Tag: A New Direction

A Ghastly Menagerie

Previously, the heroes managed to find their way into Dr. Arkenward’s sanctum and were confronted by a guardian which reminded them of the statue guarding the portal at the top of Atilesceon’s tower. They managed to pass by the guardian, but not without picking up some bumps and bruises, only to find a large throne room, as well as a storage room filled with large barrels of wine.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The heroes had made their way through the throne room, finding little of interest, and up to the balcony looking down upon it. At the back of the balcony they found a doorway leading to a new room which held a dozens of enormous barrels, each of them seemingly filled with wine. Mallets, spigots and bottles could be found here and there, all meant to facilitate the tapping of kegs and barrels, and the sampling and bottling of wines.

In the south-western corner of the room was another doorway, and close to it, some people had set up a makeshift camp around the chopped up remains of a small barrel, which served as fuel for a rather impressive bonfire. Two bedrolls and a few personal items could be found there. The southern end of the room had a high wall, which opened up to the next room beyond.

While Luca and Quentin inspected the quality of the wine that was stored in the room, deeming it “average”, James scouted ahead to the next room through the corridor in the south-west of the room. He reported back that the room beyond was dotted with strange pillars with green, glowing crystals on it, while a group of a dozen imps were fluttering among the pillars. It was decided that it would be for the best to try and bypass that room, if possible.

The northern part of the room gave way to the wine room, while in the north-east there was a portcullis which lead to a corridor. The eastern wall was high, but opened up to another room running along-side; due to the angle it was difficult to see what the next room held.

The heroes remembered that Sadwick, Atilesceon’s imp familiar, had not been a particularly power opponent, but was a sufficient nuisance in combat that it was unwise to confront the imps directly. James and Emrys, cloaked in invisibility, would move ahead and establish a safe spot, and Luca would then communicate the location of that spot with James, using the earrings of whispers.

As James and Emrys moved up and turned invisible, Emrys felt that he lost control of the magic that welled up in side of him. He felt the urge of his body to move, to jump, to shift through time and space, and he found that he could make short jumps of translocation. In his enthusiasm he forgot about James and jumped into the corridor beyond the portcullis. James, unsure of what happened, relayed his shock back to Luca and stayed put.

The corridor behind the portcullis sloped upwards and lead to the room behind the room that ran parallel to the room with the imps. In that room Emrys noticed that several creatures were chained up against the wall, or locked away in cages if they were bigger. The room he entered in and the other room were also locked from one another by a portcullis, and just inside the room with the imprisoned creatures Emrys saw a gruesome sight; a spider-like creature had mounted a man, had two of its front legs burrowed deep into its torso, and seemed to be pumping it full of… something. The body was bloated and distended as a result of it.

Horrified, Emrys thought of retreating, comforted only by the fact that a heavy portcullis stood between him and the abomination. He turned around and inspected the room he was standing in, only to find that it was filled with objects, art and books. A strange figure wearing a long, collared robes, who had not noticed Emrys, floated in front of one of Arkenward’s bookcases. A tome was hovering in front of it, with pages slowly turning as the figure was absorbing the contents. It didn’t take long before the tome closed and was gently placed back in its place on the shelf. The levitating figure moved to a different bookcase and it was then that Emrys got a look at its face; a mauve coloured, bulbous head with a mass of tentacles running down its face where its mouth should have been.

This was more than Emrys had bargained for. He felt the surge of magic that allowed him to translocate ebbing away, and he knew that it would dissipate soon. Not wanting to get separated from his companions, he decided to return back to the room with the imps. The last few jumps left in the surge allowed him to jump past the pillars without disturbing the imps. He did come to realise that the pillars emanated an aura which slowed the body and befuddled the mind. Getting stuck inside of the aura while the imps were disturbed would be dangerous.

In the meantime, Luca and James discussed how to proceed without Emrys. It was decided that Luca and Quentin would move up to the entrance of the room with the pillars and imps, while James would attempt to sneak past the imps while he still had the benefit of invisibility. Once James could confirm that the corridor in the south-east of the imp’s room was safe, Luca would portal Quentin and himself there.

Luca used the earring to talk to James who said he didn’t know where Emrys was, but when he arrived at the doorway managed to re-establish contact with Emrys, despite them both being invisible. James confirmed that he had found another body of an intruder, which looked to have been savaged by the imps.

Luca and Quentin tried to get into place as stealthily as they could managed, which was not saying much. Luca could not seem to manage to stay quiet, even though Quentin managed quite well, despite feeling frustrated by always being out of his element; either by not being able to see in the dark, or by having to skulk about while wearing his armour. Despite all of the trouble and frustration they managed not to disturb the imps, and portalled to the end of the room to meet up with Emrys and James again.

Emrys shared what he had seen in the room beyond and when people took a glimpse inside the room, they saw that several creatures were chained to the wall. Most notably, a khazra, a skaven, an imp as well as a young, human girl and a creature that looked a bit like an ape with sharp claws and a hideous face. There were also several cages, one held a rat ogre, moving restlessly back and forth, while another held what looked to be an enormous man with the head of a bull. A third cage held another ghastly creature which looked somewhat like an orc, but with ghastly horns and spikes protruding from its back and arms. A fourth cage seemed broken and empty. Then there was the bloated body of the man who had a wicked spider mounted atop it. Some of the bulbous swelling that Emrys had spotted had burst open and spiders had crawled out, three in total.

And in the middle of the room was an examination table, which had a strange humanoid creature on it, with its body cut open with great precision, displaying its insides. It was another one of the tentacle-faced creatures that Emrys had noticed in the room beyond.

 

 

Defeating the Sanctum Guardian

Previously, the heroes had made their way into Dr. Arkenward’s sanctum by way of a hidden portal in the study of his home in the Old Town ward of Kingsport. There they had engaged and defeated a stone golem which was keeping watch over a stone door that lead deeper into the sanctum

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

After the heroes had defeated the golem, slowly they noticed a green glow coming from the defeated golem’s crystal which had been embedded in its chest. The same glow could be seen coming from the other golem, which had been destroyed before the heroes arrived in Arkenward’s sanctum. Within moments, the magic radiating outward from the crystal reconstituted both golems until they were completely mended.

Emrys and Luca both took their positions on each side of the room, atop the platform, in front of the orbs and both simultaneously placed their hands on the wings on each side of the orb. They felt a resistance as they attempted to take control of the orbs, and both were able to overcome that resistance. When they opened their eyes, it felt as if they had moved in the room. Looking down, they noticed a crystal embedded in the chest and they recognised that they had taken control of a golem.

James and Quentin looked on as the golems started to move, but this time without the intent of pulverising them. Instead, the golems moved to the door, whose crystals had been shifting between red and blue. When the right crystal had turned blue, one of the two golems charged its crystal with a magical blue light and discharged a lightning bolt at the crystal on the door. The crystal turned clear and went dull. Luca, who had been directing the golem was quite happy to see that it worked and he stood aside, waiting for Emrys to attempt to take care of the other crystal on the door.

When the other crystal on the door turned red, it was Emrys’ turn and he directed his golem to charge the crystal in his chest with red energy, and a blast wave erupted from the golem. It hit the crystal on the door, and the crystal turned clear and dull. Immediately a satisfying sound of a mechanism hidden in the walls could be heard and the door raised up into the wall above, opening the doorway into a short passage, which in turn opened into a large room beyond.

Unfortunately, the blast wave also hit Quentin and Luca, who had been too close to Emrys’ golem. The force of the blast was so powerful that Luca lost consciousness and could no longer control the golem and it once again retained control of its faculties and immediately recognised the heroes as intruders.

Between James’ archery, Quentin’s sword-work and the golem that Emrys still controlled, the heroes managed to defeat the hostile golem. Emrys moved his golem as far away from the door as possible while Quentin and James carried Luca through the door and into the room beyond. Emrys then relinquished control of the golem and it immediately ran for the heroes. Emrys found a mechanism with a lever on the other side of the door, and before the golem could reach the heroes the door closed again.

Quentin took Luca aside and channelled his grim determination, born from his nobility, heritage, bloodline, and his renewed purpose in life, into Luca’s bruised body and to everyone’s surprise he opened his eyes. Luca was still weak, but in turn Luca called upon the radiant splendour of his devotion to Aurion in order to heal his wounds even further. This brought about a conversation about Luca’s changed demeanour, but it had to wait until a better time to continue it.

The room the heroes found themselves in looked an awful lot like a throne room. It was surrounded by a large balcony and at the far end there was a throne. It was raised on a wooden base which was of a slightly different, darker wood than what the throne was made of, and inspecting the setup the heroes found that there some inscription on the back of it in a script that they could not read but guessed to be one of the northern languages. In a last ditch attempt to divine whether there was something important about the throne, the heroes decided to allow Luca to take his time to perform a ritual to check whether the throne was magic, which it turned out it wasn’t. It was at that time that the heroes missed Astrid’s company as they had to leave the throne behind.

Before the heroes continued, they took a moment to rest up. James had already investigated the balcony above while Luca performed his divination ritual and had found that there was a doorway at the rear of the balcony, behind which there was another large room, filled with large barrels, like those used to store wine or beer. When the heroes had rested up they went up to that room and took a look. They saw another doorway in the far end of the room, as well as a large bonfire with two bedrolls near it and some personal items around; it seemed that the people who entered Arkenward’s sanctum before them, had taken some time to rest before venturing onward, and the heroes were on their heels.

The Entrance of Arkenward’s Sanctum

Previously, the heroes had found their way to Dr. Arkenward’s house in the Old Town ward of Kingsport and spoke to Vydia, his wife. She revealed that she had met her husband while they were studying. She was a talent diviner, specialising in oracular precognition and revealed that she was born into the same tribe of elves as Emrys, the aen adhar, and was in fact the daughter of Voriel, the mentor that Emrys had vanished. Vydia had also been assaulted by intruders, who had disappeared into a secret, extra-dimensional space accessible only through Arkenward’s study. The heroes quickly followed into the portal, which promptly collapsed when Emrys jumped through it.

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

On the other side of the portal the heroes found a corridor that sloped upward and resulting a doorway to a room which was lit up. All of them needed to gather their senses somewhat, especially Emrys, who was upset at Vydia for revealing that her father was his former mentor just as he entered through the portal. Luca tried to engage Emrys on the subject by asking him what he thought it meant that in Vydia’s vision her father was screaming Emrys’ name. Emrys could not explain that.

James started to explore the corridor and found it to be made of the same kind of masonry that he’d seen in the ancient waterways underneath Kingsport. As he crept close to the exit of the corridor, he could see more of the room beyond; a high ceilinged room with chandeliers along the top which lit the room. Two platforms stood on either side of the room, each with a strange statue with an orb embedded in it; one orb was red, another was blue. On the far side wall, directly opposite to the doorway he was standing in, James noticed a large stone gate. On each side of the gate were alcoves all along the wall, each with a statue of a winged warrior in it.

Just off the centre of the room stood a large statue made entirely of stone, in the shape of a humanoid, with a strange clear crystal embedded in its chest. Another statue had collapsed into a pile of rubble close by. The two statues reminded James of the guardian he had seen in the Crimson Tower and he decided that the two arcanists in the group were better suited to determine the next course of action. Luca moved into the room and up one of the platforms to get a better look at the pillar and the orb on top of it.

In the meantime, Quentin carefully moved into the room, inspected the stone statue as he passed it and he got a distinct sense of anxiety at the thought of the enormous statue coming to life. Quentin noticed a body, behind the statue, at the base of the platform that Luca was standing on. He called everyone attention to it, and quickly it was determined that this was the man who had threatened Vydia. Searching his body, the heroes found that possessed thieves’ tools as well as the tools of a forger.

Emrys anticipated that something was going to happen and he used his arcane abilities to allow himself to fly. As the rush of magic coursed through his body he felt it well up and he could scarcely control it. In a flash, Emrys appeared to be flanked by two radiant figures; one was clearly Lauriel Skycaller, also known as Moonwhisper; the other was a pale and slender elven woman, with long, white hair, alabaster skin, wearing a deep midnight blue robes. Her eyes were like deep pools. Neither of them spoke, but they hovered on either side of Emrys. When the initial shock of their appearance wore off Luca used Blackstar to detect souls, but could not find any besides the ones of his companions.

Quentin investigates the statues in the alcoves on the far wall and saw that they were celestial warriors, each with a set of feathery wings that reminded him of some of the magical armour he recently found. When he went to inspect what Luca was doing he noticed that the statuettes that were holding the orbs were also winged and it was James he noticed that there were designated places on the wings where one could place their hands.

Luca had performed a ritual that allowed him to sense magical auras and based on his analysis he decided to place his hands on the wings of the orb. Immediately the statue came alive and threatened the heroes. Luca felt a contest of willpower emanating from the orb and let go of it to engaged the golem. A the same time on the closed gate one of two crystals started to glow with a red glow. Like the guardian at the top of the Crimson Tower, the golem possessed a ferocious power and the crystal embedded on its chest occasionally flashed an angry red or blue before erupting in a flash of force or electricity damage. The golem was seemingly also capable of charging itself with green light and using the magic inside of it to repair itself. Regardless, the four heroes were able to damage the golem enough to break and become dormant once again.

The heroes were still stuck in the room, now with two damaged and powered down golems and a dead body, and none the wiser on how to open the gate and continue on to find the tablet.

Abjuration and Divination

Previously, some of the heroes were afflicted by what felt like disturbing, prophetic dreams. Luca was the exception, and he woke up with a content, radiant warmth inside of him instead. The ones afflicted by the dreams discussed their possible meaning, but decided to redirect their attention to the tasks at hand; get Astrid a new weapon, while James visited the day master. After that, they stopped off at Dr. Arkenward’s home in Old Town, where they met his wife, Vydia, a member of the aen adhar and oracle. She was injured and had a bandage across her eye, but was kind enough to invite the heroes into her home and have a conversation.

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The conversation with Vydia had mostly been an introduction to her and her relationship with her husband and James, who had not taken a seat and had been standing in a corner, had run out of patience and asked her directly about that tablet Dr. Arkenward had retrieved from the royal art collection. He assured Vydia that the heroes only cared to keep the tablet safe.

According to Vydia her husband had kept the tablet in a hidden chamber accessible from his study. She had never been inside that hidden chamber for reasons she remained vague on, so she couldn’t explain on how to find the entrance. She did admit that while her husband was standing vigil over the queen, intruders had come to find the tablet and she had lead them to her husband’s study.

She explained that there were at least three people who came; two were wearing strange, elongated hoods which reminded her of the plague masks she had seen during the lockdown of Grimsdown. There was another person, a man with a black, scraggly beard and foul breath smelling of wine. She didn’t remember getting hit in the head, but she remembers coming to and not being able to see out of one eye due to swelling.

James expressed his concern for Vydia’s safety and suggested she leave Kingsport and not return for a while. She was visibly warmed by his concern and asked him his name. James hesitated for a moment but eventually shared it with her.

It was at that moment that Luca convinced Vydia to let him look at her eye and see if he could provide her with some aid. They both went upstairs to the front room where there was more light. When asked if he was a healer, Luca was evasive. When he had cleared her eye from the bandage he saw that her eye was swollen completely shut. He managed to feel around Vydia’s eye and could have sworn he felt something wriggle underneath her skin. Luca managed to pry the eye open and he found that her eye was so completely bloodshot that her entire eyeball appeared black.

After sharing his concerns with the rest, both Luca and James tried again to convince Vydia to leave her home. She was unwilling to do so, not least of all because of her husband. Luca performed a short ritual, calling upon the warm, radiant light of Aurion to relieve the swelling in Vydia’s eye. To his delight, and to Vydia’s comfort, the swelling went down significantly and inspecting the eye more became possible. It was clear to Luca that there was significant damage to Vydia’s eye which had left a hole, and it explained why she still couldn’t see much.

The conversation turned to the Steady Hand; Luca remembered that when he had joined James to visit the day master when they went to retrieve James’ mother, that the conversation between him and the day master had turned to a person by the name of the Upright Man and his interest in the tablets. Unbeknownst to the rest of the heroes, James had found one of Atilesceon’s journal entries that mentioned that the Upright Man had more than one tablet in their collection of antiquities. Quentin wanted to know what James’ position in the guild was and why they could be after the tablets, to which responded that he didn’t know and thought it might be for monetary gain. Emrys concluded that Quentin’s silence meant he did not have any heavy moral objections.

It was time for the heroes to inspect Dr. Arkenward’s study, especially in light of the intruders that had entered before them, but had never returned. Vydia had given the heroes the steer that there was a blank wall that they should investigate and quickly a ring of tiny, coloured crystals could be found on the wall. Emrys concluded that if Arkenward would cast the same translocation spell over and over, like he must have done in his chambers in the castle, he probably had a magical item nearby that would make it easier. Luca immediately started to perform a ritual that would expose him to the weave of magic.

Once done, he found that there was a brass statue of a carp which emitted a magical aura. The statue was set on an ebony base carved in the shape of waves, and had a glass waterspout coming from the mouth of the fish. The aura was one of faint conjuration and abjuration magic. After experimenting with it, James went to ask Vydia whether her husband had a phrase she had heard him repeat, or if she knew some other way that he used to activate the portal.

While Luca was investigating ways to activate the statue, James asked Emrys to talk to Vydia about possibly asking Dr. Arkenward, if he’s awake, some questions. Vydia engaged Emrys about his name while Luca continued dressing her bandage. She knew it to be an aen adhar name meaning “endless one”. She also remembered his parents name and asked after them, not knowing that Catriona had died a long time ago.

Soon after, she started opening up about her own upbringing as a child being magically gifted in the environment of the aen adhar, and the inevitable disappointment she turned into. This resonated with Emrys, especially when she asked him if he, too, had been brought to an elder, a mentor, with the intent of finding what it was that the Mohiam were looking for. Emrys explained that during one of the sessions with his mentor he lost control of his magic and made his mentor disappear. This made Vydia fall silent for a moment.

In that moment, Luca asked about the prophecy that the aen adhar believed in, and Emrys decided to open up to Vydia about Lauriel, whom she knew as Moonwhisper, the founder of the aen adhar and all of the machinations of the Mohiam. Vydia said she did not care about the Mohiam or their prophecies. She was too concerned with the visions she had herself to care about the visions of a long dead progenitor of the tribe. She started to weep and explained that for nine days she has had dreams about her father. He was stuck in a bleak, dark landscape, behind bars. His voice was raw from screaming, over and over; Emrys, the ever-living. Emrys was overwhelmed with emotion, and he made his way downstairs and into the kitchen.

Quentin followed Emrys and tried to console him. He asked if Emrys was alright, and the half elf said that he was unable to accept that all the actions he’s ever taken were predetermined by someone who’s been dead for thousands of years. It made him feel powerless. Quentin was unable to offer him anything but sympathy; “I know a bit about the weight of expectations resting on your shoulders, so if you ever want to scream into a pillow, let me know.” Emrys thanked him and stalked around the ground floor for a little while before going back upstairs.

All the while, James went to visit Dr. Arkenward in his bedroom and spoke to him. He seemed to be doing better, but only barely. After finding that the bed-ridden abjurer could only make moaning sounds, James instructed him to moan once for yes, and twice for no. Once that was established, the young rogue started asking questions. His first question was to ask whether the queen was okay, to which Dr. Arkenward moaned twice, indicating that she wasn’t. James then established that Arkenward knew that there had been intruders who had been after the tablet.

When Luca joined James at Arkenward’s bedside they quickly discovered that either a conjuration or abjuration spell cast upon the brass statue would open a portal. Luca used some of the radiant powers bestowed upon him by Aurion to ease Arkenward’s suffering, and James told Luca that they would have to have a conversation about those new abilities some day soon.

The heroes gathered in Arkenward’s study in front of the door, while Vydia stood in the doorway, unwilling to enter the chamber. Once Luca cast a simple conjuration spell on the statue, the familiar sound of an ever-receding wave filled the room while an oval, black disk with a rim of shimmering light being sucked inward opened up. Quentin decided to test his bravery and entered the portal first, after which James quipped to Luca by asking him if he could close the portal then, so as to be rid of the knight. Before Luca could answer, James went through the portal. Emrys encouraged Luca to go next.

 

When Luca was through, Emrys turned to Vydia and said that he hoped the portal’s collapse wouldn’t damage the house, and stepped through. As the portal began to collapse, Vydia suddenly stepped forward in a panic, and revealed at the last moment that her father, who had been her mentor, was Voriel Moiranach.

Dreams and a New Direction

Previously, the heroes visited the Circle of Magi to look for Hamish, Luca’s friend who he was keen on visiting. Unable to reach Hamish they continued on to the College of Bards where they spoke to Andrew, a bard and nobleman who was on friendly terms with Emrys and could share some insights into the political situation of Lyria. The evening was cut short as the curfew went into effect and the heroes returned to the Careless Wanderer.

Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Before the morning came, James, Emrys and Quentin were plagued with cryptic nightmares.

James woke up on the floor next to his bed, claimed by Astrid, in a nest made of blankets. He quickly grabbed something with which he could scribble down his fleeting memories and recalled a burning Kingsport, the ground cracked with fel green fissures swallowing up people. He remember seeing a tentacle snatch up an orange jewel and crush it to dust. He reached into his bag for a bottle of alcohol, his dependence on it growing as it helped him cope.

For Emrys, the dream was filled with burning forests and broken, marble columns. His kin lay dead, their skin blistered. He remembered seeing the statue of to lovers in a passionate embrace, covered in roses. A crude hand reached out to drain the life from the roses. As he quenched his morning thirst and contemplated his dreams, he was struck by just how real and life-like they seemed. He decided to try and sleep a little more.

In Quentin’s dream he witnessed estates and vineyards burning. The withering of his loved ones. He saw trees heavy with fruit. An olive-skinned hand with long, black talon-like nails plucked a vine of grapes which withered at its touch. When he woke, he realised he would need to talk to someone, an oneiromancer.

Each of the three were reminded of some of the other dreams they had over the last couple of months. James, especially, had been subject of foreboding dreams.

Luca’s morning started differently; he felt great, with a radiant warmth in his chest. He felt the compulsion to pray, so he cleaned his pits and bits, went downstairs and found the tavern far from open for business. He grabbed some food and headed out into the miserable weather to go to the cathedral in the hopes of attending a morning mass.

Walking through the empty streets Luca noticed the night-time braziers that the crownsguard would light up. Long since burned out, he found a little bit of charcoal at the bottom of one and wondered whether he could harvest enough of it to power the conjuration spell which he had been contemplating.

The cathedral was open and Luca went inside. There he found a few small groups of people and a handful of solitary individuals like himself praying while the clergy spent time cleaning the cathedral. He headed to the chapel of St. Aureus and kneeled down to pray. The warmth inside of his chest grew and he chuckled when he realised who he had become and have far removed it was from who he was when he was young.

Quentin and James both got up when they could smell breakfast. They bumped into one another while entering the tavern, and Quentin could smell the alcohol on James, but decided not to pursue it. James said that he had not been sleeping well and that he had strange dreams, which he didn’t think surprising, considering all that the heroes had been through. Quentin thought that James was dealing with it well, since James was as hungry as an ox. Quentin decided to go for a frugal breakfast, seemingly having been more disturbed by his dream.

The two heroes exchanged the details of their dreams over breakfast. Quentin did not share every detail and James chalked it up to Quentin not having noted down all the details before the memory of the dream faded away. Quentin asked James what the Lyrian attitude was to soothsayers and the like. His lord-father never approved of the superstition of fortune telling, but he remembered some of their servants talking about their dreams. James, unfortunately, couldn’t really say as he had always been more focussed on other things.

When Emrys eventually came down he managed to pretend that everything was fine, despite how he felt. It was at this time that Luca also returned from the cathedral. James asked Emrys and Luca whether they had had nightmares, but both denied. Emrys deftly steered the conversation to the topic of Astrid and whether or not she might need some care after her ordeal. The plan was made to find her a new weapon, while James decided he would check in with the day master, which was close by Dagran Forgewright’s smithy, which was where Emrys suggested they’d go for Astrid’s new weapon.

When James arrived at the butcher’s shop on Fleet street, he found that there were fewer members of the guild around. Communicating through subtle signals with the guards around the shop he was allowed entrance. There were no goods for sale at the shop, no people tending the counter, and no butchered pigs hanging from hooks in the back. He noticed another guard in the back who motioned him to go downstairs, into the basement. There he found the day master sitting at a table. He saw that the day master was still wounded; a blood soaked bandage over the side his mother had attacked him at.

The day master listened to James as he recalled every detail of his mission. When James was done, the day master asked James to speculate on the reason why so many winged serpents had been reported seeing flying from all parts in the direction of Eastmarsh. James couldn’t tell, but he did hand over the two books he had liberated from Kalauranthalasis’ treasure hoard, which pleased the day master greatly. Before departing, the day master once again tapped his glass eye with the tip of a dagger, saying that he would keep his eye on James.

Eventually James found the rest of the heroes at the Forgewright Arms, negotiating for an appropriate weapon for Astrid. Dagran Forgewright did not have any great swords in stock and claimed his stocks were low due to the crown buying up supplies in order to outfit troops who were heading east to bring the rebel houses back in line. He could, however, forge one, given enough time.

The long crafting time was mostly due to a critical shortage of charcoal in Kingsport; the supply of quality charcoal from the north had been interrupted by the invasion of orcs, who were harassing the Plains of Strife.

Luca showed Dagran the scrapings of lyrium slag which he had retrieved from around the portal underneath the Sheridan estate, all those months ago when he first met the others. The dwarf took Luca’s hand and stuck his nose in it, inhaling deeply. “I remember that smell,” the dwarven smith said while closing his eyes in reverie. When he opened them again, he dismissed the idea, since it was far too little to forge anything from. However, he did intimate that he could socket any lyrium crystals the heroes might have. Luca retrieved a small blue crystal from the assortment of different coloured crystals he had collected. He remembered from the pillars inside the ziggurat that blue crystals held abjuration magic and he thought it appropriate to benefit Astrid with some more protection after she had died at the hands of Xamael.

When the deal was struck, Emrys said; “The Heroes of the White Eye salute you.” That was met with a surprised look from Dagran, and an immediate nod of approval. In the meantime, the heroes were offered two simple longswords that were available, which they took for Astrid, and then said their goodbyes.

A short jaunt away from Forgewright Arms, in the heart of Old Town, the heroes found Dr. Arkenward’s house, a well-maintained, half-timbered house with a limestone masoned ground floor, and a beautifully shingled, tapered rooftop. When the heroes knocked on the door there was the voice of a woman with an accent which confirmed the rumours that Dr. Arkenward had married an aen adhar. Emrys announced himself as “Emrys Price”, saying that the heroes had come to learn how Dr. Arkenward was doing. The voice behind the door hesitated and confirmed Emrys’ last name. She again asked that the heroes state their business, and Emrys did a remarkable job of convincing Vydia, Arkenward’s wife, to let them in.

She was of slight frame, with dark brown hair. She was dressed in traditional Lyrian clothing which was popular among human, upper-middle class society. She also had a big bandage covering her left eye. One that seemed as if it had seen a change of dressing only recently.

The door lead into an ante-chamber which seemed to serve as a laundry room, which in turn was attached to a large kitchen. She offered the heroes a seat at a large, wooden dining table, as well as a warm, dark brown, bean drink. As the heroes sat down, she walked over to fill a small cauldron with water and hang it over a fire, which she lit using a simple cantrip that both Emrys and Luca recognised. As the water for the drinks was heating up the heroes spoke with Vydia. Emrys once again took the initiative.

The heroes learned that Vydia had been a gifted seer as a child, but left her religious-conservative home to find soothsayers and mystics to train under, eventually finding her way to Cuidad de Torres, the capital of Càrceres, where she studied with the Oracle of the Spires. It was there that she met Arkenward when he was a young mage, studying his craft in the city. Later they would move to Kingsport and start working at the Circle of Magi. Vydia found that she did not fit in well with the Circle and soon sought to work elsewhere, honing her talents.

When she started to have premonitions of the young queen being in danger Arkenward took it very seriously and started to use his position at the Circle to manoeuvre himself closer to the queen, eventually being asked to come to court to protect the sovereign.