Previously, the Heroes of the White eye had found their way to the Scatterfoot farm where they met up with Dick; a close childhood friend of James and fellow member in the guild of the Steady Hand. He had been conscripted to work with Kalina, James’ target, and was her newest crew member. He had immediately agreed to show them where the hideout was; a large cave system out in the Avondale woods. The heroes descended into the system in search of Kalina.
Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in low sanction.)
Having made their way past the first guard, who now lay strangled into unconsciousness by Astrid’s hand in a cubbyhole, the heroes had already found several rooms in the sprawling cave, some of them old and unused, while others were properly secured with a sturdy door and a modern lock. The locks had succumbed quickly to James’ steady hands and often revealed armouries and stock rooms, filled with all manner of provisions that suggested that the caves were more than just a convenient hideout for some bandits raiding the stables of the estates around Northshire.
The heroes had also found a large cavern space where the bandits had made their home. At least half a dozen of them had taken up residence in a space which held cots and fire pits and the group had wisely chosen to let sleeping dogs lie. With the use of Blackstar’s morbid ability to detect the presence of souls, they had come to the conclusion that there were a small group, or several lone individuals, were residing away from the other bandits.
Quentin’s companions, aided by magic or genetics, were able to see in the dark to some extent, but he himself had to be aided by a torch. This meant he had to be much more careful so as not to give away the presence of the group, but it also allowed him to discover that the group was being followed by a mysterious, dark apparition that was repelled by the light.
One of the rooms the heroes had discovered proved to be a well-stocked armoury, holding blades, javelins, crossbows and munitions. It also held a collection of light armour. James found one suit of armour which fit him well, which he donned. It was embossed with the symbol of the crescent moon of the Dark Queen. Luca discovered that the leather was unlikely to come from any of the beasts found in the Verdant Kingdoms, and he was once again reminded of the strange leather armour the heroes had encountered at the Landsdowne auction house in Bournemouth. Quentin was used to stocks of arms to have a quartermaster overseeing its administration, looked for a ledger and was surprised not to find one.
Eventually the heroes found another door behind which they saw a soft light glow. James spent a moment listening for sounds on the other side of the door and was witness to a conversation between who he assumed was Kalina and another person. The conversation came to an abrupt end and there was a small disturbance on the other end, which culminated in the light behind the door turning low. James let his deft hands take over and unlocked the door and pushed it open. He, Quentin and Astrid stepped inside and peered into the darkness.
Like an apparition, Kalina burst forth from the darkness, daggers drawn, pouncing on James. Her daggers bit deep and set fire to his nervous system and before he could react his felt himself losing control of his body as well as his consciousness. Astrid and Quentin immediately engaged Kalina and drove her back, deeper into the cave at which point she disappeared from sight again.
Meanwhile, Emrys was guarding the rear and was set upon by the apparition, draining the strength from his body until he almost couldn’t stand on his own feet any longer. Luckily, Luca heard his cries and came to his rescue, noticing the apparition’s aversion to light and immediately conjuring a flame to his hand, driving the shadow creature away.
Once the shadow creature was driven away Emrys and Luca immediately went to the aide of James, rummaging through the confusing, magical bag he had in order to find something — anything! — that would be able to save his life. Eventually they found the healing ointment that was given to James by Father Devon, the priest of the healing light.
Quentin and Astrid had since lost Kalina, who had escaped through an underground pool leading back towards a part of the caves that lay closer to the exit, and as James awoke the heroes had a choice to make; regroup and reassess, or continue their pursuit of the elusive Silesian bandit.