Category: RPG

Investigating the Sick Queen

Previously, the heroes had returned from the Sheridan estate finding that the city was on the cusp of the annual royal master angler competition, to start the following ride, and the Careless Wanderer was packed. Regardless, the heroes stumbled upon captain Randall and Callum the Diviner who had come down from Blackbridge to help resolve the mystery of the queen’s illness. They almost got conscripted into an expedition to Eastmarsh to find the source of a rare orchid that was involved in the queen’s illness, but decided to first investigate the matter from within the capital.

Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The heroes found themselves at the Careless Wanderer, retreated to their room in order to talk through their plans away from the packed tavern room. It had become clear to them that they wanted to speak to Dr. Arkenward and find out how the Khazra head got into the queen’s chamber. They thought a good start was to talk to Emma, whom they were hoping to find at the Sacred Baths of Sedna. Perhaps she would be able to answer some questions and fill in the gaps. And lastly, they wanted to send a letter to Falka of Dunagore, the young lecturer at the Bournemouth Academy and ask her to look into whether the curse that was placed on the queen was written about in the history books.

Emrys suggested James get in touch with some of the people of his guild to see if he could find out anything regarding the situation from them. James was very reticent and concluded that he would probably be better off not being in touch with them for a while.

When the heroes departed to go to the Sacred Baths, they noticed that captain Randall had just gone ahead of them and was making his way to Steward Square. There they saw him nail a letter to the notice board in front of the Magisterium. They waited for him to leave and went to investigate what he had left behind. They found several messages that they found interesting.

Crownsguard Looking for Honest Witnesses

The Crownsguard are looking for anyone who has any knowledge of who might have been involved in the delivery of the cursed package to the palace and into the queen’s chambers. Anyone who has any knowledge that will lead to the apprehension of those involved will be royally rewarded. Present yourself to the palace crownsguard.

– Lieutenant William of Eastwarren, Palace Crownsguard

[Affixed is the seal of the Palace Crownsguard]

The decree has been vandalised by several people calling for the execution of Lord Szymon Radowan and Lord Fabian Fetterling.

Soldiers, Guards and Mercenary, Quell the Uprising!

The kingdom needs you! Prisoners have been causing trouble and heroic people are needed to crush their insolence. Present yourself to any of the crownsguard of the Carceratum and ask for Warden Valgard.

Good Coin for a Guide

I am looking for a stalwart ranger who can act as my guide over the next few rides. Mountaineering and swamp navigation are a benefit. Paying in hard coin and can outspend any others.

– Lord Peregrine Blackwell, First of His Name

Will Work For Food

I fled here from the Elder Foothills. Haven’t got nothing to eat. Will do anything at all that’ll earn me a bowl of something hot, even if it’s porridge. Find me in front of the Cathedral on Steward’s Square.

– Berengar

Gardener Wanted

Looking for an experienced gardener to work on transitioning the design of my lord’s courtyard in Ravensbourne from the Daerlan style to the Lyrian.

– Hendrik of Grimsdown, Majordomo to Lord Caedmon Bromley in Kingsport

A Special Sermon

We have a saint walking among us again today! Brought back from the clutches of the Dark Queen top bring the word of the Lord! Come to the cathedral on the last day of the first ride to watch Saint Benedict speak, to hear his words. He is a privilege to all and a direct blessing from the Platinum Father.

Reserve your seats at the Cathedral.

– Lord Bishop Aldred Grey, Voice of the Platinum Father

Expedition to Cure the Queen

Looking for hardy people willing to help find a cure for our queen’s ailment. Must be willing to travel no later than the first day of the second ride. Wilderness, arms or hunting experience is preferred. Knowledge of the arcane or herbalism will be rewarded extra. Present yourself to Lieutenant William of Eastwarren at the palace or Captain Randall of Blackbridge at the Careless Wanderer for more details.

The heroes retrieved Lieutenant’s summons as well as captain Randall’s notice. Quentin had the ambition to gain entrance to the Library of Ioun, so he took the notice left by Lord Caedmon Bromley’s majordomo. And lastly, Emrys took the post by Lord Peregrine; not certain what to do with it yet, but at the very least to prevent him from finding a guide.

When the heroes arrived at the Sacred Baths, they entered and were greeted by an elderly woman in a robe who informed Emma. Emma was pleased to the see them and invited them to enjoy the baths with her when James asked if they could talk in private.

After dressing down to their small clothes, the heroes found themselves in a chamber filled with braziers that held hot stones. Water was sprinkled on the stones to cause a hot mist. In the centre of the chamber sat a large pool. Those willing to sweat it out stayed on wooden benches outside of the pool, while those looking for a more relaxing time sat in the pool. All the while they spoke together, while occasionally sprinkling more water on the hot stones.

Emma explained that she would be happy to help the heroes, but that she found herself frozen out of the group of people around the queen trying to help her recover. Emma was asked by Lady Annabella Waxley to consult on the queen’s condition and found that she was being tended to by Dr. Arkenward, Lord Bishop Aldred Grey of the Platinum Father, High Priest Selwyn of Pholtus and Mother Superior Arwyn of Pholtus. Lieutenant William of Eastwarren, the head of the palace crownsguard, was in charge of the investigation and Emma said she could easily introduce the heroes to both Lady Annabella and Lieutenant William.

Emma explained that the queen’s condition was very dire; her breath was fast and shallow and her skin was pale, bordering on translucent. Dr. Arkenward was watching over the queen, almost in a trance, keeping her from expiring. When Luca mentioned that Callum the Diviner wanted to mount an expedition to Eastmarsh to find out more about a ghost orchid which was used in the ward around the curse placed on the khazra head, she recalled that she had heard of that orchid. She knew it was a very rare flower that only grew in the flooded forest around the spring of the river Ivel, around a small settlement called Blackbough. She advised that Ecgbrith, the cantankerous Kaewyni herbalist could possibly know more about the flower.

After discussing the political situation, as well as some of the details of the khazra head, the heroes decided to say goodbye to Emma and head towards the palace. Before departure, Emma said that she hoped to see them again when the situation was resolved, since she needed their help in tending to Muirgheal, her legendary trident.

On the way to the palace some of the heroes noticed that posters had been slapped on the walls buildings all throughout town. All of them depicted a man wearing regal robes and a crown on a sweaty brow was fucking a bound and gagged man from behind. The bound man had the head of animal; either a blue lion’s head, a grey wolf’s head, or a black bird’s head, depending on the version of the poster, while behind them a woman in regal robes was playing with a rattle-toy on the edge of a bed in which a woman with a green face was laying. Emrys quickly identified that the caricatures with the animal heads were supposed to be house Courtnay, Grey and Ravensbourne, while the man fucking the houses was the steward, with princess Mildred, the steward’s wife, sitting on the edge of the sick queen’s bed. Several crownsguard were seen trying to remove the posters where they found them.

After presenting themselves at the palace, they were brought in front of the handsome lieutenant William of Eastwarren, the folk hero who had made his name on the Plains of Strife and was rewarded with his position as the head of the palace crownsguard. He appeared to have run out of leads in his investigation and had sent out a call for witnesses and information. He was somewhat disappointed to hear that the heroes didn’t have any but was happy to accept their help, knowing what they had achieved in the rescue of the cursed crusaders. He answered several questions that the heroes had and shed some light on the details of the situation.

Lieutenant William said that brother Shakeslocke had offered to interrogate the servants, diplomats, nobles and guards who had been present on palace grounds during the time that lead up to the queen discovering the dreadful package in her antechamber. It was an offer he had not considered yet, but if there was no breakthrough he would have no choice but to revisit that offer.

The heroes convinced the lieutenant to show them the antechamber, but some subterfuge was in order. Some of the heroes, like Luca, were quite conspicuous and some subtlety was warranted. It seemed the political situation was sensitive, and so Luca used his magic to disguise his clothing a bit to appear more plain. They gained entrance to the palace through a side passage reached by way of the watergardens.

Entering the gardens through a wrought iron gate filled with Lyrian ivy and bushes filled with roses, Quentin heard a satisfied humming of familiar Beauclair nursery rhymes in the back of his mind somewhere. Róisín was harmonising with the ivy and roses, further establishing the personality that was locked in the blade.

The heroes were lead through a door into a plain corridor. Some of the heroes remembered the corridor from the time Emma went to find the source of the spring that fed the fountains and pools in the watergarden in order to bless it. They had gone down deep into the basement under the palace, but this time they took a winding staircase up to the second floor of the enormous building.

When they entered into a beautifully decorated corridor they were met by several guard stations. The guards at those stations saluted the lieutenant and they were granted access. James suggested that this may be part of the problem; the palace guard is completely unequipped to deal with more sophisticated, arcanist intruders who could impersonate people or even sneak in while invisible. It began to dawn on the lieutenant that with the rise in the potency of magic that the crownsguard had never updated their methods or protocols.

When the heroes entered the antechamber they found a lavishly decorated room where the queen could receive guests. A door lead to the queen’s chambers; behind that door the queen was fighting for her life, aided only by Dr. Arkenward. The heroes immediately began to investigate the room in the hopes of finding something that the people who came before them had missed. Emrys discovered a spy hole which had been drilled from the adjoining chambers which were used by the queen’s handmaid.

Once again the lieutenant was impressed by the acumen that the heroes was displaying and decided that it might be good to invite the heroes to investigate the queen’s chambers.

The queen’s chambers was much larger than the antechamber, lots of luxurious furniture and large windows with a view down Garamond hill. In a large, four-poster bed lay the queen, gaunt and sallow, with thinning hair, a deathly pallor and her veins clearly visible below her skin. Her eyes were closed and she was panting furiously, like a dog trying to cool off on a hot day. She was barely recognisable as the young monarch the heroes had met in the watergardens several months before.

At the foot of the bed, sitting cross legged on a cushioned bench, wrapped in a dark robe, Dr. Arkenward was gentle swaying back and forth while muttering to himself. He was clearly in a trance and expanding quite some energy with the ritual he was performing. Luca listened to what the man was saying, hoping to learn something of the ritual he was performing, but was astonished to find that the doctor was reciting a prayer of protection dedicated to Paladine.

The heroes investigated the room as meticulously as they had with the antechamber but were not able to find anything unexpected. They did notice that while Dr. Arkenward was performing a ritual, he was aware of what was happening around him, sometimes looking up to make eye contact with whoever approached the queen.

James asked Emrys and Luca whether they could investigate whether or not they could find anything magical in the chamber. Luca could, but it required a ritual of his own. When he completed it he became aware of the flows of magic all around him. He noticed that the doctor was a source of very strong abjuration magic which enveloped both him and the queen. Upon closer inspection he noticed that the queen was the source of very strong necromantic magic which was trying to force its way out.

It occurred to Luca that the doctor’s efforts of containing the necromancy to the queen might be exacerbating her condition and speeding up her decline, which cast a whole new light on the situation!

A Royal Sickness: Notice Boards

Overview

During the time that the players are dealing with the illness of the queen while they’re in Kingsport, the following notice board messages will inform them of certain things happening in and around the capital of Lyria.

Notice Boards

Crownsguard Looking for Honest Witnesses

The Crownsguard are looking for anyone who has any knowledge of who might have been involved in the delivery of the cursed package to the palace and into the queen’s chambers. Anyone who has any knowledge that will lead to the apprehension of those involved will be royally rewarded. Present yourself to the palace crownsguard.

– Lieutenant William of Eastwarren, Palace Crownsguard

[Affixed is the seal of the Palace Crownsguard]

The decree has been vandalised by several people calling for the execution of Lord Szymon Radowan and Lord Fabian Fetterling.

Soldiers, Guards and Mercenary, Quell the Uprising!

The kingdom needs you! Prisoners have been causing trouble and heroic people are needed to crush their insolence. Present yourself to any of the crownsguard of the Carceratum and ask for Warden Valgard.

Good Coin for a Guide

I am looking for a stalwart ranger who can act as my guide over the next few rides. Mountaineering and swamp navigation are a benefit. Paying in hard coin and can outspend any others.

– Lord Peregrine Blackwell, First of His Name

Will Work For Food

I fled here from the Elder Foothills. Haven’t got nothing to eat. Will do anything at all that’ll earn me a bowl of something hot, even if it’s porridge. Find me in front of the Cathedral on Steward’s Square.

– Berengar

Gardener Wanted

Looking for an experienced gardener to work on transitioning the design of my lord’s courtyard in Ravensbourne from the Daerlan style to the Lyrian.

– Hendrik of Grimsdown, Majordomo to Lord Caedmon Bromley in Kingsport

A Special Sermon

We have a saint walking among us again today! Brought back from the clutches of the Dark Queen top bring the word of the Lord! Come to the cathedral on the last day of the first ride to watch Saint Benedict speak, to hear his words. He is a privilege to all and a direct blessing from the Platinum Father.

Reserve your seats at the Cathedral.

– Lord Bishop Aldred Grey, Voice of the Platinum Father

Expedition to Cure the Queen

Looking for hardy people willing to help find a cure for our queen’s ailment. Must be willing to travel no later than the first day of the second ride. Wilderness, arms or hunting experience is preferred. Knowledge of the arcane or herbalism will be rewarded extra. Present yourself to Lieutenant William of Eastwarren at the palace or Captain Randall of Blackbridge at the Careless Wanderer for more details.

Feedback on Leading Our Game

For the past two years I’ve been leading a game of D&D. I had been toying around with returning to D&D for a while and had been low-key thinking about a campaign premise for years. When Edwin wanted to do a D&D campaign and took over from me running Shadowrun, a game that I had fallen out of love with and whose campaign just wasting panning out the way I had wanted to, Edwin’s campaign came as a breath of fresh air. I had missed D&D and Edwin had put a great campaign together. He had raised the bar in all the ways that appealed to me.

For about six months I worked on the campaign premise, the theme, the continent that the campaign would take place in; kingdoms, cities, cultures, organisations, people. I got really into the world building aspect of the preparations. I may have taken it a bit too far, but I was enjoying it so much that I couldn’t stop. Didn’t want to stop.

Six months of that lead to us starting the campaign and it started off relatively well. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and it seemed like the world I’d created and the things I was exposing to the players was really well received. I got some great engagement and feedback.

Two years down the line, we’re still playing, I moved countries, pandemic happened, lost a player, picked up a player, and all the while I’ve been working away at the story, the campaign as well as the world it’s set in. I must have spent five hundred hours into it altogether. I have so much material prepared on all kinds of places, people and things that the players are unlikely to ever engage with. (Or maybe they will. Who knows!)

But I started to notice that the momentum was being lost a bit, especially around the times where decisions needed to be made.

There was a bit of analysis paralysis happening. The players were sometimes hesitant to make mistakes because they felt like a bad outcome would have detrimental consequences. This is likely due to some events during sessions in the past where they were punished for making mistakes, perhaps their best laid plans weren’t honoured with enough return on investment, or something else that lead to this dysfunction. I assured the players that they wouldn’t have to worry too much and that they could trust me not to fuck them over, and if they were to fail, they would always be presented with a narrative parachute. They understood, and it got a little better, but there was something more.

Recently, I sent all of them an e-mail and straight up asked them for feedback and criticism. It was surprising how unified the answers were. All of them loved the setting, the campaign and which direction it was headed in. But the one thing they would want to see changed was the amount of choice they were offered. They liked to have a clear goal and clear initial steps to work towards that goal. While they appreciated all the different side quests that they could do, and that there were several options in larger quests that would move the main story forward, they’d rather have a bit less choice and a bit more direction.

I did not see that coming.

One of the things which I have been asking for when running a game — and this is was something I wanted even before this D&D campaign — is that people’s characters wanted something; were inherently self-motivated by something. Not by something simple and banal as “treasure” or “adventure”, but that they had an internal motivation to find something, to answer a question or achieve an ambition. If during a session I were to say; “So, after a good night’s rest, after having returned the royal sceptre of dominion, you find that the day is yours. What would you like to do?” that they could be guided by ambitions beyond the just finished story arc and decide where to go next and what to do.

Side quests that would raise their standing within a particular organisation. Investigation into the lost library of a dead wizard I once mentioned. Researching the ancient catacombs that they rescued an injured ranger from to find out who built them. Finding out the identity of a mysterious benefactor. Shit like that.

It would then give me a way to seamlessly weave from one story into the next and start the next session presenting them with the next story, driven from an external source. It would also allow me to tie the story into the player character’s interests and motivations and make it all a little more appealing.

What I realise is that my mistake has been to assume that the players spend as much time thinking about and preparing the game as I am. I have created so much of the world and spend so much time thinking about the ever evolving world around the player characters, all of the consequences of their actions, their inactions, the history and the possible futures, that I have all these ideas kicking around in my head that I think would be fun if I was playing one of the characters.

I should be more respectful of my players, the time they offer up to play in the game, and what they want to put in, and get out of the game. I need to slim things down and make the story structure decision tree simpler. Non-trivial decisions need to be dramatic and have clear impact and consequences in order to make decision making less nebulous. Hopefully that way we’ll get more fun out of our games. More collaborative storytelling. Less indecision.

One thing is for sure, I should ask them for feedback more often.

The Khazra Skull

Previously, the heroes had prepared to depart Kingsport in order to bring Jeanne to the Sheridan estate. The trip was dreary and wet and when they arrived they were greeted by Lord Marcus and Lord Destan, who agreed to provide Jeanne with a job and a home.

The lords informed the heroes of a stone statue that was retrieved from the catacombs below the estate, as well as about the possession and subsequent exorcism and death of Robart in Pinefall that they were informed about by way of a letter.

Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

After the evening came to a close and the heroes were given quarters to rest in, the night passed by uneventfully for all but James, who tossed and turned and was haunted by nightmares. After waking up in the morning, he quickly wrote down everything he could remember of the trouble dream.

You are running down the dark, vaulted corridors of an ancient waterway. The only light you see comes from the phosphorescent moss that clings to the dirty walls arched around you. Your feet splash noisily through the sewage as they are trying to escape the dreadful mare that has been chasing you since you jumped through the cracked, marble gate at the top of the Crimson Tower into the terrifying realm of Old Llygad.

You know how this will end; the flaming hooves will thunder down on you and you’ll fall and watch as your own blood mixes with the sewage and spills down the drain. You decide to stop running. You turn around and draw your weapons, steeling your nerves and managing your adrenaline.

You see a set of fiery eyes in the darkness ahead and hear steady, deliberate hoof beats splashing into the sewage as they are coming towards you. With every splash, you hear a sizzle as the flames of the hooves are briefly extinguished in the filthy muck, only to be reignited when pulled free. Thick columns of dark smoke, like that of a tar fire, rise up from the mare’s angry hooves.

The smoke rapidly fills up the corridor around you until the only thing you can see are the burning eyes and the occasionally igniting hooves. You work up the courage to strike. You leap forward and your daggers flash through the thick smoke, hitting corded muscle and rugged hide. The acrid smoke fills your lungs and you feel your strength waning. Your agility fails you as the hooves thunder down on you once more; snapping the bones in your shoulder, cracking your skull and shattering your spine. You collapse into the filth of the waterways.

As the smoke subsides, you watch your blood mix with the sewage and flow down a drain, you notice that same, strange eyestalk rise up from the drain and peer at you. It extends to your paralysed body and you watch in horror and disgust as it touches your face and slides across to your left eye and starts to push its way inside your socket. You don’t feel any pain, but you do feel your eye burst under the pressure.

As the last of your life escapes you and your remaining vision grows dim, you see the eyestalk retract and disappear back inside the drain.

Once everyone got up, Jeanne was introduced to the rest of the servants at the estate and she seemed to be integrating well. She was given clothes and was taken to get instructions on her new work.

The heroes went to have breakfast with the two young lords, during which Lord Destan revealed from a pouch a small, round, conical statue of about the size of a man’s forearm, narrow at the bottom and wider at the top. It was made of stone and had an engraving of an eye in the top of it. James judged it to be quite old, as the stone was weathered and eroded, despite being made of hard stone; multiple hundreds of years old, at least.

The nature of the object was discussed; whether it was one of the beacons that Atilesceon mentioned in his journal pages, or perhaps a key to a vault, like the one that the orc warlord had found in the Elder Foothills, according to the orc scout that they had found lurking outside of the Sheridan estate.

The orc had told them that a warlord had found an eye in a ruin in the Elder Foothills, which lead to the warlord finding a vault with a pair of gruesome axes in it. She had speculated that her warchief might be interested in going down into the catacombs to retrieve an eye as well.

Luca was reminded of the symbol of Ioun when he saw the eye at the top of the stone object, and in a conversation with Destan was reminded that Tharizdun was sometimes referred to as the “elemental eye”, which this might also be in reference to. During a conversation about performing certain divination magics on the stone object, Destan explained that he was not a Circle trained mage, and that he’d rather not get too many people involved in order to keep knowledge about the object contained.

After breakfast was over and James had made sure that his mother would be alright, the heroes decided to head back to Kingsport. For several hours they travelled on horseback through rain and wind, unable to enjoy the countryside of Northshire slowly turning shades of yellow and orange in the autumn.

It was a little after midday when the heroes arrived back in Kingsport; cold and wet. They gave their horses into the care of Wojciech the stablehand at the Wanderer, who explained that he would stable them at the Kingsport Manège due to a lack of space in the stables. It seemed that it was busy inside.

After paying the stablehand handsomely for his effort, the heroes went inside to find it packed with visitors. Much to his surprise, James noticed a familiar face sitting by themselves at a table in the back; Randall, Blackbridge captain of the guard.

Quentin was keen on finding some time with the owner of the Careless Wanderer, Magda, and he found her chatting with an elderly gentleman, but eventually managed to get her attention. She invited Quentin up to her private quarters and they sat together.

Quentin wanted to know more about the encounter the heroes had in the Feywild. It seemed almost like a dream and Quentin hoped that Magda would be able to tell him more about what he saw and what it meant for the heroes to be touched by and in debt to the seidhe. Unfortunately, Magda was not as forthcoming as Quentin had hoped. It appeared that while she had been in touch with the seidhe, she had never been to the Feywild herself and couldn’t attest to what it was like there, but it was obvious that she was aware of the strange rules and laws that governed interaction with the seidhe.

Somewhat disappointed, Quentin said his goodbyes, but before doing so asked Magda, without too much of an explanation if she had ever come across the mention of swans during her interactions with the fey, to which she said that her only recollection was that of the story of the princess and the swans.

Meanwhile, while James was keeping an eye on captain Randall from afar, Luca decided it was time to walk up to him and say hello. The captain recognised Luca and immediately apologised for how he handled the situation with James those months ago in Blackbridge. Randall explained that he had been asked to accompany Callum the Diviner in his endeavour to help resolve the mystery of the queen’s illness.

Eventually, Randall made sure that the heroes had a chance to speak with Callum, who Luca noticed had been reading a book on flora and fauna of the swamplands. Callum explained that it was Emma’s suggestion to Dr. Arkenward and Lady Annabella to get him involved to investigate the origin of the goat’s head that seemingly was the source of the queen’s illness.

Callum further explained that the head was that of a khazra, a bipedal, half-man, half-goat creature that was part of the fabled servitor races, and that the horns were inscribed with arcane runes radiating in strong necromantic energy, most likely a curse. The nails which had been driven into the eyes of the khazra were enchanted with a powerful ward which disallowed Callum from analysing the curse. In order to have a chance at breaking the curse, he would first have to find a way to break through the obfuscating enchantment.

He continued to explain that the enchantment was one woven from very old magic, deeply occult and steeped in folklore. Having come to the end of his ability to divine anything, Callum had begun to use mundane methods of investigation and he had found traces of a rare orchid on the nails and in the khazra’s eye sockets. The flower was called a ghost orchid and he had found that it only grew in very specific conditions, tracing it back to an area between Eastmarsh and the Worthwilde.

When Callum said that he could use some stalwart people to go to the area he mentioned in order to find out who had been harvesting the ghost orchid, which could lead to understanding how had cast the enchantment that prevented him from getting to the curse. Luca seemed interested to take up the mission, but James was not so keen on leaving the city on just a conversation with the old sage and convinced the others that it would be best to field further inquiries.

The situation was an odd one. There were so many unanswered questions. Why was the queen cursed? Who brought the head of the khazra to the queen’s antechamber? Why had the steward been diverting the attention of the priests of Pholtus away from the queen’s care and to finding a cure for his wife’s infertility?

A Mother and Son Separated

Previously, after bringing Kalina back to Kingsport dead, James managed to parlay for his mother’s freedom. Unfortunately, she horribly injured and very exhausted. She was rushed to the clinic of the Temple of Pholtus where she was treated by Father Devon. She lost an eye and a strange slug-like parasite was retrieved from her wound. The Heroes of the White Eye would have one night before having to take Jeanne away from Kingsport, conform the agreement with the day master.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Having returned to the Careless Wanderer together with James and his mother Jeanne, the heroes remained in their luxurious room, choosing to stay away from the public in order not to offend the day master bu reminding him that Jeanne was still in Kingsport.

Quentin had still been holding on to the two letters that he had written the evening before; one to his Lord-father, and one to his bethrothed; Gwenaëlle. He asked Lauryn who he might turn to for a delivery to Beauclair and she directed him to Fast Feathers Rookery, just up Quayhill, no more than a few minutes away from the Careless Wanderer. He was to ask for Toruviel; a name which surprised Quentin to hear. H was determined to to convince Emrys to come along the next morning.

Seventh Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

For a second night in a row Luca had spent more time than he possibly should have reading through Kalina’s prayer book; The Disciplines of the Dark Queen. As a result he woke up significantly exhausted and not much the wiser. The rituals or secrets he had hoped to find eluded him, but he was getting a better understanding of the ethos.

During breakfast James decided to talk to his mother about the next steps. He turned to the confusing jargon and cant of the guild, one that he knew his mother was familiar with. He laid out the day master’s demands that she leave Kingsport, and the options that had come to him; either see if he could secure her a position as a servant at the Sheridan estate and allow her to stay close, or bring her to the grass plains of Silesia where she could start anew. She chose to former, opting to stay close to Kingsport and her son.

Meanwhile, the rest of heroes sat around, eating their breakfast, trying to pick apart the complicated coded language the two were speaking. Giving up, Quentin asked Emrys to join him in his trip to rookery, to which Emrys agreed.

After breakfast James decided to take stock of all of the things he had been storing inside of the magical bag he had been given by the day master; including some of the items they had retrieved from the Reaverhaunt caves that he never got a good luck at. These included the following:

  • A wooden, lacquered jewellery box
  • Silver necklace with a teardrop pearl pendant
  • An assortment of five different silver rings
  • An assortment of four different golden rings
  • A finely embroidered doublet studded with golden buttons
  • A silver triangle figurine, held aloft by two angelic figures
  • A golden coin pendant depicting Tymora surrounded by clovers

Luca took a few minutes to prepare a ritual in which he could sense if any of the items were enchanted, which he found they were not. The careful conclusion was that these were mundane items that the bandits had collected during their raids around Northshire.

The heroes decided that they would attempt to depart at noon so that they could make it to the Sheridan estate before sundown. Before that they would run some errands.

James and Luca headed to the Silver Cross, the tavern in the Lace where Jeanne had been working and James had made his home for a long time. On the way there, James noticed that they were being tailed by a revolving tail of guild affiliates; different people paid off by the guild to keep an eye out.

When the two heroes arrived at the Silver Cross they found Samuel the Carcerian bartender standing out front. He gave James an uncharacteristically long hug and whispered into his ear that it was not wise to stay for long; the guild was watching the Silver Cross as well. James darted in and out of his mother’s room and picked up only the necessities.

Once they had departed, the duo headed to the Circle of Magi where they hoped they could purchase any potions or ointments that could help them stay safe and healthy in the next leg of their journey. When they arrived, they found entrance to the college obstructed by brother Shakeslocke and the red-robed monks protesting the supposed corruption in the institution. Unfortunately, Olafur, the custodian at the college was not tending to the herb garden out front and could help them inside.

Luca suggested heading out of the city and visiting a man who supposedly sold herbs, salves and ointments. They walked down the Elysian street and out of the similarly named gate. Then, in the shadow of the Bastion of Restraint, they found a cabin surrounded by a fragrant garden of different herbs and plants. A gruff Kaedwyni man who introduced himself as Ecgbrith was found out in front, tending to the garden.

James and Luca found him to be somewhat reluctant at first, but he became a lot more willing to deal once Olafur happened to come walking up. The Miðgarðurian was obviously a frequent patron of Ecgbrith and helped smooth the way. Eventually a deal was reached for several potions. Expensive though they were, Ecgbrith threw in a mysterious potion which he said would help clear the mind.

Luca, having been interested in plants, herbs and fungi ever since getting some strange mushrooms from a guard in his home village once, asked whether Ecgbrith could help him to a herbalism kit. The herbalist put together a small satchel with some essentials that would help Luca cut, harvest, dry and preserve herbs properly and gave him a quick overview on how to use it. It would take Luca quite some time to become adept at what the Kaewyni had told him, but at least he’d have the tools once he did.

The two walked away with three vials of healing liquid as well as a concoction that would “clear the mind,”  as well as a herbalist’s kit. It had cost them a significant sum.

On the way back to the Careless Wanderer the two had a conversation about what the best course of action would be once they had visited the Sheridan estate. Should they go to the Tiverton glades to help the Lady Commander’s family stave off the orc invasion, or should they stay in Kingsport and investigate the illness of the queen?

In the meantime, Quentin and Emrys followed the directions that Quentin was given by Lauryn to Fast Feathers Rookery located at a small but luxurious manse near the top of Quayhill. This walled establishment had several small towers and aviaries in the garden around the building where people were tending to ravens. Emrys noticed that there was a peculiar banner on the outside gate, on the building and on the towers; quartered, with the banner of House Waxley, a turtle on a field of green, taking up the first and fourth quarter, with a black bird carrying a parchment on a field of blue taking up the second and third quarter.

When inside, they found several people behind small lecterns transcribing letters to and from thin strips of parchment fit to be carried by their ravens. After asking about Toruviel Fast Feathers, they stood eye to eye with a slender elf with silvery hair and a tight restraint on his face. After a brief exchange Toruviel explained that they could send letters to Beauclair and that, if properly addressed, the letter would find its way to the correct recipient.

Quentin found it easy to send the letter to Gwenaëlle, watching Toruviel transcribe the letter onto a small strip of parchment with swiftness and ease, but he hesitated with the letter addressed to his Lord-father, Dorian of House Morvrayne. He eventually relented when he was convinced of the elf Toruviel’s discretion.

During this exchange, Quentin asked Toruviel about his name and heritage, and Toruviel explained that he was one of the Aen Gwynt, or Sky Elves, from the mountain range of Ard Thoradun. He explained that Toruviel was one of their great ancestors and a hero among his people. He carried the name to honour their ancestor. During this time, Quentin kept an eye on Emrys, who stood almost motionless, listening, with his hand on the hilt of his blade. Later, when the two had departed the rookery, Emrys thanked Quentin for bringing him.

Just after midday it was time to depart. As people were saddling up and getting ready, Wojciech, the Wanderer’s stablemaster, came to say goodbye to Jeanne. The travel out of Kingsport was done under an overcast sky and soon after departing the city the weather turned sour. It took several uneventful hours to get to Lynnecombe and the heroes were soaking wet when they arrived at the estate.

Lord Marcus and Destan received them in the dining room of the manor and made sure that the servants brought towels, dry clothes and lit the fire in the hearth. Wine and food was brought, though not nearly as lavish as the feast they had received the last time they were at the estate.

A quick conversation about Jeanne’s predicament was settled quickly as Lord Marcus assured James and Jeanne that there would be a place at the estate for Jeanne and that she would be able to earn her keep. It was decided that she would take the place of a stable hand who had recently gotten gravely injured when several bandits had set upon their stables in an attempt to steal the family’s horses.

James revealed to Lord Marcus that the staff had been infiltrated by Steady Hand spies who were interested in books and artifacts coming from the catacombs beneath the estate. While Lord Marcus seemed aware of Harrick, he had not been aware yet of Beatrice, so he was grateful for James’ revelation. He assured James that no harm would befall Jeanne from the Steady Hand spies.

James mentioned that he had learned about the artifact of a small statue which had been retrieved from the catacombs and that he’d be interested to see it. Lord Destan said that this could be arranged in the morning.

Once that had been settled, the conversation turned to a letter that the Sheridan family had received from Pinefall;

To Lord John Sheridan of House Sheridan,

My lord, I hope this letter finds you and your sons reunited and good health. I am sure Lord Destan has explained everything about your lands in the southern Silverpine Hills, including the unusual events of the last few months. There are, however, things that the Lord of these lands must be made aware of.

Since the departure of your Lord-son, one of the villagers of Bristlecone (a little settlement in Pinefall) fell prey to an evil spirit. Robart, the man in question, accompanied Lord Destan on his “voyage” and returned having quite literally lost his mind. We were instructed by your Lord-son to care for him as best we could; it was the least we could do in the wake of his sacrifice.

Several days after your Lord-son’s departure some of the crusaders left your lands; some for Gryphon’s Roost, some for their ancestral lands, some for parts unknown. As luck would have it, some of them stayed behind, deciding to wait out the winter. It was to them we turned when Robart was possessed.

The local wise woman, Isobel, claims that Robart having lost his mind left a vacuum that was easily filled. She, together with the crusaders, managed to force the demon to vacate poor Robart. I will spare you the profane and grotesque details, but the process was disturbing. Unfortunately, poor Robart was not strong enough to survive the ordeal.

Isobel and the crusaders have speculated that the demon must have been able to travel between Old Llygad and Pinefall, much like the crusaders did. It does mean that we have to remain vigilant, for others might follow.

Your servants,

– Gregor of Bristlecone
– Isobel of White Fork
– Ser Gregorian Longshadow