Author Archives: Dennis

No More Tea or No More Alcohol

I was having a discussion with Joasia about the benefits of tea. You see, I love tea, and I drink it pretty much every day. I don’t drink it much at home, but I drink it almost exclusively when I’m working. My favourite, easy access flavour of tea is Earl Grey, and I’m really not fond of the weaker, caffeine-free, herbal and green teas that are quite popular nowadays. No, I like black tea.

When confronted with the question on what I would choose; never have a drop of alcohol again, or never have a drop of tea again, I found myself choosing tea over alcohol. The day to day pleasure I get from drinking tea completely obliterates the occasional enjoyment of alcohol. Not to mention the health implications. Interestingly, Joasia chose the opposite, which was also a surprise. For her, tea is simply a vehicle for infusing her body with warmth.

To hit a cup of tea at just the right temperature is amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the penicillins in the world. Having said that, I’m glad I won’t have to make that choice just yet.

The Crimson Tower, Pinefall, Silverpine Hills

The story goes that a powerful member of the Silver Crusade was corrupted by a high ranking devil prince and convinced to lead a several hundred knights into a battle they couldn’t possibly win.

The knights were resoundingly defeated and their bodies were magically kept from dying. Neither truly alive, nor truly dead, the knights were stripped of their precious arms and armour and taken to the tower.

Their bodies were nailed to the tower until it was a writhing mass of bleeding bodies, moaning and howling in pain. Their blood soaked the walls and permanently stained them crimson, which is how the tower got its name.

The demons flew around the tower and raked at the bodies with talons and claws, and lashed them with barbed whips, and still the knights wouldn’t perish.

Eventually, a large host of griffon riders made their way down from Gryphon’s Roost to free their captured comrades, but when they arrived the tower was gone and so was any trace of the knights.

A search was conducted; griffon riders flew far and wide, the woods were combed by hunters and footmen, lakes were dived by fishermen, but not a trace of the tower or the knights were recovered.

Over the following decades, the tower was spotted appearing and disappearing, and the screeching of demons and the howling of the damned knights could be heard at night. Each time it was followed by another search by the Lyrian knights for their captured comrades, and each time the were disappointed to find no traces.

Knights of Lyria – Ranks

There are two types of ranks and several special titles which fall outside of these two categories. The first category is that of common ranks, which are used for unknighted members of the Knights of Lyria. They cover aspiring knights and men at arms. The latter are paid to be in the service of the knights, and are exempt from any of the vows that the knights take when they are inducted in the order (poverty, no family, etc.) It is simply a paying job.

Common Ranks

Squire

Every aspiring knight, no matter their background, starts off as a squire. They are responsible for a lot of menial tasks in service of the rest of the knights.

Armsman

The armsman are the auxiliary troops that stand in service of the knights. They are either permanent soldiers with no ambition for knighthood, or simply in it for the coin (as knights are to hold no wealth and are to tithe all their earnings to the order), squires who were never accepted as knights, but felt a calling to stay, or conscripts from the lands held by the orders.

Sergeant

This is an armsman who has showed themselves to be naturally gifted leaders. They take leadership of up to eight armsmen.

Sergeant Major

These are veteran armsman who have risen past the rank of sergeant and have proven themselves to be steadfast, reliable and skilled soldiers. They are paid very well by the orders and next to knights they are considered the backbone of their fighting force.

Knight Ranks

Knight

The bulk of the knighted forces. They have been knighted and they are part of an order. This is the lowest, knighted rank.

Knight Lieutenant

The knight lieutenant is no higher in rank than an orderinary  knight, but gets special tasks and privileges. This could be temporary, while escorting nobility or a diplomat, or more permanently when overseeing the construction of a new windmill or granary.

Knight Commander

A knight commander oversees up to eight knights and dispenses orders. Also becomes responsible for their actions.

Master Commander

The master commander is, like the knight lieutenant, usually a temporary title, bestowed upon a knight commander for the duration of a special mission. It grants them the ability to do what is necessary in order to complete their task, like commandeering possessions with the promise of reimbursement, conscripting armsmen, committing troops to a theatre, etc. It is considered a very special rank and is very carefully granted due to the wide implications of their actions.

Knight Captain 

The knight captain oversees up to eight knight commanders, for a total of seventy-two knights. These knights are organised in a chapter, with their own heraldry. The knight captain is also referred to as the “prior”, if they are a follower of Paladine, or as “chapter master.”

Knight Grand Officer

This is the person who oversees an entire order and all its chapters. They are legendary knights and their names are known in most of the twelve kingdoms. They are the heart and soul of their order and embody everything the order stands for. They are also responsible for writing the statutes, bylaws and the directives for the order. The knight grand officer is also referred to as the “grand prior”, if they are a follower of Paladine, or as “grand master.”

Special Titles

Knight Primarch

During the time of conjunction, a knight primarch is chosen from the grand officers of the three orders. They represent all three of the orders to the outside world and determines the direction of all three orders. There hasn’t been a knight primarch in countless generations. The most famous primarch was Ser William Garamond, the first king of Lyria.

Knight Seneschal

The seneschal is second in command to the knight grand officer and is in charge when the head of the order is indisposed. Other duties include liaising with other orders and overseeing recruitment.

Knight Secretary

Both the knight grand officer as well as the knight seneschal are aided by a knight secretary. These are often veteran knights who are being groomed for positions of high command. They act as bodyguards, councillor and advisors and help in the day to day planning of their charge’s duties.

Knight Chronicler

The chronicler is in charge of records. This is a very broad host of duties, ranging from being the order’s historian, accountant and record keeper. This task is usually kept by a veteran knight with a penchant for letters and numbers.

Heraldry Officer

Lyrian knights take heraldry very seriously as a means of recognition, comradery and pride. Each order keeps track of their own heraldry, the heraldry for each of their chapters and making sure that it’s clear and consistent. Once heraldry is approved, it is also sent to the heraldry officers of the other orders and to the royal palace in kingsport. 

Standard Bearer

Before each engagement, a knight is honoured by being allowed to carry the order or chapter’s standard into battle. These are usually junior knights and it is a covetted position carrying a lot of prestige.

Knight Errant

The “errant” adjective to the title of knight simply means that the knight is not attached to one of the three orders. There can be several reasons for that, most commonly they were honourably or dishonourably discharged from their order. Leaving an order doesn’t mean you lose your title as a knight. Once knighted, you remain knighted, but you become a Knight Errant until such a time you join a new or different order of knights.

Last Night’s Training

Last night’s training was not amazing. I believe I’ve been steadily progressing over the last couple of months and I’ve been feeling pretty good about it, but yesterday I got my arse kicked by pretty much everyone I rolled against. I think I’ve become a little bit predictable to my training partners. I like to play the deep half guard game, and it has left me vulnerable to a couple of things that I need to work at. I do especially poorly against people who play a very dynamic game, with a lot of movement.

I’ll be going on holiday for the coming few days, which will give me some time to think about this while I let my body heal a bit. Let’s see what I can come up with.

A Descent Into Darkness

Second Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

The adventurers found themselves on the bank of the underground pond that served as the source of the well on the Sheridan estate in Lynnecombe, Northshire. They take in the size of the space, find a small, wooden boat moored to a stalagmite at the water’s edge, with some stone-working tools on the bottom of it. Having only one direction to head in, they set off into the tunnel which holds the dried up aqueduct. The group had two hooded lanterns to guide them, so James, gifted with the elven sight that he inherited from his mother, decided to scout ahead of the rest of the group, outside of the range of the light.

An hour into their journey up the aqueduct James stumbled upon the body which turned out to be that of one of the Sheridan house guards. The man turned out still to be alive but on death’s door, afflicted by a strange disease causing purple swelling on his neck as well as pus-filled blisters around his mouth, eyes and nostrils. Dark brown and red stains covered parts of the man’s clothing. When it became clear that the man would not be saved, Astrid suggested offering him a merciful death. Emma decided to do the deed, taking Astrid’s dagger and after a short prayer to Sedna, slipped the dagger into the man’s heart, just below the third rib.

The blood that seeped from the wound was dark, thick and viscous. Luca was fascinated by the blood and was assisted by James in harvesting some of the blood and storing it in a flask of oil, after having discarded the oil.

Immediately after putting the man to rest, Luca suggested burning the body. A discussion arose on what would happen when burning the body. The smoke build-up and the light, it was deemed, would attract too much attention, so the body was taken out of the aqueduct so that it wouldn’t spoil the water supply if the adventurers were able to restore the flow. They would have to take care of the body on the way back.

Continuing further into the aqueduct’s tunnel for another fraction of an hour the adventurers started hearing the sounds of water. Quickly afterwards they came upon the reason for the aqueduct having dried up; a partial collapse of the tunnel behind which the water had been pooling. After some investigation, it seemed that something with sharp claws had burrowed its way into the tunnel from the south. The water which had been pooling on the other side of the rubble had now been pouring into the new tunnel.

Several  more stone-working tools were found around the rubble, presumably left behind by the dwarven engineers sent into the aqueduct to resolve the blockage. Among the tools were three ceramic jugs sealed off by wax. Shaking the jugs it seemed to be filled with sand. Luca opened one of the jugs and was confronted with fine, yellow, oily powder which had a distinct smell of rotten eggs. He resealed the jug and left it with the rest of the tools. Emma found a rope among the tools and used it to create an easy way to scale the rubble. She also took a hammer and chisel.

After scaling the rubble and emerging on the other side, the adventurers decided not to continue down the tunnel of the aqueduct, instead turning south into the newly created tunnel. It didn’t take long before stumbling upon another one of the missing guards, this one dead, expired from more than a dozen stab-wounds, most of which seemed to have been made by crude, jagged weapons. Upon more careful inspection bite marks could be found. Luca noticed that the marks seemed to have been left by an animal, like an oversized rodent.

A short time later the newly created tunnel ended as it emerged into an high vaulted tunnel system. The masonry seemed ancient and covered with greenish, bio-luminescent moss. There was something familiar about the tunnel to both James who was reminded of the waterways underneath Kingsport. Emma later thought of the Sacred Baths of Sedna in Kingsport, whose masonry also held strong similarities to the tunnel the adventurers now stood in.

Emrys took it upon himself to flip a coin and let Lady Tymora decide which direction to take. Left. Luca suggested that if they were going left, they would have to keep going left at each junction. James once again took point, and Emma marked each corner with the hammer and chisel that she took from the blockage in the aqueduct.

James’ keen ears finally picked up some noise that he identified as rodents up ahead. What the adventurers found was a mischief of rats who had been feasting on what looked like a body. Once the rats noticed the adventurers they quickly flooded towards them in a frenzy. Emrys collected several pinches of multi-coloured sand in his hand, blew it in the direction of the rats and a burst of multi-coloured lights shot forth and washed over the rats, leaving many of them momentarily stunned.

Luca’s quarterstaff emitted several dark purple beams of dangerous energy, killing several rats. While Emma and Emrys combined their talents to create an illusion of large hound dog to scare the rats off, James used another flask of oil in the middle of the mischief and threw down a lantern to ignite the vermin. The rats that survived seemed to recoil from the fire in fear and departed the scene in a scurry.

The body was that of a dwarf, bald of head and bearded by a dark, anvil beard. His hands appeared bound behind his back, with leather straps that had cut deeply into his skin. There was no clear reason for his death, with the exception of the carnage the mischief of rats had left behind on his body.

A little further down the tunnel the adventurers once again were alerted to the sounds of movement. Emma and Astrid decided to head up front while James took up the rear, with Luca and Emrys being protected from both ends. The tunnel emerged into a large chamber, vaulted by two rows of support pillars. The chamber was large enough for the opposite end to be shrouded in darkness.

From that darkness emerged the dark shapes of several bipedal rat-creatures, clothed in ragged clothing of leather and hide. They carried jagged looking shortswords and daggers. Their fur was mottled brown, grey and black and their eyes glowed with an intense and menacing hatred. Behind the blade wielding rat-men followed a white, albino rat-man, wearing dirty grey robes and carrying a large, wicked looking scythe

There was no doubt in the minds of the adventurers; these creatures would not parlay, so the fight was on. Astrid charged forward, spear in hand, while Emrys brought forth an illusionary image of one of the Sheridan house guards. James drew his bow and fired an arrow in the direction of the albino, but missed. Luca brought forth the same dark purple bolts of angry energy which he had hurled from the tip of his quarterstaff before.

The albino raised its scythe in the direction of the illusion and snuffed it out. Astrid was being ganged up on and attacked several times. Emma called upon the powers of Lady Sedna and sent a bolt of radiant green energy towards the scythe-wielding albino, marking him for easier targeting. James made eager use of it and found a home for one of his arrows. Emrys positioned himself so that he could once again emit the burst of multi-coloured lights that stunned two of the blade wielding rat-men.

The albino decided to retreat back into the darkness and left the blade-wielders to guard its retreat. Several other blade-wielders emerged from the shadows and fell upon Astrid. James shot forth and tried to set off in pursuit, but could not catch up with the nimble rat-man. It took a few moments longer before the rest of the rat-men had been dispatched. When quiet and calm once again returned, Emma ministered to Astrid’s wounds by calling upon Sedna for healing.