Previously, the heroes spent time recovering from their ordeal in the carceratum. The heroes had decided they would want to leave the city as soon as possible and had decided to look for transportation to Eastray. James did not have much luck in convincing any of the ships at the docks to depart before the annual fishing competition started, but his luck changed when he noticed the familiar sails of the Old Queen sailing into port. The caravel had been chartered for transportation by Randall, and after some consideration could move its departure time up to the early evening.
This gave the heroes enough time to attend the much advertised sermon by prior Benedict at the Cathedral of the Platinum Father. The heroes had been invited at the request of prior Benedict to be lord Lothar Grey’s guests of honour. When they attended, the cathedral was packed to the rafters with the powerful, wealthy and influential. When the prior finally spoke he delivered a brutal conviction of how the church had strayed from Paladine. All the while, Luca saw that his patron was fuelling the prior’s words, allowing it to end in a dramatic crescendo where the prior sundered the alter in front of him in two, leaving his audience stunned as he marched out of the cathedral.
Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon is waning. Darkmoon is waning.)
As the prior left the cathedral with Adelard, his assistant, he left a stunned audience together with the sundered altar in his wake. As the impact of what happened and what the prior had said started to sink in, people started to become restless; first whispering questions to one another, exchanging worried looks, and later questioning and debating what was said, while some people began to panic and sob as their faith was shaken. The packed cathedral slowly started to become more rowdy as some people wanted to depart as fast as possible, being hustled to the exit by their guards.
Quentin, observing the situation, noted that most of the higher clergy were quick to put a positive spin on the situation; being more concerned with the reputation of the church rather than the theological implications of the prior’s words. The more junior clerics, however, seemed more effected by what had occurred and what was said. Luca felt as confused about his master’s involvement in what happened as some of the audience had been at the prior’s words and felt a need to leave the cathedral. He was helped by Quentin and Emrys and they quickly caught up with James who had made his way to the exit early on, and had been watching the confusion unfold from the safety of a small alcove between two angelic statues near the door.
The plan was to return to the Careless Wanderer in order to regroup. While enjoying a stiff drink, James found that Randall had taken care of many of the supplies that would be needed on their expedition into Eastmarsh; tents, sleeping bags and rations. That left James with only one thing to take care of; speaking to Wojciech the stablemaster in order to have him bring the horses to the Sheridan estate for his mother to take care of. He found that the stablemaster was willing, but could not be convinced to stay away from the city for longer than the assignment would take him. He took six silver stags as payment and agreed to bring the horses, while storing Luca’s cart in the alley next to the inn.
While James went to purchase an excessive mix of over two dozen bottles of wine and spirits from Durham, paying with one of the gemstones he’d recovered from the Reaverhaunt caves, Quentin said to the others at the table that he had never seen such a naked display of power before. With a sermon that did not last more than a few short minutes, the prior had shaken the very bedrock of the church of Paladine.
Luca was tired and still frustrated with the unexplained intervention from his master, so decided to forget his worries by going up to the room and studying the arcane scroll he had found on the skaven shaman’s body. He found that Astrid was resting in her cot and he urged her to sleep on the bed, arguing that as of tomorrow they’d likely be sleeping in the cold and wet. She did as he suggested while he researched the scroll. He found that the scroll contained within it the one-time use of a necromantic spell which would allow his touch to inflict a variety of awful diseases.
With a little bit of time left before the departure to Eastray onboard the Old Queen, Quentin decided to make his way to the Sacred Baths in order to speak to Emma. The priestess received him in her private chambers and Quentin shared what had happened at the cathedral. A quasi-theological discussion about the difference between unity and uniformity lead the two to talk about Muirgheal and Emma explained that she found that the attitude of the weapon, or the spirit therein was antithetical to her own. While it worshiped the aquatic gods, it seemed to be more aligned to the Father of the Deep, whose domain was the salt and the sea. This deity was often hostile to the life that Sedna nourishes. She found Muirgheal dogmatic and militant.
Quentin decided to try something unusual; he took out his sword and rang the flat of the blade against the stone walls of Emma’s chamber until the blade strong a harmonic vibration. He held the blade against Muirgheal and closed his eyes. He saw a stormy bay with dangerous and choppy water. Across the water a man with a booming voice yelled at him to convert or be drowned at the bottom of the bay. Shocked, Quentin broke off contact and said how worried he was at the strength of the artifact’s zeal. Emma shared that she did not trust anything from the Age of Fear; neither the Arms of the Senhadrim, nor the Crusaders that they liberated. They possessed a magical potency that the world was not ready for yet.
Quentin asked Emma for a favour; whether he would be able to borrow the stone that she had carried throughout their adventure into the Riverlands together. He knew that it possessed certain properties that would protect someone from disease, and he was keen to have it by his side going forward. Unfortunately, Emma had to disappoint him and say that she had returned the stone to Ser Benten, who lent it to her when she had fallen ill to the disease from the skaven when they first encountered them, all those months ago.
Before Quentin departed to head back to the Careless Wanderer, he asked whether Emma would be willing to come and bless the Old Queen, the familiar boat that he would sail to Eastray. She agreed to meet him at the docks before departure.
When the heroes were ready to depart the Careless Wanderer, Luca settled the score of their expenses with Lauryn and had to pay nearly fifty gold crowns for their stay. The staff at the inn wished them a good voyage and a safe return to Kingsport and the heroes departed for the docks. They found the Old Queen was quickly getting ready to depart, with several fishermen coming aboard to share in the journey to Eastray. Randall embarked together with Michel, the Acadian mercenary and Isalien, the aen cannell tracker whom the heroes had met earlier that day. They would be their guide on the voyage to Blackbough.
Emma and Dagmær of Hammerstrand, the cleric who ran the Sacred Baths, performed a short ritual which blessed the ship, much to the delight of captain Lorne and Ridley. Roddy, the bosun who was to stay in Kingsport for the fishing competition said his goodbyes and the crew cast off. A new crew member was introduced to the heroes; Dyana Wavesinger, a bare-footed elf with brown, braided hair decorated with seashells.
While James and Luca took shelter below the forward deck and shared a stiff drink, Ridley came to say hello. Much to Luca’s surprise she produced the crystal flower which he had given to her upon their goodbye at Blackbridge, months ago. The small magic trick was supposed to have dissipated within an hour, but had persisted. Not only that, the flower had grown considerably and its facets had grown in scintillating radiance. With another display of arcane power, Luca injected the flower with a vibrant colour, further delighting the young girl.
The two heroes spoke on the rise in the potency of magic, which in turn lead James to turn his attention to the way in which the Arms of the Senhadrim were influencing and sometimes possessing their wielders. He had seen how Toruviel had taken over Emrys, and he also revealed that he knew that Blackstar was driving Luca to deeds of questionable morality. The first time he had seen it was when Luca had consumed Kalindras Duskstrider’s life outside of Syldarael’s home in Allenham. He had seen Luca do it since and knew how to recognise it. Luca retorted that Blackstar was only interested in consuming the right souls, so as not to strengthen the wrong side in the war to come.
As the caravel set sail across the gulf towards Eastray it soon grew very dark. The weather had been foul for several days and there was no point in staying on deck for it. People started to retire to several hammocks below decks, which also helped in keeping their stomachs settled.
First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon is waning. Darkmoon is waning.)
In the middle of the night, while the caravel lay at anchor, an alarm rang out. It turned out that Neiman, who had kept watch, had spotted something far off the bow of the ship. Over the howling wind a young voice could be heard crying for help. It turned out to be the voice of a young boy who was stuck on a devastated boat together with the corpse of a man.
The crew took a sloop out to rescue the boy and bring him back aboard the caravel. When he was examined he turned out to be unhurt, despite his face and chest being covered in blood. He was perhaps seven or eight years old, dressed in simple, but well-made clothing. He had well-cropped, blonde hair and wore no shoes. He had no items on him.
When questioned, the boy could not remember his name, nor how he came to be on the boat, or who the dead man was. When Luca heard that the dead man had what looked like a gruesome injury on his abdomen, he took the opportunity to step away from the group of people and whisk himself through the portal to the boat to retrieve the dead man. Upon return he examined the body and found that the wound on the abdomen was jagged and that his intestines and flesh around the wound had been gnawed on. As if by teeth from a young child.