Previously, the heroes brought Lord Destan back to Kingsport, escorted by a group of once doomed crusaders. Upon their return, they were greeted by a city familiar, yet changed. Prior Benedict was hailed as a saint by the followers of Paladine. Dame Josephine was not received well at court, where a regent now spoke for the queen while she was afflicted by illness. And James found that much has happened to his guild in his absence and his mother was in danger.
First Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waning.)
James quickly made his way through the darkening streets of Kingsport after having visited the Silver Cross and speaking to Samuel. The long time bartender of the establishment he used to call home told him that his mother had been held captive by the daymaster, one of the two leaders of his guild.
He caught up with the rest of the heroes as they had just reached the Careless Wanderer. The tavern room of the inn was completely filled with visitors and it was warm inside, despite the weather turning colder. They made their way to the bar and found Durham tending the bar, happy to see their faces.
There were no tables available for them, so the dwarf arranged for some stools and allowed them to take sanctuary from the crowd behind the bar. Quentin was introduced and quickly fell into a conversation about the different wines that the Wanderer had in stock.
Lauryn, the elven counter to Durham came to say hello and talks Emrys into performing later that evening. She also arranges for some food with Ramsey, the chef. She explains to the heroes that the tavern is so crowded due to the upcoming Royal Master Angler competition organised by the Kingsport Anglers Association, an annual competition backed by the crown. Besides a hefty sum of gold crowns to the first, second and third place, it also comes with a lot of prestige. Looking across the room, the heroes notice that there’s quite a few fishing poles secured against the wall.
After having finished their food, James asks Luca to have a walk through the streets of Kingsport with him. James explained a few things about the guild he was involved with and that he needed to speak to one of his associates and that it could potentially get ugly. He asked if Luca was willing to stay close by, using Lauriel’s Earrings of Whispers to stay in touch with one another. Luca agreed and the two made their way to the Southside ward.
There Luca entered L’eau Célestes, a shop run by a radiant woman selling wines. She had organised a tasting for a group of people who all were people of varying levels of importance and they welcomed Luca with open arms. He pretended to be a young mage in Kingsport for study, something which none in attendance took into question.
In the meantime, James entered the butcher shop a little further down the street. There he found out that the daymaster knew of his arrival back in Kingsport and was somewhat surprised to see him. The man was grievously injured, judging by the way way in which he grimaced as he moved and the bandages on his torso. He was also surrounded by more guards than usually; all of them cold eyes and fast knives.
The daymaster asked him if he came to finish what his mother started. Genuinely surprised, James claimed not to know what his guild master was talking about. He seemed to have struck the right chord and the daymaster explained that he had regularly enjoyed his mother’s services over the last few months, and that during James’ absence she had tried to assassinate him while in bed together.
Since then, he had her bound and locked up, trying to force her to reveal why she had tried to kill him. Her mother had so far withstood all interrogation. The daymaster claimed he had not allowed for James’ mother to come to real harm yet, but that his patience was running out. He claimed that she came at him with a jewelled dagger just like the one that James was carrying, a dagger he knew to have belonged to a lieutenant working for his guild rival; the nightmaster, a man by the name of John Sharpe. The lieutenant was a Silesian, just like James’ mother, by the name of Kalina.
James convinced the daymaster to allow him to see his mother and talk to her. He wanted to see what state she was in and perhaps he could learn the reason why she had made an attempt on the daymaster’s life. He was brought down to the basement of the butcher’s shop, where found that his mother had been bound to a chair. She was in a bad state, mostly due to neglect. He took the gag off her face and loosened the binds and spoke with her.
He learned that she had been convinced that the butcher had sent James to his death and became enraged. A friend she had met through a group of Silesians who regularly met up in Kingsport had given her a knife to use. The butcher seemed satisfied with what he heard and ordered Jeanne to be bound up again. He charged James with finding out what the truth behind the situation was. He was especially concerned with the nightmaster coming after him. James offered information on the strange cult the heroes had learned about who were causing chaos in Fairfields and in the Riverlands and said that the same might be happening here.
James parted with the books he had retrieved and a fair some of gold crowns he had earned so far and he was allowed to hold on to the magical bag for the time being. He dreaded leaving his mother behind, but his best bet was to uncover the truth behind his mother’s attempt on the daymaster’s life.
In the meantime, back in the Careless Wanderer, Astrid spent her evening enjoying the comforts of the inn and arm wrestling some of the tough men in the tavern. Quentin had Durham open a good bottle of wine from Beauclair and engaged in a chat with a countryman named Remy who had come to Kingsport to hire himself out to a team participating in the angling competition.
Emrys was getting acquainted with people in the tavern and was trying to find out what the rumours are around the arrival of the crusaders; their arrival did not go unnoticed but was mistaken for the arrival of a group of Lyrian knights, likely arriving to offer their protection to the queen. The knights had previously protected the queen during the Courtenay rebellion when she was only twelve years old. Emrys also learned that it is widely believed that the queen’s illness is one caused by black magic and that most people in the capital believe the accusations made against the Farcorner rebels.
When Emrys graced the tavern with a performance, Dame Miranda and Lady Annabella entered the Careless Wanderer, both “out of uniform” and dressed as inconspicuously as they could. Lady Annabella admired Emrys while he played, while Dame Miranda approached Quentin and asked him if he could accompany her for a walk.
Dame Miranda took a stroll together with Quentin toward Steward Square. She spoke about her family, House Ravensbourne, and their wardenship of the Tiverton Glades. She explained that a host of invading orcs were making their way across the border from the Daerlan Empire and heading south-east, through the Elder Foothills to the Tiverton Glades but that the Lord Steward wasn’t committing any forces to stop the invasion, instead relying on the noble houses to provide aid. The noble houses were weary of the Lord Steward and she believed that perhaps aid might be too late to arrive. She hoped that Quentin could investigate the rumour that the orcs had been sent across the border by the Daerlanians, since that might help in getting both the Lord Steward as well as the noble houses to act more swiftly.
The two arrived in front of the Cathedral of the Platinum Father on Steward Square and Dame Miranda invited Quentin inside. He hesitated, saying that he was not a man of god, but followed the knight in. He asked her why she had chosen to talk to him about this particular problem. She said that she had hoped that if he were to return to Beauclair he could travel past the Tiverton Glades. She also said that he came highly recommended. When Quentin asked by who, she motioned to a gathering of followers of Paladine surrounding Prior Benedict in reverence. Quentin asked whether he could give her a reply in the morning, something the Lady Commander of the Crownsguard understood and accepted.
After James and Luca found one another and made their way back to the Careless Wanderer, James explained everything about the situation he and his mother found themselves in to Luca. As their cross the Lyn at the Queensbridge they found crier Goodman, the portly man who was a well known figure in the city, helping the Crownsguard light the braziers along the bridge for the night. James knew him to be a good source of news, and also, for the right coin, a source of gossip and rumours.
The crier explained that the Lord Steward had taken direct control of the Crownsguard, drawing the ire of House Ravensbourne for by-passing Dame Miranda, claiming it was an overreach of power. He also could tell James and Luca that the fetish that was found in the queen’s bedchambers was a tarred head of a goat with nails driven into its eyes and that it was sent to the Circle of Diviners for study. A man by the name of Callum the Diviner had been sent for from Blackbridge. Also, a host of over five thousand orcs was threatening the Elder Foothills and Tiverton Glades, while at the same time the markets in White Fork, south of the Fields of Strife had been flooded by cheaper goods from Daerlan and that the Daerlan florin was now the coin of choice throughout the area. And that Madam Brecourt had “stopped shopping for meat on Fleet Street” over an ongoing dispute with the butcher, something the crier said James probably knew all about.
Back in the Careless Wanderer, Lady Annabella came to speak with Emrys after his performance had concluded. The exchanged pleasantries and chatted a little until Lady Annabella explained that she had been asked to fulfil the queen’s duties for the annual Royal Master Angler Competition, something that was a great honour to her and her family. She found that she had stepped into a viper’s nest of competing teams backed by ambitious nobility with a vicious drive to win, who would not stop at anything to gain the upper hand.
One such noble, an arrogant young man by the name of Lord Peregrine Blackwell, had approached her with the intention of convincing her to release the information on the catches, the fish who were the target of each competition, to him. Each year the catches were kept a close secret until the day of the start of the competition, to not give any team a head start or a competitive advantage. He seemed so insistent that Lady Annabella asked Emrys if he’d be interested in deceiving the young lord.
While Emrys didn’t know the young Peregrine himself, he was very well acquainted with house Blackwell, and partly the reason why he had moved from the Riverlands to Kingsport.
The inn became quieter as the night progressed and arrangements were made in the tavern room to accommodate the many visitors who had been unable to secure a night to sleep. Cots, bedrolls and sleeping bags were put all over the floor and slowly people retired for the night. The heroes had arranged for the last of the rooms to be assigned to them, and they were able to squeeze in together. Before everyone settled in, James asked everyone for their help with his predicament. He was certain that it should rise to the top of the list of priorities, even before leaving the city to retrieve their well-earned reward from house Sheridan.
Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waning.)
People fell asleep as Luca sat in a comfortable chair, reading by the dim light of a candle. He startled awake at the sound of a storm raging outside. He looked around only to find that his companions were nowhere to be found. He went downstairs only to find the same; an empty tavern room.
Eventually he stepped out into the stormy night and went to the river. He walked downstream, up the hill towards the Bastion of Illumination which was standing vigil atop Quayhill. Not a soul in sight. He used Blackstar to detect any life around him, but he could detect none. He concluded that it must be a dream and used a dagger to make a mark in one of the limestones of a nearby building. Tomorrow he would check to see if the mark was there.
He walked upriver, back toward the Careless Wanderer and passed the House of the Raven Queen. Nobody to be seen. Then he walked towards Steward Square, and there, in front of the Cathedral of the Platinum Father, standing on the steps before the great carved doors, stood his master in all their grotesque glory.
Luca approached and his master congratulated him on a successful mission into the Crimson Tower. They reminded Luca that the goal had always been and will always be to get closer to Tharizdun and to find where the Mad God slumbered.
In return, Luca was to receive his reward; one question, answered truthfully. “What is your name?” Luca asked with great hesitation. “Oh Luca, so predictable. I have many names. But I suppose my name now is Aurion.”
Aurion bade Luca a farewell, turned around and opened the double doors to the cathedral, emanating a radiant, silver light. When the doors had closed behind Aurion, Luca returned to the Careless Wanderer, dissatisfied. He sat back down in his chair and fell asleep.