A Five Count to Escalation

Previously, the heroes prepared for the closing ceremony of the fishing competition and Quentin tried to process what he had learned at L’eau Célestes, about his family, about the delegation heading for Kingsport, and about his supposed betrothal to Highlord Gaulthier’s daughter. Just as the closing ceremony started on Steward’s Square, and Queen Isabella made her appearance, James approached the heroes with an urgent mission to recover a young girl.

Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is in high sanction, Night of Cerulean Eyes)

The heroes found themselves in a familiar alleyway in the heart of Lewisham, dealing with a locked entrance into a cellar that would give them access to the waterways, without an elegant way of opening it. In the past, this would have been a task that they would entrust to James, but now they would have to find a different way to reach the orphanage. It did not take long before Emrys provided a solution by granting everyone the power of flight through his magic. It was agreed that they would fly low above the rooftops to avoid detection from the griffon riders patrolling the skies above the city.

The heroes arrived in Grimsdown. They had flown over the barricades that the crownsguard were using to block all the roads in and out of the ward, and the heroes found the orphanage without incident. They politely knocked on the door to announce their arrival and when the door opened they were surprised to see an unfamiliar, hard-nosed man on the other side wearing a breastplate and a scarlet cloak. Luca spoke to him and asked to see Luciana. He firmly refused entry, claiming the orphanage was not accepting visitors.

The heroes, their entry refused, were suspicious of the denial of entry. The man carried himself as a veteran crownsguard, but something had been off about him. The orphanage was a large, half-timbered building, and the heroes spent some time trying to glean more information on what was going on inside. On the ground floor the shutters were closed, but that did not stop the heroes from pulling out every trick in their arsenal.

The heroes learned that, besides the hard-nosed captain, there were four other guards inside. They also learned that Brandomiir and Coral, the red-headed, halfling care-giver who had worked for Matron Myrtle, were downstairs, while the rest of the children were in the upstairs dormitory. Through Emrys’ sorcery, some of the heroes managed to get inside while invisible, and they found that the guards and the trio were in a stand-off. The guard captain was attempting to negotiate, which was strange considering his group was in the majority, and that it did not seem as if Brandomiir and Coral would be able to put up much of a fight. The guard captain said he was there for the girl, and that for the sake of the safety of the rest of the children, Brandomiir and Coral should hand her over. Furthermore, the guard captain claimed that there was a man outside who would not be kind to the rest of the orphans if they would not release the girl to him. As a sign of good faith, he and the guards would lower their arms, and in return, he wanted them to let his friends go.

This last request came as a surprise, but it turned out that two of the guards were wide-eyed, rigged, and unable to move, as if restrained by an invisible force. When the guard captain made his offer, he did so while addressing Brandomiir, who in turn responded by saying that he had nothing to do with the guards being restrained. This did not seem to satisfy the guard captain, who, in an attempt to set an ultimatum, was going to count to five after which he would be compelled to use force.

The threat of the countdown had little impact, for as the guard captain counted “One,” Luciana, without skipping a beat, called his bluff and said “Two!” Forced to escalate, the guard captain said “Three,” to which Luciana immediately said “Four!” It was at that point that Emrys, still invisible, whispered “Stop it” into the girl’s ear. And that’s when the fighting started. Both Quentin and Neamhan got into the thick of it, while Luca and Emrys remained at a distance. The hallway and kitchen of the orphanage were not particularly spacious and the close quarters fighting was challenging. All the while, Astrid had engaged someone outside.

Emrys finally tried to reason with Luciana, telling her that they were there to escort her to her mother. Luciana stopped to regard Emrys, and then finally said; “Yes, we would like to leave,” which seemed to confirm that Luciana was a host to… something. Not for the first time, the heroes had encountered children who had been possessed.

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