Tag: A Steady Feud

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.

The Reaverhaunt Caverns

Previously, the heroes celebrated the memory of Lady Gwynn Sheridan together with the Sheridan family and Lady Gwynn’s twin brother Lord Lothar Grey. James found that the Steady Hand had infiltrated the Sheridan staff in order to pilfer books and keep an eye on the catacombs underneath the estate. The next day the heroes were rewarded for their efforts of returning Lord Destan to his family. Bonded writs, gemstones, coin, mounts and the occasional bit of gear and the Heroes of the White Eye were paid what they were owed and were on their way to the Avondale Woods to find Kalina and her reaving group of bandits. They found the abandoned Scatterfoot farm and ran into Dick, James’ childhood friend who had been running with Kalina.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Dick didn’t know what to be shocked by more; the still smouldering eye sockets of Stubbs, the other bandit, or the fact that James, his childhood friend who he referred to as “Jimmy” was standing before him. James understood his friend’s state of mind and pulled a bottle of plum brandy from his mysterious bag. It was the bottles he had traded with the Szygani in Pinefall, so they were strong enough to calm Dick’s temper. Dick was a large, brute of a man and James knew that his discomfort could quickly devolve into anger and violence.

Taking further control of the situation, James asked Astrid to scout around and Luca to get Emrys, Quentin and the horses. He also made sure that Stubbs’ body was moved out of sight. When everyone returned, the horses were stabled together with the horses that Stubbs and Dick had been guarding for the other bandits, guarded by Astrid. The rest of the heroes joined James and Dick in the farmhouse for a conversation.

With an efficiency which betrayed James had been prepared for this moment he explained the entire situation to his old friend. About Kalina duping his mother into believing the day master was responsible for his death and manipulating her into making an attempt on the day master’s life using that wicked dagger. Dick revealed that Kalina was still in the possession of her daggers; plural. Dick also lamented the situation, since he seemed genuinely fond of James’ mother. James knew that Dick never had a mother while growing up, and a father that cared little for him. Jeanne and the women at the Silver Cross had filled that void for his friend, so it was not a surprise that Dick readily agreed to help James find Kalina.

Kalina and the rest of her crew were hiding out nearby; in the Reaverhaunt caves, the hideout of the former scourge of the Lyrian gulf; admiral Dapperfang, a gnoll pirate who reaved all along the coast for a long time. Unfortunately Dick wasn’t able to share much about the cave itself, since he never made it past the entrance since he was the most junior member of the crew. Supposedly the caves were large and were well-stocked and furnished. James asked him whether he knew of an alternate entrance or exit, but he did not.

A plan was formed by the heroes to attempt to sneak into the caves and find Kalina, either kidnapping her under the nose of the other bandits or possibly getting the drop on her before she could try to escape. In order to keep options open, Emrys decided to weave a hypnotic pattern which would allow a group of people to be befuddled for a short while, which was absorbed by Luca’s terrifying staff, allowing Luca to unlock it at a later time. Emrys would also arrange for all of the heroes to be turned invisible, allowing them a greater chance to sneak up on the bandits.

Dick explained he was concerned that he would be suspected of aiding the heroes, so a plausible explanation was drawn up; Stubbs was murdered and Dick was interrogated using magic. Afterwards he was bound and left behind due to James and him having grown up together. It sounded pretty flimsy to James, but luckily Dick seemed somewhat appeased by the plan.

The heroes decided to get some rest before heading off and letting Dick lead them to the Reaverhaunt caves. The trip through the Avondale woods did not take long and soon the heroes found themselves walking a long a cliff face which lead to the hidden entrance to the caves. Dick had given them detailed instructions and left them to their business, returning to the abandoned farm to guard the horses. James had told him that if things went awry, he should take all of the horses, get a good price for them, and leave Northshire.

Emrys made use of his increasingly deepening intuitive understanding of the weave of magic to turn all of the group invisible. It was not without effort and for a moment he felt his hands turn incredibly uncomfortable with an inner heat. When everyone was invisible they approached the entrance to the caves and James went to scout ahead. The entrance lead to a chamber which was used to guard the rest of the cave system. Initially the group attempted to sneak past, but this turned out to be too difficult and Astrid decided to grab the man guarding the entrance and strangle him until he was unconscious. Unfortunately, this caused the invisibility magic that Emrys had cast on her to dissipate. This necessitated her to stay behind as the others continued deeper into the caves.

Quentin, not gifted with the same ability to see in the dark as the others was forced to lag behind them for a while. Eventually he was forced to light a torch in order to follow, but by this time James, Emrys and Luca, aided by their genetics or by the magic provided by their arms, had started to explore the vast cave system, finding several junctions and even some barricades and doors. Quentin, trying to stay at a distance not to let his light hinder the others, suddenly spotted a strange, moving shadow, which caused him to hurry to catch up with the others.

He relayed what he had seen; a strange, stalking shadow of unknown origin. Luca decided that it was best for Quentin to stay a little way behind, but gave him Lauriel’s earring that he was wearing so that Quentin could communicate with James, who was wearing the companion earring. This would allow him to signal if he was in trouble. As the men from Beauclair were not as accustomed to piercing their ears as some of the other men in the Verdant Kingdoms, Quentin had to painfully pierce the earring through his earlobe in order to make use of it.

After having found a strange weapon room, James, Luca and Emrys stumbled upon a larger room which housed several of the bandits, who had not been alerted to their presence yet. They decided to retreat, regroup and come up with a plan on how to proceed to find Kalina.

Remembrance and Reward

Previously, the heroes discovered a fierce orc scout who had been keeping an eye on the Sheridan estate. Having captured and incapacitated her, the heroes spoke to Lord Marcus, remembering well his fondness for the Kaedwyni orcs and hoping he would react in a less volatile way than the Sheridan house guard would. He recommended taking her to an abandoned windmill nearby to interrogate her. There, the heroes found that their old friend Korath had sent her to keep an eye on the catacombs. The scout believed that he might want to go back into the catacombs to seek out a stone eye. The heroes decided to let her go after she gave her word that she would only observe and otherwise not get closer to the estate.

Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

While the sun had gone down and the wind started to pick up, the heroes made their way through the rain from the abandoned windmill to the Sheridan estate. The conversation was focused on whether or not they would inform Lord Marcus about what the orc scout had told them. Quentin reminded the others that Lady Commander Miranda had requested for him to go to the Tiverton Glades to assist her house in any way in the protection of the region against the orc invasion. James once again focused everyone at the task at hand; finding Kalina, but he couldn’t help but consider an expedition into the catacombs.

When the heroes arrived they found that many of the house Grey and Sheridan guards that were bivouacking in the courtyard had started to eat and drink together, huddled around fires, underneath tarpaulins. Despite the weather it was a good spirited affair.

Inside, the heroes were greeted by the guests at the celebration, having taken place in the dining room of the manor. Lord John was seated at the head of the table, with Lord Destan and Marcus on one side, and Lord Jonathan and Ser Benten on his other side. Across the table, sat Lord Lothar Grey, an elderly gentleman who was the brother and twin to the late Lady Gwynn Sheridan. Lord Lothar was flanked by Ser Ademar of Woodbury, a member in the Order of the Lance who Luca remembered was the signatory to a message on the notice board the heroes had seen earlier which was a call to arms, attempting to recruit people to fight against the orc invasion to the north. On Lord Lothar’s other side sat Dame Madeline of Ashenvale, the tall, comely knight that the heroes had met in the catacombs underneath the Sheridan estate all those months ago. Both knights were dressed in simple tunic, decorated with silver thread to denote their order.

A second table had been set up that would seat the five heroes which was to one side of the hearth, while on the other side of the hearth three musicians had taken their place, playing the lute, fiddle and flute. They accompanied a singer, a curiously androgynous elf with long, pale coloured hair, wearing an elaborate, silk kimono. Their name was Elerethe, and she sang in a strange language, reminiscent of elven.

To the front of the room, in front of the window, was a long table with a bench, where several Sheridan guards, including captain Hallis Mollen and sergeant Rhalek of Darkhollow had taken seat, together with some guards of house Grey to enjoy dinner.

Lord Destan introduced the Heroes of the White Eye and the evening commenced with socialisation. Lord John did not really speak, save for a few words he whispered into his eldest son’s ear from time to time. It became clear to the heroes that while the man was old, he was certainly not feeble of mind.

When the first courses of food were brought out everyone took their seat. The food was rich and plentiful and the wine, spirits and ales flowed, all enjoyed while Elerethe and the musicians entertained the party. The main course was a combination of river trout baked in clay and an enormous boar roasted over an open fire, thinly sliced and seasoned with rosemary and crushed peppercorns. Afterwards the tables were cleared and prepared for dessert and this was the moment that Lord Lothar stood to toast to his late sister. He touched on her history; on how she had been known as Gwynn the Twice-Wed, being unlucky in love with her first two husbands dying before their time. They had renamed her Gwynn the Giant Slayer after her meeting Lord John and capturing his heart. He spoke of his younger brother Royce, not being present due to his capture by the rebels in Farcorner while he was there to negotiate on behalf of the crown. Lastly, he spoke of the Sheridan family and how he was so fond of how far they had come in the time that he had known them.

When the table was laden with sweetbreads, cheeses, baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon and Carcarian lemon cakes frosted in sugar, it was time for Lord Lothar and Lord John to speak in private in the library. They took a bottle of Beauclair wine and two cups with them. With their departure, James took a moment to relieve himself of a full bladder and made sure to see if he could listen in on the men’s conversation. Unfortunately he was not successful in overhearing anything useful.

During James’ absence, Luca took Marcus aside for a private conversation about what they had learned from the orc scout and Marcus confirmed that he did not see the need to get rid of the orc as long as the host in the north wasn’t making their way towards Northshire. When James returned he joined the conversation and the conversation was shifted to the message that Falka had received during their time at the Bournemouth Academy, supposedly sent from Lord John. Marcus knew he was out of his depth and called over his brother Destan who took a look at the letter, which Luca had been saving in his mysterious book for all this time.

To the lecturer Falka of Dunagore at Bournemouth academy. Five people will arrive at the academy trying to find out information about Lord Destan Sheridan’s recent stay in the city and any results from his research. They will claim they are working on orders of House Sheridan, but I assure you that they are not. Anything you can do to throw them off Lord Destan’s trail will be well rewarded.

John Sheridan, Baron of Lynnecombe and Darkhollow

After examining the letter, Destan concluded it a forgery. The broken seal was not quite right, nor was the language used. His lord father also had nothing to gain from thwarting the heroes from his rescue. Destan asked if he could keep the letter and Luca didn’t feel right refusing him, but did make sure to be able to recall the exact words of the letter.

The four rejoined the rest of the party and at that point Lord Lothar and Lord John returned from the library, their moods somewhat giddier and their lips and teeth stained red from the exquisite Beauclair vintage they had enjoyed together.

The celebration was coming to an end and an army of servants came to clear the table. To his surprise, James noticed a familiar face among the servants; a man named Harrick who he knew to be a confidence trickster and fellow guild member from Kingsport.

James excused himself and slipped into the kitchen to confront Harrick. The two men stepped away for a private conversation and Harrick told him that he had infiltrated the staff soon after James’ departure from Kingsport, on the orders of the day master, together with another woman who worked in another part of the household. Their mission was to investigate the catacombs, any items retrieved from it, and to further pilfer the library of any ancient, esoteric books.

When asked whether they had been successful so far, Harrick said that they had managed to liberate a couple of books and passed them on to an agent of the guild that was in the area, posing as a travelling salesman. They had not been able to get inside the catacombs, nor had they found anything that was retrieved from it. He could, however, tell James that a stone statue had been retrieved from there, which was the size of a hand, shaped like an eye.

After dinner the heroes were given a place to sleep in the dépendance. Luca and James spent a short while sneaking around the ground floor of the building until they had found a locked, reinforced door which had marks of heavy items having been dragged through it. They concluded that behind that door must lay the new entrance to the catacombs, but they decided not to try and force the lock.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

The next morning James, who had been injured in the fight with the orc scout, felt much better. Some of the sweet rolls which he had liberated from the dessert table the previous night served to be a grand breakfast. After breakfast, the heroes were asked to join the family in the study above the library.

The Sheridan lords were accompanied by Lord Lothar and Ser Benten, and Lord Jonathan lead the meeting. He thanked the Heroes of the White Eye for their service in bringing Lord Destan home. He recognised their valiance and the debt that the house owed them. He also recognised that while no agreements of reward had been established between the house and Ser Quentin, that it would be in poor taste not to reward him with a token of the house’s gratitude for his service.

Since some of the heroes were keen on acquiring a mount in order for them to continue their trek to the Avondale woods, the rewards became as follows;

Astrid accepted her reward for one thousand gold crowns in the form of a bonded writ, exchangeable at the Cyprian Insurance Company in all major ports in the Verdant Kingdoms.

Emrys was rewarded one thousand gold crowns in the form of a beautiful Lyrian, black and white pinto mare from the Sheridan stables worth seventy-five gold crowns and the rest in an assortment of gemstones.

James decided to accept his reward of one thousand gold crowns in the form of a powerful black Lyrian courser from the Sheridan stables worth one hundred gold crowns, and the rest in an assortment of gemstones.

Luca accepted his one thousand gold crown reward in the shape of Tipper, a Lyrian chestnut mare from the Sheridan stables worth seventy-five gold crowns, a cart worth another twenty-five gold crowns, four pearls caught off the coast of Southernhay worth one hundred gold crowns each, and the remaining five hundred gold in the form of a bonded writ, exchangeable at the Silver Bank of Lyria in all major cities in Lyria.

Quentin was rewarded with a small pouch of nine platinum dragons and ten gold crowns, as well as a Silesian golden stallion named Walor, specially procured by the Sheridan family to honour Quentin’s contribution.

Each of the horses came with a suitable saddle, blanket, stirrups and reigns. James, promptly renamed his courser from “Scout” to “Shane” for reasons only he understood.

After receiving their reward they were ready to depart for the Avondale woods; the Scatterfoot farm that lay close by in particular. The lords Destan, Marcus and Lothar came to wave them off. “May the Paladine light your path,” Lord Lothar said. “May Mask soften your step,” Lord Marcus said.

The weather was miserable, with dark rain clouds overhead, but the horses helped hasten the heroes’ travel. When they got closer to their destination they decided to hide their horses and have Quentin and Emrys guard them while Astrid, James and Luca made their way closer to the abandoned farm on foot.

They found the two small buildings of the farm were situated on the other side of a small brook, with a bridge leading across it. James decided to scout ahead and accidentally tripped a simple trap across the bridge; a rope had been tied to two buckets of rocks, which promptly splashed into the water, alerting whoever was inside the farm buildings.

They found that one man was hiding in the farmhouse, while another was hiding in the stables. They both drew bows and started firing on the heroes. The man in the farmhouse came to a very “pleasant” end as he was hit by several bolts of eldritch energy, shot from the tip of Blackstar by Luca, leaving the man’s eye sockets burned out and smouldering.

When James crept closer to the stables in order to confront the other bandit he found himself eye to eye with his childhood friend Dick. A man as baffled to see James as he was enormous; “Jimmy, is that you!?”

A Fierce Reminder of Old Friends

Previously, the heroes made their way from Lynnecombe-upon-Lyn towards the Sheridan estate. They met some teamsters and masons that were on their way to the estate to perform some work, and later they ran into some heavily armed Sheridan house guards on the bridge across Raven’s Craig Glen. When James spotted a hidden observer in the forest overlooking the bridge, the heroes decided to try and sneak up on them only to discover it was a fierce orc. After a scuffle she dashed off deeper into the woods and the heroes went to pursue her.

Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

After a mad chase through the woods the heroes managed to catch up with the orc and were able to restrain her and knock her unconscious. After tying her up, James, Emrys and Quentin decided that they would continue to the Sheridan estate and try to talk to some friendly faces there, while Astrid and Luca would keep an eye on their captive.

The loss of Emrys’ voice was quickly remedied as the surge of magic faded from his body. It took a little while longer before the same

When the three arrived at the Sheridan estate, they found that at least a dozen guards in grey uniforms carrying the wolf’s head heraldry of House Grey had taken up residence in the lower garden of the estate. They were mingling and on friendly terms with the Sheridan guards and seemed to have been invited.

It was clear to the heroes that the Sheridans were undertaking some reconstructions to the dépendance and they saw piles of earth, stones and rubble close to the building. In front of the dépendance, around well, which had also seen its fair share of remodelling, the staff of the estate were running back and for to the manor, hard at work preparing for the celebrations.

The courtyard, once the home of fragrant bushes and flowers, had now become the location where crates, barrels and sacks of provisions were stored which would help the estate make it through the coming winter. The vibrant greens of the trees had made way to the yellow, orange and reds of the autumn.

While the trio was standing around trying to see a familiar face they saw the manor’s door open and the tall form of a Sheridan stepping through and onto the landing at the top of the steps leading up to the entrance. His tall, athletic frame and red brown hair identified him as Lord Marcus.

When they spoke, Lord Marcus explained that the Sheridans were in the preparation for the remembrance celebration of Lady Gwynn, the late lady of the house. Lord Lothar Grey, the twin brother to the late Lady Gwyn, made it a point to come and celebrate with the Sheridans every year, which explained the presence of the House Grey guard.

Lord Marcus also explained that the catacombs had been explored and the entrance to the catacombs had been reinforced and it was the plan of house Sheridan to start making use of the underground space, which explained all of the work that had been done and was still to come.

When the three explained that they had captured an orc scout outside of the estate, Marcus immediately confirmed that if they brought her to the estate it would likely mean she would meet a deadly fate. This proved once again that Lord Marcus also had a soft spot for the Kaedwyni orcs they had rescued from the catacombs all those months before. James asked whether there was a place they could take her to interrogate her, and Marcus directed them to an abandoned windmill nearby.

Before they departed Marcus assured them they would be granted a seat at a table for the celebration and he’d make sure to find a place for them to spend the night. As the trio left the estate to return back to Astrid, Luca and their captive they bumped into the caravan of masons that had finally arrived at the estate.

After returning to their companions, who were still guarding the captive, who had since regained consciousness, the heroes made their way deeper into the woods and back towards the glen, following it upstream for a ways before crossing through the water and past the other side of the Sheridan estate. It didn’t take long before the heroes found the large, abandoned windmill.

Inside, they started to interrogate the orc but for a long time she refused to say a word. This changed when the heroes brought up the names of their Kaedwyni friends; Korath, Kaedan, Summi and Garr. It was clear that she recognised the names. When leaning on this spark of recognition, she finally started to speak.

It turned out she was asked by Korath, whom she referred to as “Korath the Wise” and was her warchief (not warlord, which she was quick to correct), had asked her to travel to the estate in order to keep an eye on it. While she didn’t know exactly why, she believed that he was interested in going back underground. She believed that he may be looking for an “eye,” though the heroes did not feel like they had the time or inclination to get distracted by this. They had bigger fish to fry if they wanted to save James’ mother from her dangerous predicament.

The heroes decided to let her go, but not before Luca, who had been observing her with that strange sight of his, asked her about the pendant she wore on a leather string around her neck. It was a polished stone in the shape of two crossed spears and she explained that it was given to her by a shaman from her tribe and allowed her to send messages to her warchief. She explained that she had already explained that she had been captured, but also calmed the heroes’ worry that her warchief was many days away and was not likely to come to her rescue.

When it became clear that the heroes were about to let her go, she said she would continue to only observe the estate and send another update to Korath explaining that she had been released. And with that, she was let go. After a few minutes, the heroes returned to the estate, as it was getting late in the day.

Hot Pursuit!

Previously, the heroes finalised their plan to go and find Kalina, who was supposedly robbing and stealing around the Avondale woods with her crew of bandits. They decided to pass by the Sheridan estate first to pick up their reward, as it was close to their area of destination. Astrid found the heroes passage upriver on a barge, belonging to Aram, a boatsman they had travelled with before. When they arrived in Lynnecombe they found a crude map of the trails and paths around Avondale wood accompanying several warnings to steer clear.

Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

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

Arriving in the little rivertown of Lynnecombe-upon-Lyn, having just discovered the notice board and the troubling messages regarding bandits around the Avondale woods, the heroes travelled up the path leading from the village to the road that would take them to the Sheridan estate. It was in the early afternoon and the air was wet and fresh with autumn.

As they entered the forest that surrounded the estate, the trees ranging from bright yellow to red so dark as to border on purple, they saw a large caravan of six ox-drawn carts on the road ahead of them. When they got closer they could see that a few of the carts were laden with masonry tools covered in tarps, while the rest were carrying large limestones.

The carts were driven by teamsters of all stripes; Lyrians, Beauclairois, dwarves and a half-elf. The people who accompanied them were all humans, strong of limbs and dressed like masons. The one to lead them was an exceptional specimen by the name of Barnes, who sported a thick head of brown hair and a large bushy moustache. He explained he was on his way to the Sheridan estate to finish up some work to the dépendance. He seemed a bit uncomfortable, which the heroes wrote up to the large numbers of bandits that had been reported in the area.

After squeezing their way past the carts that were taking up the road, the heroes said goodbye to the masons and teamsters and travelled ahead. Soon, they came upon the stone, tall-pillared bridge across Raven’s Craig glen, a small valley that ran along the southern end of the Sheridan estate which sported a small tributary that lead to the river Lyn in the east. This was the bridge that was the scene of the conflict between them and the Sheridan house guard as the heroes tried to save the Kaedwyni orcs from being hung just for being orcs.

On the far end of the bridge the heroes saw a squad of well-armed Sheridan guards. They recognised them as such by their house colours (purple and black) and the strange sidearm they carried. They were greeted as they walked across the bridge and spoke to sergeant Rhalek of Darkhollow. He asked the heroes to state their business, and was delighted to hear that they came to visit the estate to pick up the reward that was promised to them for saving Lord Destan. He went on to explain that there was a celebration planned to commemorate Lady Gwynn, Lord John’s late wife.

The heroes continued on and noticed a travelling merchant carrying a stuffed pack of goods on his back further up the road who, upon seeing them, turned around and returned from where he came. Just at that moment, James noticed an observer in the treeline upstream along the bank of the tributary, but decided to continue walking.

Once out of earshot of the guards he informed the rest of the group, and they decided to go back and investigate. They felt it important not to alert the guards just yet, so James decided to sneak past the guards along the bottom of the glen, through the river and up the bank. At the same time Emrys used some of his newfound arcane gifts to turn the rest of the group invisible.

With some difficulty the rest of the group managed to get used to being invisible and managed to sneak past the guards and get across the bridge to the opposite bank of the tributary. As a result of different people travelling with different ease, the group was quite spread out, with Astrid and James taking up the front, while Luca and Quentin (who was forced to remove his armour in order to keep from making too much noise) were squarely in the back.

As the group came closer, despite all their precaution, they managed to alert the observer, who they had now confirmed was a tall female orc who had been observing the Sheridan estate; being able to watch a large part of the manor and front as well as backyard and everything that went on there. She became suspicious and despite the attempts the heroes made to deceive her, she wanted to depart.

That’s when a chase started. Astrid ran up to her, breaking cover and dropping the invisibility spell, and attempted to grab hold of her and wrestle her to the ground. Unfortunately the powerful orc shrugged her off. James came up and successfully managed to disarm her of one of her weapons, at which point she started running. Surprisingly fleet of foot, the heroes set in pursuit.

Emrys called upon his ever increasing array of arcane abilities and attempted to hypnotise the orc. She unfortunately shrugged off the scintillating effects of the spell while both Astrid and James were caught in it. To add insult to injury, Emrys felt a surge of arcane energy well up inside of him which he couldn’t contain. He found himself unable to speak as the arcane energy streamed out of his eyes and mouth; the same that happened to him when they were in Bournemouth.

The orc got a head start but the heroes continued in pursuit anyway. She was surprisingly swift and it took everything in the heroes to keep up with her. She warned James to back off as she slashed at him with her remaining weapon in fluent Lyrian. The heroes ignored her warning and continued pursuit.