Blackbough Downtime

Previously, the heroes barely escaped investigating the abandoned church near Blackbough with their lives as they were attacked by ghoulish creatures that seemed to be conjured up by the land itself to chase them away from finding out more about the good sisters and the power they held over Blackbough and its inhabitants. Their sleep was haunted by nightmares which urged them to leave the swamps but felt equally urged by the mysterious Ysgith to go to the sisters to pay tribute to them.

Seventh Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon in low sanction. Darkmoon is waning.)

After mistress Ysgith had suggested that the heroes visit the good sisters in the sacred grove, lord Oswin and his retinue excused himself and let the heroes continue their breakfast and speak in peace. Remembering the ways in which the ante-chambers of both the queen as well as her handmaid had been prepared for eavesdropping, Luca got up to inspect the walls to make sure that someone wasn’t snooping around. He found nothing.

The heroes decided that getting to the hargrove was too time consuming. With only a little over a ride until it was predicted that Dr. Arkenward would lose control of the magic that he contained within the queen, there was little time to spend travelling deeper into the hinterland.

It was during this conversation that Luca started feeling that familiar dark presence which developed like a headache right behind his eyes. From high above an inky darkness solidified into the cold, terrifying shape of Aurion. Time seemed to have stopped and Luca’s friends were frozen in the moment. His master, the magnificent dread, instructed Luca to go to Ysgith and relay a message to her;

“The last person who remembers your name is dying. They don’t have much longer. Go to them.”

When time resumed and Aurion was gone, Luca tried to convince the others that perhaps it was not a bad idea to leave their visit to the sacred grove until the following day. Quentin agreed that in order to present themselves to the good sisters they might want to be in better shape. It was agreed to in Blackbough that day and the conversation turned towards what might be a good tribute to the sisters. James seriously considered giving up drinking alcohol.

An attempt was made to find a competent healer in Blackbough, especially after Emrys found both Isalien as well as Astrid doing physically very poorly. Isalien at least was in better spirits, while Astrid couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed. A very troubling turn of events. The Blackbough majordomo, Blythe was dispatched to seek out old Abigail; a woman from the village whom some of the heroes had spoken to the previous day who was proficient in herbalism and hygiene. She would be able to administer any aid to the wounded.

Luca, keen to speak with Ysgith, found her in the garden behind Blackbough manor observing a flock of blackbirds. Aurion’s message left the mysterious woman in shock. She accused Luca of serving a very dark master, something he could not deny. She left Luca in the garden and he noticed that the blackbirds followed her departure.

In the meantime, Quentin had turned to Nielen the blacksmith for some repairs to his breastplate, pauldrons and gorget. They spoke about the hargrove and the fighting that took place there. Quentin learned that there were about a dozen guards from the Company of the Shield in Blackbough, and twice that number at the hargrove. The fighting had lead to eight of the guards dying and an equal number of villagers losing their life too.

When old Abigail arrived she tended to the heroes, giving a tea of willow bark to Luca for his persistent headache, and redressing the wounds on Isalien and Astrid. Emrys, who observed the woman while she worked, noticed that she was quite reticent in helping the heroes out and likely only did so because they had been extended hospitality by lord Oswin.

While chatting with old Abigail the heroes learned that the scholar who had visited Blackbough had been in the company of, among others, a woman. She had also been bed ridden for most of her stay at the village; afflicted by symptoms not dissimilar to those that Astrid was going through. Emrys tried to pay the old woman for her troubles with one of the gems he had retrieved during one of the many adventures in the last few months. She refused it; hospitality had been extended to the heroes, and it was only right for her to care for the guests.

While Quentin sought to train with lieutenant Aram and the guards in order to analyse the gaps in their tactics, Emrys attempted to commune with Toruviel, seeking to understand how to deal with the good sisters. His reasoning was that if anyone could speak with confidence on dealing with spirits that hailed from the Age of Fear, it might take someone of equal age to advise on that. Toruviel was not very forthcoming with clear information, but instead showed Emrys sights of flying high above snow peaked mountains. When Emrys opened his eyes, he found that the blade was hovering evocatively in front of him.

Eighth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waning. Bloodmoon in low sanction. Darkmoon is waning.)

The following morning, after a night haunted by the same dreams, Astrid had sunken further into her depression. Emrys felt similarly afflicted but managed to push through the fog of despair.

Once again the heroes were invited to break their fast with lord Oswin, but this time Ysgith did not attend. The lord of the manor informed the heroes that she had taken some time for herself and that she’d be fasting for a time.

The conversation quickly turned to lord Oswin explaining how he returned home to take the seat at the head of his house when his father passed away. He had found an estate in trouble and he was unsure on what to do and how to reclaim the hargrove. It was only when Ysgith arrived that she offered him the perspective he needed to appeal to the good sisters for help.

When questioned on where the heroes could find the sacred grove, lord Oswin directed them to a path leading to the south-east from Blackbough village. It would lead them to the sacred grove, at the heart of which stood the scarlet willow tree where the villagers left their tributes to the good sisters.

After breakfast had been concluded, Luca prepared a plate of food for Astrid and brought it to her, only to find her reluctant to eat. She was deteriorating fast, and everyone felt that it would be best to bring their mission to Blackbough to a swift conclusion.

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