Previously, the heroes had listened to a lecture from Falka on Epidemius, and they were getting ready to oppose the fiend when he would arrive at Kingsport next. They prepared several visits, and Neamhan flew to the Seat of Friendship in order to ask the druids that guarded the place for help.
Second Day, Second Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262
(Silvermoon is in high sanction, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waning)
Olafur the friendly custodian of the Circle of Magi lead Luca and Emrys up the broad winding stairs at the rear of the lavishly carpeted lobby and into the tower where Réonan had their private quarters. They passed many interesting banners, tapestries, and statues, until they arrived at the top of the tower and walked along the jetty. It had large windows, looking out over the city, and were lined with many curiosities. The interior of the tower was like a museum, and at its centre stood the great statue of Prayanti, the Guardian of the Scarab Temple of the Great Sand Sea of Noth. Olafur beseeched the statue entrance and the room turned – or did the tower turn around the room – to reveal the entrance to Réonan’s quarters.
After some conversation with Réonan it became clear that the head archmage of the Circle was sceptical about confronting Epidemius, but was prepared to support the endeavours of the heroes. They had already spoken to the crownsguard about ways in which the citizenry of Kingsport should be protected, and were willing to attend the confrontation together with the heroes. Réonan tried to temper Luca and Emrys’ expectations of what they could do. Furthermore, Réonan was unwilling to commit any other support, like students, alumni, or professors from the Circle. To signify their commitment, Réonan slipped a ring from their finger and gave it to the heroes. Luca and Emrys recognised it as the ring which would allow them to communicate with Réonan at some great distance.
Before their departure, Réonan expressed an interest in the support the heroes were gathering, and told Luca that they noticed that the presence of Aurion was missing from around him, though they did not mention it in such explicit terms. It was something that Luca was working on rectifying.
Back at the Wanderer Quentin finished penning the letter he intended to send to his father. It had taken him some time to find the right words to convey both the urgency of the situation as well as the opportunity which lay before them. Quentin turned to Chakuq, who had returned from scouting out Steward’s Square, and asked the hunter whether he would join him for a trip to Forgewright Arms. Quentin needed a steel ring forged, and Chakuq, he reasoned, could ask after silvered weapons. Astrid, who had been bored, decided to join them for a walk.
When they arrived at the smithy they found Kargath at the forge while two men, clad in leather aprons, worked the bellows as Dagran looked on. Chakuq was captivated by the process of smelting and forging, while Quentin spoke to Dagran and asked him to forge a steel ring. The smith seemed to understand what a letter bound by a steel ring implied in Beauclair and was concerned. He dismissed the two men working the bellows, suggesting they enjoy an early supper.
Inviting the heroes inside to talk, Dagran asked whether Quentin knew what he was doing sending out a steel ring. Quentin replied that he hoped that he did, but that certainty was for the dead. Dagran let it rest when Quentin explained that the heroes were looking for aid in their opposition to Epidemius. He then turned his attention to Chakuq who had still been marvelling at all the metalworks. After a short conversation Chakuq negotiated for a dagger to be forged with silvered metal, and to have silver-tipped arrowheads created. The price was well within Chakuq’s budget, but Quentin tried to pay for it well over the asking price, which Chakuq thought was odd. In the end, Chakuq insisted in paying for his own tools.
“Certainty is for the dead.”
Lord Quentin Morvrayne, Grave Knight to the Raven Queen
On the way back to the Careless Wanderer, Quentin, Chakuq, and Astrid were reunited with Luca and Emrys who were returning from the Circle of Magi. On Steward’s Square the group bumped into Vydia and her servant Darla, who had been standing near the place where Epidemius would reappear in two days time. She wanted to speak to Quentin about a pair of dreams she has had about him, which seemed in her estimation to be oracular ones. Quentin invited her to the Careless Wanderer to get out of the cold and have a place to talk.
Quentin and Vydia took a seat at a far table in order to have some privacy. Vydia explained she had two dreams. The first was of a letter, bound by steel, penned in Quentin’s hand and sent under his seal. She had seen a rider on a golden horse, carrying that letter. She saw armoured riders, carrying spears tipped with silver, following a black raven with white feathers on its wing. In the second dream, she explained, she saw the riders charge down a beast she dare not describe, and hooves thundering down on cobbled stones. She remembered seeing people with dark hoods and darker intentions, with wicked prayers on their lips and in their hearts, holding daggers made from the teeth of a great beast. She saw wagons on fire, blood in the snow, and people fighting. And finally a swan bursting forth from one of the wagons, its wings aflame, carrying a burning flower in its beak.
Quentin grew frustrated as he realised that sending the letter would have dire consequences, and his inability to discern which option would lead to the best outcome. He slammed the letter down on the table in anger, but the anger died down shortly after. Vydia had no answers for him, but hoped that Quentin would be able to interpret the dreams and divine some meaning from them.
Before Vydia departed, she mentioned that she was still working on the petrified rose and the miniature galleon. She was confident that the petrified rose belonged to the Lady Without Ending, but needed more time with it. The galleon had frustrated her; she kept being shown visions of a man chained to the rocks in the middle of a stormy bay, shouting threats at her. This sparked recognition in some, as that was also close to the interaction they had with the spirit inside of Muirgheal, the Senhadrim trident that was in Emma’s possession.
It was around that time that Neamhan returned from the Seat of Friendship. She quickly caught everyone up on her meeting with the druids and the conversation she had with Gheolgothis. She was happy to report that the druids were open to Neamhan using the Seat of Friendship as a place of power to retry performing the ritual to deliver Quentin from the influence of the Sisters of the Grove.
Quentin shared what he had learned from Vydia, and Neamhan insisted that she be the one to deliver the message to the delegation. They were two days away, but she could make it back before the dawn. Quentin was hard to convince, but eventually relented, under the condition that Neamhan wouldn’t travel, or deliver the message, in the guise of a raven.
While the heroes were enjoying dinner, Céleste came into the tavern with two porters. She engaged Durham in conversation and eventually bought and took away a surplus of wine. It was loaded into a cart outside and taken away. Chakuq shared a story about a hunt he was part of and the tactics they used to separate the bulls from the herd. He thought it relevant, because if they could separate Epidemius from his forces, then the heroes could confront Epidemius without putting their support at risk.
When Falka finally returned from the Tomb of St. Catherine, where she had spoken to Jan, Neamhan immediately wanted to know whether she was released from the risk of persecution. She said that it was more complicated than that; she had spoken to Jan, who had been suffering from having his mangled arm amputated, and arranged for a stay of persecution until after the problem of Epidemius had been dealt with.
Jan, Falka continued, had been vaulted into a role of some importance with the custodians, and as such was in a position to help resolve the problem for Neamhan. But he was having doubts about the role, about his worthiness, and was suffering from illness as a result of his injuries and the amputation. Falka also explained that Jan claimed to hear a compelling voice and seeing wisps of black smoke at the edges of his vision, which to her indicated that the man was definitely troubled.
When Neamhan decided to take the letter and fly west, Luca decided to head to the Tomb of St. Catherine in order to speak to Jan himself. He found Jan at the alter of a private chapel, singing a song of lament in praise to St. Catherine. The chapel was warm and filled with the sweet smell of incense. A thousand candles were lit all across the room, and behind a wooden screen Luca saw a woman kneeling, lost in feverish prayer. Luca sat down next to Jan and suggested it would be a good idea for them to talk.