Category: RPG

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.

 

The Draconic Journal Page

Previously, the heroes visited Father Devon in order to ask Kasia some questions about Epidemius, only to find that the young girl had been reunited with House Brightmantle, to whom she was a servant. The kindly priest gave them directions to the Brightmantle manse in Kingsport and they went to meet the young and traumatised girl.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

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

The heroes spent the morning talking with Kasia, the Silesian handmaid to Lady Grace Brightmantle. She had been the only known witness to the Epidemius incursion from start to finish. She described where the portal formed on the square, the skaven that emerged and how Epidemius rode out on a grotesque mount, the way the custodians and crownsguard had engaged, how Lord Jerod Brightmantle had emerged from the cathedral flanked by houseguards and clerics, and how they had fallen too. She spoke of an incessant buzzing noise in her head as Epidemius spoke his demands and of his departure through a newly formed portal he had created by reading from a scroll. She also admitted having heard the voice of her mother in her head encouraging to help Epidemius, and that she had been too frightened to act.

Picking up on something Kasia had said, Emrys asked her to elaborate more on why she had urged Lady Grace to bury the dead deep and put heavy rocks on their graves. She explained that she and her father, along with many other Silesians, had recently fled across the border to escape “the blood rain,” which made the dead rise from their graves. When asked whether she had seen any of the skaven in Silesia, she said she had not, but that she heard there were “goat men”, rather than “rat men.” Something wicked was rising in the east…

When it seemed that the young girl had no more information to give, Lady Grace concluded the audience, but promised that should new information come to light, or if Kasia would remember new information, a page would be sent to inform the heroes. The heroes departed while Kasia readied herself for a lesson in swordsmanship with Ser William the Crippled in the courtyard.

The heroes said goodbye to Emma after she reiterated that a promise had been made thrice, referring to their promise to help rid her of Muirgheal by the ride’s end, and they headed to the docks to visit Caius of Lynnecombe, the trading representative for House Sheridan that operated from a small office at the docks. When they arrived the neatly groomed, modestly dressed, middle-aged man welcomed the heroes in after reluctantly accepting that Quentin had taken to carrying stray cats around like a common pellar. Little did he know that this was Neamhan, who had shifted into the form of a tabby cat for the better part of the morning.

The conversation with Caius was a short and pleasant one, before going into the reason why the heroes had come; possibly investing some of their hard earned wealth in an establishment which could serve as a more permanent base of operations. Several options on several locations were discussed, as well as a brief overview of the available assets to finance the acquisition. Caius promised to look into some options.

After Caius gave a brief update on the members of House Sheridan, the heroes returned to the Careless Wanderer. They found Lauryn sitting at the table the heroes often occupied, eating breakfast. They joined her and Lauryn explained that Falka had finished the translation of the draconic letter before taking Luca up on his offer and was taking a nap on his bed. Neamhan shifted back to her elven form and joined the company at the table.

The heroes read the translation Falka had left for them:

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.

The heroes were confused; this spoke about events they were direct contributors to, and they knew for a fact that Azsharastrasza had died in their encounter with Kalauranthalasis and Xamael at the Sunken Vault. By this letter it appeared as if her body was never discovered at the vault, and moreover, the eggs they had found and left untouched had been taken. The heroes pondered who might have been responsible for that, and quickly arrived at the Sisters of the Grove.

The conversation sparked some questions in Neamhan; she asked how many vaults there were, and how many the heroes knew about, and what it was that made them special. When the heroes explained more about them, Neamhan had a thought; there was an underground structure which was part of a holy site that Oisín emerged from. Could that have been a vault, too?

When the heroes queried Neamhan about Oisín, she explained that his return was prophesised. During that conversation she made some indelicate comments about the gods; she acknowledged that the gods existed, but found them to be less than helpful. It was at that point a man who was seated at another table said; “I have heard enough. I believe we have all heard enough.”

The man turned out to be a custodian, accompanied by three others; a female custodian and two armed men. They all wore red robes beneath their cloaks, and the armed men wore chainmail.

“Under Paladine’s watchful eye, I charge you with heresy,” the custodian said. “Witnessed,” the other custodian said sharply. “Bind her,” the man said and the two armed men approached, one clearing manacles from his belt. Before they reached the table, Emrys stealthily let a veil of invisibility fall over Neamhan.

Meeting Kasia

Previously, the heroes attended the closing ceremony of the fishing competition, where they were asked by James to escort a young girl from the Grimsdown orphanage to the docks in exchange for a letter, allegedly mentioning a vault, only to find the letter written in a strange language. Falka, a scholar from the Bournemouth Academy and long time friend of Luca, arrived in Kingsport to help in the heroes in their endeavours.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

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

Luca was the last one to come down in the morning, and was astonished to find Falka there, already having met everyone and puzzling to translate the page they had received from Ramona. He was happy to see her, but when he learned about her intentions to actively help out with the heroes in their endeavours he became concerned for her safety. Like before, Falka asserted that she was quite capable of taking care of herself, had no intention of putting herself in danger, and would not be deterred.

Letting the matter rest, Luca brought up finding a base of operations. The idea had been floated as an idea between the heroes in the small moments, but it felt appropriate to dedicate some time to having an open conversation about it among the entire group. Everyone agreed that it would be a sensible thing to do, as it seemed that the heroes would be spending the winter in Kingsport with few opportunities to travel. The Careless Wanderer, though convenient, would quickly eat into their coffers, and while they were full with the bounty of their adventures of the last six months, they were depleting them at a rate of roughly ten gold crowns a day and would be empty by the end of the winter. It was deemed better to have a place of their own.

Other than getting in touch with members of House Sheridan, in particular their trading representative Caius of Lynnecombe, the plans to find an establishment did not develop much. Instead, the focus would be to talk to Kasia, and attempt to get in touch with James.

During this conversation, Magda came into the tavern, moving carefully from table to table and informing everyone that should there be need for any shoes to be repaired, or any other leather goods needing tending to, they could leave them outside the door of their rooms tonight. She also startled everyone by announcing the return of Durham, moments before the bartender walked through the door, looking worse for wear, with torn clothing, a missing coat, and sporting a black eye. Lauryn gave him a look of disappointment and he scurried away to get cleaned up.

Before the heroes departed, Luca convinced Falka to have a bath and accept the key to his room so that she can use it to take an afternoon nap. She agreed, though would not accept Luca’s offer to pay for any further accommodations. She insisted on proving her value before accepting any rewards or compensation.

Everyone got dressed for the cold weather and made their way to the clinic at the Temple of Light. While crossing Steward’s Square, the heroes saw that the main and secondary stages used in the closing ceremony of the fishing competition were being disassembled, and that all the festive banners had been taken down. The square itself was still filled with the litter left behind by the revellers.

When the heroes walked into the clinic they immediately noticed that it was quite busy, more so than it had been in recent days. There had been a considerable increase in patients when the heroes had returned from Eastmarsh, when the effect of the plaguemaidens was at its zenith, but it had dropped considerably since then, as the queen and the city, had recovered. When they found father Devon in his private quarters, he informed them that he believed that the appearance of Epidemius had something to do with the upswing in patients. He explained that the patients had normal problems, like a cough, or a common workplace injury, but each of them had also been afflicted by the same malady, which worsened their condition considerably. Emrys managed to coax the father to share his belief that if Epidemius would return that the malady would grow stronger. Even though Emrys was certain father Devon had not shared all of his concerns, he could not get him to share more.

Kasia had been taken into the care of House Brightmantle. Before the attack on Steward’s Square, Kasia had been the handmaiden of Lady Grace Brightmantle. Lord Jerod Brightmantle and several guards had been killed during the attack. In the aftermath Lady Grace had been elevated to head of the household and it had taken her a while to get her feet under the table and find Kasia at the Temple of Light.

Father Devon gave the heroes directions to the Brightmantle manse on The Hill, the affluent ward on the other side of river, situated on the eastern slope of Garamond Hill in the shadow of the royal palace. He also wrote them a letter of introduction which might help in gaining access to Kasia.

The heroes bid their farewell to father Devon and departed for the Sacred Baths of Sedna to pick up Emma. On their way they stopped to speak to Goodman before crossing the Queensbridge. He was warming his hands on a burning brazier which had melted all the snow in a fifteen foot radius, attracting stray dogs to the warmth. The big man accepted a gold crown in order to get a message to James that the heroes would like for him to join them at the Careless Wanderer that evening. He also shared some rumours about a group of dwarves painting the town red, as well as a host of knights in the Order of the Silver Lance riding alongside the delegation from Beauclair towards Kingsport. The order was known as the most chivalrous, but also for being the richest, operating the Silver Bank of Lyria, and often funding campaigns and endeavours of important nobility.

After Neamhan made sure to mess with Goodman upon their departure, the heroes picked Emma up from the Sacred Baths. Emma seemed to be in a much improved mood over the last time the heroes had come to visit her at the baths. She reiterated to the heroes that a promise was made regarding her liberation from Muirgheal, and she got Emrys to promise that before the ride was out they would take Muirgheal off her hands, not once but thrice.

A short time later the heroes, together with Emma, had found the Brightmantle manse, a large, half-timbered house with a masonwork first floor and a large, wooden gate leading into a courtyard interior. Neamhan had made sure that she would not be tasked to do any of the talking by transforming into the shape of a tabby cat with a distinct, white ear, lifted by Quentin and eccentrically placed on his forearm. When a rap on the gate was answered it was done so by the Brightmantle majordomo, a stern-faced man by the name of Graemme. It took some convincing but eventually the heroes were lead into the courtyard and found Lady Grace and Kasia on horseback, leaving the stables.

Lady Grace, a beautiful young woman of no more than 16 winters, was astride a well bred Silesian courser and looked like she knew how to ride. Kasia was a plain faced young girl that could not have been more than ten years old, with dark eyes and a dark scowl. She was sitting astride a pony, riding it bareback, and handling it comfortably, betraying her Silesian heritage.

The heroes were invited inside to one of the few rooms which had been furnished. The rest of the manse was a hive of activity, with carpenters, teamsters and stevedores moving furniture, carpets, provisions and sundries into the large, winter home. The room was furnished with a thick rug, expensive reclining sofas upholstered with velvet, set in front of a large fireplace. It had a high ceiling with a delicate cornice and a faded mural. Servants quickly came to pull protective sheets from the furniture in the room and to place a delicate, wooden table in the centre of the sofas. Lady Grace seated herself on one of the sofas, with Kasia taking a standing position to her side. Several servants, including the majordomo, had taken positions at the periphery of the large room.

The heroes took their seats and encouraged Kasia to explain what happened the day of Epidemius’ attack on the square. She started speaking, slowly at first, with a heavy Silesian accent, which became more fluent as she continued. She spoke of her arrival in the city, the Brightmantle’s visit to the Cathedral of the Platinum Father, and her curiosity as she started to walk around the square. She spoke of the horrified crownsguard and custodians when the black portal opened up and the “sound of wind” the portal created. She described the “animal people” with “heads like rats” that came out of the portal, and the objects they carried which emitted a strange vapour. She also tried to describe Epidemius and the mount he rode in on, though she seemed at a loss for words.

Lady Grace had been a late witness to Epidemius when she accompanied her father and his retinue of guards out of the cathedral with some of the clergymen. She tried to add her description of the situation, but it was clear she was having an equally difficult time explaining what she had witnessed. Later, Ser William, one of the house guards who had been horribly injured in the attack, was lead into the room in a wheelchair to add his account.