Tag: A Royal Sickness

Ignis Fatuus

Previously, the heroes arrived in Eastray and found their way to the Hungry Hag where they took some much needed rest. Luca explored the city for a while and learned what was going on. Upon his return to the Hungry Hag, he and James had a conversation with a strange Mazurian noble, lady Azsharastrasza, or lady Asha for short, who was looking for people to trace down her mate, whom she claimed had fallen victim to a charismatic priest of the Cult of the Dark Queen by the name of Dominik. She had tracked the cult down to Dunagore and managed to find out the location of their hideout; an ancient temple deep in the hinterlands of Eastmarsh. She also had a stone statue that resembled the one that the Sheridans found in the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe. The heroes, while intrigued, could not give priority to lady Asha and left for Rivermeet the next day, and from there would have to make their way to Blackbough on foot.

Third Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Leaving the settlement of Rivermeet behind, the heroes and their travelling companions began to make their way to Blackbough on foot. Isalien, the tracker who had plotted their course towards the east-south-east, said that it would be about a three day travel if all went well. Captain Randall seemed to lighten up at that news, but it was Michel that everyone looked to; being the only Acadian he seemed the most experience in the swamps. His face betrayed that her caveat was an important one; if all went well.

The descent from the hillock upon which Rivermeet was settled immediately saw the ground grow soggy, and after ten minutes the tall grass on either side of the narrow path had soaked the shoes, trousers and bottom of everyone’s cloaks. The small path meandered through the soggy countryside, avoiding puddles, ponds and peat bogs, and eventually strayed further away from the Ivel as the river headed south. As a result, the rushes and reeds started to make place for low-growing shrubs. Isalien said that if all went well, they’d meet up with river in a little over a day.

Again that  caveat; if all went well.

After a few hours, the area started to be dominated by large trees, cedars, cypresses and willows, with thick stems and large, slippery roots which arched high out of the ground. Isalien explained that the area often flooded with water, washing away a lot of the soil that the trees nestled in and exposing their roots. The roots were burrowed into the peat underneath the mud that the flooding brought, giving the trees the necessary foundation. Quickly grasses, ferns and bladderworts would sprout up around the trees, which in turn would become fertiliser for rosemary, buttonbush, cattails and bogspice when the water levels rose again. Water lilies, pondweed and swamp roses would thrive and the cycle would start anew.

Soon after it became clear that leeches were going to become a problem and on several occasions the group had to stop to remove them. Michel assured everyone that the mash was much worse during the warmer months, with aggressive mosquitos the size of a child’s hand attacking every piece skin you exposed. It also didn’t take long before the guides had pointed out a variety of cleverly hidden snakes and crocolisks of different sizes; though none nearly as large as the one hanging from the rafters at the Hungry Hag.

With only a couple of hours of light left, Isalien came upon traces of lizardfolk. James and Isalien scouted ahead and found that there was a large village of lizardfolk close by. The larger of them carried clubs spiked with bone and carried shields made from turtle shells. They had hung the skulls of animals, goblins and humans in the branches of trees around the village, and a quick assessment of the situation drove them to conclude that the lizardfolk were aggressive and territorial. In order to avoid the lizardfolk’s territory the group could either go around and add about half a day of travel, or they could attempt to sneak past by wading through murky waters. The group decided to do just that and managed to avoid contact with the lizardfolk at the cost of countless leech bites and drenched clothing.

That night shelter was found between the roots of an enormous willow tree where the tents were erected. With a great deal of effort a smoky fire was made. Everything was wet and finding dry wood seemed impossible. The heroes became acutely aware of the strange sounds of the marsh and found it difficult to find rest as there was every possibility to that they would be discovered by a small army of lizardfolk.

Fourth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

With clothing still damp from the previous day’s travel, the heroes and their companions continued on their way. Following their departure the groundwater level started to rise again and soon after shoes, trousers and robes were soaked through. When the heroes and their companions found themselves in the rushes on the edge of a flooded area of an enormous size it looked like the group would have to take a detour.

Before a new course could be plotted, Michel noticed a large houseboat coming into view through the pale, morning mist that was rising up from the lake. Contact was established with the people on deck who were piking the boat along through a collection of hand signals and the boat slowly drifted closer. The houseboat was home to two families of Acadians who were looking to trade. Michel negotiated a few simple trades and asked whether it was possible for the group to be ferried across the lake. The family eventually agreed when a few more trades were made. The heroes and their companions were not allowed to come into the home, but could sit on the front deck.

The journey continued on the other side of the lake until they came upon a large flooded grove of ancient cypress trees. After some contemplation, the group decided to take their belongings, hold it above their heads as much as they could, and wade through the murky waters. Anything was preferable to having to accept a detour. Having to depend on their guides, the heroes took it slowly through the grove, being extra careful to avoid crocolisks and snakes as well as patches of sinking sand; dangerous areas where the guides assured the heroes the ground would swallow them up completely.

On the other side of the grove they found that they were quickly approaching the river again, the water of which was the cause of the flood. With the remaining light a suitable spot was found among the rushes of the river, giving the group access to fresh, drinkable water. Michel used the opportunity to do some fishing  and he used his catch, together with some crawfish he dug up from the mud to create a spicy fish stew.

Fifth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The next morning the group started moving shortly after dawn, continuing east and away from the river. The countryside changed, with slow rolling hills the further the group moved east. More trees, predominantly cypresses, birches and willows, started dotting the hinterland, and while the ground was still soggy, the swamp grounds were only contained to the low areas between the hills. As a result it became easier to avoid the dangerous lizards and snakes.

The sky became grey, overcast and dramatic. Cold air descended, and a fog came down upon the land like a blanket. Soon the heroes and their companions had a hard time seeing in front of them. When visibility had gone down to less than a hundred paces the progress slowed to a crawl. Soon after a pale glowing light appeared in the mist which seemed to be guiding the heroes through the light, but always at a distance.

Eventually, an eerie feeling came over the heroes and before they could react, a large, humanoid horror appeared from the fog, with malicious eyes, long claws and dark, dried skin stretched so tightly across its skull that it’s lips were torn open to reveal horrifying teeth. The glow came from the cavernous void where its chest should be, cradled by the rim of jagged ribs of its destroyed ribcage.

The mist hung thick and heavy across the marsh and the heroes and their travelling companions got ready. They had seen the enormous, ghoulish creature dart in and out of the fog and saw that the lights that had lead them into the trap were darting around nervously.

Before the creature struck, a dense, animated mist formed in which foggy duplicates of the creature formed, dissipated and reformed. These duplicates relentlessly attacked the heroes and their companions and was meant to soften them up before the creature moved in. Isalien, Randall and Michel were both quickly overwhelmed by the mist. Only Isalien ended up surviving, while Randall and Michel perished as they stumbled out of the fog and were confronted by the tiny, glowing creatures who were capable of shocking their victims.

The ghoulish creature, which Luca identified as a larger and likely much older version of the creature which attacked them en route from Bournemouth to Egremont on board the Old Queen, mostly focussed on Quentin, James and Astrid. Luca quickly lost consciousness due to the duplicates in the fog and Emrys stood over him, attempting to keep the glowing creatures at bay. The duplicates made it difficult to concentrate, made only worse when the foglet surrounded himself with illusionary images of itself, something which Emrys had also done as a precaution.

Astrid went down under the assault from the foglet, unable to keep its aggression at bay. James and Quentin managed to manoeuvre it out of the deadly mist and focussed on the knight while the rogue found opportunities to strike at it. Quentin had to dig deep in order to survive, even resorting to the abilities of Róisín; conjuring up a healing spirit and soothing his wounds with some of the nutritious berries that sometimes grew on the scabbard.

Meanwhile, Emrys rummaged through Luca’s belongings to find one of the potions that they had purchased from Ecgbrith and he managed to nurture his friend back to consciousness. Miraculously, Astrid managed to regain consciousness by herself. Together, they made a last stand against the foglet and managed to defeat it.

James recovered some of the daggers he had thrown at the foglet and took one to cut the beasts head off its shoulders in a rare display of brutality which usually was reserved for Astrid.

Mud and Missed Opportunities

Previously, the heroes set sail from Kingsport to Eastray in an attempt to retrieve the rare ghost orchid in order to dispel the wards which had been placed on the khazra head to prevent the curse on queen Isabella from being lifted. They took on a young boy who had been found floating on a raft and prevented some of the passengers and crew from throwing the child overboard for being an ill omen. They arrived in Eastray and said goodbye to captain Lorne and his crew.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Having arrived in the coastal town of Eastray, the heroes made their way to the Hungry Hag, the only tavern in the muddy town which had beds for them. Along the way, they quickly got the measure of Eastray; simple folk who mostly lived off of the trade along the delta; fishing, shrimping, sugarcane and the hides from the large lizards which could be found in the marshy hinterlands.

The inn was a two story building with old, rotting thatch on the roof. The smell of spicy stew wafted towards the heroes as they opened the door and stepped inside. The inside of the inn was painted white in order to maximise the little light which came in through the small, shuttered windows. Decorative patterns of plants had been painted on the walls to cheer the place up. A red brick hearth had a big fire roaring and most people were sitting around the hearth to stay warm and to dry their wet clothes. An enormous crocolisk of almost twenty foot in length hang high along the rafters of the roof, its skin dried and preserved, with its open maw giving a terrifying view of the razorsharp teeth that lined the inside.

Half a dozen locals had gathered and were already drinking and soon Michel had arranged for stew and strong drink, both designed to put fire in your belly. The stew was full of fish and shrimp and lathered with capsicum, while the drink of choice was rum, due to the sugarcane plantations in the area.

For a couple of silver, the heroes got a few rooms and many of them decided to catch up on the sleep they had lost in all the commotion around the young boy. Luca, not as tired as the others, decided to go sight seeing while Michel and Randall were going to make arrangements to travel upriver to a settlement called Rivermeet, situated at the conflux of the Lea tributary coming from the north, and the Ivel river from the south-east. It would be from there that the travel would become a challenge.

The first place Luca went to was the notice board he had spotted when the heroes headed from the harbour to the Hungry Hag. He found a notice about a place that specialised in fortune telling which he decided to seek out. He read a notice that suggested that the Red Custodians of the Monastic Order of St. Catherine had recently arrived in Eastray and were looking for people to help raise a new church on the outskirts of town. He also read that, just like elsewhere, the Cult of the Dark Queen were responsible for several random murders and that everyone was urged to be aware of people with wicked, jewelled daggers. Luca decided to take that notice in order to show it to James so that he could be more careful in showing the daggers he carried. There were another handful of other notices that Luca paid little attention to.

Luca quickly found the Maison de Fortune, the place where he could get his fortune read. It was a large, well-maintained home but he found that Master Beaudelaire, the fortune teller, was not at home. The young woman who came to the door claimed that the old master was probably somewhere in his cups, which reminded Luca of a man he had noticed drinking by himself in the Hungry Hag with a deck of cards in front of him. He decided he’d continue to wander the town for a bit longer before returning to the inn.

During his trip around town he purchased some wooden shoes, which, while excellent to traverse the mud in, were hard to adjust to. It would take him a while before he’d get used to wearing them. Luca noticed the same graffiti that he had noticed in Kingsport, of a caricature of the lord steward fucking a ravenheaded person while holding a wolfheaded person on a leash. It seemed the same discontent that had struck Kingsport had also found its way to Eastray. During his walk he listened to the conversations of the locals in an attempt to study the particular accent of the region.

Luca learned that a curious and mysterious woman had been seen walking around town. She was said to be of exceptional beauty, with long, red, curly hair and an alabaster skin, wearing a rich green dress. Rumours were that she was beguiling and that surely she was a witch. Another rumour he picked up was that a knight had been seen walking around town wearing a shield on his back depicting the banner of house Downwarren. Luca didn’t quite understand what the significance of that was, but it was clear that it made a deep impression on the locals.

When Luca returned to the Hungry Hag he found the old, well-dressed man with the deck of cards still siting and drinking at a table by himself. He introduced himself to the old man, who appeared to have been afflicted by a strong case of cataracts to both eyes and was nearly blind. The man appeared to be quite tipsy, but was willing to tell Luca’s fortune. He introduced himself as Bertrand Beaudelaire and he had a calm but nasal voice. He asked Luca some questions about where he was from and how old he was and what Luca’s aim for the reading would be. Luca wanted to know his long term fortune as well as the short term success for his companions.

Master Beaudelaire then asked Luca to draw three cards from the deck which he had been shuffling with great dexterity. Luca drew three cards. The first one was The Eye and the Hand, a card which depicted an eye being held aloft above a stormy sea by two hands. The man concluded that Luca was a seeker of knowledge in the face of tumultuousness. The second card that Luca drew was The Moon and the Mirror, depicting the Silvermoon in high sanction above a placid lake. The image reminded Luca of the way in which the Silvermoon had reflected off the waters of Lake Llygad. Master Beaudelaire concluded that instead of knowledge, Luca actually sought enlightenment. The last card, The Jewel and the Thief, depicted a man reaching out for a large ruby. Master Beaudelaire asked Luca if he had made a deal in return for knowledge, which was something Luca confirmed. He concluded that Luca was very ambitious and was willing to make dangerous deals in order to be successful. He concluded that he could not divine anything about Luca’s long-term success, but he believed that in the short term Luca and his companions would be successful.

The old man refused payment for the reading and in return Luca arranged to pay for the man’s rum for the rest of his stay. Luca agreed this with a young boy who was working behind the bar. He noticed that the boy had a severely mangled left hand which he could hardly use. It seemed as if he had many of the bones in his hand broken which never healed properly.

When James woke up from his rest and joined Luca, the two decided to spend some time trying to find the szygani encampment which supposedly lay on the outskirts of the south of Eastray. Luca filled James in on the things he had seen and heard in and around Eastray and the two made their way. They found the camp after a slippery and soggy jaunt across town. The szygani seemed to be weary of the two until James drew the attention of a confident and cocky szygani swordsman who wore a rapier at his side. The swordsman introduced himself as Bailuk and asked how he could help the heroes.

When the conversation was over, James had learned that Eastmarsh was the home of the Acadians, a distinct group of people who hardly considered themselves Lyrians. They were weary, insular, xenophobic and superstitious people, not unlike the szygani. The szygani considered themselves travellers, and “people of the path”, the Acadians considered themselves the travellers of the delta. Szygani travelled by vardos, the colourful horse-drawn wagons they lived out of, while the Acadians lived on houseboats. James had also learned that Rivermeet was a trading hub where the hinterland and the coastland connected in trade. Acadian families would come to Rivermeet to trade items from the swamp for items being brought into Eastray from other parts of Lyria.

Returning to the Hungry Hag, James and Luca found that Emrys had struck up a conversation with a familiar face; Oliver, one of the two merchants that the heroes had saved from duplicitous mercenaries just outside of the Inn at the Crossroads. He explained that his brother-in-law, Trent, was still in Kingsport, taking care of the business, while he had just come in from Càrceres with a large shipment of salt, which he had traded here for sugar and rum, which he was intending to bring back to Kingsport the following day. Luca asked if he had any interesting passengers on the ship ride into Eastray, and Oliver explained that he travelled with a strange Mazurian woman of great beauty. The ship had picked her up on a short stop in Dunagore.

It would be Oliver and Trent’s last trade before winter. While he explained that his company was considering investing in iron in order to capitalise on the shorting market with trouble brewing along the northern border with the Daerlan empire as well as the orc invasion throughout the Elder Foothills and the Plains of Strife, James audibly yawned in disinterest. The young man cut his conversation short before departing for his room to turn in for the night.

James briefly spoke to Leonie in order to gather more information on Rivermeet and whether or not he might be able to count on someone to arrange for things when he arrived. Leonie said that she was quite well connected in Eastray, but that she had few reliable connections in the hinterlands of Eastmarsh. While she had been living in Eastray for the better part of her life, she was not native, having come up from Fulham, and as such there were quite a few weary Acadians who still saw her as an outsider. She gave James the name of a man named Marcel, who might be able to help.

Just as Luca and James decided they might want to turn in for the night, the door to the Hungry Hag opened and a woman of surprising beauty walked through the door. The stories they had heard about this mysterious woman all day were confirmed; long, red, curly hair, a heart-shaped face, large green eyes and fine features, clothed in an expensive, green velvet dress with brown leather boots which seemed to have remained mostly clean from the muck of the Eastray streets.

With her entrance came a chill across the remaining patrons at the inn. James and Luca eventually struck up a conversation with her. She claimed to be a noble woman by the name of Lady Azsharastrasza from Mazuria who had travelled to Eastray in search of her “mate”, Laurencjusz, or Lorek for short. Lady “Asha” as she preferred to be called, had been at court in Dom Ludova, the capital of Mazuria, when a charismatic cult leader named Dominik had taken advantage of her “mate” and convinced him to join the cult, which was dedicated to the worship of the Dark Queen. Lady Asha eventually followed a trail of the cult to Dunagore, where she found a member of the cult and managed to find information on where the cult was hiding out, an ancient temple deep in the hinterland of Eastmarsh.

She showed an improvised map and a strange stone statue, which resembled that strange statue that the Sheridans had retrieved from the catacombs underneath their estate; a round, conical statue narrow at the bottom and wider at the top with the engraving of an eye at the top. Lady Asha was lead to believe it would act as a key of some sort to the ancient temple the cult was using as a hideout.

James and Luca tried to work out whether or not they could realistically help Lady Asha out without potentially losing too much time but ended up concluding that this wouldn’t be possible. They also couldn’t convince the strange lady to join them with a promise of tending to her quest on the way back from Blackbough. The ended up saying good night as the heroes prepared to depart early in the morning. As they fell asleep they had a suspicion that it would not be the last time they met Lady Azsharastrasza.

Second Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The following morning the heroes woke up and had a quick breakfast. Michel LeBlanc, the Acadian guide had arranged for travel to Rivermeet on a barge. The weather had remained unchanged, with a continued drizzle and gusts of wind. The Ivel river was broad and muddy and had countless arms of different sizes which all flowed towards Eastray. The further upriver they travelled, the more marshy the area became, with reed and cypress groves lining the river to the point where it become unclear where land stopped and river started. They also saw the large amount of crocolisks and snakes that inhabited the waters and started to wonder what it would be like deeper into the hinterland.

They reached Rivermeet late afternoon. It sat on the conflux of the Lea tributary and the Ivel river and it was a small settlement mostly intended to allow for different Acadian families to come together for trade. Michel spent most of his time trying to arrange for transport further upriver. Due to an absence of inns or other lodgings, the night was spent in the tents that Randall had arranged. Two people to a tent, four tents each, set up around a soggy campfire on top of sheets of treated canvas which kept the ground water from seeping into the tents.

Third Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The following morning Michel was still unable to secure river transport and the conversation lead towards alternatives. James was keen on either paying or stealing a boat, but Michel advised against it, as it would probably meant upsetting the Acadians. Having angry Acadians after them while they were on their soil was probably not advisable. Isalien reckoned that it would be either one day by boat upriver, and another day on foot to Blackbough, or three days on foot, give or take half a day. Eventually, the group decided that setting off from Rivermeet would probably be best and that securing a boat upriver was probably going to take more time than they would gain.

As predicted, the terrain started to change rapidly, with parts of the travel requiring them to wade through waist deep waters. There were several challenges along the way. The first was a large village of aggressive lizardfolk who barred the way. They were primitive, carrying clubs spiked with bone and shields created from large turtle shells, but their numbers were just too great. James successfully plotted a course through the lizardfolk territory by wading through murky waters and sneaking past. It was risky, but it meant avoiding a detour which would have added another half a day of travel to the journey.

Fourth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The following day the heroes came upon a large Acadian family living on a house boat. They were initially suspicious of the heroes, but Michel, with the help of the heroes, managed to convince them to allow them passage across a marshy lake on their boat. This managed to shave off half a day of travel which was a welcome bit of good luck.

Later that day day, a grove of ancient cypress trees, hung with Carcarian moss. It would be dangerous to travel across the grove since it would force the heroes to wade through murky waters for several hours. The heroes decided to trust Isalien’s keen senses and decided to take the risk rather than add another day of travel to their journey in order to avoid the grove. Luck was on the side of the heroes and they managed to avoid any risky situations with the dangerous wildlife.

Fifth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Getting closer to the area of Blackbough, the sky turned overcast and a fog settled over the land. Visibility was reduced to about twenty feet or so and travel slowed down. Soon, an eerie glow was seen darting ahead of the heroes through the mist. The source of the glow was unknown, but it seemed to be guiding the heroes through the mist. Calling upon Luca’s knowledge of strange phenomena the heroes decided to trust the light ahead of them in order to keep up the pace and not lose the gains they had made over the last few days.

After a while the eerie notion started to creep up on the heroes. The hairs on the back of their necks started to raise up as they had the feeling that they were being watched. It was at that moment that something horrifying materialised from the fog.

A Curious Child

Previously, the heroes spent time recovering from their ordeal in the carceratum. The heroes had decided they would want to leave the city as soon as possible and had decided to look for transportation to Eastray. James did not have much luck in convincing any of the ships at the docks to depart before the annual fishing competition started, but his luck changed when he noticed the familiar sails of the Old Queen sailing into port. The caravel had been chartered for transportation by Randall, and after some consideration could move its departure time up to the early evening.

This gave the heroes enough time to attend the much advertised sermon by prior Benedict at the Cathedral of the Platinum Father. The heroes had been invited at the request of prior Benedict to be lord Lothar Grey’s guests of honour. When they attended, the cathedral was packed to the rafters with the powerful, wealthy and influential. When the prior finally spoke he delivered a brutal conviction of how the church had strayed from Paladine. All the while, Luca saw that his patron was fuelling the prior’s words, allowing it to end in a dramatic crescendo where the prior sundered the alter in front of him in two, leaving his audience stunned as he marched out of the cathedral.

Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

As the prior left the cathedral with Adelard, his assistant, he left a stunned audience together with the sundered altar in his wake. As the impact of what happened and what the prior had said started to sink in, people started to become restless; first whispering questions to one another, exchanging worried looks, and later questioning and debating what was said, while some people began to panic and sob as their faith was shaken. The packed cathedral slowly started to become more rowdy as some people wanted to depart as fast as possible, being hustled to the exit by their guards.

Quentin, observing the situation, noted that most of the higher clergy were quick to put a positive spin on the situation; being more concerned with the reputation of the church rather than the theological implications of the prior’s words. The more junior clerics, however, seemed more effected by what had occurred and what was said. Luca felt as confused about his master’s involvement in what happened as some of the audience had been at the prior’s words and felt a need to leave the cathedral. He was helped by Quentin and Emrys and they quickly caught up with James who had made his way to the exit early on, and had been watching the confusion unfold from the safety of a small alcove between two angelic statues near the door.

The plan was to return to the Careless Wanderer in order to regroup. While enjoying a stiff drink, James found that Randall had taken care of many of the supplies that would be needed on their expedition into Eastmarsh; tents, sleeping bags and rations. That left James with only one thing to take care of; speaking to Wojciech the stablemaster in order to have him bring the horses to the Sheridan estate for his mother to take care of. He found that the stablemaster was willing, but could not be convinced to stay away from the city for longer than the assignment would take him. He took six silver stags as payment and agreed to bring the horses, while storing Luca’s cart in the alley next to the inn.

While James went to purchase an excessive mix of over two dozen bottles of wine and spirits from Durham, paying with one of the gemstones he’d recovered from the Reaverhaunt caves, Quentin said to the others at the table that he had never seen such a naked display of power before. With a sermon that did not last more than a few short minutes, the prior had shaken the very bedrock of the church of Paladine.

Luca was tired and still frustrated with the unexplained intervention from his master, so decided to forget his worries by going up to the room and studying the arcane scroll he had found on the skaven shaman’s body. He found that Astrid was resting in her cot and he urged her to sleep on the bed, arguing that as of tomorrow they’d likely be sleeping in the cold and wet. She did as he suggested while he researched the scroll. He found that the scroll contained within it the one-time use of a necromantic spell which would allow his touch to inflict a variety of awful diseases.

With a little bit of time left before the departure to Eastray onboard the Old Queen, Quentin decided to make his way to the Sacred Baths in order to speak to Emma. The priestess received him in her private chambers and Quentin shared what had happened at the cathedral. A quasi-theological discussion about the difference between unity and uniformity lead the two to talk about Muirgheal and Emma explained that she found that the attitude of the weapon, or the spirit therein was antithetical to her own. While it worshiped the aquatic gods, it seemed to be more aligned to the Father of the Deep, whose domain was the salt and the sea. This deity was often hostile to the life that Sedna nourishes. She found Muirgheal dogmatic and militant.

Quentin decided to try something unusual; he took out his sword and rang the flat of the blade against the stone walls of Emma’s chamber until the blade strong a harmonic vibration. He held the blade against Muirgheal and closed his eyes. He saw a stormy bay with dangerous and choppy water. Across the water a man with a booming voice yelled at him to convert or be drowned at the bottom of the bay. Shocked, Quentin broke off contact and said how worried he was at the strength of the artifact’s zeal. Emma shared that she did not trust anything from the Age of Fear; neither the Arms of the Senhadrim, nor the Crusaders that they liberated. They possessed a magical potency that the world was not ready for yet.

Quentin asked Emma for a favour; whether he would be able to borrow the stone that she had carried throughout their adventure into the Riverlands together. He knew that it possessed certain properties that would protect someone from disease, and he was keen to have it by his side going forward. Unfortunately, Emma had to disappoint him and say that she had returned the stone to Ser Benten, who lent it to her when she had fallen ill to the disease from the skaven when they first encountered them, all those months ago.

Before Quentin departed to head back to the Careless Wanderer, he asked whether Emma would be willing to come and bless the Old Queen, the familiar boat that he would sail to Eastray. She agreed to meet him at the docks before departure.

When the heroes were ready to depart the Careless Wanderer, Luca settled the score of their expenses with Lauryn and had to pay nearly fifty gold crowns for their stay. The staff at the inn wished them a good voyage and a safe return to Kingsport and the heroes departed for the docks. They found the Old Queen was quickly getting ready to depart, with several fishermen coming aboard to share in the journey to Eastray. Randall embarked together with Michel, the Acadian mercenary and Isalien, the aen cannell tracker whom the heroes had met earlier that day. They would be their guide on the voyage to Blackbough.

Emma and Dagmær of Hammerstrand, the cleric who ran the Sacred Baths, performed a short ritual which blessed the ship, much to the delight of captain Lorne and Ridley. Roddy, the bosun who was to stay in Kingsport for the fishing competition said his goodbyes and the crew cast off. A new crew member was introduced to the heroes; Dyana Wavesinger, a bare-footed elf with brown, braided hair decorated with seashells.

While James and Luca took shelter below the forward deck and shared a stiff drink, Ridley came to say hello. Much to Luca’s surprise she produced the crystal flower which he had given to her upon their goodbye at Blackbridge, months ago. The small magic trick was supposed to have dissipated within an hour, but had persisted. Not only that, the flower had grown considerably and its facets had grown in scintillating radiance. With another display of arcane power, Luca injected the flower with a vibrant colour, further delighting the young girl.

The two heroes spoke on the rise in the potency of magic, which in turn lead James to turn his attention to the way in which the Arms of the Senhadrim were influencing and sometimes possessing their wielders. He had seen how Toruviel had taken over Emrys, and he also revealed that he knew that Blackstar was driving Luca to deeds of questionable morality. The first time he had seen it was when Luca had consumed Kalindras Duskstrider’s life outside of Syldarael’s home in Allenham. He had seen Luca do it since and knew how to recognise it. Luca retorted that Blackstar was only interested in consuming the right souls, so as not to strengthen the wrong side in the war to come.

As the caravel set sail across the gulf towards Eastray it soon grew very dark. The weather had been foul for several days and there was no point in staying on deck for it. People started to retire to several hammocks below decks, which also helped in keeping their stomachs settled.

First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

In the middle of the night, while the caravel lay at anchor, an alarm rang out. It turned out that Neiman, who had kept watch, had spotted something far off the bow of the ship. Over the howling wind a young voice could be heard crying for help. It turned out to be the voice of a young boy who was stuck on a devastated boat together with the corpse of a man.

The crew took a sloop out to rescue the boy and bring him back aboard the caravel. When he was examined he turned out to be unhurt, despite his face and chest being covered in blood. He was perhaps seven or eight years old, dressed in simple, but well-made clothing. He had well-cropped, blonde hair and wore no shoes. He had no items on him.

When questioned, the boy could not remember his name, nor how he came to be on the boat, or who the dead man was. When Luca heard that the dead man had what looked like a gruesome injury on his abdomen, he took the opportunity to step away from the group of people and whisk himself through the portal to the boat to retrieve the dead man. Upon return he examined the body and found that the wound on the abdomen was jagged and that his intestines and flesh around the wound had been gnawed on. As if by teeth from a young child.

A Firebrand Sermon

Previously, the heroes managed to fight their way through the horde of skaven they found skulking about the ancient waterways underneath Kingsport. In doing so they managed to liberate the rebel lords from the carceratum, allowing lady Annabella and lady commander Miranda to make good on their promise to keep them safe while hostage to the crown.

James was unhappy about the way in which the situation in the carceratum was resolved, for many reasons. There were many casualties that could have been prevented, and he was looking for ways in which to karmically right the balance. In the meantime the group was invited to a special sermon being held by prior Benedict at the Cathedral of the Platinum Father, while the heroes only had a speedy departure from the city on their mind.

Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

While Quentin took Astrid to the Sacred Baths of Sedna in order to get Astrid patched up, James was going up and down the docks, speaking to captains and deckmasters in order to arrange for passage to Eastray.

Luca and Emrys went to the Temple of Light to find out whether they could purchase some more of father Devon’s healing ointment. When the good father refused to sell the heroes any more of the ointment, claiming it would take away from the ability of the clinic to care for those in need. It almost seemed as if if the old man had been forewarned of the doom that was coming to the city. The pair decided to go to Ecgbrith the Kaedwyni herbalist instead, but not before tithing to the temple.

A conversation with the Kaedwyni revealed that the magical healing potions were not only in short supply, they were also very expensive. A deal was struck whereby the heroes would purchase three healing potions for half the gold crowns it normally took, provided they would return with one of the fabled ghost orchids. Earlier the Kaedwyni had sold Luca a herbalist kit after all. If the heroes would not be able to secure themselves a ghost orchid to return to the herbalist, they would pay the other half of the coin instead.

All this while, James waited patiently for the Old Queen to come into port and cast its ropes to one of the piers. He noticed several familiar faces while he waited for several passengers to disembark; Neiman, the handsome blonde bosun, Ridley, the tomboy deckswab, and Lorne, the barrel chested captain with the ugly scar across his face. When James came aboard he spoke with Neiman who instructed the captain of James’ arrival. The captain invited James into his cabin, out of the pouring rain. James shared some of the plum brandy he had traded with the Szygani in Pinefall with the captain.

James came right out of the gate; what would it take to charter the Old Queen for a trip to Eastray as soon as possible. Captain Lorne said he had already come to an arrangement with another to head to Eastray on the morning of the next day. James correctly guessed that the other was captain Randall and revealed that he was to be on board the next day as part of Randall’s expedition. Still, he would like to move up the departure time as much as possible.

Captain Lorne was willing to depart earlier provided that Randall would agree and he had a chance to resupply the ship before departure. This would mean a late afternoon departure from Kingsport, with an early evening arrival in Eastray if all went well. The two agreed to head to the Careless Wanderer and speak to Randall and get his agreement.

When James departed the cabin he found that both Ridley and Neiman were eavesdropping at the door. Ridley was genuinely happy to see James and glad that they would likely be traveling together again. When James departed, he did so together with Roddy, the friendly, plain-faced bosun; he was disembarking together with his fishing equipment, looking to get hired onto one of the teams entering the competition like he had done every previous year. The Old Queen would come to pick him up at the end of the competition and he would rejoin the crew.

On the way back from the herbalists, Luca and Emrys decided to visit the Ravensbourne estate to visit the lady captain. Miranda received them in the hall of the manor. She seemed cagey about talking openly about the rebel lords and both the heroes picked up on the quick enough to hopefully avoid suspicion from any of the servants in the vicinity. Instead, Luca shared with Miranda a copy of the translation of the missive that he had found on the skaven shaman’s body, penned and signed by Epidemius. Miranda suggested the two report their findings to lady Annabella instead. They would be able to find her by presenting themselves to lieutenant William of Eastwarren at the palace crownsguard barracks.

When the two heroes arrived at the palace they were soaked through. Lieutenant WIlliam was dressed in full ceremonial armour and explained that he had been invited to the sermon which was being held at the cathedral. It was at this point that Luca explained to Emrys that the heroes had received an invitation to that event as guests of honour. Emrys was disappointed to hear about the event so late and expressed a strong desire to attend. Considering his special relationship to prior Benedict it made sense to Luca make good on the invitation.

After using some minor magics to clean and tidy themselves up the heroes were brought to the handmaid’s quarters, sited right next door to where the queen was laying in torpor, watched over by Dr. Arkenward. After a casual inspection of the handmaid’s antechamber and some more magic to obfuscate the conversation, the pair informed lady Annabella of the fate of the two rebel lords.

Lady Annabella appeared quite interested in the skaven and their goals, asking the heroes to speculate on why the skaven may have been down in the waterways underneath the city. The heroes hypothesised that it was likely in order to find more of the 144 Arms of the Senhadrim. Annabella confirmed the rewards for the heroes’ efforts; James got a letter of credentials, Luca had been registered as a Baronet of Evenshade Hall, Astrid was gifted a writ of credit with the Silver Bank worth 150 gold crowns. Emrys got a deep and passionate kiss from the lady for his effort in liberating the rebel lords.

When all had returned to the Careless Wanderer and it was decided that the Old Queen would set sail for Eastray later that day at the last tide. Some decisions would need to be made about the horses and Luca’s cart and about some of the things that the heroes might want to leave behind, but first the heroes decided to go and attend the sermon while Astrid remained in the room to rest.

Arriving in the miserable weather at the cathedral, it was a very busy affair. Many carriages of wealthy and influential people were pulling up to the marble steps leading up to the elaborately carved entrance door beneath the large, stained glass façade. Merchants, magistrates and nobility were all accompanied by guards, impatiently shuffling through the doors to get inside and out of the rain.

Inside, along the entire length of the nave, on either side of the aisle, from the entrance until the altar, stood wooden pews filled with people. On either side of the pews were pillared galleries where the escort of the guests were standing. The heroes were met by lord Lothar Grey, whom had been the one to invite them. He stood next to his older brother, lord Bishop Aldred Grey, who was dressed in opulent white robes, decorated with silver thread. On his head he wore a mitre adorned by rubies and sapphires. He held an equally ostentatious sceptre in his hand.

The heroes took a seat in one of the front pews on the right side of the aisle and took a moment to take in the splendour of the cathedral. The altar stood in the middle of the transept, separating the two minor chapels from one another, as well as the nave and the major chapel. The minor chapels were dedicated to Saint Catherine and Saint Aureus, while the major chapel was dedicated to Paladine himself. High above, the vaulted ceilings were richly painted with famous scenes from scripture. The vaults were connected with flying buttresses on the outside of the building, which could be made out through stained glass windows depicting angels and saints.

The lord steward could be seen on the other side of the aisle, sitting together with princess Mildred, surrounded by crownsguard. Lords and ladies, mages, merchants and magistrates; each was waiting with bated breath. When the ceremony first got underway, a choir started sitting while the lord bishop and several cardinals performed a ceremony of praise. Afterwards, prior Benedict was introduced and the tale of the crusaders was told, as well as the part that the Heroes of the White Eye played, pointing the heroes out to the crowd.

When prior Benedict came out he was dressed in full, ceremonial regalia. The blue lapis lazuli on his armour sparkled and shone. Adelard the young priest stood at his side and patiently translated each of the prior’s words, making sure to catch every inflection, every emphasis and every bit of passion.

When the Heroes of the White Eye liberated us from Hell and for the first time in countless cycles we dared to hope, we wondered how the world had changed since we became incarcerated. Some of us spoke amongst each other and fantasised how the divine might of Paladine had wrought the world and prepared it for the new cycle. How had Paladine’s followers explored the scriptures and had deepened their devotion?

I was shocked and horrified when I first looked upon the scriptures; copied and rewritten so many times that they are barely recognisable for what they once were. Instead of focusing on Paladine’s laws, it has introduced ambiguity, leaving His flock to interpret scripture according to what they consider convenient; picking and choosing what to care about and what is righteous. Religious relativism opened the door to entropy, to disorder… to chaos.

At this point, Luca started to notice a familiar, dark disturbance around the periphery of his vision. He felt more than he saw an inky black cloud descend down from one of the minor chapels.

Spreading the faith became more important than obedience. With obedience comes sacrifice; with faith comes a tithe. Those in positions of power have cloaked themselves in faith for personal reasons. Instead of sacrifice they seek profit. The Ecclesiastes are complicit to this piety for pay, as they reap monetary rewards that allow them to build splendour in this life and forego the splendour they could obtain in the next life. Tithing benefits the corrupt. Paladine does not want your coin. Only your obedience.

The horrors that lay beyond the veil are pure chaos. It will tempt you to stray from the path of lawfulness. It will tempt you to abandon Him as the object of your devotion. For the first crime death is merely a just retribution. The second is a heresy so terrible that no punishment can be sufficient.

And I see a lot of people who have strayed from the path, only seeking power and riches. They bicker, fight and wage war upon another, sowing chaos and discord, rather than unity and harmony. These people, these selfish goals are the chinks in the armour against the demonic onslaught that awaits you if you do not unite under the protections of Paladine’s divine law.

Luca saw the darkness grow and Aurion materialise from it, slowly descending down on prior Benedict. He managed to look inside his master’s hood and for the first time he saw six pairs of eyes burning hungrily in that dark void.

I quote:

“When people forget their duty they are no longer human; they are less than beasts. They have no place in the bosom of humanity, nor at the top of Celestia, nor in the heart of the Platinum Father. Let them be forgotten.” – Catechism of Aureus the Golden One, Book 1, Chapter 3, Verse 17

…before it was removed from scripture.

Quote:

”I tread the path of lawfulness. Though it paved with sharp stones, I will walk it barefoot; though it crosses rivers of fire, I will pass over them; though it wanders through the dark, the light of Paladine guides my steps,” from the Gathalamor’s sermon on the road to Blue Harbour before engaging Barazod the Fiery Dread.

…again, removed from scripture.

You are sheep being lead to the slaughter, kept blind by the greed and selfishness of people who have embraced entropy. Saint Catherine of Dunagore, whom you hold so dear, once told me that it takes but one to start a landslide with the casting of a single pebble…

It was at that point that the gleeful burning of Aurion’s six eyes reached a height. Luca saw as his master put one arm around the prior, while the other arm drew one of the wicked scythes and raised it high overhead.

Luca panicked and was afraid that his patron was going to do something terrible to the prior.

Everyone saw the prior raise his arm and slam a single pebble down on the marble alter. At that moment, Aurion sliced the air in front of him with his scythe. There was a moment of silence as people struggled to see what the prior had placed on the alter. Then a rumble and a sudden crack which echoed through the cathedral, as the alter sundered in two.

Prior Benedict jumped down from the dais and marched down the isle with Adelard in tow. Reaching the door the prior met James, who had tried to make a swift exit. The prior turned to the young elf and said “thank you” in broken Lyrian, before leaving out into the pouring rain.

Escape from the Carceratum

Previously, the heroes of the White Eye had made their way into the Kingsport carceratum to find that the rebel lords had continued their rebellion by leading the prisoners in an uprising against the crownsguard after one of the lords, the young and impulsive lord Szymon Radowan, had been the target of an assassination attempt by one of the assassins of the cult of the Dark Queen. Breaking from the carceratum into the ancient waterways the prisoners were confronted by countless skaven and a fight ensued.

Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Astrid, Quentin, Yurina and lord Szymon fought on the front line against the skaven, having overextended themselves so as to be surrounded on all side by skaven and rat ogres. This proved to nearly become fatal to Astrid and Yurina, while Quentin and Szymon fell prey to the strange disease that the foul creatures seemed to spread wherever they went. Among the skaven was another one of their shaman, who spread an infection among the skaven; their eyes gained a fell green glow and their attacks became even more rabid.

Astrid was overwhelmed and went down, only to be pulled out of the fray to have the rare and costly healing potions administered to her. Many of the prisoners died when one of the rat ogres was felled and exploded in a cloud of noxious fumes. Luca sent angry volleys of eldritch energy into the midst of the skaven, while Emrys and James shot dangerous projectiles from a safe distance.

Once the heroes and the prisoners retreated back into the carceratum a proper defense was mounted, using the hole into the waterways as a chokepoint. The bodies of skaven and prisoners started to pile up among the rubble, making it harder and harder to traverse, eventually stemming the tide of vermin. Many prisoners were dead, and Yurina was close to expiring.

Exploring the waterways beyond the walls of the carceratum revealed a maze of tunnels and pipes, all flowing water and sewage along in narrow canals. Phosphorescent moss covered the slick stones of the paths, bridges, walls and ceilings, casting everything in a strange, ethereal glow. Two skaven could be seen down the tunnel standing over the body of the dead shaman, rummaging through its belongings. One of them went down to an arrow from James’ bow. James called Luca to search the shaman, and a leather scroll carrier was found.

Quentin and lord Szymon were given some of the ointment that James had received from father Devon, which had wonderous healing properties and could also cure most mundane diseases. Much to the delight of both men, the ointment worked wonders on their well-being as well, and they found that some of their wounds were healed and the symptoms of the disease they suffered were fully mitigated.

Garvan was eager to depart and decided to lead everyone along a dizzying array of tunnels and corridors. Occasionally daylight and cold raid came down from a sewage grate that lead to the surface, and it was through one of these grates that the prisoners rebel lords and heroes come up into an alleyway in Lewisham, around the corner from the legendary Hoxton tavern.

Any cohesion among the prisoners was lost as soon as they stepped out into the late afternoon light and each immediately went their own way, including Garvan. A suitable route to the street between the Magisterium and the House of the Raven Queen was plotted by James, making sure to avoid Steward Square and as much exposure as possible.

In the shadow of the House of the Raven Queen the two rebel lords changed out of their rags and into the commoners clothing that the heroes had purchased. Eventually they were approached by a group of six people who were dressed like fishermen, wearing water-treated capes underneath which they hid light armour, weapons and the heraldry of House Waxley; a turtle on a green field. The leader identified himself as ser Oliver Waxley, first cousin to lady Annabella. Hey explained that he would take the rebel lords into his custody and move them to an undisclosed location in Northshire. The rebel lords seemed satisfied and thanked the heroes for their efforts to release them from the carceratum.

It was just at that moment that James, ever vigilant, noticed that one of the crownsguard had spotted the group, turned around and had walked off. Ser Oliver commanded one of his troop, “Tiny Tasha”, a young elfling, to follow the guard while the rest departed. The heroes decided to take a round-about way back to the Careless Wanderer. They were tired, in need of food, sleep and some were in need of stitches and a stiff drink.

They never did learn what happened to the guard and Tiny Tasha.

At the Careless Wanderer, the heroes had baths drawn up in the basement and they spent a time soaking in the hot water and scrubbing the filth of the sewers off of them. A conversation was had about the next steps, about potentially leaving as soon as a ship could be arranged and not staying in Kingsport for longer than strictly necessary. During this time James was stern and quiet.

Once the water ran cold everyone got dressed. James went to talk to Astrid, who was uncharacteristically lethargic and tired. He instructed her to go to the docks and find passage to Eastmarsh the next morning. She said she would look into it.

Luca went to find Callum the Diviner in his room overlooking the House of the Raven Queen. The old man invited Luca in and they sat down to have a chat. Captain Randall had arranged for the travel to Eastray and beyond, deeper into Eastmarsh and the earliest they could depart was on the morning of the first day.

Quentin found Durham behind the bar and ordered a bottle of delicious Beauclair red. He took two cups and found James near the fire of the tavern. He sat down and poured both a cup and asked James what was bothering him. Reluctantly, James explained that he thought that Quentin had acted too hastily in tearing down the barricade the prisoners had erected to keep the skaven out. The blood of those prisoners was on Quentin’s hands as far as James was concerned, and could have been avoided if they had used the passage between the carceratum and the waterways as a choke point.

Quentin returned that James was present and could have weighed in at any time on the plans but didn’t. Quentin admitted he was not proud of the outcome, but said that the outcome was a shared responsibility and not just his own. James finished the last of his wine and got up without a word. Wrapped in his cloak, he went out into the cold, wet streets of Kingsport.

In the meantime, Luca had found captain Randall siting by himself in the tavern and he asked if he could join the man at his table. Luca suggested that the departure should be moved up to the earliest possible moment. Randall explained that with the start of the fishing competition at noon of the first day, all of the ships that were coming into port were standing by. It would take a fortune to get any one of them to leave early. A secondary problem was that due to the delta the harbour at Eastray was a treacherous approach which not every ship, nor every captain could negotiate. Randall had found a ship that was willing and able, but would depart on the morning of the first day, several hours before the start of the fishing competition.

During this conversation, a fresh faced cleric of Paladine entered the establishment, dressed in white robes, adorned with silver thread. He was wearing a white skull cap that barely contained his curly black hair. A silver necklace holding the silver triangle of the Platinum Father adorned his neck and chest. In his hands he held a formal scroll carrier. After a brief chat with Lauryn, the priest was directed to Quentin and he handed him a formal invitation as guests of honour at the Cathedral for the sermon that was going to be giving by saint Benedict the following day at noon.

Quentin and Luca spoke about the invitation but couldn’t decide whether it was worth attending, still having high hopes that they could persuade one of the captains to depart for Eastray early. Both ended up retiring to the room the heroes shared as the tavern was slowly being turned into another common room, with a lot of guests bedding down for the night.

Before turning in, Luca went to investigate the leather scroll carrier he took off the shaman in the waterways. Luca quickly discerned that the leather was supple but thick and like the armour they had seen on rare occasion, not of any animal in the Verdant Kingdoms. Inside he found two scrolls; one holding arcane symbols which would need more time to investigate, while the other seemed like a more formal document, affixed with a seal and ribbon. The seal was in dark wax and depicted the heraldry of an amorphous shape, holding different sized circles. The letter was written in the infernal language of the Nine Hells and read:

The plague maidens are congregating, drawn by the pestilent potential of a potent, ancient magic. I have read the signs and portents and require the skavens of clan [unclear] to investigate and reveal the truth. I have gathered enough [unclear] that I may open a gate through the seal for a short time through which they may travel. Once verified, they will report and be given further instruction.

– Epidemius the Cataloguer, Lord of Decay, One of the Seven Proctors of Pestilence. Devoted Underling of Baalzebul the Calabite, Ruler of the Seventh, Lord of Maladomini.

After his quiet departure from the Careless Wanderer, James made his way to an orphanage he was familiar with in Grimsdown. He knew it to be run by a kindly matron who treated the children firmly but warmly. He knocked on the door and patiently waited for the woman to open the door, carrying a lantern. She was surprised to see James; most of the time she would find young mothers at that time of night. Without saying much, James handed her a pouch filled to the brim with golden crowns. He turned around and departed as quickly as he arrived, leaving the matron shouting baffled words of thanks at him through the gale.

When James returned to the Careless Wanderer he found that only a handful of people were still awake, quietly whispering to one another as the rest slept. He decided he was not going to spend the night with the rest of his companions, finding rest in a chair in front of the fire instead. His back would pay for it in the morning, but it was preferable than the alternative.

Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The following morning, during breakfast, it appeared that Astrid had not quite recovered from her wounds. She still had blood seeping through a couple of cuts and she was limping, having sprained her ankle quite badly on the barricades the previous day. James said that he would take over in finding passage at the harbour and declined the help that Quentin was offering.

While James was to look for passage, the rest of the heroes would go to the Sacred Baths and seek medical attention from Emma and inform her of the current situation.

The weather outside had turned hostile with high winds and thundering rain. The streets were empty, including the docks and squares. Under these conditions James spoke to a dozen captains and deck masters, all of which were unable or unwilling to depart the city before the start of the fishing competition. The best that James could find was someone willing to consider it for the right amount gold, which was suggested needed to be in excess of a thousand gold crowns.

Eventually, through the haze of the pouring rain, James noticed a familiar, two-master caravel, the Old Queen, sail into the harbour.