Tag: Emma

Emma, Session 8

6th day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

Things have … turned out.

Korath and his brothers have escaped. All of us, and Luca in particular, are under suspicion, although Lord Markus expects it all to blow over. I guided a young man into maturity and great responsibility, and nearly got him killed. I have met the trident called Muirgheal. We are on the road now, with a small fortune to pursue the figments and fancies of a wayward brother.

The stream meanders.

Understanding that Luca would not be deterred from freeing the Orcs, I decided to play a difficult balancing act. I was favorably disposed to freeing the Orcs, but bound by the laws of hospitality to not act contrary to our host in too obvious a manor.
I decided that a major distraction might serve Luca to succeed in freeing Korath and his brothers, while I could create such a distraction by bringing blessings upon Lynnecombe-upon-Lynne and its people.

I offered to perform a ritual to sanctify the transformation that Bartosz had clearly undergone. Lord Jonathan was unenthusiastic, if not uncaring. Sir Bentan was more favorably disposed to the endeavor and convinced the Lord, if Bartosz consents of course.

We first gathered in our quarters, where we were joined by Brandomir. Luca wanted to examine the weapons we had retrieved from the tunnels. He crushed the pearl and made from it a thick paste with wine. This he used to draw intricate and worrisome symbols on the floor around him.
He then handled each of the weapons in turn. I was reluctant to hand over the trident with which I had sung, but Luca reassured me that it was merely an observation of the weapon.
The set of blades that Markus took are twins that mustn’t be separated and are called Gladia.
Emrys’ blade is called Toruviel and seeks a permanent bond with its wielder.
Luca called his staff The Blackstar, which seems ill-omened to me.
My trident is called Muirgheal.
All of the weapons are sentient and seek a personal bond with their wielders. I am uncertain on how this works exactly.

After this, to Brandomir somewhat disappointing, display we went our own ways.

I sought out Bartosz and asked him if he would accept blessings in the evening from the Lady of the Lakes. He was hesitant at first, but when Sir Bentan appeared from nowhere and reassured the boy he was more than happy to accept. In fact, he asked if he could bring his family, which I encouraged him to do.

After that I asked Emrys about ways to deepen the bond with Muirgheal. He claimed to have created such a bond by meditating with Toruviel. This I could understand so I sought out a quiet place and sat there with Muirgheal in my lap and meditated and hummed hymns to Sedna.

Muirgheal has as much a connection to water as I have, but perhaps slightly different. I think he may be more of the Father, the Lord of the Dark Depths than of my life-giving Mistress.
His … her … its abilities are impressive. Its demeanor, however, worries me. It seems bent on converting people and to exterminate the faithless. Such a stark stance does not suit me or my Mistress. Certainly not when the weather is so pleasant and the lands so alive.
This will take some getting used to. Muirgheal and I will have to learn from each other. It tends to communicate in verses, bits of song or ribald. These are very cryptic, however, and so far its efforts have failed to make much sense to me.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon preparing for the evening’s ceremony.

As supper was served much of the village had followed Bartosz back to the estate and a good crowd of servants and villagers had gathered for yet another feast in the estate. I mingled politely with the family of Bartosz.
After supper I took to the dais overlooking the courtyard and improvised a ritual setting. I performed a speech stressing the added value of Bartosz in his community and the value of cooperation within the community as a whole. Emrys accompanied the speech and especially the hymns with the lute, and his timing was impeccable and greatly enhanced the overall ceremony.

I called Bartosz to the dais and made him vow his loyalty to his community before his fellows and the Gods. Upon completion, I used holy water to rinse his head. In the corner of my eye I could make out that Luca had indeed made use of the climax of the ceremony to release the Orcs.

Sedna willing, they would have a good head start before their absence would be noted.


The hounds starting baying not long after and the bell was tolled. Confusion gripped the estate. Emrys and I looked after the crowd of villagers, while many of the servants locked themselves away in the buildings. The guardsmen hurriedly armed themselves and prepared to follow a seething Cpt. Mollen. I urged Bartosz to join the other guardsmen and to uphold his vows.

The escape of the Orcs had gone terribly wrong.

After some more confusion we all made our way out of the grounds and into the surrounding wilderness. We quickly came upon a stand-off. Cpt. Mollen was barking at the Orcs to put down their weapons, while the Orcs were standing on the bridge over the small stream. Efforts to calm Cpt. Mollen were futile, but a small group started to form a line between her and her crossbow-men, including Bartosz. I joined their ranks, but was uncertain of where this was all heading.

I didn’t quite follow what exactly happened there. All of a sudden Cpt. Mollen and one of her men fled. The others fired their bolts. Emrys in a stroke of genius used Toruviel to blast most of the bolts out of the way but one hit a mark … Bartosz. Only by the intercession of Sedna was he saved.

The Orcs, taking advantage of the confusion, and the confusion that followed, jumped of the bridge and escaped.

What a mess. The ritual was insufficient to let the Orcs escape without notice. Now the very lad I initiated was shot by a crossbow that I had strung in his stead that very afternoon. The grimmest of ironies.

Perhaps a fitting warning for my vanity?

When we returned to the estate we sought out Lord Markus. We all agreed that we should leave immediately. Markus arranged for the essentials and within a short while we were on our way in an open cart with two horses … and a 1000 gold pieces in a small chest.

Lord Markus bid us a farewell and good fortune … citing Mask as a parting shot.

Emma’s Speech at the Sheridan Estate in honor of Bartosz

Sisters and Brothers
Welcome to our worship
Today we celebrate the glorious return of our brother Bartosz
He returned from a journey into darkness, suffering great trials and hardships
He was forced to leave two of his brothers behind
They had gone beyond where he might have saved them
Beyond the veil
In the face of such hardships brother Bartosz showed great resolve and resilience. Because of his formidable fortitude he was able to return to us, and moreover, to become a better and stronger man.

We drink to his  youth, to days come and gone
For he lived through  darkness and strength he has won
We drove out the enemy and restore what we own
The waters of Sedna will flow into our home

Sisters and Brothers
There is but one thing I would hope to teach you this day
The Gods help those who help each other

The Gods lead by example
The beloved Earthmother brings us the seasons and feeds us with bountiful crops
But she does not do it alone
Without the nourishing waters of the Mistress of Streams, the crops cannot grow.
Only with the help of Sedna can the Earthmother’s crops grow and humanity feed.

Even us humans play our part
Every act of lovingly planting a seed and watering it to produce life and food is a minute act of worship to the Earthmother
And my Mistress, the Lady of the Lakes

We drink to his  youth, to days come and gone
For he lived through  darkness and strength he has won
We drove out the enemy and restore what we own
The waters of Sedna will flow into our home

The Gods help those who help each other

We all have our part in our communities. Some are farmers. Others are Lords. And there are so many in between.
Our responsibilities vary in weight perhaps, but they are shared none the less.
As we grow, mature, and experience our abilities change and so may well change our responsibilities.
That is why we often turn to our elders for wisdom, for example.

There is no denying that Bartosz’ recent experiences have left an indelible impression on him. He has changed rapidly. In many ways he is not the same man that went into the tunnels some days ago.
No, he has become much more than that man.
His brothers and sisters will find comfort in his presence in times of peril, and he will naturally assume the mantel of leadership to protect his brothers and sisters from harm.
If not in blood, then certainly he is gaining a nobility in spirit that will become a bulwark of confidence and security in his community.

Bartosz, come forward

Please prostrate yourself before the gods and repeat after me

I Bartosz
Solemnly swear
With the Gods as my witness
That I’m bound to my brothers and sisters
In both body and spirit
If they grieve, I grieve
If they suffer, I suffer
Whatever they feel, I feel
As long as my arms bear strength
As long as my eyes still have light
I will protect them from harm
And ward off the agents of evil
So that we may feel and live
In peace, joy, and happiness

Hear the solemn oath of this man and give him the strength to stay true!

All rise!

Brothers and Sisters of Bartosz and the Estate.
Say ‘Aye’ if you bore witness today to the oath proclaimed here before the Gods.

Bartosz, let me wash away the old and welcome the new with the Holy Water of Sedna.

Emma, Session 7

5th day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

Turns out I lost track of the days properly in the accursed tunnels. I thought we were still on the 4th day, but I was mistaken.

The night’s pleasantries continued. As the night wore on and everyone had eaten their fill, people started to behave less and less formal. Astrid, Markus, and Brandomir were quick to engage in a drinking game. Luca departed for rest. Emrys was in his element at an event like this. But he also managed to strike up more personal conversation with Lord Johnathan, as well as Dame Julie. I approached Sir Benten.
I thanked Sir Benten for lending me the amulet but he assured me that I could keep it and explained to me how it works, should the amulet choose to be mine that is. He explained that ‘transmutation magic’ allows the owner of the amulet to change its properties somewhat. Each of the properties offer a degree of protection to the wearer. The owner can change the properties of the amulet, but it would function on any wearer.
It can provide the ability to see in the dark. It can increase one’s fleetness on foot. It can make one’s body resistant to many forms of elemental harm. And finally. it can improve the fortitude of one’s physical form. The latter property is what it is currently offering.

Not only did Sir Benten and I discuss the amulet, we also discussed the situation with Korath and his comrades. Sir Benten advised us to make haste, since the situation can only deteriorate. He also warned that Lord Johnathan would have no quarrel to choose his own reputation over the lives of a few savages. It seems that Lord Johnathan will be difficult to commit to the fate of the Orcs. I hope Emrys has more luck with the Knights.

Initially I planned to stay the night at the stables as a token of solidarity to our orcish guests and so to stay their hands from acting foolish and impatiently. Cpt. Mollen convinced me otherwise when I discussed the matter with her. She suggested that, were a human woman to spend the night in a barn full of orcs, the people of the estate might assume terrible things and act accordingly. I warned Cpt. Mollen that I feared that the Orcs would not long tolerate being penned up in the stables and that I only wished to calm their spirits.
Instead of spending the night in the stables, I merely visited and talked to Korath a short while. I did a terrible job at comforting him. The language barrier and my own troubles over the whole ordeal made me falter. I think the Orcs trust me still, but are not convinced I will be able to come with a solution that will be to their liking.

I also visited James, who was kept under guard, but was still unconscious. When I discussed the matter with Sir Benten he couldn’t tell me what was wrong with him, but assured me that the unfortunate soul would be well cared for. I examined the unfortunate scoundrel but failed to find anything that could indicate what ails him exactly. He is in Sir Benten’s hands.

I rested my body with a worried heart.

6th day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

In the morning Emrys and I seated ourselves in the debris of yesterday’s party in the courtyard and acquired some food and drink. Astrid joined us a little later. Meanwhile Luca was evidently sizing up the place for unsavory business. Emrys hailed him and urged him to join us.
It was quickly made apparent that Luca has his own plans with the Orcs. He wants to help them escape and equip them, so that they might have a fighting chance. He seems unperturbed by the wider consequences of the proposed action. He simply aims to fulfill the wishes of the Orcs: ‘Korsh-O’-Ghar … be free or be dead.
It’s a simple solution to the predicament we are in, and Lord Johnathan might well be happy to be released of the predicament. But what will stop the Orcs from killing Lyrians once they are roaming these lands? How quickly will they be hunted and murdered? I see only misery on this path.

Unfortunately my own efforts as well as those of Emrys indicate that finding a more peaceful solution to this predicament is out of reach. I fear that Luca’s solution is the best we have, however much it might be to my distaste.

Sedna guide me!

How far does my responsibility to these Orcs go? Any path they take from here will be wrought with danger. Perhaps allowing them to face that danger on their own terms is the best we can offer?

And what of the Lords Sheridan? Would it not be a breach of the sacred bonds of hospitality to allow these Orcs to escape? Surely smuggling arms to them inside the Sheridan Estate would be! I cannot partake in that.
I don’t object to leaving them some equipment in the forest outside the Estate. They can have my javelin and fishing kit. They can also take the disgusting whip that I picked up in the tunnels.

We agreed that we might well make haste and seek an audience with the Lords to accept the mission to find Lord Destin. Once we leave we will head off the trail to set up supplies for the Orcs and somehow signal them to make their escape. And then it’s up to them.

We hastily agreed that we would accept 1000 golden crowns each as a reward for returning Lord Destin, as well as a 1000 golden crowns in spending money for the journey. Emrys bartered with Lord Johnathan and all was arranged. A carriage would be provided to take us on the path of Lord Destin.

Lord Destin’s endeavor seems to have been a fool’s errand. Luca told a tale of the most gruesome fancy about the Crimson Tower. I admit the world has become more gruesome over the last couple of days, but the story he told was well beyond that. The undertones of the story tastes of loss, regret, and desire to make amends. Much like my own irrepressible hope to recover the top I lost as a five year old girl. It had gone the way of the Crimson Tower and is lost forever.

Sir Bentan provided Luca with  pearl. Supposedly he needs it to prepare a spell that would allow him to better understand the items we have recovered from the tunnels.
I am connected to my trident in a way. A private way. Should I allow him to examine the trident?

Sedna guide me!

We are leaving soon.
It will all be happening now.

Sedna help us all …

Emma, Session 6

3rd day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, it is said. I might well agree. Sedna tested me and I think I passed the test. My heart is lighter and my body is pure again. I feel more … alive, more .. whole and wholesome. I have become stronger. And my connection to the Mistress has become deeper.

No longer the need to fear the Father or the Flame. So how did this come about? Let’s recall where we left off:

We have become a large group. Five Lyrian Knight. The five of us, including Marcus. Four Orcs. The Dwarven engineer Brandomir. The Sheridan guardsman Bartosz, and the unconscious James. We are still standing at the portal. A rip in the fabric of reality, if  I’m to believe Luca. He is starting to look worse for wear. Was he afflicted like I was by the foul albino? Whatever is the case, we need to get out of here. We are all tired, low on provisions, and without a clear plan of escape.

We quickly agree to head back to the room with the well, where we went toe-to-toe with the giant rat-beast. There we would rest before we would clear the collapse from the tunnel through which we initially entered that room. It’s perhaps not the most elegant plan, but it is the best we’ve got.
We also agreed that we should try and collapse this very room, the one with the portal. I tried to discuss the technical details with Brandomir, but his mind was clearly bent on using blasting powder. While I was talking with Brandomir, I noticed that the Orcs were shuffling uncomfortably. After a while I asked Korath what was on their mind, and he pointed us to a room where the gnomish rats had stockpiled their own blasting powder. Brandomir lamented the poor quality of the powder, but conceded that it would suffice to collapse the room.

I am a warden against the flame. Using fire to collapse the room felt unnatural to me so I preferred to try and use ice first. To achieve this I worked closely with Emrys. While I called upon Sedna to produce a good amount of water in a particularly unstable looking fissure in the ceiling, Emrys immediately used his magic to freeze it in place. The water expanded and worked like wedge to open the fissure.
The attempt was not a failure. Emrys and I managed to destabilize the fissure and to cause a large collapse. Unfortunately the collapse remained local and did not trigger the other parts of the ceiling to come down as well. It seems that Sedna is content to have Brandomir have his way.

Preparing the powder would take time. I asked Marcus to bring most of the knights and our gear to the room with the well so that they might organize a camp of sorts for us to rest in. The rest of us helped Luca and Brandomir to set up the powder. The powder seems to have peaked Luca’s interest.

All the while Sir Arman was standing guard and approached me. He asked me if I was willing to accept the blessings of the Platinum Lord to lift the ailment that was consuming me. I urged him to heal Luca instead but he proved unwilling to do so. He found my soul to be ‘pure and good’, suggesting that Luca’s is not. Very … interesting. I did not press the matter but rather surrendered to the mercy of the Lord of Light.
I can’t say it was a wholly pleasant experience, but the final result was a great relief. I feel so much lighter and cleaner now that the accursed affliction is gone. A much more pleasant tiredness washes over me. Sedna be praised!

When the powder was placed to the best of our ability Luca was granted the ‘honor’ of applying the fire. We evacuated the gallery and a short while later there was a succession of three low rumbling booms. The blasting-powder exploded violently and collapsed the room. Soon enough there was a cloud of dust and minor debris that washed over us. The filth of fire. It was successful however. The room with the portal is no more.

We retired to the room with the well and made ourselves as comfortable as we could after we shared some of our last food with the Orcs and the Knights. The Knights took turns to guard the remaining entrance to this room. I went to sleep, like most of us did.

4th day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

After what I assume might have been a night’s rest we wake up in the room with the well. The ‘night’ passed without incident. After breaking our fast Brandomir and the Orcs set to work on the collapse. Brandomir assures us that it will be a matter of a few hours. I chip in a few times, but I can hardly improve the efficiency with which the Orcs are handling the task.

Emrys strikes up a conversation with the Knights . The conversation quickly turns to the ‘Skaven’ and the fact that we have seemingly disabled the source of the threat. The Knights appear to be puzzled about the purpose of the gnomish rats. We filled them in. I was under the impression they were looking for a single specific artefact related to the Senhadrim. I was mistaken, it is about a dozens of artefacts.  Weapons all. We may well have recovered four of these.

Have I laid claim to an ancient artefact of the Father? Did Sedna guide my hand?

We talked some more about the Lyrian Knights and the Senhadrim. It seems that the Knights still teach a lot of lore regarding the time of the Conjunction, but that it is not necessarily wholly believed. The Knights appeared genuinely in awe about the nature of these tunnels, as well as the revelation that we uncovered mural depictions of the early Lyrian Knights and the Senhadrim.

We agreed with the Knights that we would do all we could to have the Orcs return safely to their homeland. There was some discussion about prejudices and about how these came about and are reinforced.
I can’t say that I am immune to such baser instincts. But when it comes to the Orcs I simply made a promise that I will try to honor to the best of my ability. They have been faithful to their promises to us, betraying them would bring dishonor to us all. It seems the Knights think along the same line.

One has to wonder, why do we call the Orcs savages? Is it their behavior we judge? Or is it because they inspire savageness in ourselves?

The passage was cleared without incident and we proceeded towards the exit, relying for a good part on the markers I had left. We paused at the room where we first encountered the gnomish rats and allowed the Knights to examine the murals. We then proceeded to the exit without incident.

When we were hoisted out of the well one by one each of us was given a warm, if not outright heroic welcome. The mood shifted dramatically when the Orcs appeared. The common folk were afraid. The nobles worried. This will not be easy to resolve, but resolve it we must. One way or another. For now we’ve quartered the Orcs in the stables.

James remained unconscious throughout. This is not normal. Should I investigate? Perhaps I should discuss the matter with Luca?

We returned to the Sheridan Estate somewhere in the early afternoon. We were invited to join the Lords for a feast in the mansion in the evening, leaving our afternoon free.
I desperately wanted to wash myself in the river Lynn and suggested that Luca do the same. I feel that I can rinse his body and release the affliction from it. With nothing better to do, Astrid and Emrys decided to join us.
We had a pleasant sunny walk down from the estate and my mood picked up rapidly in the open air and the warm glow of the sun, and more importantly, all the vibrant life around us. I started humming hymns of praise to Sedna. A few of the simpler ones I managed to retain from my ‘tenure’ at the Bains Lyriènnes. To my surprise the Senhadrim Trident started to resonate. Was it mimicking the hymns? Is the artefact tuning to my spirit? Praise Sedna!

Once at the river I quickly stripped down and went for a glorious swim. Emrys rested himself in the shadow of a tree, where he started to leisurely examine the slender Senhadrim sword. Astrid started chucking stones at things and otherwise tried to avoid boredom. Luca stood at the water’s edge … a little forlorn.
I urged him to strip down as well and to join me in the water. He is a weedy little man, and undressing here and now clearly made him uncomfortable. After some gentle coaxing form my side, and much less gentle coaxing from Astrid, Luca joined me in the river. I floated him in front of me and started to rinse every individual body part with a cloth, all the while reciting prayers begging Sedna to release the corruption from this one’s body.
I could feel it had worked. He was still a weedy man when I released him, but his complexion was slightly more vibrant, and his gait a little less cumbersome.

We lounged at the river’s edge for a little while, becoming a bit of an attraction for the local villagers. But then we had to retire to the Estate and join the Lords for their feast.

Back at the Estate we noticed that there was also a feast being prepared for the household servants. Luca and I went over to procure good food for the Orcs. This was met with some stern and disapproving looks, but we persisted and compelled the guards at the stables to let us in. Korath and his mates were most happy with the food.
The Orcs had been disarmed, but had improvised a number of weapons. I can understand. All the same, I urged Korath to try and hide the weapons and avoid any provocations. Korath is thankful and seems to trust me, but also warned that they will no longer be a prisoners. There is a limit to where we can keep them holed up here.

The feast was sumptuous. The kind reserved to the higher ranks at the Bains Lyriènnes, not us lowly acolytes. Then again, I’m not now an acolyte of that respectable establishment. No, I’m in the presence of Lyrian Knights and the Lords Sheridan.
I sat myself close to the dwarf to gauge the degree to which he was mourning the loss of his comrades. This was clearly not on his mind in any way. It made me regret less the fact that we passed by his fallen brother in the tunnels without informing him. I sat back in quiet enjoyment while the dwarf sucked up all the attention in the room with his loutish behavior.

The conversation turned serious. We discussed the matter of the Orcs and I pressed Lord Jonathan that it is important to me that they are treated fairly and that every attempt should be made for them to be allowed to return to Kaedwyn. I would consider fulfilled the promise made by Lord Markus to ‘assist in one’s personal ambitions’.
Lord Jonathan was hesitant to commit, since he saw many difficulties with the task. Eventually this line in the conversation bled dry without much being resolved. We will have to return to this topic at some point. Let’s hear what my companions think.

Lord Jonathan then proposed another task. He wants us to find his middle brother, the mage: Lord Destin Sheridan. He hasn’t been heard from in several weeks. He was in the Silverpine Hills near a few small villages chasing a legend: The Crimson Tower. I noticed Luca’s interest being peaked. All I seem to recall is that it was located on a lake, but I don’t recall any details. Isn’t it just an expression: ‘Sank (in the lake) like the Crimson Tower’ meaning that something was dropped in the water an now lost forever?
At any rate, the Sheridans want their brother home in light of the recent events near the estate. They want to send some people they can trust, but not any of their guardsmen. I’m honored that they would trust us so. We have things to discuss.

Emma, Session 5

3rd day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

When the noxious fumes had cleared and Lord Markus’ injuries been seen to, we could come to terms with the carnage before us. Lord Markus was quick to find a trail of blood. It appears that we have injured the albino sufficiently for it to leave a trail. Luca and I were particularly eager to follow that trail.
We followed the trail of blood and found a large dark puddle of it at a crossroads. This creature is certainly dying. We kept on the trail.
We found the wretch in a larger room. This one was lit by torchlight from several sconces. The room was spacious and high-ceilinged and was divided into three aisles by two rows of columns. In the center of the room stood a bench of sorts made out of a distinctly different stone. Not the regular slate-like stone, but more like a hard limestone or even marble. Against this bench, the wretched albino was struggling.
Luca and I approached the creature while Lord Markus and Astrid secured our perimeter. Emrys guarded our rear. We disarmed it and I asked Luca to converse with it if able.

The exchange started slowly with the albino showing signs of resistance. I noticed that Luca issued a supernatural or spiritual command and much to its own shock and surprise, the albino complied with a gushing of guttural noises and hisses. I later found out that it revealed that it was seeking the Artifact, the Prison of the Sorcerers, the 144 Senhadrim. And that these gnomish rats refer to themselves as the Skaven.

Then the exchange takes a turn.

While Luca seemed to want to coax the creature to reveal even more, the creature resumed resisting and at some point even seemed to mock Luca. Without warning Luca strikes and kills the albino with one of those dreadful burst of energy he produces.

Neither Lord Markus nor I are fully convinced this was strictly necessary. Though Luca claims that he would not have been able to extract more from the creature. I fear that Luca has shown a significant weakness of spirit and was compelled by pride to act rashly and perhaps even wickedly.

This one keeps confusing me.

Just before we wanted to further explore the room we heard the rolling of metal on stone behind us. A cylinder of sorts, perhaps a barrel, rolled into the opening and exploding in a burst of fire and smoke. The entrance from which we had entered this room then collapsed!
We all automatically looked across the room to our one remaining exit. From there emerged a huge misshapen figure. A true abomination. An unholy marriage of flesh and metal. The body was that of a giant, but the head that of an overgrown rat. One of its arms was replaced for a large part with a crude and vicious looking blade. It was wearing a harness of sorts, which secured some kind of saddle on its back. In that saddle was seated a creature that looked like the gnomish rat we had found in the strange room and which we had tentatively called a taskmaster. This one was urging the brutish one forward with the crack of his whip.

I was ready. From behind the bench, I urged the others to concentrate on the rider and marked it for death with a guiding bolt. Lord Markus and Astrid positioned themselves on our flanks, while Emrys and Luca also attacked the rider. Emrys propelled the albino’s scythe at it to great effect, while Luca let fly another of his sickening bursts of energy.
The brute went for Astrid, Lord Markus then came into its rear. A little later I took position at Astrid’s side and tried to help as best I could. I have no illusions about my effectiveness, but I was keen to help and to keep urging the others forward. Lord Markus put an end to the rider, but was then distracted by new arrivals of gnomish rats. When the rider fell, a foul vapor emanated from the brute’s torso that singed my lungs rather badly.
While Lord Markus fended off the new arrival, Emrys and Luca had their hands full with two more arrivals. Meanwhile, Astrid and I barely held our own, and I had to ask for Sedna’s intercession to prevent Astrid from falling to its fierce attacks. But when the new arrivals were dealt with and we could concentrate our efforts on the brute, the brute was quick to fall.
When it fell, it burst open and exploded into a mist of the same foul, burning vapor. Again, I felt my lungs heave with flames and agony.

The struggle was brief but intense. We were all thoroughly exhausted and could barely remain standing. Emrys first hoped to capitalize on the burst of adrenaline  from the skirmish, but was also compelled by his body to rest. Although he did quite usefully create a sheet of ice in front of our one remaining exit. We rested, amid the carnage.

After about an hour we had regained some of our strength and started examining the bodies and the strange bench. I took the whip. I don’t like this thing, but it might be useful if we ever encounter another one of these brutes. It seemed trained by the whip, so perhaps it can be coaxed away from us in the same way.

I examined the bench, especially the hole it had in its center and from which I could hear and smell water. I replenished my water-supply.

We also found some more relief-sculpture on the columns here. The theme was not warlike, but seemed to be communal in nature, perhaps even worshipful. The central theme appeared to be around creating a sanctuary safe from the daemonic horrors that besieged our ancestors.

Luca became increasingly impatient and was itching to continue. We acquiesced.

We continued for a while into a tunnel that was decidedly sloping downwards, until we found another intersection. We could hear a rushing noise, almost like a receding wave some distance to the right and decided to investigate.
The tunnel ultimately opened into a circular gallery of which only a part of the full circuit survives. The gallery overlooks a lower level with a lot of rubble and collapsed material. One partially surviving staircase offers access to the lower floor.
In the middle of the lower floor stood a peculiar phenomenon. A disc-shaped flat surface of utter darkness surrounded by a halo of bluish-white electrostatic energy. From it, or rather towards it, there seemed to emanate a perpetual rushing of air or water, much like a receding wave. Only continual. Around this phenomenon are numerous crystalline accretions. Are these stones warped by the unholy energy of this … whatever it is?
Around the thing are numerous crates, barrels and other supplies. We then noticed a group of these gnomish rats, again with an albino horned one as their leader. They were leading captives and carrying boxes. When they notices us they were startled and one by one, jumped into the blackness. Is this a portal then?

I wanted to descend immediately to help the captives. The others were quick to follow. We found a dwarf, a human, four orcs, and James. Each one was bound and gagged. Only James was unconscious.
While the rest of us bothered with the captives, Luca was far more interested in the portal and starting investigating it and experimenting with it. When Emrys tried to scold him for not participating, Luca responded with venomous remarks. Lord Markus then scolded Luca for misbehavior. In the end we settled for letting Luca continue while we busied ourselves with the captives. The human turned out to be missing guardsman called Bartosz and the dwarf was one of the engineers that had gone missing and is a named Brandomir.
The orcs were of impressive size but nonetheless feared for their lives. I tried to calm them and simply asked if we could expect harm from them. The one that spoke halting common said we couldn’t, so I removed his restrains and lent him my knife to release the others. Their names are Korath, Kadan, Summi, and Garr, where Korath is the only one to know some common speech.

The orcs were very surprised and wary but were thankful enough to answer some questions. From the captives we learned that the rat-folk used the orcs as slaves for hard labor. Especially tunneling. And that the rats are looking for artefacts. The orcs come from beyond Lyria and came here by taking two portals. The first when they were abducted from their homeland, the second one brought them here. The land from which these portals originate is supposedly inhabited by these gnomish rats and by daemons. It also seems that the gnomish rats have limited control over how and where their portals will open up.

Just when we were finished talking the Lyrian Knights appeared from another corridor on the gallery. Five of them. Their leader wears a gilded plate armor with bright blue inlays and is called Sir Arman de Courtenay. Then there are two with gilded armor and who carry swords and shields, these are named Sir David Longstrider and Lady Julie Lewisham. Then there are two with silvered armor and who carry halberds, these are named Sir Guillaume de Sansegal and Lady Madeline of Ashenvale. After the pleasantries they joined us on the lower floor.

After some discussion it was decided that we needed to band together. We have also convinced the orcs to join us. I hope that they will help us and that we may find a way for them to return to their homeland. The knights have been wandering the tunnels for a few days now and are uncertain about the way back out and are hoping that we might know the way. Unfortunately, the way we came in has become blocked.

Regarding the portal we have come to agreement to try and collapse the room in which it stands, with the hope of closing it. Brandomir was enthusiastic about this plan but said he would require his blasting powder. I suggested that we might start the collapse by freezing water in certain cracks and fissures. Brandomir was less enthusiastic but said that this might be possible, provided we could get the water to freeze in awkward places in the ceiling. With the blessings of Sedna, and some help from Emrys, I’m sure we can manage just that.

We also opened the chests that the gnomish rats were smuggling out of the tunnels. These were a veritable treasure trove. They included a pot of gold coins and a pot of rubies. An elven-made slender sword. A set of simple but elegant shorter blades. A staff with obsidian chips and a disturbing gem at its tip, a gem that almost seems to be a diorama of the heavens by night. Finally, there was a trident with maritime markings. Luca informed us that these items were magical but potentially not stable. I laid claim to the trident.

We are poised to leave.

James is still unconscious. Korath explained that the ‘sneak-thief’ had tried to steal away the shorter blades but was captured by the gnomish-rats. I’m glad to see that he survived and that his recklessness was not punished more harshly. I am impressed by his ability to remain undetected for so long. The gnomish rats had only captured him a few hours earlier. I’m glad he will be spared from slavery. We will have to see what becomes of him now.

Emma, Session 4

3rd day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262

I wake up to the sound of the muffled gruff voice of Cpt. Mollen issuing commands to her troops. Someone has gone missing and ‘he can’t have gotten far.’
I was immediately interested to find out more but then reality kicked back in. My thoughts are still muddled, my movements slow and inaccurate. I am still horribly ill. So I started checking my injuries and cleaning them.

A short while later Cpt. Mollen checked up on me, ostensibly to make certain I was still where they had left me. I asked if I was permitted to leave the stables. Permission was granted to join the other at breakfast.

Before I could leave for breakfast Luca came to visit me. He was very interested in my injuries and the amulet that I was wearing. At the same time he was hesitant to be near me and had his mouth covered with some fragrant cloth.
He examined my wound and appeared genuinely interested in my well-being. At the same time it became apparent that he is poorly practiced and most of his knowledge is ‘book-knowledge’.

Astrid and Emrys were at the breakfast-table, where Emrys had positioned himself at the center of attention. Knowing full well that servants tend to be poor custodians of secrets, especially amongst themselves, I fully expected my affliction to have become common knowledge by now. Accordingly, I was prevented from accepting the chair Emrys was generously offering me. Instead I sat down at the more shady end of the breakfast-table, keeping a polite distance from most others. Astrid quickly joined Luca and me, and Emrys joined us a short while later.

While breaking our fast we tried to discuss what would happen next and where James could be. Rumor was that he had descended into the waterways on his own in the dead of night. About our expectations we found it difficult to come to solid conclusions, despite Emrys’ best efforts to steer the conversation towards a productive end. I reckon we have too few facts to work with at this point.

With the departure of James we have lost a skilled scout. To me it seems foolish to go into those accursed vaulted tunnels on one’s own. I admire his confidence in his own abilities if indeed he went down there. At the same time, in the stories, the Gods tend to be rather unforgiving to those too confident in their own abilities. I pray we shall not find proof of James’ mortality when we are to descend into those vaulted tunnels again.

After breakfast we were summoned to meet the Lords. Lord Jonathan was absent and we were dealing once more with Lord Markus, with Sir Benten bearing witness to the proceedings, literally it turned out.
He offered us a new task: to find the contraption or creature responsible for the tunneling and to disable it if possible. To me this seemed foolishly dangerous, but I am committed to restoring the aqueduct in service to Sedna.

The discussion about the proper reward became awkward rather quickly. Luca made demands that were unacceptable: unrestricted access to the Sheridan libraries. Emrys’ request seemed naively impractical: history forgotten by even the elves.
I tried to find out what amount of golden crowns would secure immediate treatment at the Temple of Pholtus for an affliction such as mine, so that I could ask such a sum in crowns as reward. Lord Markus cut me off and said that I needn’t worry about that and that he would see to it when needed. Missing the point somewhat.
Astrid simply stated that she would take 200 golden crowns. I was happy to take the same amount. Finally Lord Markus pledged 200 crowns to each of us and to assist us in our ‘personal ambitions’ afterwards.

Lord Markus then asked us to whom the reward needed to be sent should we perish. I stated that Dagmaer of the Sacred Baths of Sedna should receive my reward. To my surprise Luca named the same beneficiary, but then immediately made it clear that he found the proceedings pointless, since he was planning to return alive at any rate.

This one confuses me.

Lord Markus was happy to provide any material assistance for the new mission. He also pledged to commit reinforcements, which he planned to provide personally. His willingness to join the mission himself inspires great confidence.

We departed at midday. Before our departure I meditated and prayed to the Mistress. Emrys kindly helped me fix the damages to my gear.

Our travel up to the burrowed tunnel that diverts the aqueduct was uneventful. None of the dwarven tools appeared to be missing, including the jars of powder. We spent some time there to allow Lord Markus to observe and for me to enjoy the stream. Lord Markus noted that the ‘claw-marks’ we had noted earlier were in fact tool-marks of rather large and crude tools.

After entering the waterways we decided to go back to the place where we initially encountered the first group of gnomish rats. The markings were all still in place and with Astrid and Luca taking point we found our way easily enough.
The bodies were still there and we spent some time investigating the room. Lord Markus investigated the corpses and Emrys conjured up a very realistic image of the Albino. All of a sudden we all noticed that this one had horns! I asked Emrys if he was making it more fearsome and fancy, but he seemed as much surprised as the rest of us and sincere.

A short while later we discovered that the pillars in this large hall bore relief sculpture, though much worn. We cleared a patch of it and uncovered a battle-scene between foul-looking horned creatures and human looking characters. There was agreement that this depicted a battle between a throng of demons and human warriors or knights.

I attempted to discern the location where we might expect a more impressive relief and decided upon the middle pillar of one of the rows. My attempt at cleaning away the moss was clumsy and ineffective and did more harm than good; much to the chagrin of Luca. Astrid then proceeded to use oil and fire to clear away a large swathe of moss.
Emrys seemed to understand much of what was depicted on the scene. Personally, I suffered from a bout of nausea at the time and by brain failed to retain much of what was explained. From what I did pick up there was a column of human mages in this scene as well as the first Lyrian knights. I also picked up the phrase Senhadrim, or something of that ilk. This place might well date back to the ‘Time of Fear’. As I said, not an awful lot of it made sense to me at the time.

After our discoveries we decided to press on. Luca berated me for using a hammer and chisel to leave markings. It was too loud and he didn’t want me to deface the ancient stone surfaces. After providing me with charcoal, I was happy enough to leave markings by scraping away some moss and then using the charcoal for the mark.

We seemed to wander rather aimlessly But then we happened upon a burrowed tunnel. The tunnel was not particularly long and ended into a rectangular room. In the room we found the mangled remains of one gnomish rat. A crude scimitar and a nasty whip lay by its side. This one appears to be a taskmaster. Its leathers were rather peculiar, and seemed to be made from the hide of some unknown creature.
The room itself was also perplexing. Who builds a room without entrances?! Judging by the discolorations of the mosses on the walls and floors, it appears that numerous objects that had been resting here had been hauled off. We were unable to make much sense of all of it.

When we continued our way, we heard the din of battle at some distance. We agreed to proceed towards it, but carefully. All of a sudden we happened upon a group of rat-folk, including the Albino. They appeared as much shocked to find us as we were them.

A brutal struggle ensued during which  Lord Markus and Astrid tore through their ranks at an alarming speed. Meanwhile, Luca and I concentrated on striking the Albino. After we had struck it severely it made another escape, leaving us in a cloud of foul noxious fumes.

It escaped once again.

Lord Markus had taken quite a few blows so I spilled some water on his wounds to close them and heal him.