Tag: A Steady Feud

A Mother and Son Separated

Previously, after bringing Kalina back to Kingsport dead, James managed to parlay for his mother’s freedom. Unfortunately, she horribly injured and very exhausted. She was rushed to the clinic of the Temple of Pholtus where she was treated by Father Devon. She lost an eye and a strange slug-like parasite was retrieved from her wound. The Heroes of the White Eye would have one night before having to take Jeanne away from Kingsport, conform the agreement with the day master.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Having returned to the Careless Wanderer together with James and his mother Jeanne, the heroes remained in their luxurious room, choosing to stay away from the public in order not to offend the day master bu reminding him that Jeanne was still in Kingsport.

Quentin had still been holding on to the two letters that he had written the evening before; one to his Lord-father, and one to his bethrothed; Gwenaëlle. He asked Lauryn who he might turn to for a delivery to Beauclair and she directed him to Fast Feathers Rookery, just up Quayhill, no more than a few minutes away from the Careless Wanderer. He was to ask for Toruviel; a name which surprised Quentin to hear. H was determined to to convince Emrys to come along the next morning.

Seventh Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

For a second night in a row Luca had spent more time than he possibly should have reading through Kalina’s prayer book; The Disciplines of the Dark Queen. As a result he woke up significantly exhausted and not much the wiser. The rituals or secrets he had hoped to find eluded him, but he was getting a better understanding of the ethos.

During breakfast James decided to talk to his mother about the next steps. He turned to the confusing jargon and cant of the guild, one that he knew his mother was familiar with. He laid out the day master’s demands that she leave Kingsport, and the options that had come to him; either see if he could secure her a position as a servant at the Sheridan estate and allow her to stay close, or bring her to the grass plains of Silesia where she could start anew. She chose to former, opting to stay close to Kingsport and her son.

Meanwhile, the rest of heroes sat around, eating their breakfast, trying to pick apart the complicated coded language the two were speaking. Giving up, Quentin asked Emrys to join him in his trip to rookery, to which Emrys agreed.

After breakfast James decided to take stock of all of the things he had been storing inside of the magical bag he had been given by the day master; including some of the items they had retrieved from the Reaverhaunt caves that he never got a good luck at. These included the following:

  • A wooden, lacquered jewellery box
  • Silver necklace with a teardrop pearl pendant
  • An assortment of five different silver rings
  • An assortment of four different golden rings
  • A finely embroidered doublet studded with golden buttons
  • A silver triangle figurine, held aloft by two angelic figures
  • A golden coin pendant depicting Tymora surrounded by clovers

Luca took a few minutes to prepare a ritual in which he could sense if any of the items were enchanted, which he found they were not. The careful conclusion was that these were mundane items that the bandits had collected during their raids around Northshire.

The heroes decided that they would attempt to depart at noon so that they could make it to the Sheridan estate before sundown. Before that they would run some errands.

James and Luca headed to the Silver Cross, the tavern in the Lace where Jeanne had been working and James had made his home for a long time. On the way there, James noticed that they were being tailed by a revolving tail of guild affiliates; different people paid off by the guild to keep an eye out.

When the two heroes arrived at the Silver Cross they found Samuel the Carcerian bartender standing out front. He gave James an uncharacteristically long hug and whispered into his ear that it was not wise to stay for long; the guild was watching the Silver Cross as well. James darted in and out of his mother’s room and picked up only the necessities.

Once they had departed, the duo headed to the Circle of Magi where they hoped they could purchase any potions or ointments that could help them stay safe and healthy in the next leg of their journey. When they arrived, they found entrance to the college obstructed by brother Shakeslocke and the red-robed monks protesting the supposed corruption in the institution. Unfortunately, Olafur, the custodian at the college was not tending to the herb garden out front and could help them inside.

Luca suggested heading out of the city and visiting a man who supposedly sold herbs, salves and ointments. They walked down the Elysian street and out of the similarly named gate. Then, in the shadow of the Bastion of Restraint, they found a cabin surrounded by a fragrant garden of different herbs and plants. A gruff Kaedwyni man who introduced himself as Ecgbrith was found out in front, tending to the garden.

James and Luca found him to be somewhat reluctant at first, but he became a lot more willing to deal once Olafur happened to come walking up. The Miðgarðurian was obviously a frequent patron of Ecgbrith and helped smooth the way. Eventually a deal was reached for several potions. Expensive though they were, Ecgbrith threw in a mysterious potion which he said would help clear the mind.

Luca, having been interested in plants, herbs and fungi ever since getting some strange mushrooms from a guard in his home village once, asked whether Ecgbrith could help him to a herbalism kit. The herbalist put together a small satchel with some essentials that would help Luca cut, harvest, dry and preserve herbs properly and gave him a quick overview on how to use it. It would take Luca quite some time to become adept at what the Kaewyni had told him, but at least he’d have the tools once he did.

The two walked away with three vials of healing liquid as well as a concoction that would “clear the mind,”  as well as a herbalist’s kit. It had cost them a significant sum.

On the way back to the Careless Wanderer the two had a conversation about what the best course of action would be once they had visited the Sheridan estate. Should they go to the Tiverton glades to help the Lady Commander’s family stave off the orc invasion, or should they stay in Kingsport and investigate the illness of the queen?

In the meantime, Quentin and Emrys followed the directions that Quentin was given by Lauryn to Fast Feathers Rookery located at a small but luxurious manse near the top of Quayhill. This walled establishment had several small towers and aviaries in the garden around the building where people were tending to ravens. Emrys noticed that there was a peculiar banner on the outside gate, on the building and on the towers; quartered, with the banner of House Waxley, a turtle on a field of green, taking up the first and fourth quarter, with a black bird carrying a parchment on a field of blue taking up the second and third quarter.

When inside, they found several people behind small lecterns transcribing letters to and from thin strips of parchment fit to be carried by their ravens. After asking about Toruviel Fast Feathers, they stood eye to eye with a slender elf with silvery hair and a tight restraint on his face. After a brief exchange Toruviel explained that they could send letters to Beauclair and that, if properly addressed, the letter would find its way to the correct recipient.

Quentin found it easy to send the letter to Gwenaëlle, watching Toruviel transcribe the letter onto a small strip of parchment with swiftness and ease, but he hesitated with the letter addressed to his Lord-father, Dorian of House Morvrayne. He eventually relented when he was convinced of the elf Toruviel’s discretion.

During this exchange, Quentin asked Toruviel about his name and heritage, and Toruviel explained that he was one of the Aen Gwynt, or Sky Elves, from the mountain range of Ard Thoradun. He explained that Toruviel was one of their great ancestors and a hero among his people. He carried the name to honour their ancestor. During this time, Quentin kept an eye on Emrys, who stood almost motionless, listening, with his hand on the hilt of his blade. Later, when the two had departed the rookery, Emrys thanked Quentin for bringing him.

Just after midday it was time to depart. As people were saddling up and getting ready, Wojciech, the Wanderer’s stablemaster, came to say goodbye to Jeanne. The travel out of Kingsport was done under an overcast sky and soon after departing the city the weather turned sour. It took several uneventful hours to get to Lynnecombe and the heroes were soaking wet when they arrived at the estate.

Lord Marcus and Destan received them in the dining room of the manor and made sure that the servants brought towels, dry clothes and lit the fire in the hearth. Wine and food was brought, though not nearly as lavish as the feast they had received the last time they were at the estate.

A quick conversation about Jeanne’s predicament was settled quickly as Lord Marcus assured James and Jeanne that there would be a place at the estate for Jeanne and that she would be able to earn her keep. It was decided that she would take the place of a stable hand who had recently gotten gravely injured when several bandits had set upon their stables in an attempt to steal the family’s horses.

James revealed to Lord Marcus that the staff had been infiltrated by Steady Hand spies who were interested in books and artifacts coming from the catacombs beneath the estate. While Lord Marcus seemed aware of Harrick, he had not been aware yet of Beatrice, so he was grateful for James’ revelation. He assured James that no harm would befall Jeanne from the Steady Hand spies.

James mentioned that he had learned about the artifact of a small statue which had been retrieved from the catacombs and that he’d be interested to see it. Lord Destan said that this could be arranged in the morning.

Once that had been settled, the conversation turned to a letter that the Sheridan family had received from Pinefall;

To Lord John Sheridan of House Sheridan,

My lord, I hope this letter finds you and your sons reunited and good health. I am sure Lord Destan has explained everything about your lands in the southern Silverpine Hills, including the unusual events of the last few months. There are, however, things that the Lord of these lands must be made aware of.

Since the departure of your Lord-son, one of the villagers of Bristlecone (a little settlement in Pinefall) fell prey to an evil spirit. Robart, the man in question, accompanied Lord Destan on his “voyage” and returned having quite literally lost his mind. We were instructed by your Lord-son to care for him as best we could; it was the least we could do in the wake of his sacrifice.

Several days after your Lord-son’s departure some of the crusaders left your lands; some for Gryphon’s Roost, some for their ancestral lands, some for parts unknown. As luck would have it, some of them stayed behind, deciding to wait out the winter. It was to them we turned when Robart was possessed.

The local wise woman, Isobel, claims that Robart having lost his mind left a vacuum that was easily filled. She, together with the crusaders, managed to force the demon to vacate poor Robart. I will spare you the profane and grotesque details, but the process was disturbing. Unfortunately, poor Robart was not strong enough to survive the ordeal.

Isobel and the crusaders have speculated that the demon must have been able to travel between Old Llygad and Pinefall, much like the crusaders did. It does mean that we have to remain vigilant, for others might follow.

Your servants,

– Gregor of Bristlecone
– Isobel of White Fork
– Ser Gregorian Longshadow

A Foreboding Dream


After having liberated his mother from the captivity of the Steady Hand, finding her suffering from a grievous head wound which ended up costing his mother her eye, a strange parasite was found in the wound. Father Devon, who tended to his mother’s wound and found the parasite, said he had never seen anything like it.

When James had taken his mother away from Kingsport, housing her at the Sheridan estate to work as a stable hand, and thereby meeting the day master’s demand that Jeanne leave Kingsport, never to return, he could finally rest, reflect and come to terms with all that happened. He had a disturbing dream…

A Foreboding 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.

A Mother and Son Reunited

Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye had managed to capture Kalina and separate her from the rest of the bandits she was hiding out with, only to come under attack from a group of shadowy creatures as they regrouped at the Scatterfoot farm. While the creatures were defeated, the Silesian bandit was killed by one of them. The heroes took her body and returned to Kingsport, preparing to bring the body to the day master together with what they had learned, hoping that it would be enough to liberate James’ mother from captivity.

Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

While Astrid and James had taken the cart carrying Kalina’s body to an abandoned shack in an anonymous part of Kingsport, Luca, Quentin and Emrys arranged for one of the luxurious rooms at the Careless Wanderer. Astrid and James eat their last remaining rations and shared a bottle of Pinefall brandy, and the others ate Ramsey’s wonderful food.

Astrid and James fell asleep in their clothes, warmed only by a small fire. Luca sat a small writing desk and read and studied Kalina’s prayer book. Quentin sat cross legged in front of the fire while he cleaned his blade while meditating; softly reciting the litanies and oaths of knighthood, slowly becoming one with the blade and the complicated spirit within. Emrys enjoyed the luxury of a four-poster bed, with his eyes closed; vast asleep.

It was deep in the night before Luca fell asleep, slumped over the writing desk he had been studying at. Before succumbing to fatigue, he had learned that the prayer book, written almost completely in the infernal language of Ba’ator, the lower plane of devils. It was called The Disciplines of the Dark Queen, which described all matters of worshipping Takhisis.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

After Astrid and James woke up, took a piss, and left the shack together with the horses, cart and morbid contents, they spent some time wandering the streets around Steward Square, finding some food for breakfast and enduring the weather.

Luca, Quentin and Emrys woke up and enjoyed breakfast in their room while they spoke about what Luca had learned from The Disciplines of the Dark Queen. One of the remarkable things that Luca had noticed is that besides the religious iconography of Takhisis, occasionally, the hooked pentagram of Asmodeus showed up; the adversary in the monotheistic religion of the Daerlan empire, Mazuria and most parts of Silesia.

At noon, when the pale sun stood highest in the dark, cloudy sky, Astrid and James made their way to the Careless Wanderer. Astrid stayed with the cart while James went inside to look for the others. He found the Wanderer was busy, but not rowdy, with many people still visiting for the angling competition which was about to commence. Durham, the friendly barkeep, directed James up to the rooms when he noticed the young elf looking around for his friends.

A quick plan was made to take the cart and transport Kalina’s body to the butcher shop on Fleet Street and negotiate for Jeanne’s release. Luca would come with James while Astrid, Quentin and Emrys remained outside, ready to either make a fast getaway, or be prepared to storm the shop in force. James would remain in contact with Quentin using Lauriel’s Earrings of Whispers.

On their way across town, while crossing the river at the Queensbridge, James spotted the reddish-haired town crier, Goodman, who hailed James. James stopped briefly and crier Goodman shook his hand, telling him it was good to see him again. During that exchange he surreptitiously passed James a note. As they rode on James read it; “Sold the horses, still in town,” it read, a note from Dick.

As they got closer to Fleet Street, the conversation became more detailed and intense, and people wanted to know just how dangerous the situation could become. It was clear to James that while his companions were all familiar with violence, they had no experience with the level of violence that an criminal organisation like the Steady Hand could bring to bear. In fact, he never had to deal with it, considering he had never stood in opposition to them. It took everything ounce of his acting ability for James to not let his discomfort and fear show.

When they arrived at the butcher shop, a corner store on Fleet Street, between the Street of Spices and the river, there were many guild members about, keeping an eye on the place. Inside, civilians were doing their groceries. James and Luca, who were disallowed from bringing their weapons inside the shop, carried Kalina’s wrapped corpse through the shop to the back. They were directed down the stairs into the basement and through a door, into a mostly empty room.

The day master was there with two of his guards, and James found his mother still tied to a chair, still in her filthy underclothes. Her skin was dirty and she was carrying many shallow wounds and bruises, and she had a bandage on her head which covered her left eye that hadn’t been there before. While the bandages were new, they had already been soaked through with blood and sweat, and it was hiding a grotesque swelling.

When Kalina’s body was unwrapped, the day master was dissatisfied and demanded an explanation. James explained everything that happened, and made it a point to recite, word for word, the conversation that he had heard Kalina had with her mysterious father back in the caves; a conversation he had not even shared with the rest of his companions.

Kalina: Father, are you displeased with me?

Unknown: Glasya, your attempt to draw the guild master out has not been successful. To say that I am pleased would be a lie. The only thing which comforts me is knowing that you understand how important it is to expose the Upright Man and to find his vault. You also understand that I can only keep your failure from the Dark Queen for so long before she will find out. I can only impress upon you that you must try again before she does.

Kalina: He exposed himself when he killed Lydia…

Unknown: Yes, but you were not there to capitalise on it, and from what you told me not much of her remained behind. Your attempt to have the day master assassinated also failed. You better think of another way to find the Upright Man! I MUST GET INSIDE HIS VAULT.

Kalina: But father…

Unknown: Silence! Do not disobey me *daughter*, or else you will be Xazax’s next victim.

Kalina: Father? Father!?

There was something about this conversation that seemed to rock the usually unflappable day master. James suspected that it was the revelation that Kalina and her father knew about the Upright Man being responsible for the death of Lydia, the dangerous leader of the Sunken Knuckles. There was more here, but James had other priorities.

While James explained the rest of what happened at the Reaverhaunt caves, Luca inspected James’ mother and her injuries. The day master still had a few questions about Kalina’s allegiance, if it wasn’t to the night master and the rest of the guild. Luca and James explained that the jewelled daggers were used by assassins who had been striking throughout eastern Lyria, which was something the day master had heard of, and that it likely had something to do with the Upright Man being in the possession of a a set of ancient tablets that this cult was after.

The day master seemed satisfied with the explanation and dismissed one of his guards to arrange for a meeting with a certain John for that evening. James knew that to be John Sharpe; also known as the night master. If the Upright Man was the leader of the Steady Hand, then the day master was his left hand, while the night master was his right hand.

The day master instructed to take Kalina and his mother, but pressed upon James that his mother was to leave Kingsport and never return, which James took in stride. Luca and James took both and walked through the front of the shop, through a wave of curious patrons, out the door.

Astrid gave Jeanne her cloak since she was barely clothed and the weather was miserable. Emrys drove the cart while James gave him directions to the Temple of Pholtus. On the way, James applied some of father Devon’s healing ointment to the most trouble parts of Jeanne’s skin, which immediately started to heal up. Her head wound was too grievous and would abate.

Once at the clinic, Jeanne was carried inside and father Devon was called for. He immediately took charge and called for several nurses to help out and for Mother Superior Arwyn to be called. James made sure to let father Devon know that no expenses should be spared, and the holy man told James to make an appropriate tithe at the temple. Which he did while the followers of Pholtus worked on healing his mother, leaving one of the gems he had received from the Sheridan estate in the tithe bowl.

When father Devon finally came to speak to the heroes he explained that Jeanne would be okay, but that she was still recovering. He showed a small ceramic jar in which he showed a curious slug with multiple eye stalks extending and retracting all over its body. He claimed that he had removed it from Jeanne’s eye, where it had lodged itself like a parasite. Unfortunately, it meant that Jeanne had lost her eye. She would recover, but it would take a little while.

James take his mother in his care once again when she was able to be moved, and the heroes went to the Careless Wanderer. They stayed in their luxurious room, deciding to stay away from the crowd downstairs and not draw any attention to themselves and allowing Jeanne some much needed rest. She had remained quiet and shell shocked, and had fallen asleep on the bed.

While Jeanne slept, James recalled what had happened in the basement underneath the butcher shop that afternoon. He also revealed that he had been holding on to one of Atilesceon’s journal pages which mentioned the Upright Man;

None of our agents has been able to get close to the Upright Man for a very long time. The last time anyone of ours got close they disappeared… but not before confirming that they didn’t have one, but two of the tablets in their collection of antiques. It has proven nigh impossible to get anyone close to the situation since. If I can get close to one of their underlings, however…

Luca started theorising that likely Melchior, the man he thought was Kalina’s father, had likely retrieved tablets from Kalauranthalasis’ hoard, since Atilesceon wrote the following about the dragon in his journal;

That poisonous wyrm has been taken prisoner by those fanatics, and word has reached us to confirm that it was in possession of two of the Tablets of the Elemental Eye. If it wasn’t for my experiments here, I would seek them out to swell the collection of the Dark One. Perhaps there are those willing to compensate me for this information?

Not for the first time the heroes felt out of their depth; not knowing what it all meant, what to do with with what they thought they knew, or how to move forward. As they had done before several times, they decided to put it to rest, feeling small and powerless in the face of it. Astrid turned the topic to more practical matters; what was James intending to do about his mother, to which James responded that it was up to Jeanne to decide what it was that she wanted, but that he could ask House Sheridan to give her a place among the staff at their estate.

With that, they had a plan for the following day and their attentions turned to what to do afterwards. Quentin reminded everyone that he had given his word to the Lady Commander of the Crownsguard, Dame Miranda Ravensbourne, that he would find his way to her ancestral lands to see about helping her family deal with the orc invasion.

Kalina’s Ladder

Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye found themselves at the Scatterfoot farm where they met Dick, James’ childhood friend who helped them find the Reaverhaunt caves, the hideout the bandits were using to lay low. Aided by Emrys’ arcane abilities, the heroes had explored the caves and had found a well-stocked armoury, a large cave with a bunch of resting bandits, and a separate room where Kalina had been hiding out. When discovered, Kalina had attacked and grievously wounded James before escaping into the darkness. Meanwhile, a strange apparition made of pure shadow had been following the heroes, keeping out of the light, but had since attacked Emrys and drained him of most of his strength.

Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

James opened his eyes and felt the fog of unconsciousness receding together with the burn of the poison which had turned his nervous system on fire. He quickly assessed the situation and realised that Kalina had made her escape. Astrid had wasted no time to bolt into the darkness to follow the fleet-footed Silesian bandit, but James heard her gasping out a strangled breath that told him his Helmarker friend was in trouble.

Once James had regained consciousness, Luca spoke an arcane command and opened a portal that allowed him to travel small distances in the blink of an eye. He put his hand on Emrys’ shoulder and pulled the sorcerer through with him. The two teleported through the dark portal, eerily reminiscent of the portal through which the Skaven had poured into the catacombs underneath the Sheridan estate. The instantaneously reappeared at the mouth of the cave, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the two immediately stood face to face with the dangerous bandit, they would have noticed the unstable flickering of the portal through which they came.

Despite the strange, ethereal jaunt through the unstable portal, Luca and Emrys reacted swiftly and unleashed a barrage of enchantments on Kalina designed to restrain her; including the most difficult of magics; polymorphism. Emrys turned Kalina into a sheep, which could easily be leashed.

While Luca and Emrys easily subdued Kalina, James and Quentin rushed to Astrid’s aid and found her being attacked by the strange shadow creature. Like Emrys, Astrid was severely weakened. Between the three of them, together with the help of a torch, they managed to drive the shadow creature off and deeper into the cave, towards where the bandits had been spotted.

Once everyone had reunited a decision was made to lead the still polymorphed Kalina back to the Scatterfoot farm, intending to take the horses and head back to the abandoned mill near the Sheridan estate.

Dick was happy to see the heroes returned in relatively good health. Emrys reverted Kalina back into her normal form and James decided to strip her down to her skivvies  and take all of her gear, in case she had any more tricks up her sleeve. When he went out to find Stubbs’ body in order to have Kalina change into his clothes, he noticed more than half a dozen shadowy creatures slowly descending down upon Scatterfoot farm.

Rushing back inside to inform the others, the heroes started to look at ways to keep the shadows at bay; torches, lanterns, candles and anything that could be improvised. Dick wasted no time to smash up one of the old, wooden tables and turn it into kindling. The farmhouse was old and the wooden walls and thatched roof was full of creaks and holes, but the light would hopefully drive the shadows off.

For a few hours the shadows, which were distinctly different from the shadowy creature which lead them, could be seen moving in and out of the light, prodding and probing the heroes’ defences. During this time the heroes rested and bandaged their wounds. The strange withering which the shadowy creature had inflicted on Astrid and Emrys had faded and they felt much better.

But deep in the night, when the moons disappeared behind stormy clouds, the shadows came for them, creeping through the cracks in the walls and assaulting the door, which had been guarded by Quentin. The fight was very chaotic, with shadows coming at them from all sides, draining their strength from their body and proving to be very difficult to defeat. Kalina, though bound, was causing trouble for the heroes as well. Luca shot bolt after angry bolt of eldritch energy, but found that he was hit by vicious feedback from Blackstar.

When the shadows started draining one of the heroes of their strength, it appeared almost as if a new shadow was trying to separate itself from the very essence of the person that was being drained. As if a dark version of their souls was angrily thrashing, trying to escape the bonds of the hero’s body.

Kalina was pummelled into unconsciousness so that she could no longer prove a problem, but while the numbers of shadows were dwindling, the shadowy creature who lead them swooped into the house and set upon Kalina, draining her until she withered and expired. As the shadowy creature tried to escape through the gaps in the thatched roof, Luca ran outside and threw bolts of eldritch fire at it until it dissipated.

Having lost Kalina, James wasn’t sure what the next steps should be to get to the bottom of the situation, or what to tell the day master.

A Chase in the Dark

Previously, the Heroes of the White eye had found their way to the Scatterfoot farm where they met up with Dick; a close childhood friend of James and fellow member in the guild of the Steady Hand. He had been conscripted to work with Kalina, James’ target, and was her newest crew member. He had immediately agreed to show them where the hideout was; a large cave system out in the Avondale woods. The heroes descended into the system in search of Kalina.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in low sanction.)

Having made their way past the first guard, who now lay strangled into unconsciousness by Astrid’s hand in a cubbyhole, the heroes had already found several rooms in the sprawling cave, some of them old and unused, while others were properly secured with a sturdy door and a modern lock. The locks had succumbed quickly to James’ steady hands and often revealed armouries and stock rooms, filled with all manner of provisions that suggested that the caves were more than just a convenient hideout for some bandits raiding the stables of the estates around Northshire.

The heroes had also found a large cavern space where the bandits had made their home. At least half a dozen of them had taken up residence in a space which held cots and fire pits and the group had wisely chosen to let sleeping dogs lie. With the use of Blackstar’s morbid ability to detect the presence of souls, they had come to the conclusion that there were a small group, or several lone individuals, were residing away from the other bandits.

Quentin’s companions, aided by magic or genetics, were able to see in the dark to some extent, but he himself had to be aided by a torch. This meant he had to be much more careful so as not to give away the presence of the group, but it also allowed him to discover that the group was being followed by a mysterious, dark apparition that was repelled by the light.

One of the rooms the heroes had discovered proved to be a well-stocked armoury, holding blades, javelins, crossbows and munitions. It also held a collection of light armour. James found one suit of armour which fit him well, which he donned. It was embossed with the symbol of the crescent moon of the Dark Queen. Luca discovered that the leather was unlikely to come from any of the beasts found in the Verdant Kingdoms, and he was once again reminded of the strange leather armour the heroes had encountered at the Landsdowne auction house in Bournemouth. Quentin was used to stocks of arms to have a quartermaster overseeing its administration, looked for a ledger and was surprised not to find one.

Eventually the heroes found another door behind which they saw a soft light glow. James spent a moment listening for sounds on the other side of the door and was witness to a conversation between who he assumed was Kalina and another person. The conversation came to an abrupt end and there was a small disturbance on the other end, which culminated in the light behind the door turning low. James let his deft hands take over and unlocked the door and pushed it open. He, Quentin and Astrid stepped inside and peered into the darkness.

Like an apparition, Kalina burst forth from the darkness, daggers drawn, pouncing on James. Her daggers bit deep and set fire to his nervous system and before he could react his felt himself losing control of his body as well as his consciousness. Astrid and Quentin immediately engaged Kalina and drove her back, deeper into the cave at which point she disappeared from sight again.

Meanwhile, Emrys was guarding the rear and was set upon by the apparition, draining the strength from his body until he almost couldn’t stand on his own feet any longer. Luckily, Luca heard his cries and came to his rescue, noticing the apparition’s aversion to light and immediately conjuring a flame to his hand, driving the shadow creature away.

Once the shadow creature was driven away Emrys and Luca immediately went to the aide of James, rummaging through the confusing, magical bag he had in order to find something — anything! — that would be able to save his life. Eventually they found the healing ointment that was given to James by Father Devon, the priest of the healing light.

Quentin and Astrid had since lost Kalina, who had escaped through an underground pool leading back towards a part of the caves that lay closer to the exit, and as James awoke the heroes had a choice to make; regroup and reassess, or continue their pursuit of the elusive Silesian bandit.