Author Archives: Dennis

The Good Sisters’ Rebuke

Previously, a Quentin, Luca and Neamhan went to visit Eustace, a gem cutter and jeweller with a small shop in the Southside ward. They were looking for enough diamond dust so that Neamhan could perform a ritual of restoration on Quentin and restore some of the memory he had lost. Emrys, who had remained in the Careless Wanderer, was surprised with a beautifully crafted lute case, which was a gift from the Lady of Evenshade Hall.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waning)

Luca and Quentin had found Eustace in his small workshop in the Southside ward, not far from Forgewright’s smithy. Darkness had quickly descended on the city and the two heroes could see the man in the soft glow of some lantern lights through the foggy windows of his workshop. When the two heroes entered, Neamhan, who had transfigured into a large raven, hitched a ride on Quentin’s shoulder.

Initially, Luca tried to get Eustace to provide him with the diamond dust for free, arguing that Luca had given him a lyrium crystal to investigate before he departed for Pinefall. Upon his return, he had found that Eustace had sold the crystal to someone in the Circle of Magi. Luca was quite forceful, but Eustace would not budge, even when Luca threatened to get the crownsguard involved.

Quentin decided to step in when things might get out of hand. He adopted the persona of Lord Quentin of House Morvrayne, one he did not enjoy relying on. The jeweller was eager to mend relations and offered his services to the heroes free of charge but did not have any diamonds in stock. Disappointed, the heroes returned to the Careless Wanderer, promising Eustace that they would return with the diamonds soon.

Luca and Quentin discussed the idea of using a lyrium crystal as a substitute for any material component necessary in the casting of magic while they were on their way back to the Careless Wanderer, but when they arrived and Falka reminded Luca that Dunatrim Hardstone had paid 1650 gold crowns for one crystal at auction, that idea was quickly abandoned.

Emrys went through a collection of precious and semi-precious gemstones he had retrieved from Atilesceon’s tower and found some small diamonds among them. Luca, Quentin and Neamhan quickly returned to Eustace’s workshop to catch him before he closed for the day. When they returned, Eustace was surprised, but eagerly got to work and produced the diamond dust the heroes were looking for.

When the heroes returned to the Careless Wanderer for the second and final time that evening, it was way past curfew. It was clear that with the queen’s recovery and the departure of the mysterious plaguemaidens, there was little reason to maintain the curfew, but it had not been lifted. The crownsguard and custodians that were patrolling the streets were warning everyone to make their way to their houses, but there was no sting in their commands, as even they no longer saw the point of the curfew.

Back at the Careless Wanderer, the heroes gathered in Emrys’ room for Neamhan’s restoration ritual. Astrid had to be convinced to part ways with her dice game, and Falka was invited to document the process. After Neamhan transfigured back into her elven form behind an elegant, lacquered privacy screen that was set up in Emrys’ room, she proceeded to push furniture aside to make space for her ritual.

Neamhan used the diamond dust to draw a decorated circle on the ground. Luca asked her whether she needed iron powder, something he was used to using to construct warding circles, but she did not need it. This suggestion got a strong response from the dragonling which sat curled around Luca’s shoulders, and it spurred Neamhan to suggest that Quentin remove his armour.

Neamhan placed a chair in the centre of the circle and asked Quentin, who was now dressed only in woollen trousers and, a padded gambeson, to take place. When she started her ritual, magic filled the room, causing gusts and motes of wind to animate the circle until it fully enveloped Quentin.

While Neamhan was performing her ritual, Luca was magesplaining what was happening to Astrid and Falka. When Astrid found out that the entire ritual was costing close to two hundred gold crowns she got mildly offended. It appeared that she was now calculating the cost of everything in how much it would contribute to her ship.

A light emitted from the inscriptions of the circle, casting the rest of the room into gloom, which raised up over Quentin and coalesced into a single drop. Just as the drop was about to fall on him, a bony arm with long fingers and black nails reached out from the darkness and snatched it mid-air. A triplet of voices rang out abjuring Neamhan’s ritual. “He is ours,” they said sternly.

It appeared that the Sisters of the Grove were unwilling to relinquish Quentin’s memory.

Neamhan, obviously disappointed by the outcome, assured Quentin that she could try again, confident that she would eventually be able to break through the sisters’ defences. Quentin gently refused Neamhan’s offer. In the meantime, Luca filled Falka in on the sisters and what happened in Blackbough.

Aside from the ritual, that evening Luca noticed that Falka was compiling notes on Epidemius. He asked her whether she would be able to do some research on “Aurion” or “Aureus”. She said she would be glad to do so. When she asked a few questions, and Luca suggested that the two names belonged to the same figure, Falka seemed concerned that the suggestion was bordering on heresy. Rather than doing researching into a religious matter, she felt more comfortable only approaching it from a historic perspective.

James finally stopped by the Wanderer, just before closing. He walked in with two guards, both hooded, whom he introduced as Hendrik and Sigrun. He did not seem as concerned with the draconic journal page the heroes had gotten from the Lady of the Raft as a reward for reuniting her with her daughter Luciana, though he was a bit disappointed that the vault that was mentioned was not an undiscovered vault.

According to James the Newport vault was slowly being cleared out and secured. He had engaged the help of Garvan the Tunneler, who had gone into hiding after helping the heroes breach the dark delirium den of the Steady Hand. Garvan had already discovered that the complex was larger than the four rooms that were accessible to the heroes when they were down there. When asked whether it could be a good place to store Muirgheal, James agreed, and suggested turning the halls into a base of operations once it was secured.

James had learned that the Beauclair delegation was roughly two days away from Kingsport, travelling with an escort of the Order of the Lance, including the grand master of the order. When Quentin asked whether James knew if Lord Gauthier was travelling with family, he confirmed Quentin’s suspicion.

Before James and his two guards left via the access to the river from the basement of the Wanderer, he asked whether he could get several lyrium crystals. He needed them to make the key to the halls work and experimenting with a way in which the key would not consume the crystals. This would allow the right people access in and out of the halls.

Before turning in for the night, Neamhan and Luca tended to everyone’s wounds, even taking care of Durham’s black eye and split lip. When Luca showed signs of his healing magic taking a physical toll on him, Neamhan took over and reinvigorated everyone to the best of her ability. While she tended to Astrid she was once again confronted with the raptor-like mask that briefly fell over Astrid’s face. Everyone retired for the night.

While in his room, Emrys was idly admiring the lute case by letting his fingers run along the velvet on the inside of the case. He stumbled upon a hidden compartment, which held a tightly rolled up piece of parchment. Opening it up he found that there was a short message written in the elegant handwriting of Lady Annabella, which read; “And death shall have no dominion.”

An Unexpected Gift

Previously, the heroes were confronted by several custodians who wanted to arrest Neamhan in charges of heresy after she had expressed herself indelicately about the gods. Emrys managed to convince the custodians that conflict could be avoided and that Neamhan would turn herself in at the Tomb of St. Catherine.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waning)

After the near-violent standoff with the custodians, rest returned to the Careless Wanderer. It was just past fourth bell, and dusk was falling outside. The afternoon would soon be over, and Neamhan was keen on finding the powdered diamond she needed to attempt to lift the curse that Quentin was under which caused him to forget his betrothed.

Quentin and Luca accompanied her to see Eustace, a gnarled jeweller who was working out of a small, cramped workshop in the Southside ward of Kingsport. The jeweller had once taken possession of a lyrium crystal and had promised to find out what kind of crystal it was. This had been just before the heroes travelled to Pinefall and disappeared to Old Llygad. They had only returned months later and at that point the jeweller had sold the crystal to the Circle of Magi, unaware of its value.

Emrys, Astrid and Falka remained in the Careless Wanderer, having no interest in venturing out into the cold. Shortly after the others departed, an older gentleman stepped in the door of the Careless Wanderer, asking after Emrys. He was dressed in fine clothing, complete with a top hat and a walking cane. He approached the table Emrys and the others were sitting at and introduced himself.

Bernhard Brenninkmeyer was a Daerlan crafter of instruments and accessories operating out of a shop in Sevenoaks. He had been commissioned on the Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 by the Lady of Evenshade Hall to create a beautiful lute case for Emrys. It was made of black leather stretched over a case of steel and wood, with gleaming clasps that held the lid of the case against a gasket, making it waterproof. The inside was inlaid in firm padding lined with burgundy velvet, capable of accommodating many different types of lutes.

After presenting Emrys with the gift, master Brenninkmeyer departed, leaving Emrys to marvel at the craftsmanship.

Étiquette de Beauclair

Overview

Despite the fact that the Queendom of Lyria and Le Royaume de Beauclair share a lot of cultural idiosyncrasies and rules of behaviour and etiquette — due to a shared history, a shared economic market, and plenty of intermarrying of prominent families — Beauclair society has developed into its own, distinct direction.

The biggest difference between Beauclair and Lyria is that Beauclair has much stricter rules of etiquette and engagement. Their rules are much more granular, and as a result the subtlety of many significant gestures and behaviour is lost on all but the most well-groomed Lyrians.

Étiquette de Beauclair

Informal Greeting

When friends and family meet each other they greet each other with three kisses on the cheeks, starting with the right cheek. The first kiss represents the affection for the person, the second kiss represents the affection for their family, while the last kiss represents something different from region to region. Some will say it is to display their affection for their monarch, some will say it is for their lord, and others say it is for their god.

This greeting has always been an informal one, but even informal greetings can be performed in subtle variations which can convey meaning. For instance, the more one touches their mouth to the cheek of the other, the more sincere the greeting. A casual greeting is where the corner of one’s mouth touches the cheek, while during a cold greeting only the cheek touches the other’s cheek, and the kiss is mimicked.

Couleurs du Paon

Mirroring the natural world, Beauclairois men wear a much more colourful attires than Beauclairois women. Among the nobility, it is used in a way to assert one’s place in the peerage. This can become a complex game of bluff which is played out in front of the entire peerage; dress too boldly and you might be considered conceited, dress too modestly and you might be considered weak. Women have, wisely, kept themselves away from this posturing.

Flying Banners, Bearing Standards

When banners are flown or standards are borne while in the territory governed by another, it is customary to fly the banner of the governing faction (usually a noble house), above one’s own banner, or bear the standard of the governing faction higher than one’s own standard. It shows deference and subservience, and is meant say “we come and peace and abide by your governance.”

It closely resembles the Right of Hospitality, which is considered sacrosanct in all of the Verdant Kingdoms with a fair amount of superstition connected to it. Because of this it has some interesting consequences on where one sits in the peerage. It is not always as simple as comparing ranks. At first glance, a baron ranks above a baronet. But sometimes young money is worth more than old blood. Sometimes control of a river or mountain pass is more important than how many soldiers you can put to field.

Equestrian Reverence

While the Beauclairois cuisine is known for its daring and sophistication, where banquet tables are often laden with all manner of exotic dishes made with strange and to strangers often repulsive-sounding ingredients, the Beauclairois do not eat horse meat, under no circumstance! They take the offer of horse meat as great offence. The Beauclairois do not share many customs with the Silesians, but this is one that the people of both kingdoms passionately embrace.

A Subtle Language

The Beauclairois language has a complex honourific system baked into its grammar, style, pronouns and verbs. Like so many things in Beauclair, there are subtleties in the language that are incredibly hard for non-native speakers to learn. Because even native speakers struggle with it sometimes, a strong command of the language and its form is considered a sign of great intellect and wit, and as such, subtle word plays and puns are admired and applauded. At court, this skill is especially useful to convey deference and respect, as well as disdain and insult.

The Gifting of Rings

Another custom in which the importance of social rank is reflected is the use of rings when exchanging formal messages or making appointments. A gold ring is sent to a person who outranks the sender, a silver ring to a person of equal or undetermined rank, and an iron ring to someone who ranks below the sender. Choosing the correct ring is a delicate matter, because rank is not just determined by title, but also by influence, wealth, and favour.

The receiver of the ring is allowed to keep the ring and display it to show off their connections. Rejecting a ring is a grave offense, and returning a ring to its sender, while not expected, is considered a kindness, provided it is subtly done. One who is higher in rank can permit a recipient to wear their ring, usually temporarily, or for a special occasion, as a sign of servitude.

The rings themselves are often fashioned as signet rings, engraved with the personal banner of the person, or if they have none, with their name. This is so that others may recognise who a person has received rings from and what quality they are. Collections of rings are often put up on display in places where someone would receive guests. Rings that someone is especially proud of are neatly arranged in display cases, while others are loosely displayed together on a tray, often lined with velvet.

The custom is very old, and has existed among the common folk, the gentry and the nobility for generations. Rings of other materials have also been used, often with very specific meanings; green grass for courtship, leather for a promise of service, horn to convey enmity, and wood to show disdain. There are many others.

A powerful ring is one carved from the bones of a deceased family member. This signifies a profound and lasting debt.

Heresy and Zealotry

Previously, the heroes spent the morning talking to Kasia, the young Silesian girl who witnessed the incursion of Epidemius on Steward’s Square and learned what they could about the event. Afterwards, they spoke to Caius of Lynnecombe about possibly buying a acquiring a property for the heroes to stay at during the winter. Afterwards, they returned to the Careless Wanderer where Neamhan’s loose lips threatened to sink ships…

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waning)

Emrys had subtly and suddenly turned Neamhan invisible and an audible gasp went through the Careless Wanderer, including a litany of protection against witchcraft coming from one of the justices. In that shock, Emrys whispered for Neamhan to make her way to safety. She quietly darted upstairs but stops halfway up the stairs to look at what happens in the tavern.

Quentin and Astrid took up position between the Custodian strongmen and the rest of the group, preventing them from coming closer and possibly going in pursuit of Neamhan. Quentin stood steadfast, while Astrid menacingly brandished her new greatsword. Erlus, the male justice, began muttering a devotion to Paladine, but before it could take effect, Luca abjured it with a swift counterspell, driving the justice to even greater outrage.  For good measure, Emrys conjured up a flash of hypnotising colours which left some of the Custodians temporarily dazed, including Erlus. It did not last long since Birna, the female justice, her eyes filled with zeal, moved to blanket part of the tavern in a veil of silence with a devotion of her own. She then quickly moved to wake the other custodians from their stupor.

It was enough to give the custodians pause. This allowed Emrys to start working his persuasive magic. At the top of the stairs, Neamhan saw the silhouette of a tiny figure standing down the hallway, who drew a tiny rapier made from an odd, dark metal and exclaimed in a short burst of words that “the realm” was under attack. Thinking quickly, Neamhan asked Wynn the Quickling whether he was in need of a steed, and when he nodded fiercely, she shifted her form into that of a timber wolf. Eager to charge forth, Wynn jumped onto her back and held onto her mane with one hand, brandishing his sword, while they charged down the stairs to take up position with Quentin and Astrid. This evoked another curse from Birna declaring the Careless Wanderer to be a fey-infested warren.

Emrys continued to appeal to the justices, especially Erlus, suggesting that with the impending arrival of Epidemius there were more important things to be concerned with than Neamhan’s ill-chosen words. The justice seemed susceptible to the notion, but Birna whispered zealous words into his ear. Erlus suggested a compromise; the heroes would turn Neamhan over to the custodians at the Tomb of St. Catherine in Eastminster for judgment, and further escalation could be avoided.

When the custodians had left the Careless Wanderer, Wynn seemed slightly disappointed that a fight had been avoided. There was a wicked look in his golden eyes that thirsted for some satisfaction. Sensing this, Neamhan, still in the form of the timber wolf, started bucking and thrashing giving Wynn a chance to tire out with a rodeo. Eventually, the wolf started spinning so fast that the quickling was ripped off its back. He flew through the air, made a deft backflip before gracefully landing. With a flourish, he sheathed his blade and then ran off, leaving behind a jingle of windchimes.

The ruckus roused Falka from her nap upstairs, and she came downstairs to join the heroes, who were discussing how to handle this situation. Falka learned about the situation with the custodians in Kingsport, and the heroes learned that Bournemouth did not have the same problem, but that the custodians had attempted to get a foothold in Eastray.

The heroes agree that they want to find Jan, the custodian they liberated from the aberrant lords and fought alongside the heroes to defeat Xarrombus. It was thought that perhaps he could mediate between the custodians and the heroes in an attempt to save Neamhan from persecution. Falka had a relationship with Prementhine Shakeslock, the defacto leader of the custodians, as he was once a lecturer at the Bournemouth Academy. She volunteered to visit the Tomb of St. Catherine on the heroes behalf.

Eventually, the conversation lead where it often lead; what to do next. The heroes considered leaving Kingsport, but Quentin felt that they had made a binding commitment to Emma to deal with Muirgheal. The heroes wondered whether the Newport Vault would be a suitable place for Muirgheal, since this was where most of the Arms of the Senhadrim in their possession had originated from. The vaults were made to hold such items, and it felt worth considering storing Muirgheal there.

A Draconic Journal Page

Overview

During the closing ceremony of the fishing competition James asked the heroes to escort Luciana, a young girl, from the orphanage in Grimsdown to the docks, where Ramona, Lady of the Raft, had docked her ship, the Calypso’s Song. In return, Ramona would give them a piece of writing which mentioned a vault. The page turned out to be ripped from a journal, and written in draconic.

Journal Page

Falka’s Translation

One of our own has been taken. Kalauranthalasis, the Feywalker, is no more. As is customary, a call to conclave went out. Some woke from their slumber. Some emerged from their lairs. And some, like myself, left their positions among mortals to make their way to the Feywalker’s lair. We danced in mourning, waiting for late arrivals. Wrathion, Berazus, Morphaz, Sindragosa, Grakkarond… they were all there.

We were all surprised that his mate did not show, but we knew that the call would not reach everyone in time. Then the catastrophe. The noxious brood had been taken from the vault. The most prized of all the Feywalker’s riches had been taken.

The mourning dance ended, the cries of our brethren rang far, the ground trembled and the sky shook. This will not go unpunished. We must inform Azsharastrasza of this defilement, this insolence, this heresy.