Previously, the heroes spoke to Réonan at the Circle of Magi, while Quentin reconnected with cardinal Roark in order to return the Plumes of the Duskmaven, an important relic that was thought to be lost.
Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262
(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waxing)
The heroes had all returned to the Careless Wanderer for some much needed rest and downtime. While Emrys went to arrange drinks for the table he was handed a letter by Lauryn which had been delivered in their absence. The letter read:
To my fellow students,
It has been months since we exchanged notes in the library. I was ever so thankful for your help, and in return I did as you suggested and spoke to several people I thought could help with our work. I regret to say that it has not been met with a lot of enthusiasm. I really enjoyed our collaboration, but others did not share in our optimism. My quest continues, but I have had to change my approach, which means patience is necessary.
For the first time, I have joined my father in Kingsport for the winter. I have heard wonderful stories of how beautiful the city is during the Feast of the Moon and Midinváerne. During my stay, I would love to continue to collaborate with you and am looking forward to hearing what you have learned since we last saw one another.
When Emrys returned to the table that the heroes had claimed and shared the letter, everyone concluded that it was lady Ulrikke von Rosenberg, the Daerlan noble they had met at the library of the Bournemouth Academy that was the source of the letter. Neamhan once again was a bit at a loss and was struggling with the explanation of yet another acquaintance the heroes had established.
Lady Ulrikke was likely related to Count Ardel von Rosenberg, the Daerlan ambassador to Lyria. It was remarked that the Daerlan empire, despite their ongoing border skirmishes with Lyria in the north, were still afforded an embassy in Kingsport. This was underscored in light of the mission to petition the crown to allow for the establishment of a Beauclair embassy, which was the mission of the delegation to which Quentin’s father belonged, which was on its way to Kingsport.
When the heroes resumed their conversation on what to do next, it was quickly decided that Emma would be able to help them talk to Kasia, the Silesian girl who had witnessed and survived the appearance of Epidemius on Steward Square. The priestess would be able to keep the child from getting too worked up, and hopefully from reliving a lot of the painful memories. When Quentin suggested first waiting on Falka’s reply to see whether it even made sense to talk to Kasia, Luca got heated and angry. Luca’s stance was that, while unfortunate, Kasia’s well-being was of secondary importance to the safety of all of the people of Kingsport. At this, Neamhan called him heartless. Eventually, Lauryn tells Luca to keep his voice down, at which point the heroes drop the subject.
A decision was made to first visit Emma, then make for the Daerlan embassy, and perhaps swing by the Forgewright smithy to check on Astrid’s new weapon. Quentin decided to retire to his room with a plate of food, but before he did so, Neamhan asked him whether she could speak to Róisín in the morning. Quentin said he was looking forward.
When Quentin had departed, Astrid turned to Neamhan and asked her whether she had any children, to which she said that at the age of 374 she was much too young to have children. This lead to a conversation about the difference between age, maturity and age of procreation between humans and elves, and how it affected the way in which the two races acted and behaved.
During that conversation, Neamhan shared that the should of an elf gets reincarnated into a newborn after death. Astrid claimed that after death, people go to the great halls of the Æsir, like Valhalla, with it’s five-hundred doors. Luca refuted that, saying that souls go to the afterlife where they are judged and serve to bolster the armies of good and evil. The clash of cultures between Neamhan and Luca became apparent once again, with Neamhan standing fast against Luca’s repeated claims that it “simply did not work that way.” Despite his strong claims, he also did not offer any further explanations. Luckily, this time, the conversation stalled without Lauryn’s intervention.
Another thing that was revealed was that Luca turned 18 a couple of rides ago, something Emrys thought should have been marked by a celebration.
Astrid asked Neamhan whether the number of elves were dwindling because it took them so long to have children. Before Neamhan could answer, Luca interjected that he believed it was because fertility rates of humans was much higher, which lead to more half-elves being born than normal elves, leading to fewer and fewer true elves. Emrys offered that with elves taking several hundred years to mature to adulthood it meant that cataclysmic events had a much more severe impact on a generation’s ability to procreate. One war would have tremendous consequences, he argued, to which Neamhan retorted that humans cause wars, but it was clear to all others that Emrys was referring to a Conjunction of Planes.
It was Neamhan’s turn to ask a question and she turned to Emrys, wanting to know whether he considers himself an elf or a human. He said that he identified more as a human because he could never reconcile himself with the thoughts and beliefs of his rather dogmatic elven father. Neamhan asked whether Lauryn considered Emrys half-elf or half-human, and she felt it mattered through which lens the question was asked; from a human or human society’s point of view Emrys would be half-elf, while from an elf or elven society’s point of view he would be a half-human.
It was at that point that another half-elf entered the Careless Wanderer. James carelessly wandered in, wearing a heavy cloak to keep him warm. He was eating an apple and as he reached the table he handed the other half of the apple to Astrid without a glance. She took it and began devouring it.
James had come after getting the message from Goodman, and he agreed with the heroes that Goodman would be a good way to reach out to him. An alternative would be the butcher. He returned the earring he had still been wearing, which was the twin to the one that Luca had in his ear. He also offered his magical bag for the heroes to use. The bag held some of the items he had carried for the group, including the tablets that were recovered from the Newport vault as well as Hamish’s body.
James told the others that he and some members of the Steady Hand had searched the waterways for the skaven, and noticed that their activity had died down. He had also gone back to the scene of the battle between the skaven and the Steady Hand to retrieve some more evidence; a banner, which he hoped could be used to learn more about the skaven, a pouch filled with items that looked like they might be used by arcanists, as well as a letter that was written in a script that James believed Luca could read. The letter, which was written in the infernal script, read:
Your reports confirmed my initial assumption; the plague maidens were drawn towards the pestilent potential. This was, in part, due to Xamael’s interference into local politics, but there are indicators that one called the Upright Man has come into the possession of the Liber Bubonicus, the Book of Woe!
Find it while I continue to gather more resources to open another gate through the seal and resupply you with a tide to aid you in its retrieval. If an opportunity presents itself to retrieve it before the resupply, do not hesitate to act. Make sure to use the accompanying scrolls in order to contain it. Distribute them, and these instructions, among the other plague priests.
– Epidemius the Cataloguer, Lord of Decay, One of the Seven Proctors of Pestilence. Devoted Underling of Baalzebul the Calabite, Ruler of the Seventh, Lord of Maladomini
At the mention of the book being in the Upright Man’s possession, Luca asked whether Falka could be given access to the library in the vault, to which James said that it could be arranged, provided he was given some time to get settled in as the new night master, and given an opportunity to clear out the mess.
After a short conversation he agreed that he would have the body of the night master delivered to the House of the Raven Queen for funeral rites, and he also agreed that the vault to which he had access could be used to store the tablets. Neamhan, still with her mind on the age of humans and half-humans, was shocked to find that James was only 16 years old. On his way out he stopped to talk to Durham to buy a couple of bottles of booze.
The heroes retired, with Neamhan taking the room that James just had vacated. Astrid had been sleeping there in the interim, so she would catch a bunk in the common room, whenever it was that she was ready to go to bed, which judging by her eagerness to play another round of demon dice with some fishermen, wasn’t any time soon.
Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262
(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waxing)
As agreed, Neamhan came to Quentin’s room at the first sign of light over the horizon. Quentin was awake, since he retired early, and Neamhan relied on her elven heritage to not need more than a few hours of rest, and so, only shortly after the hour of the wolf, Neamhan knocked on Quentin’s door.
Quentin handed Neamhan his sword, sheathed in the everblooming scabbard. She unsheathed the blade and admired the decorative etchings along the steel, after which she performed a short ritual which ended with her casting her mistletoe talisman onto the blade. The thing Neamhan heard was the gentle sobbing of a woman somewhere in the distance, which was later joined by the voice of a man. The woman was gentle and sad, while the man was angry and bitter.
When Neamhan explained that Quentin wanted to know how Róisín was doing, she said, both voices speaking in unison, that she did not feel fully awake, that things were difficult for her to verbalise and that she had only just awoken, and that she had trouble remembering, feeling like she was running through water, like she was navigating through mist. One thing she was clear on; she did not want to be separated from Quentin.
Quentin, in the meantime, could only hear Neamhan’s side of the conversation, and needed Neamhan as the interlocutor. On the other side of the conversation, Róisín did not need Neamhan as she was attuned to Quentin and knew what he was saying. Quentin promised that he would not be separated from Róisín, and in turn, Neamhan promised to help him achieve that.
Quentin and Neamhan heard the light sound of small bells from up in the rafters of the room. Quentin knew it to be Wynn, which he shared with Neamhan, including that he was a mischievous fae that they had picked up in their travels. Neamhan tried to startle Wynn by casting a gust of bellowing wind among the beams of the ceiling, but he managed to get away, but not before reciting a curious poem about the naming of cats.