Category: RPG

Research: Daughter of the Sea

Admiral Bertram Karadin and his daughter, Rhosyn Karadin, both sailed on the Daughter of the Sea, the mighty flagship in service to the Lyrian throne and Queen Síle d’Aragon-Valois.

In the month of Autumn Red of 952, the fleet was sent out from the Lyrian tooth to southern Mazuria to defeat a growing horde of savages who were banding together under the leadership of a seafaring warchief.

The Mazurians were engaged in a war with the Silesians at the time, so their attention was turned towards their northern rival, not their southern shores, leaving the savages to raid the Mazurian and Lyrian coasts, inflicting casualties on the populace, blocking ports and sinking vessels.

The Lyrian fleet engaged the savages at every turn but found their heavy warships outmanoeuvred by the lighter raiding vessels. Despite this, the Lyrian fleet inflicted serious casualties upon the savages.

After many rides of skirmishes at sea, the admiral grew impatient and took command of several reconnaissance vessels while leaving his daughter to take command of his warship. His plan was to pursue the last remaining savage ships and defeat them once and for all.

As the admiral sailed away from the flagship, safe in the knowledge he left his ship in the hands of the sailor he trusted most, his daughter, he looked back in shock to see the vessel being entered by two enemy galleons. Impotently he stood by and saw his sailors defeated and thrown overboard and watched as the Daughter of the Sea set her sails to head west.

Believing his daughter might still be aboard as a hostage he pursued the flagship. Despite his reconnaissance fleet being much faster ships he was frustrated by strange currents and constantly changing winds while the Daughter of the Sea raced on, remaining ever on the horizon.

Overcome with fear for his daughter, the admiral took over from his helmsman exhausting every trick he had learned during his long career to squeeze every once of speed out of his vessel, slowly leaving the rest of his fleet behind. When he finally caught up, he found the flagship abandoned off the coast of Jagged Shore, within a day sailing from Dunagore.

The last of the savage vessels came out of nowhere to attack the admiral’s reconnaissance ship and the Daughter of the Sea, who had not just been abandoned, but whose sails were torn and ropes had been cut.

To his utter horror, he had been tricked by the savages. He was prepared to fight to the death in the name of his queen until he saw that the largest of the savage vessels was being commanded by his daughter.

His heart broke and he stopped giving orders. He stood there, motionless, as his ship was attacked, as his sailors were killed around him, as the Daughter of the Sea was battered by a kraken and pulled beneath the waves.

The admiral’s daughter was cursed for her betrayal. Some say she still raids the southern coast of Mazuria and the Jagged Shore in a ghostly vessel. Others say she was turned into a siren and lures ships onto the rocks of the Jagged Shore. And other still claim she haunts the Lyrian gulf, commanding a kraken to pull ships to the bottom of the gulf.

This tragic tale has spawned numerous sea shanties.

Arrival in Bournemouth

Previously, the adventurers had made their way to the Inn at the Crossroads and rented rooms for the night. During the night, the room that Astrid and Emma were staying in was invaded by an intruder who trying to steal from them. Emma woke up in the nick of time and she alerted several others. Even though the intruder used many arcane tricks to try and prevent from being caught, eventually the pursuit ended with them tackling the thief to the ground. It was none other than the szygani Vadoma, whom the adventurers had met earlier at the seat of friendship.

She had tried to steal all of the strange red crystals that the adventurers had found in the catacombs below Lynnecombe. When Vadoma was questioned about the nature of the crystals, she explained that they were mythical Lyrium crystals, which were used in times of high magic to create legendary magical artefacts and fuel powerful spells. The adventurers decided to convince the guard to spare Vadoma the gallows, though not unanimously.

The following morning the adventurers continued on the road to Bournemouth, arriving late in the afternoon.

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

Upon entering the city it became clear to the adventurers that the city was full of entrepreneurial types trying to make a living off of the innovations coming out of the famed Bournemouth Academy. Many curious goods were sold on the narrow, crowded streets. Despite it all, the city seemed joyful and optimistic.

A passerby was asked for a suggestion on where to stay, and two options were provided, either stay at The Golden Cockatrice in the Kettering district, or stay at The River Stone in the harbour district. If Ioun’s Isle, the island fortress at the mouth of the river which gave the city its name, was the beating heart of the city, then Kettering was its soul. The Golden Cockatrice was rougher around the edges than The River Stone, and so the adventurers chose to stay at the latter, considering it the safer option, having been the subject of a nighttime intrusion and sitting on a pile of platinum.

The horses and cart were left in the care of a stable master by the name of Siggi, and the inn was run by Elmond, a large, dour-faced man, and Bella the Barkeep, a rotund woman with a pleasant face. A large room was arranged that would house all five of the adventurers and some food was consumed.

All the while Emrys talked to two of the young girls on staff at the inn, as well as Elmond, for more information about Lord Destan. It appeared that Lord Destan had housed Gorden, Jenna and Mark, the three Sheridan guards that accompanied him, at the inn, but he himself had stayed at the prestigious Landsdowne auction house. Elmond could also share that Lord Destan departed after staying in Bournemouth for a short few days, heading to Blackbridge.

It was decided that Astrid, Emrys and James would stay at the inn and get an early night’s sleep, but that Emma and Luca would make their way over to the Bournemouth academy to see whether they could start their research early. Luca had a contact at the library that he wanted to find as soon as possible.

The two made their way from the inn to Ioun’s Isle and entered the academy campus. The atmosphere was academically vibrant, with students spending the warm summer evenings on the lawns and in the parks on the isle, studying, debating and dreaming up new ideas and theorems. The duo noticed that Ioun’s Isle was being guarded by Crownguard, not the city guard.

The two found the library easily and found it to be open and accessible. A hall the length of a hundred paces, lined symmetrically on either side with bookcase alcoves with large windows providing as much natural light as possible. The floor was covered in polished wood and several reading rooms were available on either end of the hall. Librarians were busy helping researchers and students or were busy organising and returning books to their proper place. Two hundred thousand books were at their disposal.

Luca started asking the librarians after his contact Falka and they seemed confused at the mention of the name at first, but eventually brought him to a librarian they called “Faulkner”, a name that was recommended to Luca by a man called Shakeslock when he visited the Seat of Friendship the day before.

“Faulkner” turned out to be the person Luca had corresponded with, and she was delighted, if somewhat surprised, to see him. Luca explained the reason for his visit and his hope that she might help him find the information he was looking for. Once it became clear to Falka that they were looking for Lord Destan she explained that several rides ago she also helped him find information that he was looking for. The stars seemed to align and Falka brought them to a luxurious reading room for them to use.

Luca wanted to repay Falka by allowing her to read his precious tome. They had corresponded about the contents of the tome in the past and the prospect of going through it made her excited. When she started paging through the book she got very cross and accused Luca of playing a trick on her, revealing that each page in the book was empty. Luca was mystified as he saw the infernal scripture he had always seen when reading the book.

Emma decided that it was time for her to retire to the inn, but Luca had no such intentions and decided to try and work throughout the night. He had a lot of ground to cover and little time to do it in. Falka excused herself for not properly introducing herself to Emma and introduced herself as “Falka of Dunagore.”

When Falka finally formally introduced herself to Emma as “Falka of Dunagore.” Emma asked Falka if she knew about the legend of an admiral who was betrayed by a female companion at Dunagore, which she had picked up from one of the songs that Muirgheal had sang to her. Falka recalled a tale about an admiral by the name of Karadin who had fallen to foes after being betrayed by his daughter.

Emma would be back to help in the morning and departed for the inn. Falka kept her home in Kettering and would accompany the priestess part of the way and Emma saw an opportunity to ask Falka some questions and get to know her better.

Apparently, Falka had grown up on Dunagore Mount where the Order of the Shield makes its home. Her mother was a cook in the service of the order, while her father was an armsman. She was noticed to be intelligent by the Knight Chronicler of the order and she was set to work for him. Eventually she was sent off to study at the Bournemouth academy, where she studied at the Depart of Ancient History. She was mostly interested in finding out why the hall- and doorways of Dunagore Fortress seemed to be made for people who were much taller than people are now.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

The following morning it was decided that Astrid, Emrys and James would explore the city and procure some supplies. Astrid would also try and arrange for passage to Blackbridge on a river boat later in the day, first promising James to back him up as he would explore the seedier parts of Bournemouth in search of information. Emma would once again head for the library to help Luca out with the research.

The trio found market square and Tolliver square back to back in the centre of the city. Market square was chock full of stalls selling mostly foodstuffs. It had not gone unnoticed that many of the items going through the harbour district were also staple food, produce and fodder. Fairfields, of which Bournemouth was the defacto capital, was known to be the breadbasket of Lyria and many destinations beyond.

Tolliver square was a more dignified square where House Tolliver, the most prestigious house in Bournemouth, kept their mansion. The Daerlan empire also had a rather prominent consulate on the square.

Wandering around the streets of Bournemouth the trio stumbled upon a shop called Alfred Barnaby’s Concoctions & Decoctions, devoted to alchemical ingredients, dusts, ointments, salves and potions. Inside they found a curious, older gentleman who was running the establishment, who had many different healing ointments and potions for sale, which was something that Luca had asked James to be on the lookout for. There were many other items, like a potion which supposedly allowed the imbiber to breath flame like a dragon of legend. Alfred Barnaby turned out to be a horrible negotiator, but despite that the trio decided not to buy anything (yet.)

The next stop for the trio was the Landsdowne auction house. They found it on the southern part of the river, which was rich and heavily patrolled by city guard. Two guards in the employ of the auction house stood out front. After a short chat, Emrys managed to convince them to allow him an introduction to Villem Landsdowne, who ran the auction house. After convincing Villem that Emrys was working for the Sheridan family, they spoke about Lord Destan and him staying at the auction house during his visit to Bournemouth. The family apparently never purchased anything at auction, but were notorious for having sold many curious and magical items. Lord Destan did show an interest in a set of leather armour which he claimed to have a curious origin.

With this information in hand, Emrys and James decided to visit Ioun’s Isle and find Emma and Luca. Astrid headed down to the harbour to find passage upriver to Egremont and Blackbridge for the second day of the next ride.

Emma had since made it to the library and had met up with Falka and Luca. Falka had uncovered one part of a poem that mentioned the Crimson Tower, which Lord Destan had found during his research. The poem was incomplete, and Lord Destan had spent a lot of time trying to find the rest of it, but to no avail. The morning was spent trying to find the companion piece. Again, the stars seemed to align and the second piece of the poem revealed itself to the researchers.

Part 1:

When summer is at full ascent,
The spectres rise, the veil relents.
And those the lake of light condones,
Bear witness to a great torment.

Be still and heed the fright’ning tones,
Of rending flesh and breaking bones.
An evil which does not belong.
Hark! The crusaders’ painful moans!

When darkest moon stands full and strong,
You hear their wicked, fiendish tongue.
The evils try to draw you near,
With anguish of their victim’s song.

Your heart is steadfast and sincere,
Go find the source of pain and fear,
And scratch away the thin veneer.
The crimson tow’r might then appear.

Part 2:

Pursuing thus the tow’r of lore,
The white eye is to be explored.
Prepare and wait for day to break,
And look along its placid shore.

As light of dawn creeps ‘cross the lake,
And water seems to be opaque,
The scarlet walls will come ‘to sight.
Descending shade will a bridge make.

The bodies displayed like a blight,
Robs you of all your earn’d delight.
And walk across the wet you ought,
For time to enter is finite.

Inside you go to time forgot,
Before the tow’r returns to naught.
Replay events will be your lot.
And hope you find that which you sought.

The subject of the next topic to research had just come up when Emrys and James arrived at the library and found the others in the reading room. They shared the information they had found about Lord Destan with one another. Falka had left the group in order to search for a map of Pinefall and the village of Bristlecone, which she knew to be the destination for Lord Destan’s onward voyage.

It was at this time that some of the group started to notice that the library was becoming more and more devoid of researchers. Soon, it was discovered that a noble lady dressed in expensive black clothing, wearing her blond hair in a tight bun, accompanied by four guards armoured in black armour with silver trimmings, was ordering the library be shut off from the public. A quick inquiry at one of the remaining librarians revealed her to be Margravine Ulrikke von Rosenberg, a student at the academy’s faculty of Diplomacy and Statescraft. She was the daughter of Count Ardel von Rosenberg, the Imperial ambassador to Lyria, who, in turn, was the younger brother to Duke Eggbert von Rosenberg, the Suzerain of Fintra, a very powerful nobleman in the Daerlan empire.

Emma quickly assumed that since the adventurers were using the luxurious reading room, it was very possible that they were going to be ejected from the library as well. Luca seemed unconcerned but James began checking whether or not the windows could easily be shattered to make for a hasty exit should things get out of hand.

Broken Faith

Previously, the adventurers departed from Kingsport and headed for Bournemouth. The goal of the first day way to reach the Inn at the Crossroads, halfway to Bournemouth where the Silesian Road split off north to White Fork. They had lunch at the Seat of Friendship, a glade formed by a primordial oak tree, protected by a group of druids who promoted the glade as a communal place. Many different people took their rest there, including a group of three szygani.

Emma decided to approach the szygani and talk about esoteric matters. Vadoma, the defacto leader of the group engaged Emma in a friendly manner. Emma felt confident enough to ask the szygani about the strange gems the group had found in the Lynnecombe catacombs. The szygani said they looked like ordinary crystals and proposed a trade for a silver necklace and pendant, which Emma agreed to.

After continuing their journey, about an hour away from their destination, the group changed upon two merchants who were beset upon by their traitorous guard. The adventurers decided to intervene on the merchants behalf and defeated four of the guards and drove off the remaining two. Trent and Oliver were merchants on their way back to Kingsport but agreed to return to the Inn at the Crossroads with the adventurers, as they were convinced it would be safer than travelling on to Kingsport without protection at night.

Eight Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

The ride from the site of the combat to the Inn at the Crossroads was a quiet one. Trent and Oliver sat on the back of the cart, dangling their legs off the end while Emrys laid in the back of the car, uncharacteristically silent after being seriously wounded in the battle with the traitorous guards. Despite Emma channelling Sedna’s healing graces into Emrys’ wounded frame, he needed a moment to compose himself.

James decided to drive the cart so that Emma could take a look at the flesh wound he had incurred during the fight. She cleaned and bandaged it and was confident it would not lead to infection.

They arrived at the inn around supper time, finding it the size of a small village, surrounded by a wooden palisade, complete with their own guards keeping the peace. Two gates, one looking out over the Silesian Road, the other looking out over the road leading north to White Fork, allowed entrance onto a wide open space surrounded by a stonemason tavern building, large stables with an overhead hayloft, two large buildings with rooms of different sizes and qualities, as well as host of log cabins and bungalows for staff as well as guests.

Outside of the palisade there were several small houses, huts, carts, carriages and tents set up by travellers and more permanent residents. The adventurers noticed another, colourful szygani carriage standing on the opposite side of the junction than the inn.

Inside the palisade the adventurers found a liveliness of different visitors, all sitting on wooden tables and benches outside of the tavern enjoying food and drink in the early evening sunlight. The horses were put up, three single rooms and one double room for Astrid and Emma were rented, and equipment was stored away. Luca found a notice board with some random messages pinned to it from some of the locals.

The adventurers met a guard named Bram, a foreign stable master by the name of Nica, the innkeeper Selma, and a one-armed bartender by the name of Tom.

A table was found outside the tavern and the adventurers ordered food and drinks while discussing who among them would be the treasurer of their coin. It was decided that Luca would be the one to mind the coffers.

Later the adventurers were joined by Trent and Oliver, who had talked to the head of the guard about securing passage back to Kingsport the following day. They told a little bit about themselves until James was bored enough to find entertainment in a game of dice, elsewhere.

An agreement was made that they would continue onward to Bournemouth at daybreak, and all retired for the night.

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

In the middle of the night Emma awakens from something stirring in her room. She instinctively reached for the material foci she needed to conjure a magical light to illuminate the room and found the room empty and Astrid vast asleep. She spent a few minutes looking around the room and when she found the door locked and the inside and outside shutters fastened, she decided to go back to sleep.

When she jerked awake some time later, she was certain something was wrong and she repeated the action of conjuring a light. She found the room empty as before, except for a strange, spectral hand hovering in front of the shutters, trying to open them. She reached out and grabbed the hand and unleashed a shock of malicious energy and the hand disappeared. In that instant, the door to her room opened and she could hear the footsteps of someone running down the hallway.

Emma quickly woke up Astrid and ran down the hall after the intruder, yelling for the guards as she went. When Emma turned the corner towards the exit of the building her room was in, she found the way blocked by a wall. She stood there for a moment, confused. Astrid came running in after her and seemingly disappeared straight through the wall. The confusion grew, but Emma put it aside in favour of finding a different way of pursuing the intruder and she returned to her room.

James had woken up from Emma’s shouting and immediately deducted what was going on. Instead of taking the regular route down, he decided to open the shutters to his the window of his room on the first floor and climb out. While he was doing so, Emma had returned to her room, locked the door behind her and climbed out of her window on the ground floor, too. Both of them set off in pursuit of the intruder who was being chased towards the main gate by Astrid.

After cornering the intruder in front of the closed gate, the adventurers realised that the intruder was invisible and they could only follow their footsteps on the dirt ground, dusty from backing for days in the summer sun. The intruder slipped past the adventurers and headed in the opposite direction, towards the other gate. Emma cast a holy prayer towards the intruder, outlining them in a faint, divine glow. Astrid set off in pursuit while James manoeuvred himself on an intercept course cutting off the pursuer’s route.

When the intruder found their route blocked off by James, they grabbed a hand of dust off the ground and blew it into James face, trying to set off an arcane spell to lull him to sleep. The invisibility spell immediately broke and quickly Vadoma, the szygani shimmered into view. She clearly misjudged James’ heritage or perhaps wasn’t aware of their natural resistance against sleep enchantments, but James wasn’t affected at all.

Eventually, as Vadoma was struggling to make it to the other gate, Astrid and James injuring her severely as they pursued her and eventually she fell and a bag full of red gemstones spilled from her grasp.

Emma gathered the gemstones while James and Astrid made sure that Vadoma didn’t escape. The head of the guard, Milton of Green Orchard, eventually took her into custody and locked her up in a make shift jail cell and put two guards to watch over her. He said he would bind her hands and the adventurers made sure that she would also be gagged so that she’d be hard-pressed to make sure of her arcanist abilities.

The adventurers went back to their rooms and try to get back to sleep. The following morning it was decided that Astrid and Emrys would get the cart ready for departure while Emma, Luca and James went to see if they could talk to Vadoma before she was taken away by the local lord’s guard. Milton explained that the lord’s punishment could be rough, anywhere from lashing, to losing a limb, to hanging. The managed to convince Milton to allow them to talk to Vadoma.

It didn’t take long before Vadoma was willing to talk, provided that the adventurers would make sure that she would be freed before they departed that day. Luca promised to do so. Breaking faith, Vadoma promised, would incur the wrath of the szygani.

She explained that the gemstones she had tried to steal were Lyrium crystals. The crystals were one of two expressions of the powerful reagent Lyrium – the other being Lyrium ore – that could be found around powerful fissures, rifts and portals in the fabric of reality between the planes. These rifts haven’t been seen for thousands of years, since the Age of Fear, and therefore, Lyrium was incredibly rare and incredibly powerful.

Vadoma shared that she would have taken the crystals to Duén Gwyndeith, the Palace of the White Flame in the Worthwilde, and offer them to Hlaith N’Deireadh, the Lady Without Ending, in exchange for protection during the next Age of Fear.

The adventurers reapplied Vadoma’s gag and went to talk to Milton. While Emma and Luca were trying to convince Milton to let Vadoma go, James got frustrated that his companions were actually going through with it and went to help Astrid and Emrys get ready, but not before trying to sabotage his companion’s attempts to have Vadoma freed.

Despite James’ attempts, Luca and Emma managed to convince Milton to go easy on Vadoma by appealing to his sense of sympathy for Vadoma being part of a misunderstood and persecuted group of people, something that Milton could sympathise with. He himself grew up in Green Orchard, but was born in Fulham and as such had to deal with many negative stereotypes about his heritage – inbred, sheep fuckers, dumb, etc. – throughout his childhood in Green Orchard.

The adventurers departed and had a fairly quiet day on the Silesian Road. Their journey took them further and further away from the coast and the road became less maintained and the villages and hamlets fewer and fewer. More and more trees dotted the landscape, casting a blessed shade over the path, shielding the adventurers from the punishing heat.

Eventually, they took some rest outside of the small, hillside town of Eastwarren, just before they were to turn towards the south, towards Bournemouth, the second largest city in Lyria.

Just before the end of the afternoon, as the sounds of the gulls and the sea of the Lyrian Gulf started to wash over them again, they descended down into the valley of the river Bourne and the city came into view.

Departing Kingsport

Previously, James awoke from his days-long unconsciousness in the servant’s quarters of the Sheridan estate, tended to by an old friend, a priest of Pholtus. He remembered nothing after snooping around the library in the Sheridan manor and vaguely remembers something happening to him there. Benten was there for his wake up as well, who shared a few details of what had happened during his unconsciousness. James found a strange, arcane burn mark on the inside of his right hand which Benten claimed belonged to the lost Lord Destan. Benten suggested he make his way to Kingsport to catch up with the others before they departed for Pinefall to find Lord Destan.

When James returned to Kingsport he quickly found the rest of the adventurers who were trying to wrap up some loose ends in the capital and find out some more information which might be useful to their mission to find Lord Destan. They visited the docks to speak to a Sheridan Trading Co. representative, visited the Bromley estate in Ravensbourne to speak to their majordomo, and visited the College of Bards to find out a bit more about the Crimson Tower.

Seventh Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

In the late afternoon, James arrived at the butcher shop at Fleet Street run by the Daymaster. He was sitting out front, at a small table, trying to escape the stench and heat of the shop. Men with fast, knife hands and cold, dead eyes were standing guard at a distance. They spoke about what happened at the Sheridan estate, and the Sheridans specifically. The Daymaster seemed very interested in hearing about the supposed portal that was found in the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe and seemed quite concerned with artefacts and antiquities which may have been recovered.

Eventually, the Daymaster instructed James to continue travelling with the other adventurers to recover Lord Destan. His interest in the Sheridans seemed to be more than a passing one, and he explained that there was an upset in the balance of the underworld, caused by a mysterious grouped which called themselves The Penumbra, and the Daymaster implied that he thought that House Sheridan might be behind the group.

He told James to be mindful of artefacts, ancient books and antiquities and gave him an enchanted bag which would help him gather and hide some of the things he might find along the way. James, in return, paid the Daymaster the kickback that he was owed on all the work he did. He then proceeded to continue to the Wanderer to catch up with the others, but not before loading up the bag he was given with enough food to last him a month.

The rest of the night was spent at a table in front of the Careless Wanderer. James was paying for chilled drinks, which Astrid eagerly downed to the point where she became quite intoxicated. All the while, James was asking the others about the details of what happened in the Lynnecombe catacombs.

Emma had picked up the new platinum rings she required to place divine wards on any who wore such a ring. She gave one to each of the others in the group, but she was one short because of James’ reemergence. Astrid parted with hers and gave it to James, feeling confident that he would benefit more from it than she would.

An agreement was made to meet in front of the Wanderer at sunrise so that they could start travelling before the punishment of the midsummer’s heat would become too much. Lauryn and Durham suggested staying at the Inn at the Crossroads, which they could make before supper, and they recommended taking rest at the Seat of Friendship, a glade halfway between Kingsport and the Inn at the Crossroads.

James departed to his abode in Kingsport, Emma and Astrid both took up a bed in the common room, with Astrid being quite drunk at that point. Emrys went back to his room and concluded that he had forgotten to give the large chest of valuables to Luca, like the adventurers had agreed upon over drinks, seeing as how it was likely that Emrys would be visited that evening. He decided to take a few handfuls of coins and put them in his own pouches and hide the chest underneath his bed instead.

Luca visited the House of the Raven Queen across the small square from the Wanderer. He entered the large building only to find it accessible but empty on the inside. He walked up towards the altar, rows of pews and unadorned, grey pillars, and sat down in one of the pews. He was soon joined by an elderly man with a neatly trimmed, steely grey beard. He was wearing a dark robe ruffled around the shoulders by hundreds of dark feathers. The man politely asked Luca to depart. While he was welcome, the staff he carried was not. Luca left without resisting.

Lady Annabella of House Waxley showed up by the time that Emrys had already settled down for the night. She was wearing what she probably understood to be understated, commoner’s clothing, the quality of which had probably drawn a lot of gazes on her way to the Wanderer. Emrys hoped that she had not gone without a guard.

She was carrying a bucket with a bottle of wine in it, together with two delicate, elven crystal glasses. She told Emrys to chill the wine, which he did using a minor cantrip. Lady Annabella didn’t waste any time and proceeded to undress and instructed Emrys to do the same.

Later, when the were laying together in bliss, sipping on the wine, enjoying the cool evening air, they spoke about Lady Annabella’s position at court and the pressures that come along with representing her house while serving as the queen’s handmaiden. Suddenly, they heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the room directly below theirs; Luca’s room.

While Emrys and Lady Annabella were entertaining themselves upstairs, Luca was reading in his small room. As the temperature outside slowly dropped, the wind coming in over the gulf was picking up. The breeze was playing with the candles that Luca was using to read by, casting strange shadows on the wall. Just as his eyelids started to droop and sleep was about to take him, he noticed a large figure in the shadows of his small room

The figure explained that they were the one to give Luca his arcane powers, but that they would come at the cost of his obedience. It also became clear to Luca that this figure had been following and manipulating his life for a long while. Their instructions to Luca were to make sure to remain Blackstar’s master, and continuing the search for artefacts and books from the Age of Fear, ominously stating that it would help in “the wars to come.”

Eventually, mildly frustrated by Luca’s lack of knowledge, reached out his hand and told Luca to take it, so that they could show Luca all that he needed to know. Luca did and with the touch the knowledge of ages was revealed to him in a violent way which left him screaming a primal scream.

When Emrys reached Luca’s room he used a canister of water and a simple cantrip to freeze the lock on his door in order to break it open. Luca was alright, but very shaken. He told Emrys he was having night terrors. When Emrys went back to his room, he found that Lady Annabella had departed.

Eight Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262

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

The following day Emma and James were very punctual. James found Emma taking care of the cart and horses outside of the Wanderer together with Wojciech, the Silesian stable master. It took a while for the others to get ready. Emrys mended the damage he caused to the door to Luca’s room with a simple cantrip. Astrid was trying to wake up through the fog of her hangover, and Emma and James went up to Emrys’ room to pick up the chest of values.

Astrid laid her great sword down in the cart and laid down underneath a blanket to shield her from the sun. James and Emma sat up front and Luca and Emrys were in the cart together with Astrid. An hour past sunrise the group finally departed going out of the Eastern Gate.

The adventurers travelled east on the Silesian road, running close enough to the coast to hear the waves, hear the gulls and occasionally see the cliffs. The route was dotted with small villages and farmsteads.

Around the time that everyone’s stomachs started rumbling a signpost indicated toward a small path leading north which read “Seat of Friendship”. A few minutes up the forested path it opened up into a large, beautiful glade with a humongous oak tree in the middle providing shade to the entire glade. The oak was a hundred feet tall and twenty feet in circumference with a thick canopy of green, orange and red trees.

The glade was the host to two score of people who were taking shelter from the midsummer heat. Families, travellers and small groups of people. Mostly human, some elves and halflings. A notable figure in the glade was Ciarán, the Kaedwyni hierophant who, together with several other druids, took care of the glade and the oak tree, which they call Gheolgothis. A barrel-chested man with a red and black chequered skirt on, a sweat stained shirt and a black mitre adorned with bits of deer antler. He made sure to talk to each and every group of visitors to the glade.

There was a lone knight by the name of Ser Hammond of Dunashire, whose horse carried a bundle of Vermillion gilded armour. A nobleman by the name of Lord Fabian Fetterling was travelling from Farcorner to Kingsport together with a group of guards. A group of three szygani, two men Danior and Manfri, and a woman named Vadoma, were sitting together, away from the rest, sharing a bottle of cheap wine, playing music while speaking together in a strange language.

Lastly, atop a wooden stump stood a learned looking man by the name of Prementhine Shakeslock. He wore high quality, but sober clothing, with an embroidered, silken doublet of black with a purple pattern, a leather double belt and a simple blue pair of breeches. His boots were worn but well cared for. He had a neatly trimmed beard, streaked with grey and he was wearing a brown cap, covering a balding head. His belt held many pouches and a large quiver filled with several scrolls. He was addressing the people of the glade;

Verily, there is nothing so hideous as the monsters, so contrary to nature, known as the warlock, for they are the offspring of foul sorcery and devilry. They are rogues without virtue, conscience or scruple, true diabolical creations, fit only for killing and corruption. There is no place amidst honest men for such as they. You need look no further than the subversive way in which they masquerade as mages. But they are not mages, for the source of their powers is evil and corrupt. The magic the mages wield is a tool, evil only in evil hands, while the very source of the warlock’s magic is itself evil. This is why the warlock is now masquerading as a mage! Even going so far as to carry hefty tomes along from which they pretend to study. They have no need of magical formulae like the mage does, this is simply a prop in their disguise.

So I say unto thee, good fellows, to be wary and mindful of witches, fortune tellers (he makes a quick glance to the szygani), pellars and unusual wise women, for their abilities, if not a preposterous sham, might elsewise be bestowed on them by a dark and fiendish patron! Report them to the proper authorities so that we might be swift in culling the threat that they pose to all of our mortal souls. The Time of Fear will surely come again if we do not stay vigilant.

Ciaran: “How are we to recognise the warlock from the mage, good sir? What prevents us from making false accusations?”

Shakeslock: “First and foremost it lies in their actions and demeanour. If they use their magic for good purposes, then you may rest easy. If not, then further investigation is required.”

Fetterling: “There are plenty of mages and sorcerers who wield their magic for selfish and nefarious goals. What’s to prevent people from mistaking them for warlocks and burning them at the stake? It’s a dangerous message you are spreading.”

Shakeslock: “Warlock or not, evil must be brought to justice, no matter the shape it takes.”

Vadoma: “But that is not what people take away from your warning. You are further deepening the already existing suspicions that people have of those they deem contemptible.”

Shakeslock: “Poppycock!”

Hammond: “Not so. If the Time of Fear is to come again, surely we must be vigilant, but was also must stand united.”

Shakeslock: “People merely need to turn to the crownsguard and report their suspicions. Those who are innocent will be acquitted.”

Vadoma: “Those who are born into a group burdened with collective guilt sprung forth from misunderstanding, superstition and suspicion…”

Fetterling: “…you are already defending yourself even before accusations have been made against you. That doesn’t seem becoming of an innocent person.”

The two szygani men stand up, menacingly and Lord Fabian’s guards do the same. Ciaran steps front and centre and with a booming voice says; “None shall defy the peace this hallowed glade,” while holding up his hands. “Geolgothis will not abide it. Sit back down and enjoy the shade as friends. We will need one another when the real war comes.”

Luca decided to talk to Shakeslock and learned that he was a lecturer at the Bournemouth Academy specialising in Black Magic, specifically the research in its nature and the defence against it. He himself was not an arcanist. When learning that Luca was on his way to Bournemouth Academy, he warned Luca that the academy was a nest of vipers because of the influential Faculty of Statescraft drawing many of Daerlan’s nobility. Shakeslock suggested that Luca find a library by the name of Faulkner when he arrives, citing the person to be an excellent researcher. When the man excused himself and decided to continue on his trip to Kingsport, Luca decided to follow him but eventually couldn’t catch up and decided to turn back to the glade.

In the meantime, Emma decided to take one of the ruby-like crystals and approached the group of szygani. Vadoma was the one to talk to Emma and they talked a little bit about religion. Emma described Sedna, while Vadoma explained that they were followers of Maškar, the Bloodmoon and paid reverence to its siblings Lačhi, the Silvermoon, and Nasul, the Darkmoon.

Emma asked the szygani to take a look at the ruby-like crystal and asked for them to appraise it. The gem exchanged hands and all three of the szygani spoke to one another briefly. They concluded that it was likely a beautiful piece of crystal. Vadoma said she would make jewellery out of it. Emma and Vadoma decided to barter for the gem and offered a simple silver chain with a pendant with the Bloodmoon on it. Emma asked whether the pendant would hold some sway with other szygani and Vadoma confirmed that it would. The made the trade. James briefly joined in the conversation to verify that the szygani really didn’t have any extra knowledge about the gem, which they seemingly didn’t have.

Before that, James and Emrys had stayed with Astrid and had been visited by the druid Ciarán for a quick chat, during which it became clear that the irises of Astrid’s eyes, had turned a bright golden yellow. She didn’t seem to have any idea as to how or why that had happened.

Eventually, the group got the horses together and put them before the cart and started travelling further up the Silesian road. After several hours of travel, the adventurers heard the pleas for help from two merchants who were beset upon by half a dozen armed guards.

The adventurers didn’t hesitate and decided to get involved and save the two merchants from the armed guards. Astrid drew her great sword and dashed into action with little regard of her own safety. James sneaked around the battlefield and frustrated two of the armed guards who were at a distance firing arrows into the group of adventurers — and wounding Emrys rather grievously. Luca used his arcane powers to devastating effect and Emma also engaged and also made sure that Emrys and Astrid were healed when four of the armed guards were cut down and the remaining two had retreated from the conflict.

The two merchants, Oliver and Trent were incredibly grateful. They explained that they had come from Bournemouth and had a rendez-vous with a buyer at the Inn at the Crossroads who was running late. This meant that the deal was done much later in the day, but they insisted on travelling to Kingsport, where they have their business, the Càrcerian Trading  Company. About an hour into their journey the guards they had hired decided to renegotiate their contract due to having to travel at night. The negotiations had broken down and the guards had decided to simply take the merchants’ earnings of the sale they made.

It was their intention to continue travelling to Kingsport, but the adventurers managed to convince them to come back to the inn with them because there were still two guards out there who got away. And so the entire group went towards the Inn at the Crossroads.

Statue Riddle

Four guardians, four flames, standing proud in line.

The First to light his fire dared not march on the end.

The Second, by the First, played a woeful lament.

The Third kept close to his faithful beast / The Fourth marched not beside the First, yet like the Second, played a tune. / And thus they stood o’er their queen, who slept beneath flickering stars.