Author Archives: Dennis

Lyrium and Lore

Previously, the adventurers arrived in the bustling city of Bournemouth and found lodgings at The River Stone, an inn in the harbour district where they found that during Lord Destan’s stay in the city, he garrisoned his guards at the inn, while himself staying as a guest at the Landsdowne auction house. Luca and Emma immediately went to the library while the others rested in order get an early rise. Luca met up with an acquaintance, Falka of Dunagore, who was a lecturer at the department of ancient history and a part time librarian. She had helped Lord Destan out with his research when he arrived and she agreed to do the same for the adventurers.

The following day, Luca and Emma spent their time at the library searching for information on the Crimson Tower. They managed to find some of Lord Destan’s research findings; the first half of a poem which mentioned the tower explicitly. They managed to find the second and final piece of the poem, which Lord Destan never managed to.

In the meantime, Astrid, Emrys and James went to explore the city and found a curious alchemist’s shop and the Landsdowne auction house, where they spoke to one of the auctioneers who recalled Lord Destan staying with them and how honoured they were. Unfortunately little else was discovered and the trio split up, with Astrid going to see if she could book passage to Blackbridge through Egremont on a barge going upriver, while the others went to the library just in time to find Luca and Emma being ordered out of the reading room that Falka had assigned them by a sharp eyed noble woman by the name of Margravine Ulrikke von Rossenberg and her four heavily armed guards.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

Lady Ulrikke casually told the adventurers to vacate the luxurious reading room. James, who had already checked to see whether the large glass windows could make for an easy escape route, tried to act casual while snacking on some food he had carried along with him from the breakfast table. Luca wasn’t paying attention to the distracting, choosing rather to focus on the book in front of him, and Emrys was looking for someone to take charge. After a few seconds it was Emma who placated the young noble woman and calmly told everyone to pack up and vacate the reading room, thus avoiding any conflict.

Luca took his time to gather his things and meanwhile Lady Ulrikke brought a stack of books to the lectern that he was clearing out. She looked over the reading materials that Luca had displayed and took note of the poem they had unearthed, and similarly Luca took note of the old tomes and folios that Lady Ulrikke brought in, but unfortunately couldn’t make out what subjects they were on.

The adventurers decided to find another reading room. The library was almost empty of people so they were confident that the could find an empty reading room, and decided to try to find one on the far end of the library hall, putting as much space between themselves and the entitled lady. Just as they arrived in the far hallway, a small door opened and Falka came walking through. The adventurers quickly informed her of Lady Ulrikke’s intervention and she let out a resigned sigh.

Falka brought good and bad news. The good news was that the department of Transport and Maratime had a large section of different maps and miraculously she had found a map of Pinefall, which she handed to the adventurers. They noted that the village of Bristlecone was on the southern shore of a large lake called Lake Llygad, but none of them recognised what the name meant or from whence it heralded. The bad news was that Falka was called away because a raven had arrived carrying a letter from Lord John Sheridan, urging Falka that the adventurers were not in the employ of House Sheridan, no matter what they claimed, and that any attempt on her part to prevent them from pursuing Lord Destan would be handsomely rewarded.

It was decided that Falka would no longer assist the research that the adventurers would perform. Instead, she would write an essay on all the important information regarding the Age of Fear, commissioned for two gold crowns a day by James. At the mention of gold crowns, Emma asked Falka whether she recognised the coins that Luca was carrying with them, which they had retrieved from the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe. Falka did not but was certain that these coins did not hail from any time in Lyria’s history.

A discussion was held on whether or not the group was going to purchase the healing potions that Alfred Barnaby had for sale. They were considered very expensive, but James said that they could be the difference between life or death and that it might be worth having one or two of them while they were crossing the wilderness to get to Pinefall.

Emma, Emrys and James decided to pay another visit to the Landsdowne auction house where they talk to Villem Landsdowne and find out that his passion lies with the Equestrian arts, but that he is specialised in paintings and jewellery. The adventurers convince him to show them the leather armour that Lord Destan showed interest in which is being stored in the Landsdowne vaults.

The full set of armour is of exquisite quality, complete with breastplate, gorget, skirt, greaves, arm guards and gloves. The designs are intricate, but unusually. Neither having the flowing elven patterns, symmetrical dwarven or the usual human designs. The origins of the leather is again unclear, but the adventurers do recognise that it’s likely to be of the same source as the leather scraps that the skaven were wearing. The adventurers also learn that the armour was put up on auction by House Blackbriar, hailing from the Worthwilde.

That evening an auction would be held to auction off a lot of several paintings by an artist from northern Silesia. Included among them will be some jewellery, and it’s on that jewellery that the adventurers focus once they learn that a silver necklace with an orange crystal pendant would be auctioned off, with the starting bid begining at 150 gold crowns. The pendant was retrieved from the vault and the adventurers were offered to take a look at it, confirming their suspicions that it was indeed a Lyrium crystal as far as they could tell. They asked whether they could be welcome at the auction and Villem Landsdowne was happy to extend them an invitation.

Emrys decided to visit the Golden Cockatrice that evening to see if he could secure a spot to perform and departed. Emma and James met up with Astrid to have some food after which Emma and James went back to the auction house and Astrid went to meet up with Luca.

At the action house, Emma and James (who introduced himself as Radeck Payton) mingled with some of the visitors and potential bidders. They found that most people were interested in the paintings, most of which had been on display. They found that the Silesian artist’s name was Annora Coehoorn. Emma was sure she had heard that surname before.

Two curious companies of people were present; a group of dwarves and a group of elves. James decided to have a chat with both. The dwarven delegation was lead by Dunatrim Hardstone of clan Thoradun. He was quite forthcoming with his reasons for being at the auction; he was neither interested in the paintings or any of the jewellery save the pendant, and tried to make sure that James knew that if he was planning on trying to outbid the dwarves that his pockets must be very deep. James managed to uncover that the dwarves were planning to use the crystal to seal their gates in time for the next Age of Fear to arrive. James uncovered that if he had access to more of the lyrium crystals he could approach Dagran Forgewright in Kingsport, the unofficial ambassador to Ard Thoradun.

The elves were less forth coming. They made note of James’ elven heritage but did so in a way that sounded condescending. The elf in charge introduced himself as Eibhear and he hailed from Duén Gwyndeith in the Worthwilde. James inquired whether they too were there for the pendant, and they were. James also managed to uncover that if he had access to more such crystals, he would be welcome at Duén Gwyndeith.

When the auction started the elves and dwarves remained relatively inactive until the paintings had all gone under the hammer. When it came time for the jewellery to be auctioned they started to pay attention. James and Emma had decided to participate in the auction of the pendant but not to exceed 800 gold crowns. The bidding started at 150 gold crowns and was immediately fierce. Emma prayed to Sedna for her inner peace to radiate to all in the room, and the rough edges were taken off the bidding. In the end it was a heads up bid between Eibhear and Dunatrim, and much to the elves dismay, Dunatrim won the auction with the final bid of 1650 gold crowns.

Some socialising was done in the aftermath of the auction, after which the adventurers retired to The River Stone.

In the meantime, Luca had been burning his candle at both ends and was feeling fatigued. When he departed the library he saw that Falka was still hard at work on the summary that she was preparing for James on the Age of Fear. He also briefly stopped by Lady Ulrikke who was surrounded by guards who were fatigued and snoring. She was still standing at her lectern, her brown furrowed, frustrated at her research. When Luca briefly spoke to her, her tone seemed to have softened towards him a bit. Luca noted that the books she had collected were old, and that she had been searching similar parts of the library as he had.

First Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

Back at The River Stone, the adventurers found the tavern nearly empty. They came together while Elmond was retiring to bed and spoke about the day’s events. It was decided that Astrid would sell the horses and cart before they departed to Blackbridge by way of Egremont.

Luca expressed his deep dismay about not being consulted before Emma and James decided to engage in the auction. He reasserted that he has valuable knowledge on arcane matters and matters of history, and that he was elected to be the master of coin, so he should be included in all matters that concern the finances of the group.

Research: Daughter of the Sea

Admiral Bertram Karadin and his daughter, Rhosyn Karadin, both sailed on the Daughter of the Sea, the mighty flagship in service to the Lyrian throne and Queen Síle d’Aragon-Valois.

In the month of Autumn Red of 952, the fleet was sent out from the Lyrian tooth to southern Mazuria to defeat a growing horde of savages who were banding together under the leadership of a seafaring warchief.

The Mazurians were engaged in a war with the Silesians at the time, so their attention was turned towards their northern rival, not their southern shores, leaving the savages to raid the Mazurian and Lyrian coasts, inflicting casualties on the populace, blocking ports and sinking vessels.

The Lyrian fleet engaged the savages at every turn but found their heavy warships outmanoeuvred by the lighter raiding vessels. Despite this, the Lyrian fleet inflicted serious casualties upon the savages.

After many rides of skirmishes at sea, the admiral grew impatient and took command of several reconnaissance vessels while leaving his daughter to take command of his warship. His plan was to pursue the last remaining savage ships and defeat them once and for all.

As the admiral sailed away from the flagship, safe in the knowledge he left his ship in the hands of the sailor he trusted most, his daughter, he looked back in shock to see the vessel being entered by two enemy galleons. Impotently he stood by and saw his sailors defeated and thrown overboard and watched as the Daughter of the Sea set her sails to head west.

Believing his daughter might still be aboard as a hostage he pursued the flagship. Despite his reconnaissance fleet being much faster ships he was frustrated by strange currents and constantly changing winds while the Daughter of the Sea raced on, remaining ever on the horizon.

Overcome with fear for his daughter, the admiral took over from his helmsman exhausting every trick he had learned during his long career to squeeze every once of speed out of his vessel, slowly leaving the rest of his fleet behind. When he finally caught up, he found the flagship abandoned off the coast of Jagged Shore, within a day sailing from Dunagore.

The last of the savage vessels came out of nowhere to attack the admiral’s reconnaissance ship and the Daughter of the Sea, who had not just been abandoned, but whose sails were torn and ropes had been cut.

To his utter horror, he had been tricked by the savages. He was prepared to fight to the death in the name of his queen until he saw that the largest of the savage vessels was being commanded by his daughter.

His heart broke and he stopped giving orders. He stood there, motionless, as his ship was attacked, as his sailors were killed around him, as the Daughter of the Sea was battered by a kraken and pulled beneath the waves.

The admiral’s daughter was cursed for her betrayal. Some say she still raids the southern coast of Mazuria and the Jagged Shore in a ghostly vessel. Others say she was turned into a siren and lures ships onto the rocks of the Jagged Shore. And other still claim she haunts the Lyrian gulf, commanding a kraken to pull ships to the bottom of the gulf.

This tragic tale has spawned numerous sea shanties.

Arrival in Bournemouth

Previously, the adventurers had made their way to the Inn at the Crossroads and rented rooms for the night. During the night, the room that Astrid and Emma were staying in was invaded by an intruder who trying to steal from them. Emma woke up in the nick of time and she alerted several others. Even though the intruder used many arcane tricks to try and prevent from being caught, eventually the pursuit ended with them tackling the thief to the ground. It was none other than the szygani Vadoma, whom the adventurers had met earlier at the seat of friendship.

She had tried to steal all of the strange red crystals that the adventurers had found in the catacombs below Lynnecombe. When Vadoma was questioned about the nature of the crystals, she explained that they were mythical Lyrium crystals, which were used in times of high magic to create legendary magical artefacts and fuel powerful spells. The adventurers decided to convince the guard to spare Vadoma the gallows, though not unanimously.

The following morning the adventurers continued on the road to Bournemouth, arriving late in the afternoon.

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

Upon entering the city it became clear to the adventurers that the city was full of entrepreneurial types trying to make a living off of the innovations coming out of the famed Bournemouth Academy. Many curious goods were sold on the narrow, crowded streets. Despite it all, the city seemed joyful and optimistic.

A passerby was asked for a suggestion on where to stay, and two options were provided, either stay at The Golden Cockatrice in the Kettering district, or stay at The River Stone in the harbour district. If Ioun’s Isle, the island fortress at the mouth of the river which gave the city its name, was the beating heart of the city, then Kettering was its soul. The Golden Cockatrice was rougher around the edges than The River Stone, and so the adventurers chose to stay at the latter, considering it the safer option, having been the subject of a nighttime intrusion and sitting on a pile of platinum.

The horses and cart were left in the care of a stable master by the name of Siggi, and the inn was run by Elmond, a large, dour-faced man, and Bella the Barkeep, a rotund woman with a pleasant face. A large room was arranged that would house all five of the adventurers and some food was consumed.

All the while Emrys talked to two of the young girls on staff at the inn, as well as Elmond, for more information about Lord Destan. It appeared that Lord Destan had housed Gorden, Jenna and Mark, the three Sheridan guards that accompanied him, at the inn, but he himself had stayed at the prestigious Landsdowne auction house. Elmond could also share that Lord Destan departed after staying in Bournemouth for a short few days, heading to Blackbridge.

It was decided that Astrid, Emrys and James would stay at the inn and get an early night’s sleep, but that Emma and Luca would make their way over to the Bournemouth academy to see whether they could start their research early. Luca had a contact at the library that he wanted to find as soon as possible.

The two made their way from the inn to Ioun’s Isle and entered the academy campus. The atmosphere was academically vibrant, with students spending the warm summer evenings on the lawns and in the parks on the isle, studying, debating and dreaming up new ideas and theorems. The duo noticed that Ioun’s Isle was being guarded by Crownguard, not the city guard.

The two found the library easily and found it to be open and accessible. A hall the length of a hundred paces, lined symmetrically on either side with bookcase alcoves with large windows providing as much natural light as possible. The floor was covered in polished wood and several reading rooms were available on either end of the hall. Librarians were busy helping researchers and students or were busy organising and returning books to their proper place. Two hundred thousand books were at their disposal.

Luca started asking the librarians after his contact Falka and they seemed confused at the mention of the name at first, but eventually brought him to a librarian they called “Faulkner”, a name that was recommended to Luca by a man called Shakeslock when he visited the Seat of Friendship the day before.

“Faulkner” turned out to be the person Luca had corresponded with, and she was delighted, if somewhat surprised, to see him. Luca explained the reason for his visit and his hope that she might help him find the information he was looking for. Once it became clear to Falka that they were looking for Lord Destan she explained that several rides ago she also helped him find information that he was looking for. The stars seemed to align and Falka brought them to a luxurious reading room for them to use.

Luca wanted to repay Falka by allowing her to read his precious tome. They had corresponded about the contents of the tome in the past and the prospect of going through it made her excited. When she started paging through the book she got very cross and accused Luca of playing a trick on her, revealing that each page in the book was empty. Luca was mystified as he saw the infernal scripture he had always seen when reading the book.

Emma decided that it was time for her to retire to the inn, but Luca had no such intentions and decided to try and work throughout the night. He had a lot of ground to cover and little time to do it in. Falka excused herself for not properly introducing herself to Emma and introduced herself as “Falka of Dunagore.”

When Falka finally formally introduced herself to Emma as “Falka of Dunagore.” Emma asked Falka if she knew about the legend of an admiral who was betrayed by a female companion at Dunagore, which she had picked up from one of the songs that Muirgheal had sang to her. Falka recalled a tale about an admiral by the name of Karadin who had fallen to foes after being betrayed by his daughter.

Emma would be back to help in the morning and departed for the inn. Falka kept her home in Kettering and would accompany the priestess part of the way and Emma saw an opportunity to ask Falka some questions and get to know her better.

Apparently, Falka had grown up on Dunagore Mount where the Order of the Shield makes its home. Her mother was a cook in the service of the order, while her father was an armsman. She was noticed to be intelligent by the Knight Chronicler of the order and she was set to work for him. Eventually she was sent off to study at the Bournemouth academy, where she studied at the Depart of Ancient History. She was mostly interested in finding out why the hall- and doorways of Dunagore Fortress seemed to be made for people who were much taller than people are now.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

The following morning it was decided that Astrid, Emrys and James would explore the city and procure some supplies. Astrid would also try and arrange for passage to Blackbridge on a river boat later in the day, first promising James to back him up as he would explore the seedier parts of Bournemouth in search of information. Emma would once again head for the library to help Luca out with the research.

The trio found market square and Tolliver square back to back in the centre of the city. Market square was chock full of stalls selling mostly foodstuffs. It had not gone unnoticed that many of the items going through the harbour district were also staple food, produce and fodder. Fairfields, of which Bournemouth was the defacto capital, was known to be the breadbasket of Lyria and many destinations beyond.

Tolliver square was a more dignified square where House Tolliver, the most prestigious house in Bournemouth, kept their mansion. The Daerlan empire also had a rather prominent consulate on the square.

Wandering around the streets of Bournemouth the trio stumbled upon a shop called Alfred Barnaby’s Concoctions & Decoctions, devoted to alchemical ingredients, dusts, ointments, salves and potions. Inside they found a curious, older gentleman who was running the establishment, who had many different healing ointments and potions for sale, which was something that Luca had asked James to be on the lookout for. There were many other items, like a potion which supposedly allowed the imbiber to breath flame like a dragon of legend. Alfred Barnaby turned out to be a horrible negotiator, but despite that the trio decided not to buy anything (yet.)

The next stop for the trio was the Landsdowne auction house. They found it on the southern part of the river, which was rich and heavily patrolled by city guard. Two guards in the employ of the auction house stood out front. After a short chat, Emrys managed to convince them to allow him an introduction to Villem Landsdowne, who ran the auction house. After convincing Villem that Emrys was working for the Sheridan family, they spoke about Lord Destan and him staying at the auction house during his visit to Bournemouth. The family apparently never purchased anything at auction, but were notorious for having sold many curious and magical items. Lord Destan did show an interest in a set of leather armour which he claimed to have a curious origin.

With this information in hand, Emrys and James decided to visit Ioun’s Isle and find Emma and Luca. Astrid headed down to the harbour to find passage upriver to Egremont and Blackbridge for the second day of the next ride.

Emma had since made it to the library and had met up with Falka and Luca. Falka had uncovered one part of a poem that mentioned the Crimson Tower, which Lord Destan had found during his research. The poem was incomplete, and Lord Destan had spent a lot of time trying to find the rest of it, but to no avail. The morning was spent trying to find the companion piece. Again, the stars seemed to align and the second piece of the poem revealed itself to the researchers.

Part 1:

When summer is at full ascent,
The spectres rise, the veil relents.
And those the lake of light condones,
Bear witness to a great torment.

Be still and heed the fright’ning tones,
Of rending flesh and breaking bones.
An evil which does not belong.
Hark! The crusaders’ painful moans!

When darkest moon stands full and strong,
You hear their wicked, fiendish tongue.
The evils try to draw you near,
With anguish of their victim’s song.

Your heart is steadfast and sincere,
Go find the source of pain and fear,
And scratch away the thin veneer.
The crimson tow’r might then appear.

Part 2:

Pursuing thus the tow’r of lore,
The white eye is to be explored.
Prepare and wait for day to break,
And look along its placid shore.

As light of dawn creeps ‘cross the lake,
And water seems to be opaque,
The scarlet walls will come ‘to sight.
Descending shade will a bridge make.

The bodies displayed like a blight,
Robs you of all your earn’d delight.
And walk across the wet you ought,
For time to enter is finite.

Inside you go to time forgot,
Before the tow’r returns to naught.
Replay events will be your lot.
And hope you find that which you sought.

The subject of the next topic to research had just come up when Emrys and James arrived at the library and found the others in the reading room. They shared the information they had found about Lord Destan with one another. Falka had left the group in order to search for a map of Pinefall and the village of Bristlecone, which she knew to be the destination for Lord Destan’s onward voyage.

It was at this time that some of the group started to notice that the library was becoming more and more devoid of researchers. Soon, it was discovered that a noble lady dressed in expensive black clothing, wearing her blond hair in a tight bun, accompanied by four guards armoured in black armour with silver trimmings, was ordering the library be shut off from the public. A quick inquiry at one of the remaining librarians revealed her to be Margravine Ulrikke von Rosenberg, a student at the academy’s faculty of Diplomacy and Statescraft. She was the daughter of Count Ardel von Rosenberg, the Imperial ambassador to Lyria, who, in turn, was the younger brother to Duke Eggbert von Rosenberg, the Suzerain of Fintra, a very powerful nobleman in the Daerlan empire.

Emma quickly assumed that since the adventurers were using the luxurious reading room, it was very possible that they were going to be ejected from the library as well. Luca seemed unconcerned but James began checking whether or not the windows could easily be shattered to make for a hasty exit should things get out of hand.

New Orleans Trip

Here’s a quick brain dump of my trip to New Orleans:

Last week, Joasia was in New Orleans for a conference and I decided to join her by flying out on Friday. I flew out through London in the morning and arrived in the early evening. It was quite a long flight, but the flight was comfortable so I felt okay when I arrived.

I made my way to the hotel, got my key, got changed and headed to the conference dinner that Joasia was at. I arrived halfway through dinner, got a quick bite to eat (something light because I was feeling a little dirty inside) and had a few drinks as we socialised a little with some of the people at the conference.

The following morning, Joasia was off for the second day of the conference, while Jim arrived at the hotel. He was gracious enough to fly in for the weekend. We went to get some breakfast and I think this is where things went off the rails for me a little bit.

When visiting the United States, I always have to get used to the food. It’s easy to eat heavy, greasy and too heavy foods. The breakfast I chose was heavily lathered with hollandaise sauce (which seemed to be a staple for breakfast foods in New Orleans, because it was part of a lot of dishes, I noticed) and I suspect my stomach decided to start protesting, and it didn’t stop protesting throughout my trip.

Jim and I spent the rest of the day going through the World War II museum, which was very interesting, although a bit coloured, especially in regards to the Pacific theatre. The museum was set up in a way to convey a particular narrative, which is something I’ve been seeing more lately. Most notably, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. I’m not sure how I feel about it, because it becomes very hard to draw your own conclusions instead of adopting the conclusions provided to you through the narrative.

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the city, especially the city’s multitude of restaurants and bars. We also went to Jean Lafitte National Park for a two hour hike through the bayou where we saw a dozen alligators, which was kind of awesome.

We had arrived in New Orleans just after Mardi Gras, and the city was still a mess, with certain streets being a war zone of plastic beads, discarded cups and just general junk everywhere. That, coupled with the poverty of certain parts of the city, gave me the feel that there was little going on in the city which wasn’t based on binge drinking.

We went to The Presbytère, a museum on the edge of Jackson Square, which had two exhibitions; one on Mardi Gras and one on hurricane Katrina. I went to check the Katrina exhibit while Joasia and Jim checked out the Mardi Gras one. It wasn’t amazing.

Jim departed early in the morning on Monday, and Joasia and I went to the Whitney Plantation, about an hour outside of New Orleans. There were several plantations to consider, and Joasia decided to go for this one because it was less about visiting a beautiful plantation, and more focused on slavery and the dreadful economics behind it. It was an incredibly insightful, educational, horrible and beautiful visit. The tour guide was an amazingly knowledgeable and passionate man by the name of Ali.

When we got back to the city we decided to visit the garden district and admire the beautiful houses there. Sadly we just missed our chance to visit the Lafayette cemetery, but we went through that on a self-guided tour the following day.

Throughout all of it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, a terrific video game I played when I was in my teens, which is set in large in New Orleans. I recognised and knew about a lot of things because of this game. I’m sure when looking back on the game now a lot of things are probably horrible tropes, but I still remember it fondly.

The flight back was okay until we arrived back in London to find that our flight to Amsterdam was cancelled due to weather. When we finally made it home, we had been up for 35 hours and dead tired. And my stomach was still giving me trouble.

Conflict Everywhere

There has been a lot of conflict in my life as of late. Conflict at work, conflict among my friends, conflict in the lives of my loved ones; I don’t think it’s ever been this bad. Well, not since I was very young and I was still subjected to the conflicts that raged throughout my family. It’s making me anxious, which is also not something I’m used to. It has, however, given me some insight in the problems of people around me who deal with anxiety problems.

Depending on how things develop, I might need to write it down in order to process it, in which case I will go into more detail here later, but hopefully that won’t be necessary.