Tag: A Kingsport Homecoming

A Kingsport Homecoming

Previously, the heroes brought Lord Destan back to Kingsport, escorted by a group of once doomed crusaders. Upon their return, they were greeted by a city familiar, yet changed. Prior Benedict was hailed as a saint by the followers of Paladine. Dame Josephine was not received well at court, where a regent now spoke for the queen while she was afflicted by illness. And James found that much has happened to his guild in his absence and his mother was in danger.

First Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

James quickly made his way through the darkening streets of Kingsport after having visited the Silver Cross and speaking to Samuel. The long time bartender of the establishment he used to call home told him that his mother had been held captive by the daymaster, one of the two leaders of his guild.

He caught up with the rest of the heroes as they had just reached the Careless Wanderer. The tavern room of the inn was completely filled with visitors and it was warm inside, despite the weather turning colder. They made their way to the bar and found Durham tending the bar, happy to see their faces.

There were no tables available for them, so the dwarf arranged for some stools and allowed them to take sanctuary from the crowd behind the bar. Quentin was introduced and quickly fell into a conversation about the different wines that the Wanderer had in stock.

Lauryn, the elven counter to Durham came to say hello and talks Emrys into performing later that evening. She also arranges for some food with Ramsey, the chef. She explains to the heroes that the tavern is so crowded due to the upcoming Royal Master Angler competition organised by the Kingsport Anglers Association, an annual competition backed by the crown. Besides a hefty sum of gold crowns to the first, second and third place, it also comes with a lot of prestige. Looking across the room, the heroes notice that there’s quite a few fishing poles secured against the wall.

After having finished their food, James asks Luca to have a walk through the streets of Kingsport with him. James explained a few things about the guild he was involved with and that he needed to speak to one of his associates and that it could potentially get ugly. He asked if Luca was willing to stay close by, using Lauriel’s Earrings of Whispers to stay in touch with one another. Luca agreed and the two made their way to the Southside ward.

There Luca entered L’eau Célestes, a shop run by a radiant woman selling wines. She had organised a tasting for a group of people who all were people of varying levels of importance and they welcomed Luca with open arms. He pretended to be a young mage in Kingsport for study, something which none in attendance took into question.

In the meantime, James entered the butcher shop a little further down the street. There he found out that the daymaster knew of his arrival back in Kingsport and was somewhat surprised to see him. The man was grievously injured, judging by the way way in which he grimaced as he moved and the bandages on his torso. He was also surrounded by more guards than usually; all of them cold eyes and fast knives.

The daymaster asked him if he came to finish what his mother started. Genuinely surprised, James claimed not to know what his guild master was talking about. He seemed to have struck the right chord and the daymaster explained that he had regularly enjoyed his mother’s services over the last few months, and that during James’ absence she had tried to assassinate him while in bed together.

Since then, he had her bound and locked up, trying to force her to reveal why she had tried to kill him. Her mother had so far withstood all interrogation. The daymaster claimed he had not allowed for James’ mother to come to real harm yet, but that his patience was running out. He claimed that she came at him with a jewelled dagger just like the one that James was carrying, a dagger he knew to have belonged to a lieutenant working for his guild rival; the nightmaster, a man by the name of John Sharpe. The lieutenant was a Silesian, just like James’ mother, by the name of Kalina.

James convinced the daymaster to allow him to see his mother and talk to her. He wanted to see what state she was in and perhaps he could learn the reason why she had made an attempt on the daymaster’s life. He was brought down to the basement of the butcher’s shop, where found that his mother had been bound to a chair. She was in a bad state, mostly due to neglect. He took the gag off her face and loosened the binds and spoke with her.

He learned that she had been convinced that the butcher had sent James to his death and became enraged. A friend she had met through a group of Silesians who regularly met up in Kingsport had given her a knife to use. The butcher seemed satisfied with what he heard and ordered Jeanne to be bound up again. He charged James with finding out what the truth behind the situation was. He was especially concerned with the nightmaster coming after him. James offered information on the strange cult the heroes had learned about who were causing chaos in Fairfields and in the Riverlands and said that the same might be happening here.

James parted with the books he had retrieved and a fair some of gold crowns he had earned so far and he was allowed to hold on to the magical bag for the time being. He dreaded leaving his mother behind, but his best bet was to uncover the truth behind his mother’s attempt on the daymaster’s life.

In the meantime, back in the Careless Wanderer, Astrid spent her evening enjoying the comforts of the inn and arm wrestling some of the tough men in the tavern. Quentin had Durham open a good bottle of wine from Beauclair and engaged in a chat with a countryman named Remy who had come to Kingsport to hire himself out to a team participating in the angling competition.

Emrys was getting acquainted with people in the tavern and was trying to find out what the rumours are around the arrival of the crusaders; their arrival did not go unnoticed but was mistaken for the arrival of a group of Lyrian knights, likely arriving to offer their protection to the queen. The knights had previously protected the queen during the Courtenay rebellion when she was only twelve years old. Emrys also learned that it is widely believed that the queen’s illness is one caused by black magic and that most people in the capital believe the accusations made against the Farcorner rebels.

When Emrys graced the tavern with a performance, Dame Miranda and Lady Annabella entered the Careless Wanderer, both “out of uniform” and dressed as inconspicuously as they could. Lady Annabella admired Emrys while he played, while Dame Miranda approached Quentin and asked him if he could accompany her for a walk.

Dame Miranda took a stroll together with Quentin toward Steward Square. She spoke about her family, House Ravensbourne, and their wardenship of the Tiverton Glades. She explained that a host of invading orcs were making their way across the border from the Daerlan Empire and heading south-east, through the Elder Foothills to the Tiverton Glades but that the Lord Steward wasn’t committing any forces to stop the invasion, instead relying on the noble houses to provide aid. The noble houses were weary of the Lord Steward and she believed that perhaps aid might be too late to arrive. She hoped that Quentin could investigate the rumour that the orcs had been sent across the border by the Daerlanians, since that might help in getting both the Lord Steward as well as the noble houses to act more swiftly.

The two arrived in front of the Cathedral of the Platinum Father on Steward Square and Dame Miranda invited Quentin inside. He hesitated, saying that he was not a man of god, but followed the knight in. He asked her why she had chosen to talk to him about this particular problem. She said that she had hoped that if he were to return to Beauclair he could travel past the Tiverton Glades. She also said that he came highly recommended. When Quentin asked by who, she motioned to a gathering of followers of Paladine surrounding Prior Benedict in reverence. Quentin asked whether he could give her a reply in the morning, something the Lady Commander of the Crownsguard understood and accepted.

After James and Luca found one another and made their way back to the Careless Wanderer, James explained everything about the situation he and his mother found themselves in to Luca. As their cross the Lyn at the Queensbridge they found crier Goodman, the portly man who was a well known figure in the city, helping the Crownsguard light the braziers along the bridge for the night. James knew him to be a good source of news, and also, for the right coin, a source of gossip and rumours.

The crier explained that the Lord Steward had takenn direct control of the Crownsguard, drawing the ire of House Ravensbourne for by-passing Dame Miranda, claiming it was an overreach of power. He also could tell James and Luca that  the fetish that was found in the queen’s bedchambers was a tarred head of a goat with nails driven into its eyes and that it was sent to the Circle of Diviners for study. A man by the name of Callum the Diviner had been sent for from Blackbridge. Also, a host of over five thousand orcs was threatening the Elder Foothills and Tiverton Glades, while at the same time the markets in White Fork, south of the Fields of Strife had been flooded by cheaper goods from Daerlan and that the Daerlan florin was now the coin of choice throughout the area. And that Madam Brecourt had “stopped shopping for meat on Fleet Street” over an ongoing dispute with the butcher, something the crier said James probably knew all about.

Back in the Careless Wanderer, Lady Annabella came to speak with Emrys after his performance had concluded. The exchanged pleasantries and chatted a little until Lady Annabella explained that she had been asked to fulfil the queen’s duties for the annual Royal Master Angler Competition, something that was a great honour to her and her family. She found that she had stepped into a viper’s nest of competing teams backed by ambitious nobility with a vicious drive to win, who would not stop at anything to gain the upper hand.

One such noble, an arrogant young man by the name of Lord Peregrine Blackwell, had approached her with the intention of convincing her to release the information on the catches, the fish who were the target of each competition, to him. Each year the catches were kept a close secret until the day of the start of the competition, to not give any team a head start or a competitive advantage. He seemed so insistent that Lady Annabella asked Emrys if he’d be interested in deceiving the young lord.

While Emrys didn’t know the young Peregrine himself, he was very well acquainted with house Blackwell, and partly the reason why he had moved from the Riverlands to Kingsport.

The inn became quieter as the night progressed and arrangements were made in the tavern room to accommodate the many visitors who had been unable to secure a night to sleep. Cots, bedrolls and sleeping bags were put all over the floor and slowly people retired for the night. The heroes had arranged for the last of the rooms to be assigned to them, and they were able to squeeze in together. Before everyone settled in, James asked everyone for their help with his predicament. He was certain that it should rise to the top of the list of priorities, even before leaving the city to retrieve their well-earned reward from house Sheridan.

Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

People fell asleep as Luca sat in a comfortable chair, reading by the dim light of a candle. He startled awake at the sound of a storm raging outside. He looked around only to find that his companions were nowhere to be found. He went downstairs only to find the same; an empty tavern room.

Eventually he stepped out into the stormy night and went to the river. He walked downstream, up the hill towards the Bastion of Illumination which was standing vigil atop Quayhill. Not a soul in sight. He used Blackstar to detect any life around him, but he could detect none. He concluded that it must be a dream and used a dagger to make a mark in one of the limestones of a nearby building. Tomorrow he would check to see if the mark was there.

He walked upriver, back toward the Careless Wanderer and passed the House of the Raven Queen. Nobody to be seen. Then he walked towards Steward Square, and there, in front of the Cathedral of the Platinum Father, standing on the steps before the great carved doors, stood his master in all their grotesque glory.

Luca approached and his master congratulated him on a successful mission into the Crimson Tower. They reminded Luca that the goal had always been and will always be to get closer to Tharizdun and to find where the Mad God slumbered.

In return, Luca was to receive his reward; one question, answered truthfully. “What is your name?” Luca asked with great hesitation. “Oh Luca, so predictable. I have many names. But I suppose my name now is Aurion.”

Aurion bade Luca a farewell, turned around and opened the double doors to the cathedral, emanating a radiant, silver light. When the doors had closed behind Aurion, Luca returned to the Careless Wanderer, dissatisfied. He sat back down in his chair and fell asleep.

A Swift Return to Kingsport

Previously, the heroes had settled the crusaders in a make-shift camp at the abandoned village off the eastern shore of Lake Llygad as the inhabitants of Pinefall were preparing to celebrate Highharvestide. Plans were made to have the griffon riders fly the heroes bback to Kingsport so that they could present the crusader leadership to court.

Highharvestide, 1262

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

While Emrys, Emma and Luca had returned back to the camp at the abandoned village, Astrid, James and Quentin stayed behind in Bristlecone to make sure that none of the crusaders would return to cause any more trouble. Whether it was the Darkmoon standing in high sanction in the sky, or the darkness that some of the crusaders were marked by, the heroes were not sure if the villagers of Bristlecone would be safe that night.

They were offered blankets and a place at the fire in the came of the visitors from Hunter’s Hollar, but despite that hospitality, the night was a long and uncomfortable one.

First Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

After a restless but uneventful night, Astrid, James and Quentin awaken underneath blankets heavy with dew. The visitors from Hunter’s Hollar were slowly waking up and getting ready to head back to their settlement in the forest. Goodbyes were exchanged quietly and without much fanfare or ceremony and the heroes walked back to the camp at the abandoned village in the early light of the morning.

Back at the crusader camp people are getting up at a much slower pace. It is the first morning they’ve spent outside of Atilesceon’s hellish realm for countless years and they were taking a moment to let it sink in that this suffering had come to an end.

Luca decided to bring Dame Victoria some breakfast. He found her in her bedroll quietly laying on her side with her eyes open. Not crying, but just laying still. When he offered her the food she gave him the briefest smile. They sat together, quietly eating.

When the others returned to camp they decided to get breakfast. Quentin made it a point to greet Dame Josephine, but as always she was preoccupied with talking to her squires and only had time to give him a small acknowledgement. She was cold and distant. He decided to talk to Dalinda instead, asking her if the griffon riders would be ready to depart soon, to which the designated translator responded that it would take another hour before departure.

Quentin decided to take the time to talk to Emrys about the possibility of using magic to disguise his sword. The scabbard was constantly sprouting thorny vines with roses on them and a simple blanket was not enough to stop that from showing, and so he was hoping Emrys could help out. Unfortunately, Emrys only had so many tools in his belt and it wouldn’t be enough to help Quentin. Overhearing this conversation, James suggested that perhaps it was the fact that Quentin held the sword that made it bloom and to try letting someone else carry to sword back to Kingsport to see if that made a difference. He suggested Emma, someone that most people in the party trusted.

First, however, Quentin asked Luca if he could use his magic to find out more information about the properties of the sword. Luca still had one of the required components that were necessary for the ritual, a pearl, and went ahead with it. He found out that the sword’s name was Róisín, and that it bestowed the wielder with wondrous abilities, provided the wielder was willing to bond with the weapon, committing to it, at least temporarily. Quentin had a lot to think about.

In the meantime, villagers from Bristlecone had come to see Lord Destan off, bringing with them a cart of his possessions, as well as the possessions of the heroes that they left behind at the Rudwick barton when they left for the Crimson Tower. They also brought gifts and well-wishings for Destan to take back to his lord father. Destan once again strained to play the good lord.

One of the people to join the well-wishers was Coranthe, mother to the witless Robart. She had brought her grandchildren Loke and Millie with her to bid the good lord farewell. While James was contemplating all of the belongings that the heroes had been carrying around in the chest that the Sheridans had provided to them upon departure from Lynnecombe, Millie came up to the group and proclaimed that she had found the perfect name for their company.

Months before, when the heroes had arrived in Pinefall and had made Millie’s acquaintance, she claimed that every company should have a name, and she vowed that she would think of a suitable name for them. “The Heroes of the White Eye,” she claimed. She had been told what the heroes had done, and the part that her father had played in it. Lake Llygad, once called Lake Gwenllygad, or Lake of the White Eye as it was known in the elder tongue of the elves, had been liberated by the heroes, and so the name of their company should recognise that fact.

James thanked her very much for the suggestions and proceeded to unload all of the belongings from the chest into his magical bag. He then gifted the young Millie with a gold crown, which she promptly took to her brother Loke in order to make him jealous.

It was time to depart. The griffons had been saddled with a double-saddle and special bags that would allow them to carry some food with them. Everyone found their rider and the birds made their way to the field where months before the heroes had met the Szygani group. They mounted the enormous monstrosities and took off.

When the wings start beating on either side of you, it kicks up pine needles from the ground, creating a pleasant scent in the crisp air. The birds quickly find lift and you are pushed into your saddle. It’s remarkable just how fast they take off, across the lake, making one last pass along the innocent looking, broken tower, before veering south.

Flying in a perfect v formation, Tourbillon at the front, the wind around you slowly warms up in the light of the rising sun. Your eyes quickly adjust to the rush and stop tearing up, allowing you to take a good look around you. You’re probably flying about 600 feet off the ground for most of the way, the tops of the trees rising and falling with the Silverpine hills below you.

Midway through the morning the landscape starts to change slowly; the hills become less rugged and the pine trees give way to the yellow, orange and red autumn colours of the deciduous trees of the Riverlands. The woods below you becomes thicker and neigh impenetrable at times. When the woods offer a peek, it is to reveal one of the countless little rivers, brooks and streams that give the Riverlands its name.

Occasionally you notice larger flying predators rise up from the trees and wisely turning their tail from the path of the flying monstrosities that are carrying you across the kingdom. At one point, you see two wyverns in the distance veer off to the north. Later, you notice a group of harpies who make their nests in the tops of the trees below you cower and flee at the sight of the griffons.

A little past noon, after having flown through a freezing rain storm, the riders signal to each other to prepare for landing. The griffons touch down close to a river that Luca estimates to be the Bray, which leads south, past Brayford, towards the Bourne. The griffons take their rest and feed off the food taken from Bristlecone. Everyone gets a chance to eat, rest and dry their clothing near a fire.

After about an hour, you once again take flight and start heading towards the south-west. The landscape becomes more hospitable and you can see farms, villages, fields and the occasional keep. Villagers and farmers stop their work and observe the strange formation of birds flying overhead. Some of them run for safety in their huts and hovels.

Soon after, you see a familiar cobbled road below you and the traffic starts to pick up. You have reached the Silesian Road. To your left you can spot the glint off the waves from the Lyrian gulf, with fishing vessels dotting the waves, sailing the day’s haul back to port. To your right you can see the fields of freshly harvested wheat, barley, oats and sorghum. The air is alive with the sounds seagulls coming from the south and the wind carries traces of dried hay which lies stacked in enormous round bales on cleared fields to the north.

Mid-afternoon you fly over a t-junction and you see the familiar Inn at the Crossroads. About an hour later you see Gheolgothis, the enormous tree that marks the Seat of Friendship. You keep following the coastline and soon after, you notice small plumes of smoke coming off of the wood fires around Kingsport. You start to make out the city’s ramparts, you see the large lighthouse atop the Bastion of Illumination and splendour of the royal palace on Garamond hill.

When you get nearer, a group of griffon riders can be seen headed your way. For all who have stayed in Kingsport it is easy to recognise Dame Miranda Ravensbourne, the captain of the Crownsguard, sitting astride Frostfeather at the front of the formation. When the two groups meet, a brief flash of signals are exchanged between them, seemingly perfectly understood by the riders of both companies.

Dame Miranda turns Frostfeather around and both companies fall in line as she leads them away to a field just north of the city, across the river from the Corbray Gate, where both groups make for a landing. Once on the ground, the crusaders dismount their griffons and step forward. A small group of people have gathered in the field in preparation for their arrival.

Two among them are very familiar to you, Ser Benten the Purple, with his dark grey hair, and Lord Marcus with his red-brown hair. Both of them stand at an obscene 7 foot, sticking out above the Sheridan guards, Lyrian knights and Crownsguard accompanying them.

Besides Dame Miranda, the Crownguard and Lyrian knights that came to welcome the heroes back to Kingsport, there were three other people of note; lieutenant William of Eastwarren, the handsome head of the palace guard, Lady Annabella Waxley, the queen’s handmaiden and a man introduced as Ser Roderick Corbray, representative of the Order of the Lance in Kingsport.

The heroes took the time to explain the situation to Dame Miranda and Ser Roderick Corbray. Upon the realisation of Prior Benedict’s identity, Ser Roderick fell to his knees in front of the prior and made the sign of Paladine and muttered something about “saint Benedict”. This further deepened the understanding among some of the heroes of the implications of the crusaders’ return.

In the meantime, Lord Destan was reunited with his brother Marcus and their mentor Ser Benten. The brothers shared a tender moment together before the heroes joined them in conversation. It was the Sheridan’s intention to return to Lynnecombe and the heroes were invited to come up to the Sheridan estate to claim their reward.

The strange missive which had been sent to Falka at the Bournemouth academy while she was helping the heroes do research into the Crimson Tower and the Age of Fear was brought to Ser Benten’s attention. He explained that shortly after the heroes departed Kingsport the estate had seen a burglary and one of the things that was stolen was Lord John’s seal. This, Benten offered, could be an explanation for the letter, but he assured the heroes that the letter was not genuine.

Lady Annabella approached Emma and asked her if they could speak in private for a moment; an invitation Emma accepted. They turned away to walk together for a moment, but not before Annabella made eye contact with Emrys. Her glance gave him the impression that he would be seeing more of her in the near future. Lieutenant William followed at a discrete distance as they spoke together.

The heroes revealed to Dame Miranda and Ser Roderick that they wanted to get an audience with the queen in order to inform her of the situation. Dame Miranda explained that the queen had fallen ill and that Lord Gabriel Valois-Antille, the Steward of Kingsport had taken over the duties during her majesty’s absence. The heroes decided that an audience with the steward was in order and they agreed with Dame Miranda that their travel through Kingsport would best be done more subtly and so carriages were arranged for those attending the audience.

The griffon riders, with the exception of Dame Josephine, stayed behind with Ser Roderick and Dame Miranda’s knights in order to take care of the griffons, while the others joined the heroes in the carriages. James, eager to take in the sights, sounds and smells of his beloved city once again decided to ride up front of the coach instead. They passed through the Corbray gate, down the Corbray Street toward the Elysian Street toward Steward Square. They crossed Queensbridge and went up Garamond Hill along Palace Road to reach the palace gates.

Once inside the walls, the group were lead through the spectacular garden, making note that the flowers on the gate to the water gardens were fiercely blooming, possibly influenced by Bláthnaid, the spring blessed by Emma upon request of the queen, all those months ago. Lead into the palace, through elaborately decorated rooms with painted walls and polished, wooden floors until they were lead into a modest throne room and were confronted by a group of sycophantic courtiers surrounding the steward, who did not turn out to be as receptive to the message that the group was presenting.

The steward claimed that he had more important matters to be concerned about and he rattled off a couple of things that were occurring in the kingdom that the heroes had missed in the last couple of months. He charged House Sheridan with stewarding the crusaders, since they came to Lyria on their lands. He did not care about them as long as they paid the taxes that anyone in Lyria owed the crown.

And so, the heroes departed the palace. It was getting late and the Sheridans departed for Lynnecombe, the lyrian knights departed for Correntine where the knightly orders made their home, and the heroes went to the Careless Wanderer. All except James and Emma. Emma went to the Sacred Baths of Sedna, while James headed to the Silver Cross.

Arriving at the Silver Cross, he was greeted by Samuel, the bartender and custodian of the brothel who James had looked up to while growing up. While sharing a stiff drink at a distance from the other patrons in the establishment, he shared some troubling news; in James’ absence, the guild had gone through a war with the Sunken Knuckles that lead to the violent death of the Knuckles’ leader Lydia. It had cost the guild lives and territory that they were reclaiming now that the Knuckles were fighting over who got to take charge of the gang. In the meantime, James’ mother had held an appointment with the Day Master at his butcher shop on Fleet Street in the Southside Ward, as she did regularly. However, she never returned from this particular date. Several requests by Madam Valerie, the owner of the Silver Cross, were ignored and the madam stopped paying her dues in protest.

Troubling news, made all the worst by the fact that his attic room had been cleared out. Madam Valerie had asked Samuel to remove James’ belongings when it appeared that James might not be coming home. Samuel taken James’ belongings for safe keeping, but for now, James had to find a place to sleep elsewhere.