Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye found their way into the Reaverhaunt caves, the old hideout of Admiral Dapperfang, where Kalina and her crew of horse thieves had been hiding out. They confronted Kalina and pursued her when she was trying to make a run for it, all the while being harassed by a strange, winged shadowy creature whose attacks withered and crippled. Eventually they captured the Silesian bandit and brought her to the Scatterfoot farm for interrogation but before the heroes had the opportunity to question her the farm was attacked by multiple shadows lead by the winged shadow creature. The heroes beat them back, but in a last act of aggression, the winged shadow creature attacked and killed Kalina, turning her into a shadow, which the heroes ultimately also struck down.
Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon is waxing.)
After the fight with the shadows came to an end the group decided they would need some rest. It was decided to move Kalina’s withered body out of sight by wrapping her in in blankets this exposed that Kalina had a tattoo of a crescent moon on her chest, just below her left collar bone. Quentin vigilantly stood watch, while Dick, James’ enormous friend, stayed awake to keep him company.
In the following two hours, the wind and rain picked up, pouring in places through the leaky, thatched roof of the farm house, but people managed to get rest. The strength draining withering the shadows had inflicted on the heroes had subsided and especially Emrys, who could barely keep himself from collapsing under his own weight, felt infinitely better afterwards.
It was Quentin’s turn to sleep while it was James’ turn to sit watch. Dick came to sit with him to ask what the plan was, clearly out of his depth and trusting his friend to think his way out of the situation. James wanted to go back to the caves, wagering that the shadows that showed up at the farmhouse were those ripped from the bandits in the caves by the winged shadow that seemed to be leading the assault on the farm. He hoped that it meant that the caves were free to explore and that they would be able to find some incriminating evidence on Kalina that would help exonerate his mother. If not, perhaps he could buy his mother’s freedom with something valuable, or perhaps rescue his mother, but that would obviously mean that he could never return to Kingsport.
Dick tried talking to James about his time away from Kingsport. James casually deflected his attempts and kept bringing the conversation around to the present. The only thing that James would let go was that he’d been to hell and back, which Dick took to mean figuratively. When James impressed upon him that he meant it literally, Dick obviously didn’t believe him, and was disappointed and a little sad that James wouldn’t be straight with him.
When the morning came and Quentin was rested as well the conversation again turned to what the day master might accept as a payment in return for Jeanne’s freedom. James said it could be anything of value, particularly books, ancient magics or similar antiquities. Quentin also raised the possibility of letting Dick guard the Reaverhaunt caves so that guild member could come to inspect them and see for themselves what Kalina had been planning.
Shortly after, the heroes confirmed that indeed the caves were now empty as they thoroughly inspected the areas that they hadn’t been to yet. They found the bandits in a dark room, some having tried to flee, some having been killed in their cots, each of them withered looking, with skin as thin as paper, their face a terrifying death mask. The room they were in revealed some personal belongings as well as a door leading to a chamber that was used to store valuables. They found a locked and trapped chest which held many items of value, including a lot of coins. James decided to blindly take all of the valuables but leave the coins behind.
Once the heroes were satisfied that they had discovered all tunnels and chambers in the cave, they went back to the room where they’d found Kalina. They searched it thoroughly and James even went to dive into the pool that connected the chamber to the tunnel beyond to make sure they hadn’t overlooked anything. Initially nothing could be found, but when asked, Luca shifted his gaze and tried to perceive any magical energy. He found none, but he did notice that there was a vaguely lingering aura of magic on the bloodstained, copper scrying bowl that had been laying on the floor.
It seemed as if Luca was mumbling to an unseen person, which most found a little unnerving and strange, but James had seen this before, when Luca had been talking to himself, outside, at night, on the road at the Inn at the Crossroads. It was as if the voice he was talking to helped him find Kalina’s prayer book, which she had carefully hidden on the bottom of one of the cots.
It was a small, black, leather-bound book with strange, curious scribbling which Luca recognised to be the infernal script of devils. It held the teaching of the Dark Queen, and on the inside cover, it read; “To my daughter Kalina. May the Dark Queen teach you the way. Forever your father, Melchior.”
The heroes returned to the Scatterfoot farm and gathered their things. It would take half a day to get back to Kingsport. Dick his horse and lead the bandit’s horses behind him. He was clearly not so comfortable in the saddle yet, but he managed. Astrid rode with Luca, which allowed him to investigate the shield that Quentin had taken from Ser Fulton, the dagger that Bran had won from Kalina, as well as the identical daggers that they had taken from her after the fight. It turned out that the dagger that Bran had won was not magical, but the other two held exactly the same properties as the Tooth of Thalasis that James carried on him since they helped Alfred Barnaby in Bournemouth; the same dagger that got him in trouble in Blackbridge.
Ser Fulton’s shield seemed to have some curious properties as well; it was capable of temporarily summoning the vipers on the shield to aid the wearer in combat. It could do so three times every Night of Violet Eyes, when the Bloodmoon and Darkmoon stood at high sanction together.
Late in the afternoon, cold, miserable and drenched by rain, the heroes arrived back in Kingsport. Entrance into the city was made easy by Quentin’s presence; the crownsguard waved the nobleman and his companions past without inspecting the cart they brought or wandering why they had so many horses with them.
Dick split off from the group and decided take the horses directly to the Kingsport Manège to be sold. He didn’t know what the next few days would bring, but he suspected he might have need of gold.
Astrid and James decided to take Luca’s cart, together with Kalina’s body, and hide out in the city that night. This would allow them to keep a low profile away from the rest of the heroes. They agreed to meet up again at noon the following day.
Quentin, Luca and Emrys left for the Careless Wanderer where they found a place by the hearth and sat together, drinking wine and eating supper. Quentin wanted to speak to the mistress of the inn, Magda, but did not see her around. Instead, he spent his time writing a letter to his father, about the coming of a new conjunction, sharing something about his struggles. He also shared that he wanted to be the herald of the new Silver Crusade, to bring honour to his name and his house.
The young Beauclairois knight told Emrys and Luca about his ambition. Speaking it out loud would make it real, and would allow him to gauge how it sounded by seeing the reaction on his companions’ faces; whether they would think it foolish or sagacious. Emrys smiled and told Quentin he would want to be there as a witness, and be the first to write a ballad about it. Luca merely nodded gravely, with a mad glint in his eye.
Quentin also wrote a letter to Gwenaëlle, the contents of which he kept to himself.