Realms of Myth

Alas, poor Lady Dacre. I knew her through magick, Amherst.

log 2014-08-02 smoke and mirrors 12

Taking the ferry across the Dansis, the fog consumed them and there was the tinkling of little bells. The ferry master spoke of ships becoming lost in the fog. Then Lady Eva appeared by the side of the ship riding a horse. The party was spellbound, so Thal greeted her and she explained that Digby was stuck between worlds because of the Hand of Saint Wembly remaining there and asked the party to retreive it.

With great reservations the party agreed, Lady Eva guided the ferry to the docks by the Chapel of the Light at Digby. The relic was easily found, and there was no sign of the priest. Fearing for their lives the party returned to the ship. Lady Eva rewarded Lucien with a blue lantern granting welcome at Digby and Thal with a Moon Lotus from the Bay of Digby which he carefully wrapped in burlap sacks.

The ferry brought the party to the far shore of the Dansis as the fog cleared. Cael found that bearing the relic of Saint Wembly caused him to take on great energy that magnified his aura and caused him to glow with visible spiritual light, and this troubled him. He and others in the party argued about the nature of this gift. Only after much time in prayer did he decide that this relic came to him and should be wielded by him for the sake of the Light.

Together the group traveled to Castle Maralad with pleasant weather and no interruption. On the evening of the first day of travel, Thal attempted to use the Moon Lotus to help cloak the party with anonymity, but despite channeling extra energy from the magick flower into his great effort, he failed. Trying again using only his own power the party was cloaked by a charm of anonymity for their exploits to come in Maralad.

They traveled forward with Lord Amherst the next day, Lord Amherst the only one with no charm providing anonymity, leading the way which he knew well. Maralad was found to be without most staff or even the master of the house. Through Lord Amherst the party gained lodging above the main hall. At dinner by mischief and distraction the skull of Lady Dacre was identified by Thal’s magick and fetched by Arthur. Upstairs after dinner Thal brought forward the spirit of Lady Dacre, much to the distress of Lord Amherst who struggled to watch as she was asked her name and knowledge of Lucien. When she said that Lucien was brought here in servant clothes and hid among the servants “Lucien”, whom Thal knew to be Lucien’s valet Cawdry, was overcome by emotion and led the party to the kitchens. There he identified Lord Lucien Dacre and had him brought from the kitchens to the chambers above the main hall where the party were lodged. There were attempts to explain, but emotions left everyone with a different story of what was true.

Thal put a charm of anonymity on two candles which were used to replace the skulls of Lady Dacre and the other from the fireplace in the great hall of Maralad. In the company of the other skulls committed to the protection of the house in the ancient fashion of the pagans, it was sure that they would be perceived as the missing skulls. Then Thal used magicks to find in the grotesque mire of the kennels the hound-knawed bones of Lord and Lady Dacre. Once retrieved, the party made their way from Maralad with the skulls and bones of the fallen and spoke amongst themselves of the revelations of the continuation of the House of Dacre. Together they made their way toward Lambeth in pursuit of justice against Earl Arnold and Earl Rustin for their terrible crimes against the Crown and the Light.

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Please let me introduce Lord Lucien, of house Dacre
Hi, I'm Cawdry

Crossing the Dansus, the river mist came up and surrounded us … and then … there were bells in the muffled air.

And Lady Eva, first Contessa of Fisher, sworn enemy to the brigand Earl Rustin who now occupied that seat, rode across the surface of the waters up to the ferry on her fine mare, silver bells tinkling on her bridle. It was going to be a day like that.

It seems with the hand of St. Wembley stuck in the Chapel on Digby beside the wizard’s tower of the Terra Tacita (sic), the island was unable to fully come over into Lady Eva’s demesne in Fairy. So if we could kindly wrinkle across time and space and remove that troublesome sliver of Light, she would be ever so grateful. Or, well, you get the gist.

Cael was full of well-meaning but politically difficult concerns. Eventually, we all agreed and calmed the ferryman into driving on (and Ogham eventually ‘calming’ him right into terror-inspired unconsciousness, but there’s dwarfish even-handedness for you).

We were at the marble steps of the Chapel. The rector, old Warwick, was nowhere to be found. Just the empty church and the relic, glowing. And Cael glowing, too, when he touched it, limned in an electric blue aura of the Light.

We made it back just as Lady Eva promised – without any time gone by. The ferryman was so terrified, he left the exorbitant fee where it sat – at least until we were off down the docks.

We all went to the sailor’s chapel (with the reliquary!), and the humans prayed. I lasted the least. Cael went in to do his own soul-searching regarding the relic. Arthur remained at the reliquary deep in his own personal conversation with the Light. With Ogham and Thal to guard them and the relic, I took the temperature of the town. All seemed well, and the only concerns were the fires, and the murders in Fallond. In other words: the trouble we’ve been party to. The work of Penwyth.

We made it to Maralad to find its accoutrement sparse and testy. The man who had hired our assassins was in jail – presumably as some kind of political maneuver by Penwyth. The Lord’s slimy advisor, a soulless brother, welcomed us and perhaps saw something amiss, but hidden as we were by Thal’s remarkable glamour of innocuity, we were overlooked.

We secured Lady Dacre’s skull. We verified it was her and that it had been enchanted by Pagan power as a Screaming Skull. When Thal (again, indispensibly!) summoned forth her spirit, Lord Amherst was convinced of all we’d said.

Quickly, I asked the Lady where the one we sought was, how she had not known he was here. “He was brought here among the servants, and has hidden among them.”

We raced to the kitchens.

And there I found you. At last, after wading through this tide of filth, madness, and the most unexpected aid.

We took you upstairs, Lucien. I broke Thal’s charm.

I don’t know what I expected at that moment. But something did lift from me. I felt sad, as well. And afraid for you. At last, I, Cawdry, had found you, Lucien. I could give you back your mother’s signet ring, and at long last, now that I had finally come face to face with Lady Dacre, I could let go her geas, which she’d placed in my heart as surely as she placed your clothes on my back. “Until we meet again, you are Lucien Dacre, my son.”

I knew she had meant for me to go out into the fighting in the courtyard, under the cherry trees in the garden, to fight, and to die. I expected that. I was willing. But then came the unexpected aid of Master Sharp and his men and I lived. The Light must have great fondness for the Lady and for Dacre for such unlikeliness as what has happened to have happened.

Then, we stole Lord Dacre’s head. Ogham’s indispensible Thurible of Disenchantment freed them from their bindings to Castle Maralad. We gathered their bones from the kennels (how long has Penwyth fed his enemies to the dogs!!!!!?).

We fled to this little town. We gathered Ogham’s things on a quick 2-day ride.

Then we came here, to Lambeth, to present our evidence to the King and the Queen. Ogham for his own business on behalf of or for Shanria and the dwarfs.

“Yes, Lucien, that’s the whole story.” And the 3rd time through.

“How does Lucinda figure into it?”

“But, I – that’s the entire point of … All right, let me summarize….”

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Expedient burial of the fallen on Digby

This is an event that got mentioned but not played out or logged. The time frame for this would include the adventures from Smoke and Mirrors 5 and 6 which were played on 4/12 at Shared in San Francisco and 4/26 at Pol’s in Oakland.

Baleful wind whistled on the jagged rocks of the coast of Digby and pushed chilling fog through the town as Thaliñiarion (Thal) attended the bodies of Ellasavalensar (Ellasar) and his great dog Margle where they had been struck down in the street by soldiers. The surrounding crowd dispersed after the fighting was over. Only an odd pair of curious townsfolk watched as Thal wrapped Ellasar and his dog in tarps, their blood and warmth still draining away. With help from the others the corpses were dragged back to the ship to be stored until convenient arrangements could be made.

Later, the wizards of the tower of Digby were ominously casual in their reaction to the need for an expedient burial. Two shallow graves were hastily dug in the rocky soil of Digby, not far from the tower and in sight of the chapel built atop the old Caldoran ruin. There the fallen party members were interred, sprinkled with earth, topped with heavy stones, and sealed in their graves with a brief ceremony graciously provided by the priest of the nearby little chapel of the Light. There was a moment of silence and Thal curtly declared the service over. He announced there would be a memorial gathering in the marshes of Rolluntinduil at a time to be determined later. At that event family and friends would celebrate the life of Ellasar which could have – and should have – been much longer, but shone brightly while its fire lasted. The party left Ellasar and Margle there on Digby buried in the rocky ground and under an ægis of fog.

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He who hesitates ...

Thomas Sharp would often say, “He who strikes first, often strikes last.”

Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way. In the desperate battle against assassins in the street, Thal almost paid the price for me to learn this lesson.

When lives are on the line, when confronted with evil, you cannot hesitate.

When I saw the villains in crimson, I knew that this was not the time to delay, to assess, or parley. It was time to do battle.

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Lost in a Sea of Strangers
My name is ... Lucinda?

I stood there waiting patiently, as I must, as the maids finished tying up the ribands that cinched the sides of the houpeland – my houpeland, they tell me – my shoulders burning with fatigue from holding my arms straight out so the wide angel-wing sleeves wouldn’t be so much in the way. They claimed to be MY maids, a signal honor sent to me by the grace of the Queen herself, but I had no recollection of them, nor of the Queen, either, and claimed that I had a household of several hundred servants such as they … I’d no memory of any of them either.

My arms were shaking with fatigue and the maids in alarm cried that I should not strain myself on their behalf. They urged me to lower my arms and together they pulled, shook and worried the gown into the folds that pleased them best.

Three paces before me was a mirror the width of a large man’s outstretched arms and more than that in height, reflecting the silent play that was the ritual of my mornings these days.

The fabric of the houpeland and its train was a scarlet silk so woven with threads of silver and gold and so encrusted with embroidery of the same, winking with jewels set in bezels of embroidered threads, that it had to be carefully hemmed, it was so stiff, lest it fail to move with me as I walked, ever so carefully. The girls carefully and skillfully took command of the folds in which it fell because they must.

My hennin rose a yard from my plucked brow, clad in moiré silk, covered with a tracery of more gold embroidery, twining vines studded with flowers composed of pearls. It was pinned to the caul that hid every wisp of my chestnut hair behind white velvet studded with flashing rubies. They told me the rubies were dwarf-cut, and knew that meant something special, I just didn’t remember what and was far too embarrassed to ask. Yards and yards of the sheerest silk veils floated down from the peak of the hennin in rose and white with glints of tissue of gold, caught again at the temples to fall back behind my shoulders, down to the floor and the whole length of the train of the gown … it must have been a half-dozen feet long. There was no wonder one of the maids was constantly in attendance on me. I’d not be able to move, otherwise.
Still, as uncomfortable as the getting made-up and dressed was, it was one of the few things around me that felt natural, almost familiar, like I had done it before.

But then there was not much need for me to go much of anywhere.

Aside from state dinners with the court and some quiet time in Her Majesty’s own garden, there was little for to do but embroider … or learn to, since apparently it was never a skill i had learned before. It was noticeably lacking from the basic memories of life and the world in which I lived that I retained, though all else was lost. Along with skill at some sort of instrument, such as all noble ladies learned.

It remained a mystery within the mystery of who I am.

I looked on at the image in the monstrous mirror, again whispered to have been of dwarf-make. I knew well what a dwarf was but it seemed I could not recollect why such a thing would be precious for that fact.
My skin was powdered white, my lips painted red as cherries with rouge, and just a hint of it again at brow, cheek, and chin. I had marveled at the maid’s skill as she painted me.
It was the life I had been born to, she assured me.
But it was all a mystery to me.
She assured me that it would all come back to me in time.
She was so kind and so sincere, I truly prayed with all my heart for the grace of the Light, that she be right.

One at a time they left me, the first to return with shoes and fans, the second leaving then to return with purses and gloves. Three choices of each, they gave me. The highlight of my day, the only thing I was allowed to do for myself besides chewing my meat.

Those choices made they each took me by the hand and held me steady as I stepped down from the riser on which I must get dressed.

Just as I stepped down there was a discreet knock at the door and an older lady who had once been a great beauty and dressed nearly as richly as myself entered to announce that Their Majesties were ready to receive me for dinner in His Majesties chambers. It was a relief not to dine with the court. There was something predatory about that crowd that scared me. So many of them had a hungry look like they would strip the flesh from my bones if they could, and still others with such a calculating look to them it was without a doubt they considered how they could get a piece of me in the process, and others that stood back as if to consider how best to profit from the event after … horrid the lot of them. Except for the Queen. Islaelia was the soul of kindness … to me – but no fool. Not she. For me she was kind and looked after me, well … royally. But on the occasions I had supped with the Court I could see the traces of iron under the velvet and cloth-of-gold. I have reason to suspect that she and His Majesty care for me to keep me close and prevent others making mischief by me, with my name.
The was why I lived quietly in tower, now, hard by the Queen’s Hall, sharing her private garden. I remembered nothing of who I was, but I still knew what a bird in a gilded cage was.

I had awakened a tangled mess dressed in a man’s clothes. Gently swaying in the bunk to the swelling of the waves … we were at sea. It was months agone now, but still felt like yesterday.
I was greeted by a kind and sincere young man named Arthur. There was something familiar about his surname of Miller, but there were SO many things that seemed familiar now that nothing around me was known to me anymore.
He had treated me so kindly when I had felt to wretched. Though woefully inadequate to my station, he had used the utmost of his means to clothe me as well as he could so I could travel. I had been gripped with fear, swallowed up by a wide void that should have been filled with the memories of my life.
The fear was still there. It triggers a deep-seated sense of peril when one is suddenly thrust into playing where one does not know the pieces much less the rules of the game.
They told me, onboard the ship, that my name was … Lucinda? I was born a great lady
One thing I had been certain of once Lord Dacre had brought me to the palace was that I was playing for my very life. I had been a name piece in the game, but was being played as a pawn because I knew not who I was.
I stayed in my cabin trying to absorb the enormity of not knowing who i was. Men as they were, they did their best to care for me and help me to find a modicum of peace, but none was forthcoming for me. I was surrounded by strangers. Although I somehow knew I could trust Arthur implicitly, there was something about the sad and tortured eyes of Lord Dacre that made me fearful. Finally mustering the strength and will to get out of bed, at last I was gripped by eldritch power, hands I could not see, when I attempted to go above decks to finally get some air. I screamed and screamed my rage and frustration, my fear and betrayal, until the dwarf came and set me free. I knew then I was a prisoner.

And I know it still, pretty though the prison may be.

But aside from the role I play, through which I must sleep-walk for lack of knowledge or memory, I am imprisoned by my ignorance, by the memories of a lifetime that have proved to be as perishable as summer fruits … are those perishable? I think so …
The girls tell me the household is packing, the harbingers of the hall are getting ready to ride forth. It is time for them to pack all the things up the queen has sent me and get ready to travel.

It seems they are taking me home.
(I feel like I could cry.)

I wish I knew what that meant.
(I have no tears left to cry.)

I had no idea a soul could feel so lonely and so desolate

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Smoke and Fire
The Capital in Flames?

A slow, terrible canter down the plonking planks of the docks of Fallond was all it took to pull them apart.

Smoke gathered in the city air – white at first of easy thing succumbing to the fire’s tongue, but then black of the unwilling. The alarum and the cry. A small shop known to sell stolen goods was set to blazing. Fire erases all evidence – even magick can rarely move beyond it.

A rider bedecked and bespangled with magickal gewgaws extraordinaire rode out and circled the burning block in a faint blue shimmering wall that hungered for the flickering fireflies of flying cinders, and held the fire inside its embrace. Sir Cael rode after him and made brief acquaintance.

Lucien spoke with the Harbor Master about Emeric. Sickly, he met the Watch and helped with the disposition of the bodies. He trailed to the Sisters afterward and arranged for the men to be shipped home for their burials and for Emeric’s body to be held for funeral on his return to the capital.

Then there were writs and lawyers and the preparation of doom for Penwyth in the courts, and the beginnings of Rustin’s demise with evidence of collaboration with the Usurper’s court in far-off Paraños.

In the morning, they fled the city. Horses and carts rattling in the early hours.

They came before dark that night to Foxwoerth Hall and were graciously received by Dame Esturme (Lucien handing over a return letter from the Queen). They dined together uncomfortably and spent a safe night inside the Dame’s walls.

In the morning they rode for the treacherous green road toward the holdings of Lindsey, and eventually somewhere near Erebord.

In the poorly tended greensward at the edge of the Dame’s forests, the men in red with gold keys came riding. The lust for murder in Lucien’s heart rose, and Arthur took it up, firing the first shot at these knights of misfortune.

Battle ensued.

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A small room
Well, technically, two small rooms

When I regained consciousness, my head hurt … but my side hurt even worse. It almost felt like someone had stabbed me in the side with a dagger three times. I was in a small room, probably in the Chancery. Ogham and Sir Cael had apparently patched me up a bit, but I was having a hard time focusing. …

The next thing I recall clearly is that I was lying in a bed in another small room. Thal cast some kind of spell that he said would speed up the healing process. That struck me as a good idea. …

I was in and out of sleep for some time. …

I next remember someone mentioning that all of our stuff had been stolen from the Parson’s Rest. Although most of my things were at home with the Sharps’, this seemed like insult to injury. …

While I was asleep, it appears that Edred fell out of a window. Bad luck for him, but it does give me someone else to chat with, especially since Thal seems to be healing quite rapidly. …

Thal approached my bed and began telling me of a vision that Sir Cael had. Something about this caused me to go into a trance of some kind. I saw (and unfortunately felt) nearly thirty men being murdered, including Sir Emeric. My body seems to have responded (to some degree) as though the killings had actually happened to me. I experienced convulsions and my wounds reopened. That can’t be good. I told Thal that he had to hurry, that Sir Emeric and his men were being murdered. In hindsight, of course, it was already too late. My vision was not a presentiment. It was a vision of the present. Before Thal had even rushed off, everyone was already dead.

Ogham stayed to bandage my wounds and help me back to bed. He was concerned that Edred and I wouldn’t be safe, but still confused as to the timing of events, I urged him to rush to the ship. Then I decided to pass out again. …

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[Lucien] Fallominster in the afternoon
A place to go crying

Afternoon was a quiet time in the middle of the week even in Fallominster.

Perhaps especially in Fallominster.

It was not like this even in the town chapels in the West, by the warm sea where Sister Andrea had grown up and begun her service – after the pregnancy. But that was many long miles and mountains from this place of Kings and Bishops and other titles they did not have where she came from, on the hilly coasts of the sea of Belphalos.

She had thought that here, in the holy kingdom of the Usurper, that the Light would be electric, that it would be alive. That people would flock to the marble fanes of glory with the Light already in them.

She was still young, but not as young as she had been when she thought that.

She was alone on this stuffy afternoon, tending the Minster. She had said her prayers at the Procession of the Circle of Light, adored the images of the Author, stopped at her favorite saint, Benedict – partly because his portrait was so handsome and it reminded her of a special man she had once known.

She was collecting candle stubs, now. Pulling the wicks and the wick bases, dropping them in one basket, scraping the wax from the sockets into a copper pot for re-melting with the stubs later in the kitchens.

Back home, when the little boats would come back in the afternoon, teeming with the sea’s bounty, the sea birds would rise up, crying. Sometimes, while the men were unloading and the women were hauling, there would be a strange quiet, and a couple would stop against one of the pylons, kissing in the warm sun.

By the time the man turned back to his nets, the white sea birds had snuck in and were eating the eyes from some large grouper, or trying to yank an entire squid up out of the mass of the ship.

When the man would turn with a paddle or a net hook and swipe at the greedy gulls, they would rise up, catching the onshore breeze, shadows larger than the woman, and the sheer plaintiveness of its cry was astonishing. She would see this from her window at times, when she was meant to be studying her letters, or some 27th of the Trivium.

That’s what the sound was. It rose through the basso toward soprano, a rising like the screech of the gull. But where the gull is like a baby with quick screech after screech, breaking like wave after wave in a windy afternoon; this like the scream of a toddler whose hand – moments before – had been caught in a heavy door. This was the sound of something deep inside, breaking, the the hollowing cracking before the mast of one of the old ships abandoned in the shallows gave way.

She had sat, frozen by astonishment, and by memory as the sound crashed inside the dome of the cathedral. As it changed from origin to echo, she dropped her basket and rose, stepping out from the shutters into the nave and peering around the church.

There had been a small crash, moments before. Now there was the just the tail of the echo running around between gleaming stones.

She scanned for movement. She felt tense.

Nothing.

She teetered with indecision. She should fetch one of the Mothers, or perhaps one of the strong monks she thought might still be down below in the cellars, or the crypt.

She caught what sounded like a ragged breath.

An old woman was standing in the south entrance. She was some lord’s grandmother, in the fine fashions of decades past. She looked suspicious, turning to go back into the warmths of sunshine.

Andrea picked up the hem of her robe and walked the Circumference of Light, giving the icons and paintings no thought, ignoring the strong light flooding in from the high windows in its many colors.

He was in a small alcove by a statue of some dark-haired Hybersian saint.

The way he was laying on the marble floor on his back, she thought simultaneously that he was dead, and that he looked a great deal like the depiction of the pagan Hanged God, with his arms up, and one leg bent.

The great pain of the world – childbirth (even when the child does not survive, or has not survived, still it must be born), and the great trial of the world – the care of men – had both been given by the Light into the hands of women. They were made stronger than men, and had been tasked with holding the world of man together. This is what her first tutor, Doña Leticia, had said.

She went near, and she could see the great breaths moving the tunic of this little lord’s breast. She had a keen eye for how people appeared when they came into the public eye in the capitol, and she could tell from how he was comported that he was rustic – barely more than a knight, perhaps, and he certainly had no staff to care for him; no woman and no valet. His hair was blonde and pretty but unkempt and unruly; his clothes were good, but simple; there was no equally pretty blonde lady with cornflower eyes embroidering his things.

The small window above the northern saint, whose nameplate she made out as “Julia”, spilled yellow light that made the little lordling bright. It glittered on the tracks of tears running down the sides of his face which he had not wiped away. There were little gleaming drops, his tears, marking the marble beside him.

She sighed, and knelt down near him, slowly drawing his head onto her leg as the hard floor cooled her rump. Like most men when the world breaks them like the weak stone of the white cliffs of Hybersus, she expected him to crumble into her, to hold her skirt, to weep like a boy, to cry out again as he had.

But he only sighed, and kept looking up into the magnificent ceiling of the Minster.

Someone in the distance walked into the back of the cathedral. That was good. It would keep this lordling from doing anything foolish.

He muttered something, but his hoarse throat ate the words.
“Pardon me?” she asked in her lightly-accented Philosopher’s Tongue. His eyes found her for a moment, and then flicked back to Julia.

“One pure, unfettered cry,” he pointed at Julia, “because the world has enough small weeping and small cares and this utterance clears a way for the Light.”

She recognized the words, dimly, as something written in the colloquial hand of this rural Hybersian saint from a placed called Norich. She had been a great pagan mystic who had been given a vision of the Light’s kindness to equal Zarathushtra’s vision of its power and severity.

Fa bene, curso la Luz, e tuti la lucienne” she uttered in her native tongue, a rough descendant of the Philosopher speech. “It flows easily, the course of the Light and those who bring light (Lucien).”

His face tightened up, and she thought she might have touched some difficulty he was bearing that had brought him here. She saw no icons or tattoos or sigils that would have brought a devout, or a holy knight into the Minster in the afternoon, long after the bishop had celebrated great morning mass of the day.

He sat up then, looking at her, and up at the saint, as though comparing her to the statue.

“You look a bit like her, St. Julia. The only one I ever really liked reading. The Light as a mother.”

There was something in him that she saw in a moment, that was like the release of fragrance by the tonning crush of the perfumier’s wheel.

“As Lucien, I can assure you, non facile cursit Via Luctis, (nothing lives easily on the Light’s Road),” he said, and his voice had grown easy, like his visage. He looked nothing like her Benedicto. She wanted to kiss him. He kissed her hand; he lowered himself to one knee.

“Will you bless me, Sister, the way pagans are blessed; the way knights are blessed on the eve of something it is known they will not survive?”

His accent had grown queer and countryish, and her command of the language common to Shanria was not great, but she understood what he was saying. She was no mystic or saint; she was not even a mother. But everyone participated in the Light, and it could be given freely.

He bowed his head. She stood, and gathered her hands in the yellow sun spilling in through the window. She made the circle, like a halo, above his head. She said the prayer.

At the last word, she was filled with a sudden fear for him, for no reason she could fathom.

He kissed her on the cheek. His face was clear and strong, but tears ran down his cheeks. He walked away down the aisle, and out into the sunlight.

Later, downstairs and across the courtyard, pulling the pan full of the broken remnants of candles – little flames, sometimes called petit lucienne – onto the hot grate, it occurred to her that in some parts of the Scripture, the Lightbringer, The Morning Star: Lucien, stolen from the Light, had become a great servant of the equally-powerful Darkness, first called Ahriman, now called Cordenox, who flees from the sky with the coming of the day.

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The Capital Morass
There's no escaping power

Behind the scratch and skitter of writing and the drops of drying sand: Shouting, the clash of weapons, the press of the crowd. Then over.
The clatter of hooves.
The push through guards.

Blood.

Both Thal and Arthur injured. Ḥashshāshīn dead on the cobbles in the shadow of the Court of Chancery itself, on the slopes of Crown Hill below Fairingay Palace itself, where Shanria’s power was centered. Danger seemed to grow as one approached it, not diminish, as might be expected.

The attackers saved, Ogham playing Questioner. Dusky lips naming names (the one already dead), and the price (5s per head on delivery to Penwyth).

Sir Daelin appeared, brandishing his blade above the crowd – too late for battle. The Light provides in strange manners: his training as a surgeon proved invaluable. Back inside the Chancery, he labored as the others looked on, saving the lives of Thal and Arthur.

Afterward, Ogham went to fetch transport for them, knowing the capital best. At the Lord Chancellor’s suggestions, Cael went to find the location of Lindsey House. Surely Dacre’s liege-lord would not begrudge them shelter at his disused city manor.

Night was starting to hold her court over the glittering neighborhood of Lindsey House, and the long suffering of unprepared servants. The gated manorial property took them in, stiffly, like an old man who’d sat too long.

Upstairs, Thal and Arthur began their convalescence under the auspices of Thal’s magick. Having seen other pieces of Thal’s magick, Lucien worried.

Ogham returning to tell them all their goods and money at the Parson’s Rest had been stolen, presented Lucien with a bill for recent services.

Full of the maelstrom, Lucien dragged Cael to the Parson’s Rest for justice or vengeance or … something. Following the shocked innmaster into his pantry, Lucien drew the only weapon he had left – his wit, and proceeded to stalk the innkeep with it. He drew first blood, his opponent on the run, Cael guarding the door. “I’m here,” with the delicious flavor of victory in his mouth, “for the large, locked chest in your secured cellars containing all my treasures and those of my companions,” the parry was weak. His fencing partner was open. The red circle of the heart open for the strike, no blunt on the fencing sword.

But something happened. The fight ended quite abruptly, and Lucien knew he had lost before he’d been drawn into this little cheese-smelling place. Filled with remorse, he apologized to the innkeep (whose name he, once again, promptly forgot), and tried to beg off the man’s offer of help and assistance at Lindsey House; but Lucien had no defenses left, and certainly none against kindness.

Back at Lindsey House, Cael rediscovered sleep. It was only that morning he had gotten his golden spurs, after a long vigil the night before, and the weight of them already was great. Ogham helped Lucien with readying weapons from the small and disused arms locker in the Lindsey cellars to stand through the night.

Ogham laid circles of protection, and stoically and uncomplainingly stood guard in the upper story arrow casements until the first offices of the morning rang. Lucien took the guard after that, walking the quiet grounds in his night shirt, boots and armor.

Not one of them had the means at that point to suspect what was next: what work evil men labor at by night, and in the broad warehouses of the day.

Thal, miraculously recovered, had a late breakfast conversation with Lucien about finding the missing goods with magick. Ogham was a motivator. Ogham hurried back off to procure a cart. Perhaps they should rent by the week.

Lucien went upstairs to consult with Mr. Miller – still abed with injuries, and then with Sir Daelin on what lay ahead for them in the days to come. The conversation was longer than Lucien had expected. By the time he returned to the servants’ hall (the poor servants shoved out into their small rooms and the bailif’s workspace), Thal and Ogham had set off on their own to recover stolen goods from the possible possession of professional thieves and assassins.

Eventually – and miraculously – they returned to Lindsey House. Thal would brook none of Lucien’s nonsense about their task, as they had been rational and cautious. Lucien was dressed by then, and began to don his armor. The day had many challenging tasks ahead.

Thal, unperturbed by his remaining injuries, and still egged on by Ogham’s clear need to regain the magickal valuables still at large, used his magic to hone in on them: "somewhere north, by the sea_.

Cael found a vision in his holy book. Thal triggered a vision that harmed the convalescing Arthur. Blood. A ship. The sea.

First the sea of people for the morning markets – the crowds of Crown Hill and the markets at its feet.

Then the calling of seabirds and the Céleste, Emeric’s ship. The only one on the quiet unloaded row with no crew visible on deck.

Murder in the hold, the bodies piled like faggots for the flames.
Murder in the captain’s cabin. Emeric would not revive De Lacy. Jourdain … Fisher. Another victory. Most of Ogham’s magick objects stacked in a neat row on Emeric’s desk.

The ship next door, the men said stevedores had come and gone. They had heard no commotion.

Thal pointed out along the docks like a gnomon fixed ever upon their doom. Away from the Great Bridge, towards the estuary of the mighty river Dansis.

The smell of blood. The soft clacking of the ships. The sklosh of water.

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The streets run red with blood
If you buy armor, you should probably wear it

Early in the morning, Ogham returned, with an escort, unharmed. He has been tasked to assist with the reconciliation of the dwarves.

Lord Dacre had discovered that there was someone else from House Dacre still alive. We made plans to depart for Erebord as soon as possible.

I asked if a letter could be sent to Lady Bess to discuss the matter of Rhiannon’s Pool. In addition to this letter, several others were sent on various matters. These letters were to bear fruit in the evening.

After running various errands, engaging in some conversation with Thal (a scholarly fellow), and some sparring, evening arrived and various things occurred.

Emeric de Lacey arrived with a young man who was to become a knight the following day. We were invited to attend the ceremony and then have the new knight join us. Though we had urgent business to attend to, the prospect of having a knight with our party was an opportunity we did not wish to pass up.

Ogham received dispensation to travel with us and fulfil his (enforced) obligations in a couple of weeks. Lord Dacre received a royal invitation as well as a letter to be delivered for a friend.

Lady Bess answered her letter in person, with the flash that I’m coming to associate with those in the court. I was to be disappointed in my request to seek out aid for Lucinda. We were forbidden to approach Rhiannon’s Pool.

I wonder if my concern for Lucinda is proper. Should someone’s misfortune warrant greater efforts to alleviate merely due to an accident of birth? There is, after all, a great deal of suffering in the world. Perhaps, though, it is perfectly correct that my sympathies would be engaged on her behalf, given the circumstances of our acquaintance. After all, the parable of the Good Samaritan is one of proximity … and a reasoned philosophy would concur.

A further question arises, which is: Does restoring the Marchioness mean ‘killing’ (the new) Lucinda? The longer she lives with this enchantment of amnesia, the more she becomes a new person. Are there two souls for two identities? Do I have the right to trade off one life for another?

Of course, this may all be moot, given what the wizard Thal has said … that the enchantment is like a ‘caged beast’. It seems like it may be unsafe for everyone if this enchantment is allowed to remain.

However, I digress. That night, we encountered assassins at our inn. When noticed, they dispersed. Arming ourselves for battle, we skulked out the back way. One of the assassins waited for us there, but proved insufficient to the task when faced with honest combat. Interrogation (of his spirit) indicated a connection with Sir Penwyth. After this long day, we returned to the Parson’s Rest and slept.

The next day arrived and we went to the young knight’s ceremony. I felt it would be inappropriate to come armored to such a solemn occasion, a decision I would later come to regret.

After the ceremony, we went to the Chancery. We had the sense that we were being followed by a large group of men. Edred fell back to see if he could, in turn, follow them.

Lord Dacre began a lengthy interview with the Chancellor. After some time had passed, I became worried about Edred. Usually, his absence would not be worrisome (it would, in fact, be welcome), but given the circumstances, I was concerned that he might have fallen afoul of our followers.

Thal and I found a location where he could use his wizardly arts to attempt to locate Edred. Given how the assassins had acted the night before, I believed we would be safe out in public. I underestimated their boldness … and this very nearly cost us our lives.
Five men descended upon us. Three of them were on me before I could do aught but cry for help. The other two, presumably, attacked Thal. A lucky blow with the hilt of my blade knocked one of the thugs out of the battle. The other two engaged me in a swift and brutal battle. Attempting to keep one of them at bay, I concentrated my efforts on disabling the other warrior.

Several stabs with their long daggers left me bleeding profusely, but I managed to poke enough holes of my own in one of the men and he dropped to the earth. The other fighter had had enough and turned and ran. I had just enough awareness to dodge a wild blow from someone (Ogham? Where did he come from). With the adrenaline of the battle passed, I collapsed to the ground. Events after that are a bit hazy.

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