Author Archives: Dennis

Infiltrating the Dark Delirium Operation

Previously, the heroes had ran some errands and eventually followed a hunch that Luca had and spoke to mistress Minna Terlane, the woman who ran the boarding house that Luca had stayed at after his initial arrival in Kingsport. While she did not know anything about Hamish’s whereabouts, she did know where the heroes could go to find dark delirium; a young associate of the Steady Hand named Jeroen, who operated out of an alleyway in the centre of Lewisham.

Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in high sanction.)

The heroes were standing at the entrance to a cobbled alley between two large buildings, several doors down from the infamous Hoxton, the rowdy tavern that was the epicentre of the Lewisham ward. Halfway down the alleyway stood a slender young man, wearing fancy black clothing, flanked on either side by two thugs. They had taken refuge from the rain underneath the roof of a doorway; two of them were chatting away, while one of them was attempting to light a pipe.

It was decided that Quentin and Luca would approach Jeroen, while Astrid, James and Emrys would stay back and turn invisible so that they could follow discretely. Once Quentin and Luca spoke to the smirking Jeroen and asked him if he could provide them with dark delirium, he told them that he could and instructed them to follow.

He lead them down the alley to a double trapdoor on the side of the building whose doorway he had stood in to hide from the rain. The two thugs followed in their wake and one of them unlocked a padlock which held a steel rod across the doors. When the trapdoors were opened a staircase leading into a basement was revealed, and Jeroen lead Quentin and Luca down. There they found a filled store room belonging to the building they were beneath. In the centre stood what looked to be an indoor well which accessed the ancient waterways underneath the city. Jeroen, one of the thugs and the heroes climbed down the well and into the waterways, while the other thug went back up and closed the cellar doors and returned to his post in the alley.

It was at this point that Blackstar started nagging Luca; it wanted to be fed. Luca tried to block out the dark voice that was emanating from the staff while simultaneously making small talk with Jeroen and surreptitiously scratching markings in the phosphorescent moss that coated the stones of the ancient waterways. It was as much a way for Luca to memorise the way back as it was indicators to the others who were following on which direction they had taken.

Above ground, in the alleyway, Emrys and Astrid managed to distract the guard long enough that James was able to pick the padlock on the trapdoors and gain entrance to the cellar. Astrid continued to distract the guard so that Emrys could join James. Together, the two half elves descended into the waterways and quickly picked up Luca’s trail.

The entire underground journey took about fifteen minutes, during which it took the heroes and their escort through narrow slime-filled corridors, down wide canals with footpaths on each side, along walls that had strange mushrooms and spores growing among the colourful moss, and past narrow pipes that belched putrid human waste into the waterways.

Eventually, Jeroen and his thug lead Quentin and Luca down a large corridor and up ahead the heroes noticed several figures standing underneath a ladder which seemed to lead up into a similar well that they descended back in Lewisham. With a couple of signals, Jeroen informed the figures what Quentin and Luca were interested in. During the walk he had explained what their options were; they would be given a concoction which would allow them to experience a very vivid dream. It could last fifteen minutes, an hour, or even as long as half a day, depending on how much they were willing to pay. It was also possible for a courier to bring the concoction, but that was generally quite expensive and only available for the the very privileged.

Jeroen and the thug turned around and went back the way they came while Quentin and Luca met with the people standing at the bottom of the rungs leading up and out of the waterways. It was a group of three; two humans, one was bald and built like a brick shithouse, while the other was thick limbed and somewhat hunched and looked awfully familiar; it was Garvan the Tunneler, whom the heroes had met in the carceratum when they had liberated the rebel lords only several rides ago. Garvan was quite surprised to see them and he exchanged some pleasantries, including asking after lord Fabian and lord Szymon. The last person at the bottom of the ladder was a halfling woman dressed in simple commoner’s clothing. Her hair was flaming red and she had a face full of freckles. She introduced herself as Coral.

Coral brought Quentin and Luca up the ladder, out of an indoor well and onto the basement floor of a home. The room that the well was in acted like a store room and was filled with old furniture and crates. The solitary door in the room stood ajar and a soft light spilled through. The room on the other side of the door was larger and had its floor lined with straw-filled, jute sacks which were acting as make-shift mattresses.  Small tables and chairs were lining the walls and one wall seemed to have faded chalk marks on them, leading Quentin and Luca to realise that this once acted as a classroom of sorts.

People were laying on the mattresses looking like they were either asleep or barely conscious. Some of them were murmuring, some of them were lazily reaching out to things that only they could see, but none of them were lucid. Coral lead Quentin and Luca to to free mattresses and asked how long they wanted to be under the delirium’s spell. Luca said that it was his first time and so settled on a short experience. Coral walked to the entrance of the room, a door leading to a space beyond, opened it slightly and announced their arrival. Both Luca and Quentin noticed that the halfling gave a visible shudder as she closed the door behind her and went to find a seat on one of the small chairs lining the walls. She pulled out a half-finished piece of crocheting and continued working on it to take her mind off of whatever it was that she had seen behind that door that had disturbed her so.

In the meantime, Emrys and James, still invisible, had made their way to the ladder leading up. Emrys caused a distraction while James slipped up the rungs and into the room adjacent to where Quentin and Luca were waited to be served. The distraction caused Garvan to get startled, peer down the tunnel with trepidation and turn to the thug; “The skaven are coming. Tell the aberrant lords,” he said, and the thug hurried  up the ladder.

While this was happening, James had sneaked into the classroom just in time to see Hamish and a woman he recognised come out from the doorway beyond. James knew her as matron Myrtle, the head of an orphanage in Grimsdown that James had donated money to after the carceratum work. Hamish and Myrtle walked over to Quentin and Luca carrying a tray with a cup on it. Hamish looked worn, with dark rings around his eyes and sunken cheeks. He gave Luca a look that warned the warlock with an almost imperceptible shake of his head, though it was unclear what he was trying to say.

Luca and Quentin listen to Myrtle explain that they could take the concoction and they would sink into a vivid sleep. Quentin held back as Luca masterfully faked drinking it, sinking back onto the mattress and mimicking some of the behaviour that he had seen some of the other around him display. Quentin was having a harder time faking it, and it seemed as if Coral had noticed, but did not care enough to raise any alarms.

At that point the thug had made his way up the ladder, across the classroom, and through the door. Moments later he returned, this time with a strange figure in his wake; slender, tall and clothed in fine flowing robes of blue and silver. Their face was masked in a long veil that and there was something odd about their gait. James followed them back to the well leading down and watched as the strange figure gentle descended down the well, not using the ladder to climb. It came to hover half a foot above the filthy corridor floor and scanned for intruders.

While it could not see Emrys, for he was still cloaked in his invisibility spell, the figure spoke to him;

“I can sense you. The Upright Man will not be denied. Xarrombus will not be denied.”

And then a wave of distortion erupted from the figure and travelled in a cone down the corridor, overwhelming Emrys with pain, and James jumped down the well.

Grim, Soot and Dark Delirium

Previously, the heroes spoke to the szygani in order to find out more information on the whereabouts of Luca’s friend Hamish. The szygani could tell them that he could be found somewhere in the locked down Kingsport ward of Grimsdown, where he was being held by the Steady Hand. Emrys and James used their combined talents for stealth and sorcery to scout the ward at night and found neither a sign of Steady Hand activity, nor a sign of any of the plaguemaidens which were the reason for the lockdown.

Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in high sanction.)

After a long night the heroes woke in the Careless Wanderer. Only James had no intention of getting up, and it was hard to blame him; the weather was cold and wet, and he had been sitting on a rooftop getting soaking wet together with Emrys only a few hours before.

Luca woke up early with nervous energy running through his body, while Quentin woke up with some ideas based on the information that James and Emrys brought back from their scouting mission.

They came down stairs to find that a table had been set for them. Breakfast was still meagre with the continued shortages hitting the city. Magda came to talk to Quentin, mentioning that she felt that something in his demeanour had changed; he felt less radiant and capricious; more grim and sorrowful. Quentin asked her whether she had seen a similar changes in others and she confirmed that she had. Quentin took it to mean that Astrid had changed and asked whether she could sense the same bleakness. Magda said she felt something more akin to regret, but couldn’t be certain.

Astrid made plans to visit the harbour in order to find out whether there was a skipper who was willing to part with their ship. She reckoned that with the winter coming, as well as the lack of trade in the city, she might be able to convince someone to part with their vessel. She would wait out the morning playing demon dice and then head out.

Luca and Quentin went to see Vydia at her manse in Old Town. She received them in her kitchen and explained that she had dreamt that Hamish was being lead down the corridors of a dungeon, possibly in the waterways, and kept in a dungeon. There was a small drain leading to a sewer or a cistern, from which a strange tentacle rose up. Vydia apologised for not being able to provide more clarity; she was not an oneiromancer, so she was not specialised in interpreting dreams, but this was the way in which she had received her vision.

When Luca and Quentin returned to the Wanderer they found James was heading out. The young rogue had to pay a visit to the day master and asked whether Luca was willing to come along and stay within range of their magical earrings. Just in case.

James found that the butcher shop was completely empty, with no commerce or trade happening and the counter being empty. The back was also empty, with no carcasses being butchered. In the basement he found the day master, looking a lot better than the last time James had seen him. He was finally recovering from the wound that his mother had left him with.

James told, in great detail, what had happened in the sanctum of Dr. Arkenward, and what the heroes had found there. He also paid his tribute to the day master by handing over the two books he had liberated from the sanctum’s library. The day master seemed pleased and asked whether he could help James with anything. James, remembering that Luca had been looking for charcoal, looked around and saw that the basement of the butcher shop was filled with supplies and sundries. He asked for charcoal and was offered a jute sack full of it.

Asking about dark delirium, James learned what he had already suspected; the night master was in charge of dark delirium and it was considered an important source of income for the guild and one that the upright man had taken an interest in.

The young rogue also learned that high lord Gauthier’s retinue had grown to include two hundred horses and gods know how many travellers on foot, and that he was chasing down an ancestral blade.

Returning to the wanderer, the heroes retreated to Emrys’ room; the only lodging that was large enough to hold all of them. James shared what he had leared, including the information about the high lord’s intention to retrieve Róisín. There was some discussion on what Quentin would do if it came down to parting with the blade. The young knight said he would part with the blade if he must, which provoked a withering from the leaves and flowers on the blade’s scabbard in protest that only Emrys noticed.

The heroes decided to go out and find out more about dark delirium. Luca suggested  going to see an acquaintance he had made when he first arrived in Kingsport from the Elder Foothills; mistress Minna Trelane. She turned out to be a rotund, homely looking woman with a friendly face. She ran a boarding house in the eastern part of Lewisham called The Fallen Angel, a half-timbered building that seemed so slanted that it felt like it could topple over at any minute.

Mistress Trelane could share that she had heard of dark delirium and that she knew that there was a man in the area that was known to provide it. His name was Jeroen the Daerlanian and he could be found two alleys down from the legendary establishment the Hoxton. The heroes headed there in the pouring rain and found a young, slender man flanked by two thugs, standing out of the rain at the back of an alleyway.

Grimsdown Observation

Previously, the heroes were determined to find Hamish Black, an apprentice at the Circle of Magi and friend of Luca, whom the heroes suspected of being the source of the dark delirium which was quickly gaining popularity in Kingsport. Their search lead them to a szygani camp outside of Kingsport and the centre of power of the notorious Ravnos family. Vadoma was staying at the camp, and as a token of her gratitude she brokered a conversation between the heroes and Ionuţ Ravnos, the defacto head of the Ravnos family.

First Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon is waxing.)

It was a cold and wet afternoon outside of Belstone Corner, the small village a little ways outside of Kingsport where the szygani made their camp in the treeline of a small stretch of woods.

Luca and Ionuţ took a walk while followed at a short distance by Astrid and Vadoma. Ionuţ explained that he was willing to help find Hamish, but in order to be effective he would need some personal items from Hamish in order to speed up the process. The szygani had narrowed his location down to the locked down ward of Grimsdown, and Ionuţ could add that he was likely being moved through the waterways below the streets; territory held by the Steady Hand.

The heroes said goodbye to the szygani and headed back to Kingsport in order to make it beyond the ramparts and inside the city before the curfew went into effect and the city would lock its gates. During the walk back the heroes discussed the concern of going into Grimsdown and Steady Hand controlled territory and James being recognised. James thought it was a risk that was necessary to take because without him he believed the heroes would likely not make it out of the ward.

There were some fundamental questions about why the ward was in lockdown and Astrid could offer that she had heard rumours of plaguemaidens being sighted in the ward. James wondered aloud why there would be plaguemaidens remaining in the ward seeing as how they were attracted to queen’s curse, which the heroes had lifted.

In order to validate the situation inside the ward, James suggested he would go out for the evening and scout the ward from the air and looking at it from the top of the ramparts that overlooked the wards, for which he needed Emrys’ help. The heroes remembered the plaguemaiden they fought in the alchemist’s shop in Bournemouth, and that she had an eerie glow that should be easily visible from the air should any plaguemaidens be roaming the streets of Grimsdown.

The heroes arrived back in Kingsport just before the gates were closed for the night and they decided to skip going to see Vydia and go straight to the wanderer. There they spent some time having supper, talking and listening in on some of the conversations going on around them. There was a persistent rumour that the queen was going to take her new army and march on Farcorner.

Some merchants speculated that they could make a quick bit of coin if they could do one more run to Càrceres and purchase food. An army tended to require a lot of food and since they were passing by Fairfields it would mean their grain stores would deplete significantly.

People were much happier now that the queen had survived her ordeal and the belief was that she would lead Lyria to better times, despite the disappearance of princess Mildred and her husband, the lord steward.

James and Emrys went to get ready; dressing warmly and preparing for their scouting mission over Grimsdown. They left from the balcony of his room. Emrys enchanted the both of them with the ability to fly and quickly they rose up in the cold, rainy air. They had noticed the lady commander flying atop Frostfeather high above the city and so decided to stay low by the rooftops in order to avoid detection. The rain in people’s faces would mean people were unlikely to look up at the sky, so they felt safe.

They landed on the rooftop of the library of Ioun in the Ravensbourne ward, holding on to Ioun’s eye that was raised atop roof of the highest point. They observed Grimsdown for a while until they were confident they could move in closer and take up position on the roof of the tallest building, which was conveniently located in the centre of Grimsdown, along one of the larger streets which allowed access to North street which divided Grimsdown from Sevenoaks. That, according to James, was the easiest way in and out of Grimsdown, should the other heroes need to sneak their way in.

From their vantage point, Emrys and James were on the lookout for lights, congregations of people, possible hideouts and plaguemaidens. They saw few lights, almost no signs of people, and none of the plaguemaidens and it became clear that perhaps the latter was a rumour which was kept alive for nefarious reasons. There were three areas in Grimsdown that were suspiciously devoid of activity and James believed that this might be the areas of the highest Steady Hand concentration. Regardless, all around the ward there were signs of ransacking and all exits were barricaded by the crownsguard and custodians.

While James and Emrys were atop the buildings in Ravensbourne and Grimsdown, in the cold rain, Luca and Quentin were warm and dry, and enjoying some wine with Astrid and Druham, though it came at a steep price; apparently the lack of goods coming into the city had also affected the cost of the wine. Even though he knew what the answer was going to be, Luca asked Durham to check with the kitchen to see whether there was any charcoal left, but found that Ramsay had been cooking on logs rather than charcoal.

Eventually Quentin retired to his room and decided to pray to the Raven Queen for the safe return of his friends and companions. Luca and Astrid sat with Durham into the wee hours of the night until James and Emrys safely returned, landing back on the balcony outside of Emrys’ room and walking down into a quiet tavern room for a last drink.

Tracking Down Hamish Black

Previously, Quentin visited the House of the Raven Queen in order to ally himself with Her in the struggles to come. Later he received a second letter from his father that gave him more insight into the motives of high lord Gauthier, who was accompanying his father to Kingsport.

Luca was keen on returning to the Circle of Magi in order to look into the disappearance of his friend Hamish. Also, the heroes wanted to talk to the head archmage of the Circle in order to address the prisoners that Arkenward had locked up inside his sanctum.

First Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon is waxing.)

That morning, the heroes woke and got ready for the day. James, who had spent more and more time drinking lately, including the previous evening, needed to plunge his head in a barrel of ice-cold water down in the basement of the Wanderer in order to lift the clouds from his head.

The first item on the list was to visit Vydia, so after their breakfast the heroes made their way across a cold and mostly empty city. Vydia welcomed them into her home, introduced herself to Astrid and offered a cup of morning brew.

Luca had brought two items for Vydia in order for her to divine their magical properties; the dome-covered rose and the galleon-in-a-bottle. Vydia said that the weave around the items was complex and she would require more time with both, but she did mention that when she saw the rose for the first time she was struck by a sense of deja vu, and that she immediately recognised the ship to be a miniature of the fabled Daughter of the Sea, a historic battleship in the Lyrian royal navy.

It seemed to Luca that Vydia might also be able to use her divination talents to find out where Hamish could be located, but Vydia claimed she would need something to help her do that; a personal item of Hamish. It became clear to Luca that Vydia did not simply cast spells, like Callum did, but that her abilities were more oracular.

Repeated offers to help heal Vydia’s wounded eye were rejected, while at the same time James felt his stomach turn from the morning brew and he ended up running into the courtyard and retching into a rose bush.

The heroes departed for the Circle in order to inspect Hamish’s room again to make sure they had not missed anything, and possibly to see if they could find a personal item that Vydia could use to cast her magic. Emrys decided to stay behind and talk to Vydia in private.

The start of the conversation between Emrys and Vydia was a bit terse. Emrys decided to break the ice by saying that Vydia’s father, Voriel, was his teacher and mentor and that Emrys was responsible for his disappearance. Vydia explained her dream; se saw her father in a dark room, clutching the bars of a window or door. Her father yelled out Emrys’ name until his voice was hoarse. All around her there was an endless landscape of catacombs. Emrys believed that her dreams meant that his old mentor was still alive, but he also deduced that it was likely that he would not be found on the material plane. Vydia shared both sentiments.

Emrys decided to share some details of how he grew up among the aen adhar, and how he rebelled against the tribe’s interpretation of Sehanine’s teachings. He also admitted that he wore his mother’s last name in rebellion against his father.

In the meantime, the rest of the heroes had made it to the Circle and managed to convince Olafur to escort them back to Hamish’s room again, though it was not as easy as it was the first time. During the walk through the long corridor some of the heroes noticed that several students seemed a little vacant behind the eyes, which raised questions on whether Dark Delirium had made it into the dormitories of the Circle.

Searching Hamish’s room again, James found a hidden note, which read;

“If you value your life, come to talk to us at the camp at Belstone Corner.”

James knew that Belstone Corner was a village about fifteen minutes to the north-east of Kingsport. He also knew that the camp in question was the home of a large gathering of szygani.

At the same time, Luca found a box with letters Hamish had saved which were sent from Fulcaster by his family. Besides the letters, he box held several wooden figurines of knights and soldiers. They were carved out of single pieces of wood and looked like they may have been by Hamish’s hand.

Luca convinced Olafur that he could take the box for the purposes of finding Hamish, but he had to promise to return the box as soon as possible. Luca brought the items to Vydia and asked her to use them to find Hamish before regrouping with the rest at the Wanderer.

The heroes took off for the Elysian gate at the north-eastern part of the ramparts and followed the path to Belstone Corner. The szygani camp was unmistakeable; dozens of colourful vardos standing on the edge of a small stretch of woods near the village edge. The heroes tried to make contact with the szygani which turned out harder than expected. It was not until a familiar young woman appeared from the back of a vardo that things began to look up; Vadoma appeared to be living among the szygani and she introduced the heroes to Ionuţ Ravnos, the leader of the camp and the head of the Ravnos family.

Ionuţ was a tall, lanky man wearing a leather skull cap across his dark, curly hair. He wore a leather vest across a white blouse, with tight maroon pants, high white socks and delicate, pointed leather shoes which seemed popular among the rest of the szygani. He had an olive skin and the thick moustache the heroes had come to expect from most szygani men.

In the short conversation with Ionuţ they confirmed what they had already feared; Hamish was under the “protection” of the Steady Hand and was responsible for the production of Dark Delirium, which the guild was peddling from inside the Grimsdown quarantine.

Feathers White and Black

Previously, the heroes had managed to return from Dr. Arkenward’s sanctum where they had found the third Tablet of the Elemental Eye and met some curious figures that the doctor had kept as prisoners, most of which were from beyond the Seal of Divine Animus.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Having left the Careless Wanderer before the others had woken up, Quentin made his way to the House of the Raven Queen. Entering through the large wooden doors he found that there were several people scattered among the pews of the cavernous, dark interior of the church. He approached one of the silent sisters and asked to speak to cardinal Roark.

I am a petitioner, bringing gifts. I seek audience from the Raven Queen, by the mouth of cardinal Roark.
– Quentin Morvrayne

Quentin found the cardinal near the altar where only days before he and his companions had brought Astrid back from the dead. Quentin explained to the cardinal that he felt attracted to the tenets of the Raven Queen as she seemed to govern the natural order between life and death, standing in stark opposition to the way in which fiends were willing to manipulate the souls of mortals.

I come with the morning, a blunt blade held by no hand. Twice I have been lost, far from home and far from my memories. I cannot be lost thrice into the unknown before I find my purpose and a hand to wield me. One too many times I have seen that which lies beyond the Veil, one too many times I have succumbed to the horror, one too many times I was too weak to stand as tall and as strong as I swore to myself to be. I come to beseech she who presides the threshold to be the one to make me her tool, her blade, her guardian. I bring the gift of my life for her to guide and dispose of, should I be weak, should I be untrue and unworthy, should I fail her.
– Quentin Morvrayne

Cardinal Roark recognised that Quentin was sincere and could be an ally and champion for the Raven Queen and invited him to swear the Oath of the Watchers and induct him into the Order of the Grave Knights. The silent sisters helped the cardinal get ready for the ceremony; spreading incense from large censers and supplying the cardinals with white and black face paint. The cardinal asked Quentin to bare his chest as he swore his oath.

Be vigilant. The threats you face are cunning, powerful, and subversive. Be ever alert for their corruption.

Be loyal. Never accept gifts or favours from fiends or those who consort with them. Stay true to your order, your comrades, and your duty.

Be disciplined. You are the shield against the endless terrors that lie beyond the stars. Your blade must be forever sharp and your mind keen to survive what lies beyond.

Accept death. Death comes to all eventually. Accept it, and you will find a place in the afterlife.

Let souls pass on. Every soul deserves its place in the afterlife. When you see a creature forced into undeath, or a soul forced into bondage, let its soul go free.

Annihilate the unholy. The undead and those who foster them are unholy and wicked. Destroy them before they defile more than they already have

Quentin repeated the words and swore the oath, and as he did so he felt a cold chill run along his bare skin. The goose bumps he felt drew his eyes and he saw that the bumps grew more pronounced until little filaments poked through his skin like fine hairs. They grew longer and thicker and turned into feathers, like that of a raven, covering his shoulders, and arms. To his surprised, as well as the surprise of cardinal Roark, Quentin found that his right arm was not covered with black feathers, but with stark white feathers. This did not stop Quentin, nor did it stop the cardinal, who, despite his surprise, leaned forward and plucked on of the dark feathers from Quentin’s shoulder and put it on a string and placed it around Quentin’s neck as the feathers on his body began to dissipate.

When the incense smoke had cleared Quentin saw that unlike during the resurrection of Astrid the worshippers in the church had been allowed to stay and be witness to Quentin’s oath. He walked out of the church an back into the cold weather and felt like some things had changed significantly for him.

When Quentin returned to the Careless Wanderer he rejoined his companions, who, in his absence, had been talking about how to proceed and what to do next. Wojciech entered the tavern room through the kitchen and came to tell the heroes that he had returned from the Sheridan estate with their horses, their cart, and the greetings from James’ mother. Due to a shortage of space at the stables of the inn he resorted to stabling the horses at The Bridle. The cost of that would be added to the cost of their rooms.

It was around that time that Lauryn came up to Quentin to tell him that another letter had arrived for him as she handed him a small piece of parchment sealed with blue wax showing the heraldry of house Morvrayne, the swan volant. Quentin read the letter to his friends at a whisper:

My dear son,

I have set off to Lyria, together with several guards. We ride alongside the retinue of house Lys and make camp together. They are travelling with over forty people, and every town and city we pass adds to that number. High lord Gauthier’s governs his estates and lands while on the road. Dozens of ravens are sent and received each day.

Rumours are going around the camp that the high lord’s only interest is retrieving his ancestral sword. Towards me he has mentioned that sword, but only that it would be a good asset to both our houses if the Age of Peace has come to an end. Regardless, lady Gwenaëlle’s hand should still be yours. A promise was made, a challenge was set, and you met that challenge. I am proud of you.

By the swan.

Lord Dorian of House Morvrayne

The heroes had pondered for a while what they were going to do next. The winter would soon be upon them and there were many things they considered undertaking. Luca’s friend Hamish was still missing, and there were some thoughts that he might be caught up in the dark delirium which had become quite popular during the city’s strict curfew. It was decided that the first stop, while there was still a bit of daylight available, was to visit the Circle of Magi and secure another audience with the head archmage, Réonan. They might be able to help the heroes in keeping the three tablets safe.

Before their departure, Emrys had continued to observe Astrid. She had been behaving more impulsively in the wake of her resurrection, and the young sorcerer came to the conclusion that perhaps her behaviour was informed by her ideas about the afterlife.

And just as the heroes departed the Careless Wanderer, two crownsguard, flanked by red custodians, came into the establishment to nail a notice to the inside of the door, calling for able-bodied people to join a newly created, royal army to march upon Farcorner and bring the rebel houses to heel. James noted that the notice said that the army would be loyal to the queen, rather than the throne, and he could not hide his cynicism in the wake up what the heroes had seen after reviving the young queen.

The city was cold and empty. The heroes wrapped their cloaks tightly as they stood in front of the Circle of Magi waiting for Olafur to open the door. They were invited inside and after they were tucked away in Olafur’s room adjacent to the lobby they were given a syrupy liquor the colour of honey to warm their bones. The Miðgarðurian was reluctant to disturb the head archmage but eventually relented. When he and Réonan returned, the head archmage asked Olafur to remain outside while they addressed the heroes.

Luca asked Réonan for the Circle’s help in protecting the tablets, but Réonan declined. However, they would consider whether they could think of other ways in which the Circle could help the heroes protect the tablets.

During the conversation James intimated that the tablets were not his goal, or even a point of focus. Réonan asked him what James’ goals were, which he found hard to answer. He said that he used to want to become the king of thieves, but that it was something that he no longer aspired to. Réonan asked him whether he would consider joining the Circle and explore the possibility of him having magical talents.

Luca mentioned that the heroes had picked up several artefacts that eluded his ability to divine their magical properties. He was wondering whether the Circle would be able to assist. Réonan responded by saying that the Circle used to have a very talented diviner, referring to Callum, and that the heroes had already met another diviner who might be able to address their wish, this time referring to Vydia.

James and Luca then brought up their concerns for the prisoners that Dr. Arkenward was keeping in his sanctum, in particular the young noble lady. Réonan admitted that in the tapestry of things that the Circle concerned themselves with, it was low on the list, but they would support the heroes in any endeavours to address the matter.

It was time for Réonan to depart, but before they did so, they gifted the heroes with a ring that would allow the heroes to contact them. When Luca took the ring he immediately recognised the lyrium crystal that crowned the band, as it was that very same crystal that he had given to Eustace, which he in turn had sold to someone from the Circle.

Before the heroes departed the Circle to head back to the Careless Wanderer before the curfew went into effect, Luca got Olafur to sell him a variety of incense and herbs. The one thing that Luca was after to complete the components he needed for a special ritual was charcoal, but unfortunately Olafur confirmed that there was a shortage of charcoal all throughout Kingsport.

When the heroes stepped outside the were surprised by the falling of the first snow. The flakes were large but flimsy and it made their clothing and the cobblestones slick and wet. While walking back, the heroes vented their frustration on Réonan’s position. Quentin was particularly angered by the continued aloofness of the Circle’s head archmage.

The sun had gone down by the time the heroes returned to the Careless Wanderer and the curfew was once again in effect.