Tag: A Royal Sickness

Orchids, Flowers and Thorns

Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye spoke to priestess Emma and were treated to a warm sauna on a dreary day. They learned more about the situation in and around the palace and the state that the queen was in. They convinced lieutenant William of Eastwarren, the head of the palace guard, to give them access to the queen’s ante-chamber as well as her bedroom, where she lay in torpor. They found she was protected by Dr. Arkenward, the royal abjurer, who was not just keeping the queen alive, but also kept the curse that had taken hold of her from spreading.

Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The heroes had concluded their investigation of the queen’s chambers and had been unable to find any clues relating to the mysterious box, the morbid khazra head inside, or the curse that had befallen the queen. They retired back to the barracks of the crownsguard on the palace grounds to conclude their conversations.

A young crownsguard by the name of Eric came to report to the lieutenant that a strange apparition of a woman had been spotted in the Grimsdown ward. Supposedly she had turned into a frightening spectre when she was approached by the guards who discovered her. They had fled in terror and when they returned with reinforcements they had found the apparition to be gone.

The heroes recognised the description as that of a Pesta; a pestilence spectre. With the exception of Quentin, who only joined the heroes after their run-in with the Pesta in the basement of an alchemy shop in Bournemouth, the heroes realised that, if true, it might mean that the Pesta was drawn by the potentiality of the queens affliction. They recommended to the lieutenant that the guards best be accompanied by a mage if they were to confront the apparition again.

Quentin, wise in the formal ways of the court and the nobility, asked whether they could be given a letter of passage so that they may gain access to the khazra head for inspection. The lieutenant had explained that the head was at the Circle of Magi and it seemed prudent to carry such a letter in case their access might be denied. Lieutenant William drew up a letter and affixed it with the scarlet seal of the palace crownsguard.

Once they had departed the palace, the heroes discussed on what to do next. Luca suggested leaving town, either in the hopes of putting as much distance between him and the possible calamity that might occur in Kingsport, or maybe because he was keen to follow up on Callum’s mission to find out more about the spell of warding placed over the cursed object preventing the diviner from coming up with a way to break the curse.

James thought it would be prudent to talk to the people at the Cirle of Magi first and to stop by the herbalist outside of Kingsport in order to find out some more information on the ghost orchid. Quentin thought it important to inform the different healers around the city in order to prepare them for a possible outbreak of disease and at the very least talk to Emma about what they had discovered. James trusted that Dr. Arkenward would inform the necessary people if he was unable to contain the curse on the queen, but Quentin was not so certain he’d be able to.

At the Circle of Magi the heroes found that Shakeslocke and the red custodians of the monastic order of St. Catherine were nowhere to be found. The door was answered by Olafur, who let them into the lobby. When the heroes explained why they had come, Olafur left them being tended to by a small whirlwind of scintillating colours who brought them some refreshments. The custodian stepped through a nearly invisible door built into the wooden panelling of one of the walls and shortly returned with Callum the Diviner. After being presented the letter of passage the two men lead the heroes through the door and down a very long corridor.

They passed doors and doors which all looked alike until, almost randomly, they stopped in front of one of them. When they went through it the heroes found themselves in a comfortable room fit for research. There were all manner of books and tools at their disposal. On one of the tables sat the decapitated head of a khazra, covered in tar, with long, rusty nails driven into its eyes. Its horns were covered in evil looking script which Luca identified to be abyssal, but was unable to glean any useful information from.

When discussing the situation of the queen with the two mages, Luca got a little too emotional for Callum’s liking when the diviner dismissed Luca’s suggestion of taking the queen out of the capital and onto a boat in order to prevent her curse from spreading. Callum thought it careless and blind to the political reality that Lyria found itself in and the ramifications that such a decision would have. Callum concluded that he may have made a mistake in confiding in the heroes and they were kindly asked to leave.

While on their way back to the Careless Wanderer Quentin asked Luca why he reacted so inconsiderately. When Luca then started lashing out at Quentin instead, Emrys stepped in and diffused the situation while simultaneously telling Luca how he had been in the wrong. In the meantime James had made use of the distraction to slip into the shadows and head to the herbalist.

After arriving at the herbalist’s cottage, Ecgbrith invited James in for a conversation. As they spoke it became clear to James that it would be beneficial for the herbalist to share what he knew about the orchid with the rest of the heroes and James convinced the herbalist to come back to the Careless Wanderer with him, which he did with great reluctance. Before departure, Ecgbrith asked whether James had been sleeping well, offering him an herb to improve his sleep, which James declined.

Astrid, Quentin, Luca and Emrys arrived back at the Wanderer and found it filled with people, cheerfully eating and drinking while listening to a troubadour that Emrys recognised as lord Andrew Selkirk, whom he had travelled to Kingsport with from the Riverlands. Lauryn came up to inform them that some visitors had been waiting in their room for them.

Upstairs, the heroes found lady commander Miranda and lady Annabella waiting for them. They were keen to know whether the heroes were able to help them bring two of the rebel lords kept at the Kingsport carceratum to safety. They had been imprisoned there and lady commander Miranda had vouched for their safety, but since the lord steward started interfering with her duties, the two lords had been put among the general populace. Word had it that an attempt on lord Szymon Radowan’s life had been made, just as the riots in the carceratum began.

Emrys asked lady Annabella whether she still required help with lord Peregrine Blackwell, but she said that she had found a solution to the bothersome young lord, sending him on a wild goose chase. Lady commander Miranda said that she had hoped the heroes would be able and willing to help out, since they had decided to stay in Kingsport rather than go to the north-western part of Lyria to investigate the orc invasion.

The heroes decided they needed some time to consider and that they would meet the two noble women at the Cathedral of the Platinum Father at noon the next day. The lady commander and the queen’s handmaid departed.

Shortly after, James arrived together with Ecgbrith and the cantankerous herbalist told them all he could about the ghost orchid. He said the orchid was very rare and the source of great and power, which the herbalist called “old magic.” The orchid grew among the roots of the scarlet cypress, which is a tree known only to grow on the sites of great bloodshed. He said that the Druids of the Fang sacrificed their followers by the hundreds and thousands in order to use their blood to fertilise the soil to grow the dreaded trees in order to cultivate the orchids.

Eventually, when the herbalist had left, James decided to leave the Careless Wanderer in order to speak to the people he cared about and tell them to prepare for trouble or leave town. Luca decided to speak to Callum, who was staying at a different room in the inn, and apologise to him for his words, which the old man accepted.

Meanwhile, Emrys had invited Quentin to come downstairs in order to listen to the troubadour sing, promising the young knight that it might well be in his interest. The troubadour was playing a harp that reminded Quentin of Ser Estienne, and the ballad that he sang touched him deeply, singing about a young cavalier from old Celticia who came to join the Silver Crusade and taught them the chivalric virtues. The cavalier carried a special sword;

The earth was sown with early flowers, the heavens blue and bright,
I met a gallant cavalier as lovely as the light.
I knew him not, but in my heart, his graceful image lies,
And well I marked his open brow, his sweet and tender eyes.
He carried sword and scabbard, full of leaves and blossoms mixed,
Encased by vines and verdant growth, with flowering blooms betwixt.
Plunging sword in barren soil, crops and vintage grew,
The hungry, famished and the starved were given life anew.

After the performance was over, Emrys introduced lord Andrew to Quentin and the two spoke about the ballad, the cavalier and the sword. Quentin invited him up to the room and showed him Róisín. Lord Andrew was amazed and delighted and told Quentin of the incalculable value and historical significance that sword had. He admitted that he had heard the stories of Quentin carrying the sword and that he had done some research in the library at the College of Bards to find the story on Ser Estienne.

Eventually, the noble troubadour departed and James returned just before midnight. Before turning in for the night they considered their options while James continued to drink; something the others had noticed he did more and more latetely.

The expedition to Blackbough, the small settlement deep in Eastmarsh was not going to depart until the first day of the next ride, which James didn’t quite understand. It would provide them the opportunity to prepare for the travel and perhaps look into the safety of the rebel lords. James was not convinced of the virtue of rescuing the rebel lords, but he was willing to help out.

Investigating the Sick Queen

Previously, the heroes had returned from the Sheridan estate finding that the city was on the cusp of the annual royal master angler competition, to start the following ride, and the Careless Wanderer was packed. Regardless, the heroes stumbled upon captain Randall and Callum the Diviner who had come down from Blackbridge to help resolve the mystery of the queen’s illness. They almost got conscripted into an expedition to Eastmarsh to find the source of a rare orchid that was involved in the queen’s illness, but decided to first investigate the matter from within the capital.

Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The heroes found themselves at the Careless Wanderer, retreated to their room in order to talk through their plans away from the packed tavern room. It had become clear to them that they wanted to speak to Dr. Arkenward and find out how the Khazra head got into the queen’s chamber. They thought a good start was to talk to Emma, whom they were hoping to find at the Sacred Baths of Sedna. Perhaps she would be able to answer some questions and fill in the gaps. And lastly, they wanted to send a letter to Falka of Dunagore, the young lecturer at the Bournemouth Academy and ask her to look into whether the curse that was placed on the queen was written about in the history books.

Emrys suggested James get in touch with some of the people of his guild to see if he could find out anything regarding the situation from them. James was very reticent and concluded that he would probably be better off not being in touch with them for a while.

When the heroes departed to go to the Sacred Baths, they noticed that captain Randall had just gone ahead of them and was making his way to Steward Square. There they saw him nail a letter to the notice board in front of the Magisterium. They waited for him to leave and went to investigate what he had left behind. They found several messages that they found interesting.

Crownsguard Looking for Honest Witnesses

The Crownsguard are looking for anyone who has any knowledge of who might have been involved in the delivery of the cursed package to the palace and into the queen’s chambers. Anyone who has any knowledge that will lead to the apprehension of those involved will be royally rewarded. Present yourself to the palace crownsguard.

– Lieutenant William of Eastwarren, Palace Crownsguard

[Affixed is the seal of the Palace Crownsguard]

The decree has been vandalised by several people calling for the execution of Lord Szymon Radowan and Lord Fabian Fetterling.

Soldiers, Guards and Mercenary, Quell the Uprising!

The kingdom needs you! Prisoners have been causing trouble and heroic people are needed to crush their insolence. Present yourself to any of the crownsguard of the Carceratum and ask for Warden Valgard.

Good Coin for a Guide

I am looking for a stalwart ranger who can act as my guide over the next few rides. Mountaineering and swamp navigation are a benefit. Paying in hard coin and can outspend any others.

– Lord Peregrine Blackwell, First of His Name

Will Work For Food

I fled here from the Elder Foothills. Haven’t got nothing to eat. Will do anything at all that’ll earn me a bowl of something hot, even if it’s porridge. Find me in front of the Cathedral on Steward’s Square.

– Berengar

Gardener Wanted

Looking for an experienced gardener to work on transitioning the design of my lord’s courtyard in Ravensbourne from the Daerlan style to the Lyrian.

– Hendrik of Grimsdown, Majordomo to Lord Caedmon Bromley in Kingsport

A Special Sermon

We have a saint walking among us again today! Brought back from the clutches of the Dark Queen top bring the word of the Lord! Come to the cathedral on the last day of the first ride to watch Saint Benedict speak, to hear his words. He is a privilege to all and a direct blessing from the Platinum Father.

Reserve your seats at the Cathedral.

– Lord Bishop Aldred Grey, Voice of the Platinum Father

Expedition to Cure the Queen

Looking for hardy people willing to help find a cure for our queen’s ailment. Must be willing to travel no later than the first day of the second ride. Wilderness, arms or hunting experience is preferred. Knowledge of the arcane or herbalism will be rewarded extra. Present yourself to Lieutenant William of Eastwarren at the palace or Captain Randall of Blackbridge at the Careless Wanderer for more details.

The heroes retrieved Lieutenant’s summons as well as captain Randall’s notice. Quentin had the ambition to gain entrance to the Library of Ioun, so he took the notice left by Lord Caedmon Bromley’s majordomo. And lastly, Emrys took the post by Lord Peregrine; not certain what to do with it yet, but at the very least to prevent him from finding a guide.

When the heroes arrived at the Sacred Baths, they entered and were greeted by an elderly woman in a robe who informed Emma. Emma was pleased to the see them and invited them to enjoy the baths with her when James asked if they could talk in private.

After dressing down to their small clothes, the heroes found themselves in a chamber filled with braziers that held hot stones. Water was sprinkled on the stones to cause a hot mist. In the centre of the chamber sat a large pool. Those willing to sweat it out stayed on wooden benches outside of the pool, while those looking for a more relaxing time sat in the pool. All the while they spoke together, while occasionally sprinkling more water on the hot stones.

Emma explained that she would be happy to help the heroes, but that she found herself frozen out of the group of people around the queen trying to help her recover. Emma was asked by Lady Annabella Waxley to consult on the queen’s condition and found that she was being tended to by Dr. Arkenward, Lord Bishop Aldred Grey of the Platinum Father, High Priest Selwyn of Pholtus and Mother Superior Arwyn of Pholtus. Lieutenant William of Eastwarren, the head of the palace crownsguard, was in charge of the investigation and Emma said she could easily introduce the heroes to both Lady Annabella and Lieutenant William.

Emma explained that the queen’s condition was very dire; her breath was fast and shallow and her skin was pale, bordering on translucent. Dr. Arkenward was watching over the queen, almost in a trance, keeping her from expiring. When Luca mentioned that Callum the Diviner wanted to mount an expedition to Eastmarsh to find out more about a ghost orchid which was used in the ward around the curse placed on the khazra head, she recalled that she had heard of that orchid. She knew it was a very rare flower that only grew in the flooded forest around the spring of the river Ivel, around a small settlement called Blackbough. She advised that Ecgbrith, the cantankerous Kaewyni herbalist could possibly know more about the flower.

After discussing the political situation, as well as some of the details of the khazra head, the heroes decided to say goodbye to Emma and head towards the palace. Before departure, Emma said that she hoped to see them again when the situation was resolved, since she needed their help in tending to Muirgheal, her legendary trident.

On the way to the palace some of the heroes noticed that posters had been slapped on the walls buildings all throughout town. All of them depicted a man wearing regal robes and a crown on a sweaty brow was fucking a bound and gagged man from behind. The bound man had the head of animal; either a blue lion’s head, a grey wolf’s head, or a black bird’s head, depending on the version of the poster, while behind them a woman in regal robes was playing with a rattle-toy on the edge of a bed in which a woman with a green face was laying. Emrys quickly identified that the caricatures with the animal heads were supposed to be house Courtnay, Grey and Ravensbourne, while the man fucking the houses was the steward, with princess Mildred, the steward’s wife, sitting on the edge of the sick queen’s bed. Several crownsguard were seen trying to remove the posters where they found them.

After presenting themselves at the palace, they were brought in front of the handsome lieutenant William of Eastwarren, the folk hero who had made his name on the Plains of Strife and was rewarded with his position as the head of the palace crownsguard. He appeared to have run out of leads in his investigation and had sent out a call for witnesses and information. He was somewhat disappointed to hear that the heroes didn’t have any but was happy to accept their help, knowing what they had achieved in the rescue of the cursed crusaders. He answered several questions that the heroes had and shed some light on the details of the situation.

Lieutenant William said that brother Shakeslocke had offered to interrogate the servants, diplomats, nobles and guards who had been present on palace grounds during the time that lead up to the queen discovering the dreadful package in her antechamber. It was an offer he had not considered yet, but if there was no breakthrough he would have no choice but to revisit that offer.

The heroes convinced the lieutenant to show them the antechamber, but some subterfuge was in order. Some of the heroes, like Luca, were quite conspicuous and some subtlety was warranted. It seemed the political situation was sensitive, and so Luca used his magic to disguise his clothing a bit to appear more plain. They gained entrance to the palace through a side passage reached by way of the watergardens.

Entering the gardens through a wrought iron gate filled with Lyrian ivy and bushes filled with roses, Quentin heard a satisfied humming of familiar Beauclair nursery rhymes in the back of his mind somewhere. Róisín was harmonising with the ivy and roses, further establishing the personality that was locked in the blade.

The heroes were lead through a door into a plain corridor. Some of the heroes remembered the corridor from the time Emma went to find the source of the spring that fed the fountains and pools in the watergarden in order to bless it. They had gone down deep into the basement under the palace, but this time they took a winding staircase up to the second floor of the enormous building.

When they entered into a beautifully decorated corridor they were met by several guard stations. The guards at those stations saluted the lieutenant and they were granted access. James suggested that this may be part of the problem; the palace guard is completely unequipped to deal with more sophisticated, arcanist intruders who could impersonate people or even sneak in while invisible. It began to dawn on the lieutenant that with the rise in the potency of magic that the crownsguard had never updated their methods or protocols.

When the heroes entered the antechamber they found a lavishly decorated room where the queen could receive guests. A door lead to the queen’s chambers; behind that door the queen was fighting for her life, aided only by Dr. Arkenward. The heroes immediately began to investigate the room in the hopes of finding something that the people who came before them had missed. Emrys discovered a spy hole which had been drilled from the adjoining chambers which were used by the queen’s handmaid.

Once again the lieutenant was impressed by the acumen that the heroes was displaying and decided that it might be good to invite the heroes to investigate the queen’s chambers.

The queen’s chambers was much larger than the antechamber, lots of luxurious furniture and large windows with a view down Garamond hill. In a large, four-poster bed lay the queen, gaunt and sallow, with thinning hair, a deathly pallor and her veins clearly visible below her skin. Her eyes were closed and she was panting furiously, like a dog trying to cool off on a hot day. She was barely recognisable as the young monarch the heroes had met in the watergardens several months before.

At the foot of the bed, sitting cross legged on a cushioned bench, wrapped in a dark robe, Dr. Arkenward was gentle swaying back and forth while muttering to himself. He was clearly in a trance and expanding quite some energy with the ritual he was performing. Luca listened to what the man was saying, hoping to learn something of the ritual he was performing, but was astonished to find that the doctor was reciting a prayer of protection dedicated to Paladine.

The heroes investigated the room as meticulously as they had with the antechamber but were not able to find anything unexpected. They did notice that while Dr. Arkenward was performing a ritual, he was aware of what was happening around him, sometimes looking up to make eye contact with whoever approached the queen.

James asked Emrys and Luca whether they could investigate whether or not they could find anything magical in the chamber. Luca could, but it required a ritual of his own. When he completed it he became aware of the flows of magic all around him. He noticed that the doctor was a source of very strong abjuration magic which enveloped both him and the queen. Upon closer inspection he noticed that the queen was the source of very strong necromantic magic which was trying to force its way out.

It occurred to Luca that the doctor’s efforts of containing the necromancy to the queen might be exacerbating her condition and speeding up her decline, which cast a whole new light on the situation!

A Royal Sickness: Notice Boards

Overview

During the time that the players are dealing with the illness of the queen while they’re in Kingsport, the following notice board messages will inform them of certain things happening in and around the capital of Lyria.

Notice Boards

Crownsguard Looking for Honest Witnesses

The Crownsguard are looking for anyone who has any knowledge of who might have been involved in the delivery of the cursed package to the palace and into the queen’s chambers. Anyone who has any knowledge that will lead to the apprehension of those involved will be royally rewarded. Present yourself to the palace crownsguard.

– Lieutenant William of Eastwarren, Palace Crownsguard

[Affixed is the seal of the Palace Crownsguard]

The decree has been vandalised by several people calling for the execution of Lord Szymon Radowan and Lord Fabian Fetterling.

Soldiers, Guards and Mercenary, Quell the Uprising!

The kingdom needs you! Prisoners have been causing trouble and heroic people are needed to crush their insolence. Present yourself to any of the crownsguard of the Carceratum and ask for Warden Valgard.

Good Coin for a Guide

I am looking for a stalwart ranger who can act as my guide over the next few rides. Mountaineering and swamp navigation are a benefit. Paying in hard coin and can outspend any others.

– Lord Peregrine Blackwell, First of His Name

Will Work For Food

I fled here from the Elder Foothills. Haven’t got nothing to eat. Will do anything at all that’ll earn me a bowl of something hot, even if it’s porridge. Find me in front of the Cathedral on Steward’s Square.

– Berengar

Gardener Wanted

Looking for an experienced gardener to work on transitioning the design of my lord’s courtyard in Ravensbourne from the Daerlan style to the Lyrian.

– Hendrik of Grimsdown, Majordomo to Lord Caedmon Bromley in Kingsport

A Special Sermon

We have a saint walking among us again today! Brought back from the clutches of the Dark Queen to bring the word of the Lord! Come to the cathedral on the last day of the first ride to watch Saint Benedict speak, to hear his words. He is a privilege to all and a direct blessing from the Platinum Father.

Reserve your seats at the Cathedral.

– Lord Bishop Aldred Grey, Voice of the Platinum Father

Expedition to Cure the Queen

Looking for hardy people willing to help find a cure for our queen’s ailment. Must be willing to travel no later than the first day of the second ride. Wilderness, arms or hunting experience is preferred. Knowledge of the arcane or herbalism will be rewarded extra. Present yourself to Lieutenant William of Eastwarren at the palace or Captain Randall of Blackbridge at the Careless Wanderer for more details.

The Khazra Skull

Previously, the heroes had prepared to depart Kingsport in order to bring Jeanne to the Sheridan estate. The trip was dreary and wet and when they arrived they were greeted by Lord Marcus and Lord Destan, who agreed to provide Jeanne with a job and a home.

The lords informed the heroes of a stone statue that was retrieved from the catacombs below the estate, as well as about the possession and subsequent exorcism and death of Robart in Pinefall that they were informed about by way of a letter.

Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

After the evening came to a close and the heroes were given quarters to rest in, the night passed by uneventfully for all but James, who tossed and turned and was haunted by nightmares. After waking up in the morning, he quickly wrote down everything he could remember of the trouble dream.

You are running down the dark, vaulted corridors of an ancient waterway. The only light you see comes from the phosphorescent moss that clings to the dirty walls arched around you. Your feet splash noisily through the sewage as they are trying to escape the dreadful mare that has been chasing you since you jumped through the cracked, marble gate at the top of the Crimson Tower into the terrifying realm of Old Llygad.

You know how this will end; the flaming hooves will thunder down on you and you’ll fall and watch as your own blood mixes with the sewage and spills down the drain. You decide to stop running. You turn around and draw your weapons, steeling your nerves and managing your adrenaline.

You see a set of fiery eyes in the darkness ahead and hear steady, deliberate hoof beats splashing into the sewage as they are coming towards you. With every splash, you hear a sizzle as the flames of the hooves are briefly extinguished in the filthy muck, only to be reignited when pulled free. Thick columns of dark smoke, like that of a tar fire, rise up from the mare’s angry hooves.

The smoke rapidly fills up the corridor around you until the only thing you can see are the burning eyes and the occasionally igniting hooves. You work up the courage to strike. You leap forward and your daggers flash through the thick smoke, hitting corded muscle and rugged hide. The acrid smoke fills your lungs and you feel your strength waning. Your agility fails you as the hooves thunder down on you once more; snapping the bones in your shoulder, cracking your skull and shattering your spine. You collapse into the filth of the waterways.

As the smoke subsides, you watch your blood mix with the sewage and flow down a drain, you notice that same, strange eyestalk rise up from the drain and peer at you. It extends to your paralysed body and you watch in horror and disgust as it touches your face and slides across to your left eye and starts to push its way inside your socket. You don’t feel any pain, but you do feel your eye burst under the pressure.

As the last of your life escapes you and your remaining vision grows dim, you see the eyestalk retract and disappear back inside the drain.

Once everyone got up, Jeanne was introduced to the rest of the servants at the estate and she seemed to be integrating well. She was given clothes and was taken to get instructions on her new work.

The heroes went to have breakfast with the two young lords, during which Lord Destan revealed from a pouch a small, round, conical statue of about the size of a man’s forearm, narrow at the bottom and wider at the top. It was made of stone and had an engraving of an eye in the top of it. James judged it to be quite old, as the stone was weathered and eroded, despite being made of hard stone; multiple hundreds of years old, at least.

The nature of the object was discussed; whether it was one of the beacons that Atilesceon mentioned in his journal pages, or perhaps a key to a vault, like the one that the orc warlord had found in the Elder Foothills, according to the orc scout that they had found lurking outside of the Sheridan estate.

The orc had told them that a warlord had found an eye in a ruin in the Elder Foothills, which lead to the warlord finding a vault with a pair of gruesome axes in it. She had speculated that her warchief might be interested in going down into the catacombs to retrieve an eye as well.

Luca was reminded of the symbol of Ioun when he saw the eye at the top of the stone object, and in a conversation with Destan was reminded that Tharizdun was sometimes referred to as the “elemental eye”, which this might also be in reference to. During a conversation about performing certain divination magics on the stone object, Destan explained that he was not a Circle trained mage, and that he’d rather not get too many people involved in order to keep knowledge about the object contained.

After breakfast was over and James had made sure that his mother would be alright, the heroes decided to head back to Kingsport. For several hours they travelled on horseback through rain and wind, unable to enjoy the countryside of Northshire slowly turning shades of yellow and orange in the autumn.

It was a little after midday when the heroes arrived back in Kingsport; cold and wet. They gave their horses into the care of Wojciech the stablehand at the Wanderer, who explained that he would stable them at the Kingsport Manège due to a lack of space in the stables. It seemed that it was busy inside.

After paying the stablehand handsomely for his effort, the heroes went inside to find it packed with visitors. Much to his surprise, James noticed a familiar face sitting by themselves at a table in the back; Randall, Blackbridge captain of the guard.

Quentin was keen on finding some time with the owner of the Careless Wanderer, Magda, and he found her chatting with an elderly gentleman, but eventually managed to get her attention. She invited Quentin up to her private quarters and they sat together.

Quentin wanted to know more about the encounter the heroes had in the Feywild. It seemed almost like a dream and Quentin hoped that Magda would be able to tell him more about what he saw and what it meant for the heroes to be touched by and in debt to the seidhe. Unfortunately, Magda was not as forthcoming as Quentin had hoped. It appeared that while she had been in touch with the seidhe, she had never been to the Feywild herself and couldn’t attest to what it was like there, but it was obvious that she was aware of the strange rules and laws that governed interaction with the seidhe.

Somewhat disappointed, Quentin said his goodbyes, but before doing so asked Magda, without too much of an explanation if she had ever come across the mention of swans during her interactions with the fey, to which she said that her only recollection was that of the story of the princess and the swans.

Meanwhile, while James was keeping an eye on captain Randall from afar, Luca decided it was time to walk up to him and say hello. The captain recognised Luca and immediately apologised for how he handled the situation with James those months ago in Blackbridge. Randall explained that he had been asked to accompany Callum the Diviner in his endeavour to help resolve the mystery of the queen’s illness.

Eventually, Randall made sure that the heroes had a chance to speak with Callum, who Luca noticed had been reading a book on flora and fauna of the swamplands. Callum explained that it was Emma’s suggestion to Dr. Arkenward and Lady Annabella to get him involved to investigate the origin of the goat’s head that seemingly was the source of the queen’s illness.

Callum further explained that the head was that of a khazra, a bipedal, half-man, half-goat creature that was part of the fabled servitor races, and that the horns were inscribed with arcane runes radiating in strong necromantic energy, most likely a curse. The nails which had been driven into the eyes of the khazra were enchanted with a powerful ward which disallowed Callum from analysing the curse. In order to have a chance at breaking the curse, he would first have to find a way to break through the obfuscating enchantment.

He continued to explain that the enchantment was one woven from very old magic, deeply occult and steeped in folklore. Having come to the end of his ability to divine anything, Callum had begun to use mundane methods of investigation and he had found traces of a rare orchid on the nails and in the khazra’s eye sockets. The flower was called a ghost orchid and he had found that it only grew in very specific conditions, tracing it back to an area between Eastmarsh and the Worthwilde.

When Callum said that he could use some stalwart people to go to the area he mentioned in order to find out who had been harvesting the ghost orchid, which could lead to understanding how had cast the enchantment that prevented him from getting to the curse. Luca seemed interested to take up the mission, but James was not so keen on leaving the city on just a conversation with the old sage and convinced the others that it would be best to field further inquiries.

The situation was an odd one. There were so many unanswered questions. Why was the queen cursed? Who brought the head of the khazra to the queen’s antechamber? Why had the steward been diverting the attention of the priests of Pholtus away from the queen’s care and to finding a cure for his wife’s infertility?