Previously, the heroes discovered a fierce orc scout who had been keeping an eye on the Sheridan estate. Having captured and incapacitated her, the heroes spoke to Lord Marcus, remembering well his fondness for the Kaedwyni orcs and hoping he would react in a less volatile way than the Sheridan house guard would. He recommended taking her to an abandoned windmill nearby to interrogate her. There, the heroes found that their old friend Korath had sent her to keep an eye on the catacombs. The scout believed that he might want to go back into the catacombs to seek out a stone eye. The heroes decided to let her go after she gave her word that she would only observe and otherwise not get closer to the estate.
Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon is waning.)
While the sun had gone down and the wind started to pick up, the heroes made their way through the rain from the abandoned windmill to the Sheridan estate. The conversation was focused on whether or not they would inform Lord Marcus about what the orc scout had told them. Quentin reminded the others that Lady Commander Miranda had requested for him to go to the Tiverton Glades to assist her house in any way in the protection of the region against the orc invasion. James once again focused everyone at the task at hand; finding Kalina, but he couldn’t help but consider an expedition into the catacombs.
When the heroes arrived they found that many of the house Grey and Sheridan guards that were bivouacking in the courtyard had started to eat and drink together, huddled around fires, underneath tarpaulins. Despite the weather it was a good spirited affair.
Inside, the heroes were greeted by the guests at the celebration, having taken place in the dining room of the manor. Lord John was seated at the head of the table, with Lord Destan and Marcus on one side, and Lord Jonathan and Ser Benten on his other side. Across the table, sat Lord Lothar Grey, an elderly gentleman who was the brother and twin to the late Lady Gwynn Sheridan. Lord Lothar was flanked by Ser Ademar of Woodbury, a member in the Order of the Lance who Luca remembered was the signatory to a message on the notice board the heroes had seen earlier which was a call to arms, attempting to recruit people to fight against the orc invasion to the north. On Lord Lothar’s other side sat Dame Madeline of Ashenvale, the tall, comely knight that the heroes had met in the catacombs underneath the Sheridan estate all those months ago. Both knights were dressed in simple tunic, decorated with silver thread to denote their order.
A second table had been set up that would seat the five heroes which was to one side of the hearth, while on the other side of the hearth three musicians had taken their place, playing the lute, fiddle and flute. They accompanied a singer, a curiously androgynous elf with long, pale coloured hair, wearing an elaborate, silk kimono. Their name was Elerethe, and she sang in a strange language, reminiscent of elven.
To the front of the room, in front of the window, was a long table with a bench, where several Sheridan guards, including captain Hallis Mollen and sergeant Rhalek of Darkhollow had taken seat, together with some guards of house Grey to enjoy dinner.
Lord Destan introduced the Heroes of the White Eye and the evening commenced with socialisation. Lord John did not really speak, save for a few words he whispered into his eldest son’s ear from time to time. It became clear to the heroes that while the man was old, he was certainly not feeble of mind.
When the first courses of food were brought out everyone took their seat. The food was rich and plentiful and the wine, spirits and ales flowed, all enjoyed while Elerethe and the musicians entertained the party. The main course was a combination of river trout baked in clay and an enormous boar roasted over an open fire, thinly sliced and seasoned with rosemary and crushed peppercorns. Afterwards the tables were cleared and prepared for dessert and this was the moment that Lord Lothar stood to toast to his late sister. He touched on her history; on how she had been known as Gwynn the Twice-Wed, being unlucky in love with her first two husbands dying before their time. They had renamed her Gwynn the Giant Slayer after her meeting Lord John and capturing his heart. He spoke of his younger brother Royce, not being present due to his capture by the rebels in Farcorner while he was there to negotiate on behalf of the crown. Lastly, he spoke of the Sheridan family and how he was so fond of how far they had come in the time that he had known them.
When the table was laden with sweetbreads, cheeses, baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon and Carcarian lemon cakes frosted in sugar, it was time for Lord Lothar and Lord John to speak in private in the library. They took a bottle of Beauclair wine and two cups with them. With their departure, James took a moment to relieve himself of a full bladder and made sure to see if he could listen in on the men’s conversation. Unfortunately he was not successful in overhearing anything useful.
During James’ absence, Luca took Marcus aside for a private conversation about what they had learned from the orc scout and Marcus confirmed that he did not see the need to get rid of the orc as long as the host in the north wasn’t making their way towards Northshire. When James returned he joined the conversation and the conversation was shifted to the message that Falka had received during their time at the Bournemouth Academy, supposedly sent from Lord John. Marcus knew he was out of his depth and called over his brother Destan who took a look at the letter, which Luca had been saving in his mysterious book for all this time.
To the lecturer Falka of Dunagore at Bournemouth academy. Five people will arrive at the academy trying to find out information about Lord Destan Sheridan’s recent stay in the city and any results from his research. They will claim they are working on orders of House Sheridan, but I assure you that they are not. Anything you can do to throw them off Lord Destan’s trail will be well rewarded.
John Sheridan, Baron of Lynnecombe and Darkhollow
After examining the letter, Destan concluded it a forgery. The broken seal was not quite right, nor was the language used. His lord father also had nothing to gain from thwarting the heroes from his rescue. Destan asked if he could keep the letter and Luca didn’t feel right refusing him, but did make sure to be able to recall the exact words of the letter.
The four rejoined the rest of the party and at that point Lord Lothar and Lord John returned from the library, their moods somewhat giddier and their lips and teeth stained red from the exquisite Beauclair vintage they had enjoyed together.
The celebration was coming to an end and an army of servants came to clear the table. To his surprise, James noticed a familiar face among the servants; a man named Harrick who he knew to be a confidence trickster and fellow guild member from Kingsport.
James excused himself and slipped into the kitchen to confront Harrick. The two men stepped away for a private conversation and Harrick told him that he had infiltrated the staff soon after James’ departure from Kingsport, on the orders of the day master, together with another woman who worked in another part of the household. Their mission was to investigate the catacombs, any items retrieved from it, and to further pilfer the library of any ancient, esoteric books.
When asked whether they had been successful so far, Harrick said that they had managed to liberate a couple of books and passed them on to an agent of the guild that was in the area, posing as a travelling salesman. They had not been able to get inside the catacombs, nor had they found anything that was retrieved from it. He could, however, tell James that a stone statue had been retrieved from there, which was the size of a hand, shaped like an eye.
After dinner the heroes were given a place to sleep in the dépendance. Luca and James spent a short while sneaking around the ground floor of the building until they had found a locked, reinforced door which had marks of heavy items having been dragged through it. They concluded that behind that door must lay the new entrance to the catacombs, but they decided not to try and force the lock.
Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in low sanction.)
The next morning James, who had been injured in the fight with the orc scout, felt much better. Some of the sweet rolls which he had liberated from the dessert table the previous night served to be a grand breakfast. After breakfast, the heroes were asked to join the family in the study above the library.
The Sheridan lords were accompanied by Lord Lothar and Ser Benten, and Lord Jonathan lead the meeting. He thanked the Heroes of the White Eye for their service in bringing Lord Destan home. He recognised their valiance and the debt that the house owed them. He also recognised that while no agreements of reward had been established between the house and Ser Quentin, that it would be in poor taste not to reward him with a token of the house’s gratitude for his service.
Since some of the heroes were keen on acquiring a mount in order for them to continue their trek to the Avondale woods, the rewards became as follows;
Astrid accepted her reward for one thousand gold crowns in the form of a bonded writ, exchangeable at the Cyprian Insurance Company in all major ports in the Verdant Kingdoms.
Emrys was rewarded one thousand gold crowns in the form of a beautiful Lyrian, black and white pinto mare from the Sheridan stables worth seventy-five gold crowns and the rest in an assortment of gemstones.
James decided to accept his reward of one thousand gold crowns in the form of a powerful black Lyrian courser from the Sheridan stables worth one hundred gold crowns, and the rest in an assortment of gemstones.
Luca accepted his one thousand gold crown reward in the shape of Tipper, a Lyrian chestnut mare from the Sheridan stables worth seventy-five gold crowns, a cart worth another twenty-five gold crowns, four pearls caught off the coast of Southernhay worth one hundred gold crowns each, and the remaining five hundred gold in the form of a bonded writ, exchangeable at the Silver Bank of Lyria in all major cities in Lyria.
Quentin was rewarded with a small pouch of nine platinum dragons and ten gold crowns, as well as a Silesian golden stallion named Walor, specially procured by the Sheridan family to honour Quentin’s contribution.
Each of the horses came with a suitable saddle, blanket, stirrups and reigns. James, promptly renamed his courser from “Scout” to “Shane” for reasons only he understood.
After receiving their reward they were ready to depart for the Avondale woods; the Scatterfoot farm that lay close by in particular. The lords Destan, Marcus and Lothar came to wave them off. “May the Paladine light your path,” Lord Lothar said. “May Mask soften your step,” Lord Marcus said.
The weather was miserable, with dark rain clouds overhead, but the horses helped hasten the heroes’ travel. When they got closer to their destination they decided to hide their horses and have Quentin and Emrys guard them while Astrid, James and Luca made their way closer to the abandoned farm on foot.
They found the two small buildings of the farm were situated on the other side of a small brook, with a bridge leading across it. James decided to scout ahead and accidentally tripped a simple trap across the bridge; a rope had been tied to two buckets of rocks, which promptly splashed into the water, alerting whoever was inside the farm buildings.
They found that one man was hiding in the farmhouse, while another was hiding in the stables. They both drew bows and started firing on the heroes. The man in the farmhouse came to a very “pleasant” end as he was hit by several bolts of eldritch energy, shot from the tip of Blackstar by Luca, leaving the man’s eye sockets burned out and smouldering.
When James crept closer to the stables in order to confront the other bandit he found himself eye to eye with his childhood friend Dick. A man as baffled to see James as he was enormous; “Jimmy, is that you!?”