Category: RPG

Liliana the Instigator

Previously, the adventurers settled the conflict between the Allenham townsfolk and were asked by the magistrate to take care of the Procyon threat that was still lingering in the dense forests around town. They found and engaged a large group of Procyon scouts, lead by mage. The fight was stiff, but the Procyon eventually retreated. The adventurers pursued the retreating elves into the ruins, hoping to strike a crushing blow. Unfortunately, they were lured into an ambush and it was their time to retreat. The elves did not pursue. Instead, when the adventurers returned to Allenham, they found that the Procyon had attacked the Allenhouse, killed the guards and murdered the magistrate.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

While all of the Allenhammers were vast asleep, their doors locked and bolted, trying to process the events of the last several days, Emrys and James had decided to patrol the streets of the town in case the Procyon returned. Emrys stayed in the centre of town while James patrolled the outskirts. Boredom soon struck Emrys, so he sat himself opposite the Allenhouse and started playing a tune on his lute.

Luca was asleep in a room in the Allenhouse, getting assaulted in his dreams by flashing images of all the knowledge that his master had poured into his head on the eve of his departure from Kingsport. At midnight, he awoke with a fright. The images of his dreams were fleeting, but he was left with some flashes of recall; of a person stumbling through the a dark wood, awash in purple light, of a bloodied hand, and finally of a dormant cottage and the smell of lavender in the air. He felt a throb coming from Blackstar standing in the corner of the room he was in, and a dark voice resonated in his head; “Consume. Consume. Consume! Consume!!”

Clumsily trying to sneak out of the Allenhouse, Luca bumped into Emrys outside. He noticed the only two moons in the sky were the bloodmoon and the darkmoon, casting all of own in an eerie, purple light. Exchanging a few words with Emrys about not being able to sleep, and Emrys went back inside the Allenhouse to catch some sleep, while Luca walked over to Syldarael’s cottage. James, who had been honing his skills in rural stealth had long since noticed Luca and decided to follow him.

When Luca approached Syldarael’s cottage, a figure darted from her herb garden and dashed into the woods. Luca went to inspect the garden when James walked up next to him. They concluded that the person who had been in Syldarael’s garden had likely collapsed there, but had not made it to the front door.

The two decided to see if they could follow the trail the person left behind and eventually found a wounded Procyon scout hiding in a hollow created by two conjoined trees. They saw that the elf was grievously wounded from a wound to the belly. A gash was bubbling dark brown blood and they both concluded he was not long for this world. James tried to comfort him and asked him if he wanted to have a message passed along. The elf reached inside his cloak and retrieved a piece of folded parchment, dipped in wax to make it water resistant. Using the light of the flames Luca had produced in his hand, they read the letter:

Dear Cendelius,

While observing the Allenham townsfolk as they go about plundering and devouring the forest, I have noticed a human woman who stands out to me. She is the daughter of a notable and has been touched by… something. It is neither fey nor shadow, neither radiant nor dark. She is under the influence of someone, or something. I suspect that the disappearance of Lady Sehanine is weakening the bond between the woman and whatever it is that’s manipulating her. The evening after tomorrow, when Sehanine is fully obscured, is when the bond, and whatever is causing it, is at its weakest. I know it is not in your nature to help out the humans, but we must act. That is why I send this scout, Kalindras Duskstrider, to bring you this message.

Forever in your debt,

Valadar Amberwind

When the adventurers had read the letter, Luca took hold of Blackstar and summoned an eldritch bolt of energy which robbed Kalindras of what was left of his life. Luca felt a jolt of pain and again the dark voice resonated in his head, letting out a satisfied sigh. James, who already had some reservations about the weapons the adventurers had found near the portal in the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe, decided not to bring it up. Instead, he suggested going back to Syldarael and asking her to take care of the body for them, while they investigated the contents of the letter. Syldarael, startled and confused at their request, decided not to ask too many questions.

The adventurers thought that the most likely “daughter of a notable” would be Martha, so they decided to head to the Allen farm first to check in on her. First, however, they decided to drop the letter they had found off at the Allenhouse for their companions to find once they woke up, just in case something happened to them during the night, they would at least have a lead to follow.

After dropping the letter off on Emrys’ chest, who was asleep in one of the common rooms downstairs of the Allenhouse, Luca and James headed to the Allen farm. They spoke about the three moons and the full eclipse of the Silvermoon, which they figured was also referred to in Valadar Amberwind’s letter. Luca told James that the position of the moons had an effect on the ebb and flow of magic, and James said that it also had effect on people.

The streets of Kingsport are even more empty on a night as tonight. Even the guards stay inside.

When the duo approached the farm they noticed that all was quiet. They decided to approach the house through the fields, in case the farm had guards out. They spoke quietly about the Arms of the Senhadrim, about their effects, and about how James didn’t trust their influence. He claimed that he had seen Emrys be controlled by Toruviel. When they came to the house, they decided to approach it along the side, near the garden where they had their parlay with Herman not so long ago.

If we don’t have to, let’s not kill anyone.

They found a window on the ground floor which had its shutters locked. Luca used Blackstar to detect the presence of people. He noticed a few, but none of them behind the window. James took out a leather satchel lined with a bunch of curious tools which he unfurled and used several of these tools to unlock the shutters. Both of them climbed into a hallway. They verified the presence of one of the people that Luca had noticed using Blackstar, and found that Herman was asleep in a study, laying on a sofa with a book on his chest. They proceeded down the hall.

After quietly searching the house, they managed to make their way upstairs, finding Martha’s room. She had one part of the house all to herself, but her door was locked. Again, James produced his satchel and opened the door in no time. The room was candle lit and they could see Martha in a state of half undress, laying on a large, four poster bed. She seemed to be moaning and touching herself, while a curious, red vapour undulated above her. Luca decided to hex the vapour and it responded immediately by rising up, coiling up like a snake and bursting through the shutters and out of the window, retreating towards the woods.

Checking on Martha only to find her semi-conscious and not lucid, they decided to bind her hands and gag her, just in case. Then they gave chase, using growth of old Lyrian ivy vines along side of the building to climb out of Martha’s room. As they did so, it became clear that Martha had often used the vines to sneak out of her room. The strange vapour had left a trail which was easily followed as the two ran into the woods. Eventually the vapour trail lead to a small grove, lined with bindweed, which Luca knew was rumoured to thin the fabric between realities.

Near the back of the grove, they found the start of a path leading down into a small crag. The further the two went down the crag, the more decorations could be found. There were primitive, isometric shapes carved into the rock; spirals, triangles, stars and circles. Also, they found stick figured made from vines and sticks hanging off of the branches and roots from the trees above, as the two descended down deeper into the crag.

At the end of the crag they found a cave in which sat a stunningly beautiful woman, with fiery red hair and an alluring and revealing dress, laying on a bed of furs. She spoke to Luca and James, introducing herself as Liliana and trying to get them to come closer and spend some time with her. Both of them were simultaneously attracted to her and repulsed by her. They knew something dreadful was about to happen, but they also couldn’t deny their attraction to her. They also noticed that the entrance they had come through had disappeared, effectively locking them inside the cave with Liliana. They kept resisting her calls, until finally she became angry.

The fight was very confusing. Liliana showed her true form by sprouting a pair of large, leathery bat-wings from her back, growing a set of curved horns from her forehead and displaying vicious, claw-like hands. She summoned small, vicious fiends that kept on attacking and poisoning the duo.

The strangest was that during the fight, she would occasionally use her powers to transport one of the adventurers to a strange, alternate reality where the cave was made from pulsing flesh and they had to defeat two of the small, vicious fiends in order to return. While banished, the remaining person would have to withstand Liliana’s preternatural charm.

Due to Luca’s strong mind and James’ elven lineage, Liliana was not able to seduce them the way she wanted to. She managed to entrance James for a moment. She kissed him, draining him of much of his life force and then ordered him to attack Luca, but he was able to shake off the effects of her charm. It was touch and go for a while, but they managed to defeat her and the fiends she summoned. As she dissipated in a vapour with a screech, Liliana’s voice entered the adventurer’s minds with an ominous message:

Until we see each other again, boys…

The luscious furs dried and turned to dust and the remaining fiends shrivelled to nothingness. The entrance to the cave also reappeared. When the adventurers stopped trembling and regained their breath and bearing, they rummaged through the remains in the cave to find a couple of tourmaline stones, a curious potion in a ceramic, green bottle and a strange, dreadful looking flute.

Battling the Procyon

Previously, the adventurers managed to broker a deal between the different parties in Allenham which seemed to satisfy everyone’s needs. The remaining threat to newly brokered peace in the village was still threatened by the presence of the Procyon somewhere in the wilds around town. Magistrate Strickland struck a deal with the adventurers that they could resolve the Procyon presence in return for two sturdy mules or donkeys for them to use on their way to Pinefall. The adventurers returned to the elven ruins in the forest, convinced that they would be able to find tracks which would lead them to the Procyon hideout. After searching they found an entrance to a underground system underneath the ruins, from which a group of Procyon spilled forth to do battle with them.

Fifth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

Right after Luca had managed to penetrate the illusion which was cast over the statue of the elven lovers, a Procyon scout rose up from an entrance in the base of the statue which lead to the ruins below the garden. He had is bow drawn and loosed an arrow at Luca, who managed to duck out of the way. In the confusion, eight fleet-footed Procyon scouts emerged from the entrance, each of them carrying swords and bows. Quick to follow was a large, black feline, that came bounding out of the entrance, going straight for Luca. And last came another elf, this time clothed not in the supple leathers of the Procyon scouts, but in the loose flowing robes of an arcanist, carrying a wand made from twisted wood.

The feline pounced on Luca, taking him down, while everyone else was immediately under fire. James moved quickly from bush to bush, the thorns of the roses tearing at his clothing and skin, but always keeping hidden from sight. He was all over the garden striking suddenly when the opportunities presented themselves. Astrid raged as she tore into the nearest Procyon scouts with her grotesque sword and Emma unleashed a tidal wave of water like a hammer. Emrys used his illusions to duplicate himself causing confusion among his attackers while flinging broken shards of marble at them. At one point, Emma managed to lure one of the Procyon scouts close enough to the waterfall to shove them triumphantly over the edge.

The adventurers all found themselves out of position to support each other. Soon, Luca was down, James had drawn the attention from the arcanist, Emrys was drawing fire, Astrid was battling several scouts at once, and Emma was dealing with assailants of her own. Luckily, they had managed to strike enough of the scouts down and wounded many others so that they started a tactical retreat back towards the entrance at the base of statue. They grabbed as many of their fallen as they could and descended down into the ruins.

Emma took a moment to call upon Sedna’s divine grace to bring both Emrys and Luca back from the brink. Questions were raised about what to do next. Perhaps the adventurers thought they had the Procyon on the run, perhaps they felt threatened by leaving them down in the ruins, perhaps they felt that now was the best time to strike, and so they climbed down into the ruins. They used all caution as they found themselves descending down into part of an elven bath house, the interior matching the exterior with marble columns and rose bushes decorating them.

They found a doorway leading to a corridor which ultimately took a right turn leading down a flight of stairs. At the bottom of the stairs another short corridor which lead to another room, much like the one they had just departed, complete with a bath and all the trappings of a decadent bath house. They found signs of a camp, with hastily discarded bedrolls, trinkets, clothing, and the signs of an extinguished campfire.

Another corridor lead to another staircase, once again going down and taking a right turn. Another corridor at the bottom of the staircase lead to an almost identical room with a bath in it. Again there were signs of a camp. The same in the next room. The last room they found did not have the same signs of a camp, but was otherwise identical to the previous three. The only room that was unique was the top room, as it was more elaborately decorated with rose bushes, which was something the other rooms lacked.

The final corridor eventually lead to entrance to the base of the hill on the north-western side. Allenham lay about an hour to the south-east. The entrance to the tunnel was obscured by roots and vines coming off the side of the hill. When the adventurers emerged into the daylight, they were once again confronted by the Procyon, lay in wait in the treeline, ready for an ambush.

As the adventurers emerged they were beset upon by a sudden, magical blizzard, pelting them on all sides with cold, hard hailstones. Then came a hail of arrows from the scouts. Last came the devastating arrow from Cendelius’ own recurve bow, exploding in the middle of them, knocking out Emrys and Luca once again. They had been lured into overextending themselves in their pursuit of this group of guerrilla fighters and had paid the price for it. Astrid and Emma grabbed their fallen companions and the group retreated back into the safety of the ruins.

The group decided to rest in one of the bath chambers, setting up simply spells which would aid them in detecting if or when the Procyon would return to finish them off. But after hours of rest, the Procyon never came, and the group decided it was safe enough to return to the top of the hill, emerging from the entrance in the base of the statue to find that the remaining dead scout the Procyon had initially left behind had also been retrieved. What they did find, however, were some of the items of the scout which Emma had pushed over the edge of the waterfall. They decided to take their shortsword as proof of their battle.

Returning to Allenham they found the village eerily quiet. Syndarael’s cottage was abandoned, with the door left open. Other huts and cabins had closed and bolted their doors. Something was clearly amiss. When they came closer to the centre of the village they saw small plumes of smoke coming from the Allenhouse. Upon arrival they found the large building damaged by fire, the two guards slain, and the door open wide.

Inside they found magistrate Strickland slain at the hands of the Procyon, with Sylvael cradling his head in her lap while her mother was futilely trying to patch up the magistrate’s wounds. The only thing that Syldarael could say was that everything would become so much worse now.

The adventurers decided to try and take charge the situation. Some did it for their own benefit, some did it out of a sense of duty, but conversations were held with Falibor and Herman to rally together and lead the village until such a time that another magistrate would be sent from Kingsport. The latter also agreed to provide the adventurers with one of his donkeys in repayment for their efforts in dealing with the Procyon presence.

Emma took care of cleansing the body and preparing it for burial, together with Syldarael who explained that the farmers of Allenham paid homage to the Earthmother. They believed that they came from the earth, and would return to the earth in death. The bodies of the two guardsmen were retrieved by their families, who were going to put them to rest the following day in a small, private ceremony.

Luca tried to find out where the magistrate kept his rookery and was annoyed to find that such a small village like Allenham didn’t have a rookery of their own. No wonder Kedelon had to make the trip up and down river to Blackbridge so often. They only had a bird whenever Kingsport sent them a bird, which they would then promptly send back with a reply.

Emma provided a solution to this problem by using the divine grace of Sedna in order to send a message along the streams and rivers of the Lyrian countryside, all the way to the handsome folk hero and lieutenant of the palace crownsguard, Sir William of Eastwarren.

Surprised by the usual message, William promised to relay the message to the steward of Kingsport. Or at least, that’s what Emma imagined he was trying to say in reply since the message got cut off prematurely.

That evening, Emrys and James patrolled the streets, making sure that the Procyon did not return to cause more trouble. The irony of two half-elves on patrol to keep the villagers of Allenham safe was not lost on anyone.

Council and Consequences

Previously, the adventurers tried to find the common ground between the conflicting parties in Allenham in the hopes of creating a foundation upon which peace could be brokered. They talked to magistrate Strickland, the healer Syldarael and the farmer Herman, who seemed to be at the epicentre of the racial tension in order to get a better sense of what could put this strife to rest.

The adventurers stumbled upon a mob of humans who were dragging a halfling family of three from their home and tried to put a stop to it. In the middle of James shepherding the halfings to safety while the rest was confronting the mob, a group of Procyon archers opened fire on the mob, killing many of them, before being driven off by the adventurers.

Magistrate Strickland was called to the scene. The bodies were collected and a meeting of notable figures in the conflict was arranged for later that day.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

In the wake of the massacre, when everything had been arranged and the adventurers had some time before the council meeting, they decided to investigate the direction in which the Procyon archers had headed. They were able to pick up a trail and start following it. Emma noticed a piece of fletching made from a bright, red feather and made a not of it.

After close to an hour of wandering deeper and deeper into the woods surrounding Allenham, the adventurers stumbled upon a pond at the base of a hill, fed by a small waterfall coming from higher up on the steep hill. The pond had cool, fresh water with all manner of small fish and tadpoles swimming around in it.

Pieces of broken and cracked marble columns and archways were found nearby, indicating a winding path which lead up the hill. As the adventurers ascended higher up the path, the columns became more overgrown with vines of bindweed and beautiful thorny rose bushes.

The top of the hill opened up to a circle of thick oak trees surrounding a ring of marble pillars. These, in turn were the outer perimeter for a long forgotten garden which nature had long since reclaimed with wild roses. In the middle of the garden stood a fountain with a beautiful statue of an elven couple holding one another in a romantic embrace.

The adventurers started to quietly explore the garden, each of them looking out for different things. Emrys seemed lost in thought as he wandered the garden, while Emma was looking for the source of the waterfall and trying to figure out what used to feed the old, marble fountain. James found a very crude shortsword scattered among the briarthorns which was reminiscent of the weapons carried by the loathsome skaven.

Eventually, the adventurers discovered a hose of skaven bodies in a crevice behind the garden, beyond ring of columns and trees. Using some rope, Emma climbed down with James following her. They discovered that the bodies were riddled with deft cuts and arrows which carried the same red fletchings Emma had found near Allenham after the massacre. It was clear they were dispatched by the Procyon.

They searched the bodies and found some trinkets but otherwise nothing of value. One of the dead skaven seemed to be higher in rank, wearing the same thick leather armour which they had seen some of the task masters wear in the catacombs beneath Lynnecombe. James took a knife and cut a section of the leather and took it with him.

By the time they climbed back out of the crevice, the adventurers noticed that the sun was hanging low in the sky. They had no more time to search the shaded garden for they had a council to attend. The adventurers were convinced that this was a place that the Procyon frequented and that they simply hadn’t unearthed the secrets of the garden, and so Luca decided to leave a bit of parchment near the statue of the elven lovers inviting the Procyon to attend the council.

The return to Allenham from the garden was a lot quicker than the way over and by the time the adventurers got to the magistrate’s house most of the attendees had already gathered in a spacious room used for more official business. Strickland, Syldarael, Falibor and his son Balidor were already present, but Herman and Martha were not there yet, leaving everyone to wonder about their intentions. Sylvael dropped in late, and eventually the Allens did show up, together with another senior farmer.

Strickland took the reigns of the council and suggested that everyone should say their piece, state their intentions and desires, and come with any suggestions they deemed necessary in order for the violence and animosity to come to an end. He had good hope that common ground might be found.

Falibor started by saying that there was no dwarven word for forgiveness, just subtle variations on revenge, recompense and retribution. If he was not recompensed, he would depart Allenham and try to make his fortune on the Plains of Strife, or perhaps return to Ard Thoradun.

Syldarael spoke next and told everyone that in her capacity as a healer, she believed that there was a possibility to repair and heal the community. When she spoke about repair, she seemed to be subtly addressing Falibor, trying to sway him to remain in town. She said that she wanted to see the violence stop, and that she was willing to cancel the wedding if that’s what it took. Martha was visibly delighted by that prospect.

When Herman spoke, he aired his grievance about the unfair distribution of new farmland and that the land that had been allocated to the Stubbs family should rightly have gone to him, or at least a human family. The Stubbs family was the halfling family attacked by the mob earlier that day and had decided to depart Allenham after the violence.

There were several rounds of negotiations but it was eventually concluded that Herman would take control of the Stubbs farmland in return for him pay triple the normal taxes for the first two years, and double the normal taxes for the following three years after that. The money would go towards rebuilding the smithy, repairing the houses, and compensating families for their damages and losses.

The remainder of the time the Procyon activity was discussed. Strickland decided to send Kedelon back down the river to Blackbridge the following morning in order to appeal to captain Randall for some of his guards to be temporarily dispatched to Allenham until the tempers had died down. In the meantime he appealed to the adventurers to resolve the situation with the Procyon, making sure that they no longer saw Allenham as fertile soil for them to raise the crops of revolt. In return for their aid, beds and breakfasts were provided at the magistrate’s house, and two beasts of burden would be provided to aid the adventurers in their onward journey.

Before retiring for the evening, Luca found Emma in her room getting ready to get some much needed sleep. He wanted to give her a lyrium crystal and requested that she experiment with it, like he had. He was curious whether the crystal would work like a universal reagent, like it did for his magic, and whether it would boost the potency and the outcome of the divine magic she had at her command. She politely refused, thinking of the divine magic she wielded as a gift from her goddess, which was something she was unwilling to alter or meddle with.

Fifth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

The following morning breakfast was waiting for the adventurers when the woke up. The guards whom they had seen at the magistrate’s house spoke of a quiet evening with no more incidents of violence.

The adventurers decided to return to the garden in the forest to investigate further. They were convinced that there was some hidden passage. Emma had gotten the feeling that the hill upon which the garden stood was the site of some underground activity which had cracked and split the rock, causing the crevice in which they had found the skaven, and diverting the water from the spring from the fountain of the lovers, to the waterfall and the pond at the base of the hill. She felt that there was a way inside the hill and she wanted to make an effort to find it.

The walk to the garden was pleasant as the adventurers found comfort in the shade of the large, broadleaf trees of the woods. They found the garden as they had left it, with the exception that the parchment that Luca had left behind was nowhere to be found.

Emrys, again lost in reverie, was asked what he knew about the place, and he said that it was the remnant of a community of Aen Adhar, or moon elves, that lived in the area over three thousand years ago. He himself was of moon elf descent, and he knew the names of the lovers depicted by the statue; Mindaran Chillwind and Gwyndeith Starfall.

Emma investigated the fountain and found that the marble of the fountain’s basin was as worn by age and cracked by vines and bushes as the pillars around the garden. Luca, amazed that everything is broken except the statue, decides to attune himself to the subtleties of the magic around him and detects a faint aura of an illusion coming from the statue.

As he came to the realisation that what he was looking at could possibly not be the thing which was there, he saw the statue waver and blur, only to reveal an opening into the base of the fountain from which a Procyon commando emerged, training a drawn bow on Luca and loosening an arrow in his direction, narrowly missing his head!

A Time of Contempt

Previously, the adventurers learned about the history of the venomous dagger; a green dragon by the name of Kalauranthalasis was enslaved by a priest of the dark queen named Melchior who harvested its body to fashion the dagger and many like it to carry out assassinations of seemingly random people in name of the Takhisis. The adventurers also managed to catch a boat ride upriver with an elf named Kedelon, a friendly and simple fellow from Allenham, who was also travelling with Rickard and Willow. The journey to Allenham was quiet and pleasant, taking about a day and a half before arrive at a small pier just south of town.

After disembarking and saying goodbye to Rickard and Willow the adventurers walked towards Allenham with Kedelon. They came upon an old, gnarled hanging tree in which six non-human bodies were strung up and a message of racial bigotry against non-humans underlined the motive of the hanging. In town it appeared that tension between humans and non-humans were running high due to a capricious magistrate and a decade old feud involving Kedelon’s family and the Allen family, the influential founding family of the town.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

The adventurers departed the magistrate’s building, leaving Strickland to stew in the mess that he had made. They were interested in getting the perspective of some of the other notables in town in order to get a complete picture of the situation. They decided to continue the ruse that Luca was a mage sent down as a royal envoy to investigate the Procyon activity in the area. Their first stop was Syndarael’s cottage, where they once again met up with Emrys, who was still sitting outside with Toruviel across his lap, enjoying the sunshine filtering through the leaves in the trees.

Everyone who had not been introduced got introduced to Syldarael’s family and her halfling friend Tiff, who was helping out and providing everyone with a nice cup of restorative herbal tea. In the meantime a conversation was had between Emrys, Luca and Syldarael. The rest remained outside so as not to crowd the little cottage too much.

It was revealed that Allenham was founded about one hundred and fifty years ago by the Allen family. Syldarael was part of a local elven community and the two communities were joined when a blight went through the area, leaving the elves unable to hunt or forage for food. The Allen family bartered food for labour and soon the elves and humans were living side by side.

It was also revealed that Allenham and its environs were part of the crownlands, owned by House Valois and governed by magistrates. Rickard and Willow lived close to Allenham but were from a neighbouring estate owned by House Hardwin of the Cloisterwoods. Emrys was familiar with the Cloisterwoods and House Hardwin, since they were both neighbours of House Blackwell of the Cloakwoods, with whom had had history.

Another thing the adventurers learned was that Strickland had only been magistrate for a few years. He took over after shadowing the previous magistrate, a man by the name of Crossley who had spent thirty-five years developing the area of Allenham, for over a year before Corssley retired from his position and went to live somewhere in Fulham.

It appeared that Syldarael’s main goal was to make the violence stop, either by strong punitive action towards the perpetrators, or by diffusing the situation by calling off the wedding. She’d rather see punishment of those who are transgressing the queen’s laws, but is willing to sacrifice her daughter’s happiness if there is no other option. She made sure to let the adventurers know only when her daughter was preoccupied.

After the adventurers departed Syldarael’s home, they talked amongst themselves about possible solutions. When the idea was raised of just continuing to Pinefall and leaving the situation in Allenham to be dealt with the Allenhammers, Emrys said that he could not allow that. Emma pledged her support, while James and Luca pledged their support grudgingly. Astrid had no strong opinion either way.

Several options were discussed and the idea of finding a suitable replacement for magistrate Strickland seemed to be a strong favourite. It was decided to go to the Allen family to see if it was possible to talk to Herman Allen. When they found him receptive to a conversation the adventurers continued their ruse of Luca being an envoy for the crown. Herman lead the adventurers to a shaded area to one side of the main building of his large farm.

Some cold milk was served for Herman and each of the adventurers. Once again, James made an effort to be rude by rejecting the offer of hospitality. He was as eager to rub the Allen family the wrong way as he was eager to show disdain for Syldarael’s family.

Under the guise of investigating the Procyon activity Luca asked Herman where he thought the violence in Allenham originated from. He claimed that the former engagement between the magistrate and his daughter Martha was water under the bridge, but that he felt that Strickland had shown favouritism towards the non-humans in allocating new farmland to them. He held no bias towards the elder races or other non-humans, and pointed at the large number of them in his employ as evidence. He rejected the idea that he had any responsibility for the violence that had occurred, including the hanging.

The conversation came to an end and the adventurers departed. They wanted to speak to Falibor, the town’s smith, and get his opinion on matters. But before they managed to find the dwarf, they stumbled upon a large group of humans violently dragging a family of halflings from their home.

Emma tried to bring the mob to a halt through divine intervention, but their anger and frenzy was complete. Astrid and Emrys advanced on the mob with their weapons drawn, and Emrys used his magic to enlarge the both of them until they were the size of an ogre, towering over the mob. This caught the angry mob’s attention, and in the confusion James, who had circled around the building to flank the mob.

During his flanking manoeuvre, James had noticed a small group of figures emerging from the tree line behind the houses and hastily climb up on the roof. They were well camouflaged, nimble and silent and James held up his hand in greeting. Seconds later the group started firing arrow after arrow from sleek longbows into the mob of humans.

In that confusion, James acted. He managed to extricated the halflings from their predicament. He told them to make their way towards the trees and onward to Syldarael’s cottage.

Luca fired searing bolts of fire and purple force at the sharpshooters, partially igniting the roof. Emrys magically raised the fury of the flames that Luca caused, and finally, Emma thundered a tidal wave on their position, dousing the flames and sending the sharpshooters in retreat.

The final tally was that nine people were shot down in a matter of seconds, only one of which could be saved by Emma, a young woman by the name of Tomira. Martha was held back and made to sit on the ground, among the dead, watched over by Astrid, while Strickland was called to the scene. Astrid had to step in when Luca started to harass Martha, trying to get her to take responsibility for the violence. Tomira asked to depart and was allowed to do so after a stern lecture from Emma.

Strickland arrived with two guards and started arranging for a cart to pick up the dead. while Luca has redirected his harassment from Martha to Strickland. The adventurers forced him to agree to hosting a meeting with certain notable people in town, in order to settle the differences and put an end to the violence.

The Allenham Pogrom

Previously, travelled from Egremont, into the Riverlands to Blackbridge aboard the Old Queen. The town, almost completely surrounded by woods, lay on the crossing of the Teign river and the bridge crossing it along the Silesian road. Getting settled in at The Grove, the local tavern and lodge, James was approached by Randall, the stern-faced captain of the guard who wanted to speak to him regarding the dagger he was carrying on his belt and his possible involvement in a string of murders. James, fearful of being made a scapegoat and having a strong disdain for authority, fled the scene. Eventually, a meeting was arranged on the bridge with the local magistrate, a flinty-eyed woman by the name of Loretta. It was agreed that the town sage would divine the truth behind the dagger, under the watchful eyes of the adventurers, minus James, who didn’t feel safe enough to come along.

Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

James walked back down the Silesian road, away from the bridge, to once again meet up with Emrys who was hiding in the woods, while Luca decided to stay behind and observe the ritual divination which was about to take place. Loretta lead the way back to the Black House escorted by captain Randall, his guards, Astrid and Emma.

The town sage turned out to be Loretta’s husband Callum, at least twenty years her senior and quite old. He performed a ritual that seemed to tax his strength considerably, involving the burning of incense and a collection of polished ivory sticks engraved with arcane runes.

Before James, the dagger belonged to a curious old alchemist by the name of Alfred Barnaby who ran an alchemy shop in Bournemouth. He was a man of questionable morals and backbone, but with a keen, opportunist mind, like that of a scorpion. Like a scorpion, he learned to utilise the sting in this dagger’s tail and started to experiment with the poisonous substance the blade could be coated with.

The blade came to Alfred in the hands of a wounded assassin named Orgamel, devoted follower of the Dark Queen Takhisis. Orgamel had fled Egremont when a planned assassination of a local miller’s daughter had gone awry and he had caught a guardsman’s blade to the belly. Crudely bandaged up, he stole a small fishing boat and travelled down river to Bournemouth, escaping the law and seeking aid, he had hoped to find it at the alchemist’s, only to die at the hands of the opportunistic quack.

Before the unsuccessful assassination, the blade was given to Orgamel by Melchior, a wicked man from deep in Eastmarsh who spent his entire life in service to the Dark Queen and had spread her dark influence all along the eastern coast of the Lyrian gulf for decades and had acquired a loyal following.

Melchior had been tasked to murder very specific people by Takhisis and had plotted for a decade, trying to find a way to do so. First, he created a following. Second, he trained and equiped his followers. And last, he would direct his followers to assassinate those the Dark Queen had marked for death. The blade was one of the weapons created to perform the murders. It is one of many.

In the decade leading up to Melchior being ready to execute Takhisis’ plan, he took his followers and penetrated deep into the Eastmarsh, seeking out the territory of Kalauranthalasis, an ancient green dragon who, in its old age, had grown so arrogant as to think it had no more need to fear or obey the Dark Queen.

When the humans finally came for Kalauranthalasis, it could no longer rely on its mistress and was quickly overwhelmed by Melchior and his followers. Melchior defeated Kalauranthalasis and subjugated it, chaining it and harvesting its body for its essential salts, fashioning the wicked daggers from its teeth, nails and poisonous fangs. They used the jewels from its hoard to decorate the blades, and used the dragon’s life force to enchant the blades with the same wickedness as the dragon that spawned them.

Somewhere in the Eastmarsh, Kalauranthalasis lies bound a slave to Melchior’s whims.

With the truth unveiled, Callum excused himself and was escorted away. Loretta stayed behind to address Astrid, Emma and Luca. It was decided that it would be for the best that the adventurers take the dagger far away from Blackbridge and that James would not be welcome in or around the town until he was ready to accept the Queen’s appointed authority.

The adventurers went back to The Grove and asked Keogh, the owner, whether they could resume their stay and they were welcomed back into the inn and found that their beds were vacant and their equipment untouched.

In the meantime, James and Emrys had sneaked back into Blackbridge in order to find a place for them to rest which gave them some protection from the elements. Normally able to rely on his talents, James found himself out of his depths a bit in such a rural environment, preferring instead the urban environments of places like Kingsport and Bournemouth, and so the best he could do was an abandoned pigsty on the edge of town with enough dry hay on the ground to allow Emrys a small measure of comfort.

Third Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

The following morning James and Emrys sneaked from the pigsty, through the woods back to the Silesian road and walked down to the bridge to wait for the others. The others woke up late and found that the options for breakfast were limited due to all the other guests having gotten up much earlier than they and picking the larders clean. The managed to eat some scraps but were delighted when Roswyn, the innkeep’s wife, was able to pack five lunches for them to take on the road.

Speaking with Keogh they learned that if they were quick, they might still catch up with Kedelon, an elven boatsman who was going up to Allenham by barge and was set to depart in the morning. Gathering all of their things, Luca, Emma and Astrid hastily made their way to the soggy flats of the harbour area, making as much haste as they could while simultaneously carrying the chest between them.

Arriving at the peer, they looked around for Kedelon and his barge and finally spotted him, already on his way, having passed by the bridge across the river, punting the barge upstream. Emma tried to call out to him, but couldn’t get his attention. She decided to sprint uphill, towards the bridge, and yelled down at him again, this time getting his attention. She asked if he had space for a few more passengers and he happily obliged, docking the barge on the bank north of the bridge.

The adventurers gathered up their things and climbed aboard and found Kedelon to be a friendly, elven boatsman on his way to Allenham together with Rickard and Willow, the couple who had been travelling in the same direction since Bournemouth. While Willow was handing out some fresh fruits to all aboard and Emma was chatting with the riverlanders, Luca informed James and Emrys of what had occurred at the Black House, and the information they had gained about the dagger.

Emma learned that Kedelon was the Allenham boatsman, working for the village magistrate a man by the name of Theo Strickland. Kedelon had travelled down to Blackbridge to pick up some goods and packages, including some cloth, silks and dyes that were to be used to create the clothing for the wedding feast of his sister’s.

The travel upriver was pleasant and serene with the forest on either bank remaining dense and verdant. Birds could be heard everywhere, only occasionally drowned out by the sound of a rutting moose bull. Kedelon and Astrid took turns taking the large punting poles to push the boat upstream.

Occasionally, Kedelon would stop at small river-side villages to drop off packages he picked up from Blackbridge. It was clear he was a common and welcome sight to most people along the river.

Emrys mostly kept to himself, his mood being tempered by the unnatural appearance he now bore. His silvery hair tucked underneath his hood and his radiant eyes hidden behind his blindfold. James kept to himself, unwilling to engage with the Riverlanders on a personal level.

In the afternoon the large swooping figure of a young wyvern flew overhead, its leathery wings, razor sharp claws and serpentine tail standing in stark contrast to the clear blue sky. To some this was the source of some fright, to others it was a symbol that they were travelling further away from civilisation.

At the end of the day, a small cove in the river was reached, with a shallow beach, protected from the current by two large, round boulders. A grassy clearing with access to the cove, protected by the densely leafed branches of two ash trees was to be their camp site for the night. A semi-permanent, stone fire pit stood in the middle of the small clearing and a supply of firewood could be found in the hollow of one of the ash trees. This spot was clearly used often by the travellers of the Riverlands.

While Willow and Kedelon prepared a fire and started making some stew, Rickard and James went into the woods to find fresh fire wood to replace the wood they would use during the night.

Emma approached Emrys and asked him if he would care to take a swim with her. She wanted to try seeing whether or not she could somehow dispel the magical effect that had gotten hold of him. Initially reluctant, he decided that a swim would do him well after the warm day and accompanied Emma. First they swam, relatively secluded, and then Emma cleansed Emrys in a ritual, restoring his visage to what it was before the fight with the Pesta in the basement of Alfred Barnaby’s alchemy shoppe.

Immediately after restoring Emrys back to his old appearance, his cheerful personality returned as well and while the food was being prepared he began strumming his lute. Emma, satisfied with the minor miracle she managed to perform with Sedna’s help, decided to take up Muirgheal and use it to go spear fishing in the river. Guided by Muirgheal, she speared a huge river trout, which was cleaned roasted and added to the stew for supper.

Eventually, a rotating set of guards were set up for the night and everyone bedded down. James, ever the contrarian, decided to sleep in the barge, looking up at the stars. Just before he fell asleep, he noticed that the Silvermoon was at low sanction, while the Darkmoon was at its fullest, a sign of foreboding.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262

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

The night went by without any disturbance, everyone who was assigned to stand guard did so without complaint. Early in the morning the remainders of the fish was served up and the stew was eaten and the camp site was once again brought to its proper state. Trash was discarded, the fire pit was tidied and the fire wood was stacked in the ash tree’s hollow to dry.

The day on the river went by quietly, listening to the sounds of the forest and the river and only occasionally being disturbed by manoeuvres having to be made to prevent the barge from hitting rocks in the river. Kedelon explained that the heat of summer was both a blessing and a curse for travelling upriver; it meant the current wasn’t as strong, making punting the barge upriver easier, but it also meant that the water level was low, making navigating the rocks a lot harder.

Midway through the morning the barge was brought to a halt as a large brown bear was standing in the middle of the river, fishing for river trout. Eventually the bear lost interest in the fish after having pawed several fish from the stream and devoured them, and went on his merry way.

It was in the early afternoon that the river began to bend off to the east ever so slightly and Kedelon announced that their arrival at Allenham was imminent. Everyone got ready once a small pier was spotted on the western bank slightly upstream and within minutes everyone was standing along a small path leading along the river. While docking, James had noticed that some smoke was rising above the trees to the north. It struck him as a different type of smoke, darker and more acrid, than normal hearth fires.

Willow and Rickard bid the others farewell, as they travelled south along the path while Kedelon and the adventurers chose to head north, towards Allenham. Soon the forest started to thin out and pretty soon a large, gnarled tree with bare branches could be seen on the bank of the river. Several dead bodies were hanging from ropes attached to different branches. Getting closer to the tree, the adventurers identified that all of the bodies belonged to non-humans, mostly elves. It became clear that racial tension had exploded in Allenham.

Kedelon identified the bodies and he became anxious to make it to his family’s cottage to make sure they were okay. Emrys and James, having elven blood, thought it best not to head into town but follow Kedelon to his family’s cottage in the woods on the edge of town. Astrid, Emma and Luca would go into town and see if they could find a place to purchase a beast of burden for their onward journey.

When Astrid, Emma and Luca walked into town they passed by several vandalised homes, some of them burnt to the ground with nothing left standing but the charred skeleton. They walked up to what passed for the rural town square, finding a large group of humans standing and milling about opposite of the largest building in town, which was guarded by two people which looked to be part of the town guard.

There was an amount of posturing from the group loitering which was making the town guard very nervous. When the adventurers asked the guards to see the magistrate, they seemed not at all to care to protect the magistrate and let the adventurers into the building after Luca pretended to be an envoy from the court.

In the meantime, Kedelon, Emrys and James had circled through the woods and found a colourful cabin surrounded by a beautiful, fragrant herb garden. Much to Kedelon’s relief, they found his mother Syldarael and sister Sylvael safely inside, together with a halfling friend of the family.

Syldarael explained that the Allen family, whose daughter Martha was once engaged to be married to Theo Strickland, the magistrate. The engagement was called off when it was revealed that the Strickland family had promised Theo in matrimony to a woman living in Bournemouth. The Allen family, and especially Martha, were disappointed but understood the situation. When, years later, Strickland got engaged to Sylvael, the Allen family felt fleeced.

An underlying animosity towards Syldarael and her family made the situation worse. Syldarael was the town herbalist, healer and midwife. She delivered Martha many years ago but unfortunately Martha’s mother, Anna, passed away from complications during birth. Herman, Martha’s father, head of the Allen family, never forgave Syldarael for losing his wife and held her personally responsible. For years he has been poisoning people against Syldarael, and by extension, against her daughter Sylvael, especially since she is training to become a healer too.

A few days prior to the adventurers arriving in Allenham, two of Martha’s cousins, Justan and Brandon, were sentenced to hang by the magistrate for the crime of destroying the smithy run by Falibor, a dwarven blacksmith who is of great strategic importance to Allenham and its surroundings. The two cousins had been in their cups one night and decided to retaliate against Falibor for firing Justan from his apprenticeship because of poor craftmanship. Thinking they were not going to be punished too harshly, the two boys had proudly admitted their crimes and quickly found themselves with a noose around their necks. This was the spark that lit the fire of racial tension.

Emrys and James spoke with Syldarael about the different ways in which the situation could be resolved. When the topic of breaking off the engagement came up, Sylvael spoke out against it. James harshly told her to shut up and in turn got rebuked by Syldarael.

To make matters worse, Procyon commandos had heard of the problems in the Riverlands and had sent a group into the area. Ostensibly to rescue non-humans from oppression, but Syldarael understood them to fan the flames of hatred. They were lead by an elf by the name of Cendelius, a sharpshooter who used to fight for the Daerlan empire against the Lyrians on the Plains of Strife before the last peace treaty was signed and he and his brigade were traded to the Lyrian empire for execution as part of the treaty. He and several others survived the massacre and became deeply embittered against both the Daerlan empire as well as the Lyrian kingdom. They were rescued by the Procyon and immediately swore allegiance to their cause.

Emrys drew Toruviel from its elaborate scabbard and seemed for a moment to commune with it. He said he was determined to protect Syldarael and her family from any harm that may befall them at the hands of the bigoted people of Allenham. Syldarael refused to have drawn weapons in her house and asked Emrys to depart. He did so and took position in front of her cabin. James was worried that Toruviel’s undue influence on Emrys and departed for the town when he saw that reasoning with Emrys seemed impossible.

Eventually James arrived at the magistrate’s house and was let inside by the guards to find Astrid, Emma and Luca talking to the magistrate. They went over all the key people involved in the conflict, their desires, their grievances and their objections. They found the magistrate was unwilling to relinquish his position in the town and eventually thought it would be best to convene a meeting between the various factions to see if fences could be mended and bridges could be restored.