Previously, some of the heroes were afflicted by what felt like disturbing, prophetic dreams. Luca was the exception, and he woke up with a content, radiant warmth inside of him instead. The ones afflicted by the dreams discussed their possible meaning, but decided to redirect their attention to the tasks at hand; get Astrid a new weapon, while James visited the day master. After that, they stopped off at Dr. Arkenward’s home in Old Town, where they met his wife, Vydia, a member of the aen adhar and oracle. She was injured and had a bandage across her eye, but was kind enough to invite the heroes into her home and have a conversation.
Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)
The conversation with Vydia had mostly been an introduction to her and her relationship with her husband and James, who had not taken a seat and had been standing in a corner, had run out of patience and asked her directly about that tablet Dr. Arkenward had retrieved from the royal art collection. He assured Vydia that the heroes only cared to keep the tablet safe.
According to Vydia her husband had kept the tablet in a hidden chamber accessible from his study. She had never been inside that hidden chamber for reasons she remained vague on, so she couldn’t explain on how to find the entrance. She did admit that while her husband was standing vigil over the queen, intruders had come to find the tablet and she had lead them to her husband’s study.
She explained that there were at least three people who came; two were wearing strange, elongated hoods which reminded her of the plague masks she had seen during the lockdown of Grimsdown. There was another person, a man with a black, scraggly beard and foul breath smelling of wine. She didn’t remember getting hit in the head, but she remembers coming to and not being able to see out of one eye due to swelling.
James expressed his concern for Vydia’s safety and suggested she leave Kingsport and not return for a while. She was visibly warmed by his concern and asked him his name. James hesitated for a moment but eventually shared it with her.
It was at that moment that Luca convinced Vydia to let him look at her eye and see if he could provide her with some aid. They both went upstairs to the front room where there was more light. When asked if he was a healer, Luca was evasive. When he had cleared her eye from the bandage he saw that her eye was swollen completely shut. He managed to feel around Vydia’s eye and could have sworn he felt something wriggle underneath her skin. Luca managed to pry the eye open and he found that her eye was so completely bloodshot that her entire eyeball appeared black.
After sharing his concerns with the rest, both Luca and James tried again to convince Vydia to leave her home. She was unwilling to do so, not least of all because of her husband. Luca performed a short ritual, calling upon the warm, radiant light of Aurion to relieve the swelling in Vydia’s eye. To his delight, and to Vydia’s comfort, the swelling went down significantly and inspecting the eye more became possible. It was clear to Luca that there was significant damage to Vydia’s eye which had left a hole, and it explained why she still couldn’t see much.
The conversation turned to the Steady Hand; Luca remembered that when he had joined James to visit the day master when they went to retrieve James’ mother, that the conversation between him and the day master had turned to a person by the name of the Upright Man and his interest in the tablets. Unbeknownst to the rest of the heroes, James had found one of Atilesceon’s journal entries that mentioned that the Upright Man had more than one tablet in their collection of antiquities. Quentin wanted to know what James’ position in the guild was and why they could be after the tablets, to which responded that he didn’t know and thought it might be for monetary gain. Emrys concluded that Quentin’s silence meant he did not have any heavy moral objections.
It was time for the heroes to inspect Dr. Arkenward’s study, especially in light of the intruders that had entered before them, but had never returned. Vydia had given the heroes the steer that there was a blank wall that they should investigate and quickly a ring of tiny, coloured crystals could be found on the wall. Emrys concluded that if Arkenward would cast the same translocation spell over and over, like he must have done in his chambers in the castle, he probably had a magical item nearby that would make it easier. Luca immediately started to perform a ritual that would expose him to the weave of magic.
Once done, he found that there was a brass statue of a carp which emitted a magical aura. The statue was set on an ebony base carved in the shape of waves, and had a glass waterspout coming from the mouth of the fish. The aura was one of faint conjuration and abjuration magic. After experimenting with it, James went to ask Vydia whether her husband had a phrase she had heard him repeat, or if she knew some other way that he used to activate the portal.
While Luca was investigating ways to activate the statue, James asked Emrys to talk to Vydia about possibly asking Dr. Arkenward, if he’s awake, some questions. Vydia engaged Emrys about his name while Luca continued dressing her bandage. She knew it to be an aen adhar name meaning “endless one”. She also remembered his parents name and asked after them, not knowing that Catriona had died a long time ago.
Soon after, she started opening up about her own upbringing as a child being magically gifted in the environment of the aen adhar, and the inevitable disappointment she turned into. This resonated with Emrys, especially when she asked him if he, too, had been brought to an elder, a mentor, with the intent of finding what it was that the Mohiam were looking for. Emrys explained that during one of the sessions with his mentor he lost control of his magic and made his mentor disappear. This made Vydia fall silent for a moment.
In that moment, Luca asked about the prophecy that the aen adhar believed in, and Emrys decided to open up to Vydia about Lauriel, whom she knew as Moonwhisper, the founder of the aen adhar and all of the machinations of the Mohiam. Vydia said she did not care about the Mohiam or their prophecies. She was too concerned with the visions she had herself to care about the visions of a long dead progenitor of the tribe. She started to weep and explained that for nine days she has had dreams about her father. He was stuck in a bleak, dark landscape, behind bars. His voice was raw from screaming, over and over; Emrys, the ever-living. Emrys was overwhelmed with emotion, and he made his way downstairs and into the kitchen.
Quentin followed Emrys and tried to console him. He asked if Emrys was alright, and the half elf said that he was unable to accept that all the actions he’s ever taken were predetermined by someone who’s been dead for thousands of years. It made him feel powerless. Quentin was unable to offer him anything but sympathy; “I know a bit about the weight of expectations resting on your shoulders, so if you ever want to scream into a pillow, let me know.” Emrys thanked him and stalked around the ground floor for a little while before going back upstairs.
All the while, James went to visit Dr. Arkenward in his bedroom and spoke to him. He seemed to be doing better, but only barely. After finding that the bed-ridden abjurer could only make moaning sounds, James instructed him to moan once for yes, and twice for no. Once that was established, the young rogue started asking questions. His first question was to ask whether the queen was okay, to which Dr. Arkenward moaned twice, indicating that she wasn’t. James then established that Arkenward knew that there had been intruders who had been after the tablet.
When Luca joined James at Arkenward’s bedside they quickly discovered that either a conjuration or abjuration spell cast upon the brass statue would open a portal. Luca used some of the radiant powers bestowed upon him by Aurion to ease Arkenward’s suffering, and James told Luca that they would have to have a conversation about those new abilities some day soon.
The heroes gathered in Arkenward’s study in front of the door, while Vydia stood in the doorway, unwilling to enter the chamber. Once Luca cast a simple conjuration spell on the statue, the familiar sound of an ever-receding wave filled the room while an oval, black disk with a rim of shimmering light being sucked inward opened up. Quentin decided to test his bravery and entered the portal first, after which James quipped to Luca by asking him if he could close the portal then, so as to be rid of the knight. Before Luca could answer, James went through the portal. Emrys encouraged Luca to go next.
When Luca was through, Emrys turned to Vydia and said that he hoped the portal’s collapse wouldn’t damage the house, and stepped through. As the portal began to collapse, Vydia suddenly stepped forward in a panic, and revealed at the last moment that her father, who had been her mentor, was Voriel Moiranach.