a little about what it might be but have no real answer as of yet.
We had hoped to investigate or interrogate the mysterious tracker, and perhaps talk to Isal-Bel as well, but here it all turned sour. James approached her with his characteristic Kingsport charm, but she must have seen straight through him. She claimed to be more than willing to cooperate, for a price … the price being a lock of hair from James. Muttering superstitions James adamantly refused. I realized that Isal-Bel was purposely trying to intimidate James, as he himself so often tries with others, and asked if all this ‘song and dance’ was necessary. Apparently it is. Seeing no reason to argue any further in front of Isal-Bel, I departed. Luca attempted to soften Isal-Bel but failed. Her price is set.
I later appealed to James to relent for the sake of the group, using my own experience with Vadoma as an example. This message not just failed, it seemed to anger James. He diminished my efforts for the group and seemed to suggest that his sacrifices have been rather greater (or would be). He even seemed to imply that for all our adventures and wanderings together, he still doesn’t trust us in any way. I was deeply saddened by this and, Sedna still my heart, I lashed out in anger. I pointed out that he was getting a taste of his own medicine from Isal-Bel, and that his pride is the only thing keeping us from potentially important information.
There was one important victory however. For the first time James opened up that he was raised in Kingsport, in a rather sketchy area, and this has made him extremely suspicious of everyone. It makes me understand his actions and pride, but I suppose that it shouldn’t apply to his friends or companions. I pray to Sedna that he will find a way to conquer this darker side of himself. We are very, very far from Kingsport, I suspect there is room to let that mindset slip for a bit. Let Kingsport leave the kid, even for a little bit.
After the confrontation it all hung for a while, until I blurted out a wholly unsubstantiated sketch of the situation with Destan. I suspect that Destan was looking to find a way into the Crimson Tower. I suspect that the Szygani are doing something similar or in some way related. They worship the moons, and this whole Tower legend seems to implicate the moons as well. A particularly auspicious night with the Dark and the Blood Moon in high sanction is just nights away. I suspect that the entrance to the Tower will appear at the abandoned village, where the Szygani are camped out, and that might well explain why that village was abandoned in the first place. The whole business with Lady Lynne is either an actual creature or spirit that dwells there to keep people away, or perhaps a powerful story to deter curious folk. All of this is on a whim of course, much to the (rightful) amusement of Luca.
I suggested that, if Lord Destan had been looking for something around the lake, he might well have made a camp somewhere near the shore of it. We decided to cool our heads by walking the whole circuit of the lake in search of any camps. We didn’t find any, but I did get to try the ritual Marc once showed me, the ritual where one might traverse on the surface of water. Much to my pleasure I found that Sedna now allows me to perform this miracle!