Previously, the heroes each went about trying to find out more about the person who had duped James’ mother into an assassination attempt on the day master, an influential leader for the Steady Hand, the guild that James was a member of. The person in question, Kalina, was a Silesian, just like James’ mother, and a successful horse thief. Each of the heroes did their best to find out about her whereabouts before the patience of the day master ran out and James’ mother would have to pay for her actions with her life.
Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waning.)
After having visited different acquaintances in Kingsport to find out more about Kalina, the heroes came back to the Careless Wanderer, unsure on how to proceed. In a moment of kindness, albeit one inspired by the desire for some privacy, Luca decided that the group should gather at one of the tables outside of the inn. The benches and table were still moist from previous night’s storm, but it would be away from the angling visitors and it would allow Astrid to sit under the open sky; something Luca knew she preferred.
After Durham brought cups of mulled wine filled with spices and berries, the conversation turned to how Kalina’s jewelled dagger got to be in Jeanne’s possession if Kalina had lost it in a game of dice. James had verified that the dagger with which his mother had attacked the day master was indeed the spitting image of his own; a dagger he had started wearing out of sight ever since it caused such a problem in Blackbridge. The possibility was raised that Kalina had made a big spectacle out of losing the dagger so that she could deny having given it to Jeanne.
Not being familiar with the situation in Kingsport, Quentin wondered aloud who might benefit from the day master’s death. James mused that it was likely a great number of people and groups that could benefit from destabilising existing power structures, and immediately the question was raised whether the illness of the queen might be tied to the attempt on the day master’s life. The queen fell ill about a ride ago; around the same time as Jeanne’s failed assassination attempt. Was someone trying to sow chaos in both the upper- and under-classes of Kingsport society?
The conversation fell flat and it was at that time that James discovered that an elderly, veiled woman was observing the group through a window from the inside of the inn. He let Luca know, using the Lauriel’s Earing of Whispers, which both of them still wore an equal part of. Despite that, it was Emrys who made a move to go inside, order more drinks and approach the woman, asking if she would be interested in joining the group.
Magda, for that was her name, was delighted and join the heroes at the table outside. She was the owner of the Careless Wanderer and despite her being blind and wearing a blindfold underneath her veil said that she had observed that each one of the heroes was touched by the seidhe and that she herself had been exposed to the fey in her younger years. Overall, she had fond memories of those times, but she did give the heroes a casual warning that the customs, expectations and etiquette of the realm of the seidhe were curious and that it was easy to run afoul of them.
James decided he would look for Wojciech, the Silesian stable master at the Careless Wanderer he understood to have regularly met his mother and Kalina at the bend in the river outside the Brown Gate. He found the man tending to the horses at the stables behind the inn. He introduced himself to Wojciech and explained he was looking for Kalina. Wojciech told James many of the same things that Mirek had also shared with him; Kalina had an unpleasant temperament and that he would occasionally meet her together with other Silesians. He could also tell James that he had tended to her horse only half a ride ago and that she was on her way out of Kingsport. When James confirmed that he knew about Kalina’s occupation as a horse rustler, Wojciech told him that recently she had run afoul of the House Courtenay guards around the Powderham estate. He heard they had been seen at the ruins of the Scatterfoot farm near the Avondale woods.
The next stop for the heroes was The Hoxton, the well known tavern at the bottom of the Serrated Street in the middle of Lewisham. As they made their way there, they crossed over Steward Square and saw a familiar face proselytising in front of an audience of two dozen people; Prementhine Shakeslock. He was once again warning people of the danger of corruption and doom spread by warlocks and those that consort with demons. He was wearing a red tabard, and was surrounded by several people dressed in red robes. He also referred to himself as “Brother Prementhine” and said that he would demand the Circle of Mages submit themselves to an inquisition to weed out corruption and hand over dangerous artifacts.
The heroes didn’t linger and made their way to The Hoxton. They found the taproom crowded and the second floor balconies filled with people of all ilk. Several tables held card and dice games with people gambling on the outcome. After some investigations, a gambler by the name of Edna, an older woman with crooked fingers filled with silver rings, recounted the story of Kalina’s demon dice game against a dwarf called Bran who lived in a shack in the Grimsdown ward. Kalina had lost her dagger and had to be tossed out of The Hoxton by Lenny, the proprietor of the establishment and the Kingsport bare-knuckle boxing champion.
On the way back to the Careless Wanderer the heroes crossed Steward Square again and saw that the crowd listening to Brother Prementhine had swelled even further. The heroes decided to play a prank and simultaneously try to get the crowd to disperse by displaying a little magic and making the area smell of rotten eggs. Luca was the one who came up with the idea, but he couldn’t make it work without being noticed, but Emrys, with a wealth of stage trickery had learned how to hide his sorcery and picked up where Luca’s idea left off. It was a small success and they managed to divert some of the crowd due to the bad smell that they conjured up.
When they got back to the inn, the heroes came to the conclusion that with dwarves being a rare sight in Kingsport it might be worth talking to Durham about where Bran was staying in Grimsdown. As luck would have it, the two were acquainted and he could give directions to his shack. But before their visit to Grimsdown, Luca decided that it was high time he visted Eustace the gemcutter and get his Lyrium crystal back. Quentin decided to join him.
The pair made their way to the Southside ward and quickly found Eustace’s little workshop. Upon entering the portly man set down his tools and took off the strange spectacles he wore while working and upon recognising Luca his face turned frightful. He began apologising profusely and explained that in Luca’s long absence the custodian from the Circle of Mages had been by as he often does to purchase materials for the college. He had also bought the crystal and paid 45 gold crowns for it. Luca quickly turned the disappointment into an opportunity to acquire more pearls for his divination spells. The pearl that Luca wanted was worth over 100 crowns and the gemcutter would not be browbeaten into giving that much of a discount, so Quentin put down a writ to cover the remaining value that Eustace could recover at the Sheridan Trading Company. The gemcutter relented and a deal was struck.
On the way back to the Careless Wanderer Luca decided to explain in detail just how valuable the Lyrium crystals were and why it was important that they recover the crystal which now was in the possession of the Circle of Mages.
Eventually, the heroes walked to Grimsdown, the unremarkable ward in the north-east of Kingsport known only for the falconry set up in the shadows of the Bastion of Restraint and the falconers who took their birds onto the bastion in order to train them. When the arrived in the right area James once again showed how effective an agent he was inside the city by paying a group of street urchins a silver piece to let them know which shack was the dwarf’s. A few knocks on a warped wooden door and they stood face to face with Brandomiir; the mohawked, foul-mouthed rogue who was in the employ of the Sheridans and helped the heroes free the Kaedwyni orcs.
He was happy to see the heroes and invited them into his small abode. He had been at work at the Sheridan estate, not just to restore the water supply, but later also to explore and secure the underground catacombs that the Sheridan were looking to exploit. He left the employ as soon as he was able, since Hallis, the captain of the Sheridan house guards, never trusted the dwarf after she suspected his involvement in the orc escape. He took his coin and acquired the shack in order to ride out the winter. The various tools around the shack showed that he was in the process of fixing it up. Quentin also noticed a rare arquebus hanging above the mantle in the shack.
When the conversation turned to Kalina and her dagger, he recounted the story on how he won it from her in a game of demon dice. When James asked if he still had the dagger he produced it from a chest and said that he had not found anyone to sell it to. After a bit of haggling Bran agreed to sell the dagger for the small fortune of 350 gold crowns, which Bran claimed would cover the cost of the individual gemstones and craftsmanship. He seemed happy with the trade. After the sale, the group stayed on a little longer to talk and reminisce about the orcs, after which the heroes departed back to the Careless Wanderer.