The Death of a Queen

Previously, the heroes returned to Kingsport and were received by several groups of people, Lyrian knights, palace guard, house Courtenay, as well as Callum the Diviner who was eager to discover if they had been successful. Quentin joined the palace guard to stand vigil over the queen, while the rest met at the Circle of Mages to break the curse on the khazra head. They were successful, but it took a toll. While Callum was resting, James and Luca went to visit Ecgbrith the herbalist and Emrys went to replenish his spell components. During that time, Callum had found one of the tablets and read from it, damaging his psyche which ultimately lead to his death.

Seventh Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waning.)

After discovering the death of the diviner James walked all the way back to the lobby in order to inform Olafur. The long corridor was this time filled with students getting ready for their classes. When James finally came to the lobby he found Olafur tending to the needs of the students. After informing the sturdy Miðgarðurian about Callum’s fate he promptly dropped everything and took James along a series of rooms, doors and hallways which lead them back to Callum’s room in no time.

When Olufar was over the shock of the old diviner’s death, Luca asked if archmage Esmeralda, the Arroyan headmistress of the Circle of Abjuration. Olafur, instead, decided to inform Réonan, the grand archmage of the Circle of Mages. The heroes were wondering how to proceed; they knew the curse was broken, but still needed to be lifted. Olafur suggested looking through Callum’s notes to see if they could find clues about what he expected the next step to be.

Luca looked across the room, at all the stacks of books and notes, and immediately felt at home and in his element. He quickly sifted through the most recent papers and notes and found that likely the queen’s spirit would have faded away over time and would need to be convinced to return to her body.

I strongly suspect that it will not be enough to save our queen simply by breaking the curse. The Heroes of the White Eye have been away for too long for this to be a trivial matter; instead, the queen’s spirit will have faded and be halfway into the arms of the Raven Queen and her soul will need to be persuaded to stay with her body.

While in torpor, her soul will be susceptible to the pleas at their behest. There are reports of family members having lamented and pleaded to such an extent that the departing souls turned their course and returned to the land of the living. If the queen does not wake of her own accord than we should have to resort to convincing her fading spirit that it is worth staying here, with us, rather than spend the rest of eternity on the slopes of Mount Celestia. Not an easy task, but one that we must preform.

Furthermore, Callum had seen some portents regarding the queen which disturbed him greatly;

I have tried to divine the future but it remains murky. I am too far removed from my heart to have real clarity in these matters. I am too old, too frail and too feeble to have the wisdom to interpret these signs, but I believe that the Heroes of the White Eye will return with good news.

But the symbols of hope are dimmed by the shadows of doubt and despair. The agents of the Takhisis are gathering around our queen and are plotting her demise. They are carried by leathery wings and driven by lashes of a vicious crop.

I will ask lieutenant Williams to stand vigil with our queen, for I believe this agents will come for her if the curse doesn’t take her. Dr. Arkenward has been too weakened to prove effective beyond containing the illness that afflicts our queen.

And lastly, Luca found some interesting thoughts on ghost orchids;

There is no mistaken the power that the old magick holds, especially with those that deeply believe in its efficacy. Their conviction and faith fuels its power beyond what the modern day arcanists can accomplish. Its power lies in the middle ground between the arcane and the divine. Perhaps it’s fuelled by both, which might explain its raw potentiality.

Completed was my surprise when I found that the wards were constructed by three, distinctly different layers of old magick, interwoven with the traces of blood sacrifices instilled in the dreadful petals of the ghost orchids. The raw power locked in those delicate vessels is enough to topple dynasties and should be kept out of the wrong hands.

While the heroes discussed the findings, they were accompanied by a tall person with an androgynous look to them; they had long, silvery blond hair, pale complexion and striking green eyes. They were wearing expensive, green garments made from the finest silk which were draped across their tall, slender frame. They introduced themselves as Réonan, the grand archmage of the Circle of Mages. The conversation was short and mostly dealt with the death of Callum. Réonan said they would inform Callum’s family, and they urged the heroes to make their way to the queen’s side. Upon departure, Réonan put an arm on Luca’s shoulder and said that it was good to see him again. Luca was a little perplexed by that, since he had never seen Réonan before.

Emrys, Luca and James headed to the palace and when they arrived convinced the guards at the gate to allow them entrance. They were brought to the mess hall that the crownguard used and found lieutenant William there. When they explained to him what they were about to undertake he rushed them to the queen’s side using the entrance through the watergardens. Within no time they entered the queen’s chambers at the top of the palace.

The gloomy room smelled of sickness. On the far side, the queen lay in a large bed, unmoving except for some shallow breaths. Her pallor looked deathly and the heroes saw that she had been suffering. In front of her bed, sitting hunched over in a lotus position was the robed figure of Dr. Arkenward. He looked as if he was near to death, with hardly any hair left on his liver-spotted head and his paper-thin skin stretched taught across his emaciated frame. He looked like he could expire at any moment, and so Luca, in an attempt to bolster him, tried to give him one of the orange lyrium crystals, but he seemed unwilling to take them; perhaps they were not the right kind for what he was undertaking. Lady Annabella and Quentin had remained by the queen’s side all night and both looked tired.

After bringing Quentin and lady Annabella up to speed on what happened since the previous evening and how they would have to convince the queen’s fading spirit to return to her body in order for her to survive. In the end, several people took turns in whispering encouragement into the queen’s ear, all the while Emrys played an encouraging tune on his lute. James tried to persuade the queen by describing all the things he loved about Kingsport and how she had been responsible for many of them. Quentin described the splendour of the country, which he had witnessed as he flew on the back of a griffon from Pinefall to Kingsport. Luca decided to recite a list of different monarchs who had made great sacrifices for the good of their domains. And lady Annabella pleaded with the queen that her subjects needed her, commoners and nobility alike.

Each stated their cases really clearly, with passion and conviction and the queen, but before there was any response from her the doors opened and lord Gabriel and a woman, who the heroes later identified as princess Mildred, burst into the room demanding to know what was going on and to put a stop to it immediately. When the heroes did not immediately obey and Quentin went to intercept lord Gabriel from reaching the queen, he immediately called for the guards and for lieutenant William to arrest the heroes.

Emrys decided to put a stop to it by casting the part of the room in a scintillating array of hypnotic colours. This completely overwhelmed lord Gabriel, but much to everyone’s surprise, princess Mildred was left unaffected and she rushed forward, trying to get to the queen’s bedside. A fight broke out where the princess let out an inhuman, piercing shriek which sent shockwaves of pain through everyone in the room. This was met with an immediate barrage of radiant bolts of eldritch energy from Luca and the princess crumpled. James did not think twice and rushed lord Gabriel; if they were going to be murderers, he might as well make sure that lord Gabriel was going down as well. He stabbed him to death while the man barely had his wits about him.

Turning to the queen, it seemed that their efforts had not helped to revive her from her torpor. She started to spasm and convulse and after a short time she drew her last breath. Whether the heroes had done something wrong, or whether the interruption by the princess and her husband, it was not clear to the heroes. A quiet sadness fell over the room. The heroes had worked so hard and it seemed like they had been foiled by something that lay outside of their control.

…but then, the queen stirred and slowly opened her eyes. The heroes looked on in shock as there was an infernal radiance which shone from the queen’s eyes. She was alive, but at what cost?

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