Category: RPG

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.

The Arrival of a Scholar

Previously, the heroes were interrupted by James while they were attending the closing ceremony of the fishing competition. He asked them to escort a young girl named Luciana from the orphanage in Grimsdown to the docks. Luciana was the daughter of the late night master and an outlaw captain, who promised to share some information on a supposed “vault.” The heroes managed to get Luciana out of the hands of some guards, and escort her to the docks, and were given a mysterious journal page, written in a strange language.

Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is in high sanction, Night of Cerulean Eyes)

After an eventful day, the heroes retired to the Careless Wanderer. The tavern was quiet, having previously been the home of teams of fisherfolk who had competed in the fishing competition under the banner of Lord Peregrine Blackwell. The sun het set, darkness had fallen, and the city was being covered in a gentle sprinkling of snow.

While Magda made a rare appearance in the tavern, instructing Lauryn to replace all of the cutlery with silverware she produced from a rosewood box, Emrys spoke quietly about his expectation that James would show up to address the letter Neamhan had returned with from the Calypso’s Song. Quentin was quiet, and Luca was contemplating the letter. Everyone was wounded, and Luca and Neamhan felt a general malaise on top of that which proved hard to shake.

Quentin and Luca decided to put their healing abilities to good use, but neither more so than Neamhan, who uttered an ancient, elven blessing and used it to command the wind to gentle and sooth the wounds of everyone around the table. She also provided several handfuls of berries which also refreshed the group. A well-to-do family of four who were staying at the inn and had been in the middle of a meal observed the display with open-mouthed wonder.

Neamhan found some solitude and transfigured into a cat, which curled up on Quentin’s lap as he enjoyed the warmth of the hearth, mesmerised by the flames. Luca eventually creates a copy of the letter and hands the original to Emrys. Emrys muses that Luciana seemed possessed, not unlike Lady Maya Ironwood, and wonders whether there is something about children which makes them especially susceptible to possession.

Emrys says he’d like to ask Toruviel more about the topic, but the sword has only barely been awoken. Luca says that his connection to Blackstar has not been the same as Emrys’ connection to Toruviel. Luca says that he does not understand Blackstar’s motives and goals, and he feels he’s on course to clash with the staff. Until then, Luca suspected not to have any meaningful conversations with Blackstar, sharing that the sheer potential is what keeps him dealing with the troubling and wilful nature of crystal atop the staff.

At the end of his ability to stay awake, Luca retires for the night. Tired and frustrated with the feeling of powerlessness, Quentin also decided to retire soon after Luca’s departure. Neamhan, who was still in the form of a cat, snuck upstairs and into Quentin’s room to continue to keep him company. When she eventually grew tired and headed for her own room, she could hear the soft sound of windchimes he knew to mean that Wynn was close by.

Emrys and Astrid continued their conversation. Emrys wanted to know more about the man in the white robes who attacked the heroes outside of the orphanage. Astrid described him as fast and deadly, much like the way Kalina had fought in the Reaverhaunt caverns. She showed a wound she had received from a dagger the man had wielded, and it looked painful and corrupted, with tendrils of darkness spreading underneath her skin around the wound, and felt hot to the touch.

When the last of the heroes went to sleep, they did so while the Silvermoon and Darkmoon stood at high sanction for the Night of Cerulean Eyes.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

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

Neamhan was the first to wake early in the morning. The inn was quiet and she crept downstairs after preparing her druidic connections. She found Ramsey in the kitchen, hard at work kneading dough and baking loafs of bread in his stone oven. Shortly after Lauryn came down, and went about her morning routine of preparing the inn.

Just before the sixth bell there was a knock on the front door, and Lauryn hurried to open it to find a young woman, dressed in modest travelling clothes, carrying a suitcase and a travelling satchel, covered in snow and lips as blue as ice. Lauryn rushed her inside and put her near the fire to warm her up.

Once she had warmed up, she asked after Luca, and said that her name was Falka of Dunagore, a young scholar from Bournemouth. She had arrived early in the morning on the Old Queen. She intended to stay over the winter to help the heroes in their endeavours, explaining that she was well versed in natural sciences and ancient history.

Falka was eager to arrive in Kingsport and took the first available ship. This was not as easy as it was a few months ago, since travel his slowed down due to the weather, but also due to the continue blockade of the Eastray harbour by the Lyrian navy, as disease still ravaged the city.

When Quentin came downstairs it took a moment for him to introduce himself to Falka. When he eventually did so, Falka felt flustered, apologised and curtsied to “Lord Quentin.” Satisfied that his station was recognised, he bade Falka to call him Quentin. When Emrys came down, Falka greeted him warmly. She seemed genuinely delighted to be in Kingsport with them.

The topic of the crusaders came up and Neamhan had a hard time understanding why their return was so important. Falka said that they had first hand accounts of the Age of Fear, explaining that for humans it is countless generations ago, whereas for elves it has only been a few generations. Falka expects that the return of the crusaders will have a significant impact; the return of Dame Josephine La Valette being a good example of it.

It is clear that Falka wants to be useful to the heroes and she offers to put her time and effort at their disposal. “Move me about the board like a chess piece,” she offers. “Whatever it is you need, I’m happy to do it. I will arrange for my own protection and safety. Give me the means, and I will travel to the farthest corners of the kingdom to serve the cause.”

Emrys asked Falka to take a look at the letter the heroes had received from Ramona, and she instantly recognised it to be written in the draconic language. She said she needed no more than a day to translate it, and to leave it to her.