Realms of Myth

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.

View
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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Murder at the Chancery... and at the Inn... and in the...
Assassins everywhere!

The dancing and the drinking and the palace belonged to yesterday.

The hour was early, but not indecently so. People were moving about the Parson’s Rest, especially the staff.

Quite loudly, and quite distinctly, Thal heard Lucien bellow his name. There was not the sound to it of fear or desperation but rather of discovery and urgency.

Since early light, just before dawn, Thal had been sitting in silent meditation. Outside, roosters and the clatter of wheels and hooves on cobbles claimed the day and inside one room and then other sounds of movement and the smell of breakfast wafted from the kitchen across the the small court.

Thal heard Lucien call his name and noted the lack of stress.
“Perhaps there is word of Ogham,” he thought. Then he pulled on his travel jacket and quietly made his way to the main hall of the inn, intending that Lucien should speak first and be fully heard.

Some time later, a bedraggled-looking Lucien in his bedclothes, clutching a slightly rumpled and damaged shirt appears at the top of the stairs. Looking relieved, he crazy-waved Thal up the stairs and vanished back toward his room.

In Lucien’s room, Lucien had donned breeches under his night shirt and splashed water haphazardly on his face.

In spite of the hair sticking out in strange directions and the unprepared appearance, there was something different about Lucien: he seemed practically to shine this morning, whereas in the dark hours of last night, even amidst the merriment, there had been something thinned out and exhausted about him far beyond the hour.

“It may not be possible, I know -” Lucien said, thrusting the clean-smelling, but stained shirt at Thal.

“I mean, he may be concealed by the power of a Pagan focus, but your power, you can find the owner of this. Right? Thal?” Lucien said, pointing to what is apparently his own used but laundered shirt.

Thal followed Lucien’s beckoning, heard him out, looked carefully at the shirt, and pondered the situation.

“It should be possible for me to use magick to discover who has owned this shirt in the past. There is only one way to be certain, and that is to try. With your permission I will cast a charm that should reveal to me knowledge of roughly the last four owners during the last forty or so years That surely more than encompasses the lifetime of the garment all the way back to its maker, so it should reveal its entire history, that is unless it has been worn by more people that its modest wear suggests.
Please put the shirt down and step aside while remaining nearby in case something unexpected happens.”

Thal waited for Lucien to put the shirt down and back away, then took a deep breath, centering his consciousness upon it, and began to very slowly and carefully cast the charm to bring his spirit into union with the energy of the shirt with the intent of revealing the secrets of its past. The spell appeared to be cast successfully without incident on the first try, and Thal concentrated as his spirit sank into the energy of the shirt, so to absorb all he could from what his the charm might reveal so that everything could be related as clearly as possible to Lucien in case some subtle details might make a difference.

Lucien moved a chair in front of the door to his room and sat down on it while Thal began weaving his magick.

“You may want to sit down before you finish the spell,” Lucien said quietly.

Thal was gradually able to discern a rough psychic impression of the basic physical descriptions of the owners … He expected to see who had owned the object for long enough to leave an impression – bits and pieces, maybe hair color, maybe eye color, maybe a distinguishing mark, their sex, general complexion (fair, ruddy, olive, etc.), whether they were beauteous, average-looking, or ugly by common standards, a sense of whether taller or shorter, thinner or fatter than Thal himself …
It took Thal what surely must have been an hour to sift through the sea of minutia of various points of information that opened up to his Otherworldly senses before he finally got to read the pertinent information Lucien was looking for.

The immediate, most recent impressions he had were of Lucien, whose strong heart and spirit impressed the object with his psyche after a mere three weeks after having first come into ownership of it.
But he needed to look past Lucien, to the previous owner.
That one’s heart was not nearly so strong and clear, but rather muddled and retiring. The snatches of appearance he was able to glean were remarkably similar to Lucien himself, but here, too there was still a trace of Lucien’s aura. Somehow, the shirt “remembered” them both, felt the touch of both, and at the same time.
“Too confusing,” muttered Thal.
Confronted by the riddle he was determined to solve it.
He willed himself to silence within again, determined to sink deeper into the very fibers of the shirt.
It was elusive at the start, but soon it came into sharp focus.
He could see the two men, Lucien and the one before him, then the tailor before them and the clothmonger, the weaver, the spinner, the carder, the shearman … and then the sheep in the fields ….
It was the image of the two men that fascinated.
Physically built to so similarly, coloration slightly different, like the one who owned the shirt and wore it every day was a duller, rougher image of the one who … held it in his hands everyday, slipping it onto the body of the duller one, and then off again, daily … pressing it, folding it … day after day.
Then the other one was not there anymore, and there was only … Lucien.
Except that in the “memory” of the shirt the vibration of the name Lucien went with the other one …
It had another name for the man sitting in the chair between Thal and the door.
A name that had the feel of the Gaelic which reflected an ancient symbiosis with Thal’s own people … it was on the tip of his tongue …
Cawdry.
Lucien’s valet, for there was no feel of the steel of a knight around him.
Had Lucien been knighted, Cawdry would without doubt have been his squire.
And then a powerful image of smoke, fire and screaming, the rush of mortal fear, and as the images from the cloth faded, the soft hands of a beautiful woman whose features favored the dull one, the real Lucien. She was kind and gentle, thrusting the shirt into Cawdry’s hands, eyes fearful and desperate.
Her lips moved, but the actual words were lost in sound, fury and fear …
It had been too long since that fateful night.
Clearly that was the night Erebord had burned.

Slowly, Thal’s senses cleared. Over the course of a mileway, Thal returned to his worldly senses, carrying new knowledge.
Lifting his chin he met Lucien’s … no, NOT Lucien … Cawdry’s eyes.

Cawdry exhaled, and blinked, holding Thal’s gaze, looking elated and sad simultaneously, and possibly luminous.

Thal looked at Cawdry, blinked a couple of times, then looked again. “Uhmmm … Oh, good,” Thal said, “This gives me more to meditate upon. Mm-hmm.”

Then Thal stared into Cawdry’s eyes and gently but earnestly asked, “Does this change anything I should know about? We’re still both primarily concerned with the safety of our mutual friend Ogham and related matters, right?”"

The laugh was born as a deep chuckle, but expanded and rose, growing in infectiousness and volume.
It tipped up toward the edge of hysteria and finally subsided into quiet, with genuine tears running down Cawdry’s face.

When he was at last sober again, he shook his head and wiped his face. He tried to imagine from the way Thal spoke how the half-elf liked to be addressed. He found himself mostly at a loss.

Cawdry pointed at the shirt. “It’s Lucien’s,” as though he knows Thal knows this, but has to say it anyway.

“Lady Dacre appeared to me in the house of Lady Bizarre, arguing against my foolish bargain. I thought that released me from her charge because of what she had said when she still lived ….”

He looked down at his fingers which needed more callouses, “She came to me last night in a dream, and I was lucid … and fearful enough to ask her questions to ascertain she was not the Lady Bizarre impersonating the dead….”

Cawdry looked up at Thal, full of regret, "I assumed since Lucien did not appear at Daldrin Tor, and that Penwyth did not produce him to have me hung for impersonation that he had died. I was wrong. Lady Dacre says that Lucien still lives, but that he is hidden someplace replete with the power of the Old Gods. Lady Dacre is Walks in the Light, and she cannot find him.

“Can you find him, Thal? I witnessed Peregrinus using Ogham’s magic to find him and saying that distance had no bearing. Can you use the shirt to find Lucien?”

Thal lightened the room with a light elfin laugh.

“Assumptions are always dangerous. Perhaps you can take solace in having just outsmarted a wizard. Attempting to locate Lucien using his belongings is without doubt the best next step.”

After a moment of consideration Thal gestured at the shirt.

“This garment will likely be sufficient,” he said, “but if there is anything else which Lucien would have frequently handled such as a favorite sword or shoes then that might also be of use. I will return shortly with ritual supplies and would appreciate if you would watch over me in case something unexpected happens and also so that I can reveal to you what I may find as soon as possible.”

Thal left the room and padded away softly to avoid alerting others or needing to engage in explanation. A short time later he returned with a small bag, then began weaving a magick ritual, moving in circles, softly intoning obscure words, and gesturing this way and that.

Thal stopped and was quiet for a moment, then he sighed. “The ritual is complete,” he said, “but this magick has failed to inform me. But I do not have the materials to attempt this again by Low Magick. If you will be patient, then I will try again by common spellcraft.”

“Two failures in a row is a common enough occurrance,” Thal said. “I will try the spell again.”

“I am not deterred,” Thal stated, and sighed. After a short break concentrating with his eyes shut he began again.

Thal eventually put his hands on his hips and pondered. “Hmmm. I’m not getting anything,” he said, then after a brief, quiet pause he began again.

“Frustrating,” Thal said. “Very frustrating. What is good about this is the practice I am getting should improve my performance in the future.” Once more he began to cast his magick charm.

Cawdry, watching, and waiting, was filled with concern for Thal as he tried again and again, and checked himself to pour a drink of water and to observe in detail the turnings of what passed before him, seeing the wizard burn frankincense and filaments of something that failed to turn when he drops it into a bowl of some strange liquor, instead fizzing black and falling to the bottom.

He thought to himself how grateful he was, in a strange way, to be in the difficulties of his own world, not Thal’s.

Finally Thal’s eyes cleared and he announced, “It is done. Lucien lies roughly east-southeast of us, and at some fair distance. The dweomer ties us together. I can feel him.”

….

In the morning, Lucien gathered together with his companions and told them he had news that a member of the Dacre family still lived, and they had located him with Thal’s help, somewhere a hundred miles distant back in the direction of Erebord (Dacre’s ruined manor house). With all fortune, they could depart within a day.

As things typically went with Lucien, that was not how things were to work out.

After Ogham returned from a safe but challenging meeting with their majesties, and he and Lucien worked out some mutual points of interest, the group decided to remain at the Parson’s Rest, to prepare, to send messages and to depart with the dawn.

Lucien sent missives to the Lady Bess (the High Priestess of the Pagan religion in Shanria, stationed here in Fallond) on Arthur’s urging to request access to pagan resources to restore Lucinda. Lucien included an appropriate “if ever, by your leave, if you will” sort of air, hoping such a dubious task could be put off for another time. For more information on how Lucien’s plans work out, see above and below.

Lucien sent a message for the Queen with a royal guard (who had come to deliver Ogham to them safely) letting Her Majesty know that he intended to pursue a lead on Dacre survivors and would return with all due haste. Ogham sent his own message begging the Crown’s leave to meet them at the Marchioness’ seat of honor, where the crown prepared to relocate to take care of the affairs of the Marches.

That evening, the first fly in their ointment arrived in the form of Sir Emeric (Dacre’s cousin) and the soon-to-be-golden-spurred Cael Daelin, the new heir of the blighted house Daelin. Emeric suggested Lucien and his retinue attend the knightly proceedings the next day, and that perhaps afterward the newly Sir’d Cael could earn acclaim by joining his cause with Dacre’s and seeking to support their return to justice.

Later, the beautiful and mysterious Lady Bess arrived out of a burst of autumn air. She seemed intrigued or perhaps amused by Lucien’s message. She was gorgeous and polite, and provided details of the fall of Lady Bizarre and her exile from the Lady’s holdings in the ancient Forest of Easton onto the Isle of May where the Dacre party encountered her. She seemed to suggest that the fall of the Marchioness under Bizarre’s spell could best be left to the wizards of the Realm, and that as she had fallen into the ‘protection’ of the Crown, surely the Crown would do what was best. Lucien stared at Arthur as the Lady whisked herself away into auburn shadow, willing the merchant-son to get the message.

As they made their way upstairs for the night at the Parson’s Rest, the poison, biting flies in the ointment arrived. Aware they had been spotted by Arthur and Ogham, the brigands left quickly by the alley gate. Arthur, feeling that following them directly would be deadly, suggested the group take another route. Edred went out the front around to the alley. The rest of the group went out by way of the Kitchen Yard.

They found a single trained Hass’assin in the alley and confronted him in the dark. There, they learned two interesting facts:

  1. It is less difficult for dwarfs to see in the dark than humans
  2. Ogham’s sword is very, very, very, I-have-not-enough-ink-to-write-all-the-very sharp

The beadles of the Watch were summoned, and after the party gave the Parson’s Rest employees a gift of weeks of blood-soaked nightmares, the party went to the Palace to lodge a complaint of attempted murder against the house of Penwyth. Thal determined by conjuring the spirit of the dead assassin that he had been hired directly by the Penwyth steward and charged with the deaths of any Dacre and their allies.

The Marshal graaaaciously provided them with guards (at Lucien’s expense… good luck collecting on that one, bitches) and an appointment the next day with the Chancellor just down the hill from the Palace.

In the morning, they went to Fallominster cathedral to witness the elegantly-bedecked Master of the Commandery of the Knights of St. Tarran overseeing the ascension of Cael Daelin. Although there were some small stops along the way, it was evident even to those who could not perceive the energies of magick that holy proceedings were afoot… except to Edred. He thought that the best way to celebrate an ascension of a man to honor was the deflouring of nuns. Seeing Cael see Edred drained Lucien of the sensation of honoring the chapel of the Light. Frankly, it drained him of any hope for enjoying sex ever in his life.

Intercepting Cael on his march across the company of the holy, Lucien took the opportunity to congratulate the new knight on his appointment, and to connect with him in his place of honor so that he did not smear Edred across the marble. Shortly after Lucien had a small, shocked conversation with Edred about the time and place to draw women into his considerable Charisma.

After making an appropriate exit from the lengthy knightly celebration, Lucien led his company to the Chancery on Crown Hill to start the most dangerous legal action of his life: the many writs and nonsense associated with bringing the asshole Earl of Maralad, Sir Penwyth, to justice. The Chancellor in person removed himself from the great Court of Chancery and attended all of Lucien’s excruciatingly lengthy and exhausting proceedings.

Near the end of the interview, some of his companions went to the clear air of the courtyard of the Chancery to stretch their limbs.

There, in view of the Palace, upon the slopes of Crown Hill, inside the grounds of one of the greatest seats of Justice and Good Governance in all the realm, Lucien’s companions were assaulted by the rest of the Ḥashshāshīn sent by the Earl of Maralad, assaulted them with hidden knives. The commoners of Fallond knotted around the conflict, as commoners are wont to do, crying out for the Guard, for the Watch, but pinned in place to watch the brief clash of arms . Ogham, in the hallway outside the interview chamber, heard the commotion and ran out to join in.

Murder – on the streets of Fallond? What other evidence of the intention of the earls Penwyth and Rustin would the Crown require?

When would the Crown recognize the malfeasance in the midst of their own capital city?

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An evening Conversation: Arthur Miller and Lucien

[I like to paste together conversations into one email, just for the sake of convenience, if we were to need to look at it later (I don’t know why we would, but …)]

“Mr. Miller,” Lucien mutters, a slightly blurred country sound creeping into his voice, “would you valet me this evening?” He seems genuinely chagrined, “I’m sorry, that’s insulting,” he lays a hand on Arthur’s shoulder, “I wonder if we could have a word, privately?”

Arthur appears to have danced more than he drank. He says quietly, “That is quite alright, milord.”

Upstairs, in Lucien’s larger room, Lucien undoes his collar and falls into a chair. He looks at the small sideboard, but clearly decides he has had enough to drink.
“Please… have a seat,” he gestures at the other chair by the window.

Arthur takes a seat in the proffered chair, looking mildly wary.

Lucien stares out at the light of the gibbous moon.
He turns and looks at Arthur with eyes that go very far down into a lonely dark. His words don’t seem to match. “Back in the palace… what you said to the Queen. Tell me about that.”

Lucien pulls his feet down off the clothing trunk and sits up.

“Ah, yes. I apologize for my behavior before the Queen, Lord Lucien. I spoke out of turn, and I contradicted your will. I beg your forgiveness.”
A sadness passes across Lucien’s face and he regards his hands on his knees.

He nods. He looks up at Arthur, as though making him out through a mist.

“Those are all very excellent answers, and I appreciate that you understand what came of it. That’s not … what I was looking for. What I want to know is: Why did you say what you said to her Majesty?” Lucien leans quickly forward, “I don’t know you, Arthur, and you don’t know me. Our difficulties – my difficulties – are not at an end. I’m not trying to upbraid you, only to understand.”

There is clearly more to be said, but Lucien waits for Arthur to speak.

Arthur hesitates for a moment before replying. Once he begins to speak, he unconsciously raises a finger at each point.

“There were several reasons, milord. Some of them may not paint me in the most favorable light, but I will, of course, let you be the judge of that.

“First, it is our duty to obey the Queen. It is true that this conflicted with your duty to protect your friend. In general, one’s duty to the Queen will take precedence. In the particular circumstances … well, I will endeavor to address that in a few moments, milord.

“Second, I feared you might be convicted of treason. The longer the conversation continued, the more I began to suspect she might deem your recalcitrance treasonous and have you killed.

“Third, at the point when I spoke out, milord, I wished for you to tell her the dwarf’s location, not me. I hoped this might mitigate her displeasure with you.

“Fourth, if it were to come to it, I would prefer that the dwarf come to harm rather than you. Again, more on this in a moment.

“Fifth, the kingdom seems in dire need of Ogham’s assistance. Without him, it appears that the realm may descend into chaos, with the attendant suffering this would entail.

“Finally, I do not believe Ogham will come to harm. I will allow that it is not my place to make such judgments, milord, but from the Queen’s words, I deem it unlikely that the King will further jeopardize relations with the dwarves by harming the last one remaining in the kingdom. Rather, I strongly suspect that he will attempt to persuade Ogham to aid in repairing the rift between our peoples. It is not certain, of course, and I may be thinking too much like a merchant and not enough like a king.”

After saying this, Arthur thinks for another moment and then lapses into silence.

Lucien lets out his breath and slowly leans back in the chair, nodding.

He seems a little pale, just then.

“I appreciate your concern for me a great deal, Arthur,” and there is something hard and trembling in his voice as he reaches for the sideboard after all, pouring watered-down wine. He offers a cup to the other man, as well.

Arthur accepts the cup, nodding his head to Lord Lucien, though he is not quick to raise it to his lips.

He smiles grimly at Arthur’s fingers as Arthur lowers them.

“If the order of the realm depended on one treaty with one race, then the King has failed quite considerably in his obligations,” he says mostly to himself.

Arthur leaves his face carefully expressionless here.

“All this you point out is right in its own fashion,” he sips, and checks the moonlight.

“But consider this: at no point did Her Majesty command me to produce Ogham. She spoke of the King’s desires, but not of a law, or a proclamation. Dacre is so far down the Great Chain from her as to scarcely be able to make out the glittering of Her crown. Her least command is my duty. And yet, there was no command,” and he holds his hands up to forestall anything Arthur might say, “And then, there was no command to give the letter of introduction to Peregrinus; there was an offer, even after Her displeasure was made clear. There were no arrests… no threats.”

“I do not have your gift of Sight, Mr. Miller. What do you make of that?”

Arthur frowns slightly at the subtle emphasis on the word ‘Sight’.

Again, Arthur considers carefully before replying.

“I am uncertain. I do not know the intricacies of the relationships of the various parties involved, milord. Perhaps this should have inclined me to follow Edred’s lead and keep my mouth shut.”

A slight pause.

“Two thoughts come to mind, though I do not believe either completely fit the facts as I understand them.

“One: The Queen favors you. She did not wish to accuse you of treason. She feared that if she commanded you to tell her, that you would refuse … no, wait, you told her otherwise … Hmm, the initial premise remains the same, that is, the Queen favors you. She feared that if she commanded you to tell, she would alienate you. Having you view her positively is important to her for some reason.

“Two: The Queen did not wish the dwarf to be taken. She disagrees with what the King intends to do.

“Necessary corollary: Someone more loyal to the King than the Queen was listening in on the conversation. Once you brought up the dwarf, she could not let it go without tipping her hand. By allowing you to get by with only revealing that Ogham was in disguise, she bought herself time to implement some other scheme. Perhaps Archmage Peregrinus sides with her (at least on this matter). They collaborated to capture him in a way that was advantageous to them … somehow.”

He shakes his head.

“I am sure there are large holes in either of these theories. You probably have a better idea of the parties and politics in play, milord. Might I ask what you think caused the Queen to behave as she did?”

“I do not always have the right of these things, but somewhere between us lies the truth. I think -” Lucien says, raising a finger just like Arthur did, and shifting to sit just the way Arthur is sitting, "that the Queen does hold me in some favor, but it is a reflection of the favor in which she holds the Dame Esturme; and as such is like a mirror: a dark and imperfect shadow.

“Her majesty has no reason to fear my betrayal or truculence to respond to command. We were in private and such things would have cost her at most throwing me into the dungeons to the mild upset of the far-away Dame and her close-on daughter and at the least tossing me from the city peremptorily.

“No, she very much wanted the dwarf brought in by soldiers – marched at least across the palace and into Court.”

Lucien spreads his hands, “I can only imagine there is as you say something they want from Ogham: information, agreement, service; and that they want to ensure he is pliable to such requests as you say. Certainly Peregrinus did just as the Queen asked.”

Lucien nods to Arthur, “Although you may be right about their desperation for silver – or for something – given Her Majesty’s rooted stance on the matter.”

Lucien looks down. “I am very tired, Mister Miller. And it’s possible that all of this has only just begun….”

Sensing a dismissal, Arthur quickly rises to his feet.

“Sorry, milord. I did not mean to keep you. If you have no further need for my services tonight, I will let you rest.”

Wryly, Lucien shakes his head, “I appreciate your caution, Arthur, but I would prefer your friendship.” He holds out one hand for a shake.

Arthur steps forward and shakes his hand.

Afterward, he adds, “There will be repercussions and costs associated with Dacre. You may want to consider your options.”

“I would not be much of a servant, (or a friend), milord, if I turned my back on what was right because it was dangerous or unprofitable.” He smiles briefly, “Though I do believe you may be right, Lord Lucien. Perhaps tomorrow I shall purchase armor … for the slings and arrows that will surely come my way.”

“Thank you, Arthur,” Lucien says, seeming somehow poorly comfitted by the words.

“We made poor use of the Royal Armory the last time we were here. I think we shall not get that chance again. Let me know if I can help with anything. Good night.”

“Good night, Lord Lucien.”

Arthur inclines his head to Lucien and returns to his room.

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The Marchioness, unlike Hope, floats
wherein victory is a falling apart

The ship creaked and groaned. The crew hung silent in the riggings. People came and went.

Lucien could not bring his hands off the railing. He could not find his voice. There was the mist and the unmoving white circle of the moon. Where was the light home? What were they doing?

Cousin Thal interrupted him, and then Mr. Miller.

Miller went for the captain, and rescue. He’s very religious, that one, with the heart of a knight.

Thal went for the lamp. Lucien wondered if it were dangerous now, or if it would lead them home. Thal nearly fell into the sea, and after Lucien pulled him back aboard, he fetched the lamp with a boat hook and then dropped the lamp into the ‘sea’.

He and Lucien shared a look. As things went many times Lucien thought he understood what the look meant.

Lucien’s companions appeared, questioning him over and over again on the slick and pitching deck how the Marchioness had fallen.

Thal worked magic that located the Marchioness and the ship pursued. They found her back in the real world, on the shores of Hybersus, on the sand. Alive.

As they sailed for Bridgeport (and in some way in any direction but toward Digby), it became clear that the Marchioness – at least now – suffered from a Fae enchantment that had robbed her of her entire memory – and the Light only knew what else.

At Bridgeport, they dawdled in sloop, readying themselves or avoiding the business to come. Edred reported nothing out of sorts from his wanderings in Bridgeport. Lucien was comfitted.

Lucien left the pirates, including James the Black, in the hands of Sir Emeric. His ransom, Lucien hoped, would be enough to free Emeric from his current … troubles.

With Lucinda disguised by Arthur’s cleverness as a monk – but comforted by a dress beneath – they crossed the long and massive, towering edifice of Kingsbridge to Fallond.

They went to the Palace, leaving Ogham hidden by Anonymity in the Parson’s Rest near the bridge.

They got a look down into the Royal Court, and then were taken to a private audience with the Queen. She received the Marchioness into her care with aplomb, but without congratulation or the previous kindness toward the recently-bereaved. When Lucien tried to use the situation and the success to intercede on fearful Ogham’s behalf, things became uncertain, and Arthur Miller’s excess honesty steered things into the rocks.

Their meeting later with Lord Perigrinus, Magister of the Fallond Wizard’s Guild, went coolly. Apparently, during the month they were lost in Faerie, the group missed Digby disappearing into the clutches of the Fae, rendering their intelligence on the Terra Tacita of no evident value – or use for justice.

On their way out of the palace grounds afoot, they ran into the Lady Rhiarra in the company of a Matron of the healing order. Fond words were exchanged.

After that, they went dancing and drinking, and of course, Edred got up to … other things.

On their return to the Parson’s Rest, they were intercepted ‘by accident’ by Lord Peregrinus who made a show of using the connection to Ogham that he had found in (the missing) Edred’s armor to reveal Ogham, transport in soldiers, and then whisk them all off back to the Palace.

A dark night of strange sleep and an uncertain future lay ahead.

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Journal Entry -- Arthur Miller
How many allies can I irritate?

… I came up to the deck to inform my allies that I had decided to speak to the captain regarding our difficulty with the Marchioness. When I arrived on the upper deck, I noticed that the sailors seemed struck with a strange lethargy. Hearing a cry, I rushed to the bow and saw Lord Lucien leaning over the rail leaning against the bowsprit clutching Thal’s leg. Thal had apparently fallen off the ship while trying to recover the mysterious lantern.
When we had pulled him to safety, I mentioned that, after talking to the captain, he had agreed to help us keep the Marchioness from doing anything dangerous, at least while aboard HIS ship. It was here that Lord Lucien informed me that it wouldn’t matter, since the Marchioness had fallen overboard.
He and Thal seemed strangely unconcerned with this situation.
It appeared that the lethargy that had befallen the sailors had also attached to my allies. [Later events lead me to propose this theory: The Lady Bizarre had managed to overcome her difficulties and direct her energies towards our ship. Using her powers, she flung the Marchioness overboard. At the same time, she afflicted all of those who were on the upper deck of the ship with torpor. Luckily, I (and the captain) had been on the lower deck and had not been affected.]
Horrified at the news, I rushed back to the captain’s cabin. When I told him what had occurred, he rushed with alacrity to the helm and turned the ship back the way we had come. I rushed to help with the launch of the long boat. While there, I had a vision of the Marchioness floating at the top of the waves. I was also hit with a sense that we would find her lying bedraggled, but safe, on a sandy beach.
I hurried back to the helm to tell the captain and my allies what I had sensed. When I arrived, I discovered that Thal had managed to overcome his lethargy and had used his magic to help guide the ship to the Marchioness.
[I am not sure that I would describe Thal as a powerful wizard, but he seems to be a versatile one. On reflection, I think this is a preferable trade-off.]
With Thal’s guidance, we steered the ship out of the Faerie realm (where, somehow, over a month had passed) and eventually came upon a beach. We launched the boat and discovered the Marchioness lying in the sand, unconscious, but apparently healthy otherwise.
[I was very thankful that we had found her unharmed. I know how much effort Lord Lucien had gone through to rescue her and how disappointed he would have been had she perished in the waves.]
We took her back to the ship. Ogham (the dwarfish alchemist), set up a ward to prevent her from leaving the cabin, so that she would not come to any harm. We discarded her beautiful (but damp and ruined) clothing and placed her in bed with some of my dry clothing. Determined that no more harm should come to her, I stood guard outside her door.
She slept for nearly a full day. When she woke, it became apparent to me that she was suffering from some sort of (perhaps total) memory loss. After trying to reassure her, I summoned my allies, as I figured that wizards might be able to help deal with this unfortunate situation.
Thal ascertained that, unlike before, she was now under a heavy Faerie enchantment. Ogham thought for a bit and realized that attempting to dispel the enchantment would be dangerous (and unlikely to achieve success). We attempted to make her comfortable and continued on to Bridgeport.
We arrived without further incident at Bridgeport. Lord Lucien thought it best to leave James the Black and the other pirates with Captain Emeric. With the reward due for the capture of the notorious pirate, this was a generous gift indeed!
I asked Lord Lucien if I might be allowed to go in to town to purchase some clothing for Lucinda. He asked me to acquire ecclesiastical garb for her, so that she would be disguised as we traveled to the castle.
Feeling sorry for Lucinda, [in this state of amnesia, I think of her less as the cruel and power-corrupted ‘Marchioness’ and more as the innocent young lady, ‘Lucinda’.], I thought it might be good to purchase her some amenities (to make her a bit more comfortable) and a nice gown (so that she would not be embarrassed when she went to the castle). I also took the opportunity of being in town to send out my letter to Miss Katherine Sharp.
Unfortunately, my trip took me rather longer than I had anticipated, and I had failed to obtain proper female religious garments (I had to make due with a monk’s habit). Lord Lucien was rightfully annoyed with me when I returned to the ship.
When I took Lucinda the items I had purchased, I ran into what must have been Ogham leaving her room (though he was disguised by wizardry, I knew it was him as he had just dispelled the ward that had kept her restricted to the cabin). She quickly changed clothing and within minutes we departed for the castle.
After a long, three-mile slog across the crowded bridge, we arrived at a point near the castle. Ogham was afraid to go much further and we searched for a place where he could stay, so that we could meet up with him later. The Parson’s Rest seemed a likely spot.
When we arrived at the castle, Lord Lucien requested an audience with the Queen. Eventually, we were ushered to an audience room by the Porter, Lord Greesh(sp).
The audience began well, with the Queen very pleased at the safe return of the Marchioness. She upbraided Lord Lucien for his remarks concerning the treachery of Earl Rustin, since he had no proof of the man’s evil doings, but removed the sting from her remarks by making it clear that she believed Lord Lucien’s story, she was merely concerned for his safety in making such comments without evidence.
The Queen was concerned with Lucinda’s strange amnesia. Nevertheless, she showed sympathy for poor Lucinda and asked one of her ladies to see to her comfort in one of the towers. (She also remarked on the poor quality of the gown I had purchased for Lucinda, which was quite embarrassing for me, but she did thank me for my efforts).
Lord Lucien then attempted to speak on behalf of his ally, Ogham. The Queen quickly interrupted him and wished to know if he had been hiding the dwarf, instead of turning him over to the King, who had been desperately seeking him. Lord Lucien refused to disclose the location of Ogham, even though the Queen let him know the dire need the kingdom had. The queries and refusals went on for some time, and I began to be concerned for Lord Lucien’s safety. I stood there, willing him to tell her where the dwarf was. Alas, I am no wizard and he remained steadfast in his refusal. It is here that I overstepped my bounds and interjected, telling Lord Lucien that he must let the Queen know the location of the dwarf.
[I should mention here that I greatly admire Lord Lucien’s loyalty to his ally in the face of danger. Loyalty is, and will always be, one of the most important traits a man can possess. At the same time, I believe he was not considering the loyalty he owed his sovereign, and indeed, his kingdom, particularly in light of the problems that had occurred with the dwarves. Not to mention, of course, that he could be hanged for treason.]
Lord Lucien eventually mentioned that Ogham was magically disguised, and the Queen seemed satisfied with this information and ended the audience.
[Edred showed remarkable restraint during this meeting with the Queen. I was impressed.]
Though it had been a long day, Lord Lucien wanted to speak with the archmage, Peregrinus (perhaps while he still had access). We spoke with his apprentice, Ferguson, and, after dinner, went to his tower to meet with him.
We learned, among other things, that Digby had disappeared. The archmage indicated that it would take the power of all the mages they had to even attempt to dispel the enchantment on Lucinda. I asked if we might be able to learn of a way to dispel the magic at Rhiannon’s Pool, but he could not make any definitive comment on the efficacy of druidic magic. He did say that Lady Bess might be able to give us more information on this.
Upon leaving the castle, we encountered Lady Riara (sp) and Mother Olivia, two noblewomen who were known to Lord Lucien. They exchanged pleasantries. (I certainly ran across my fair share of nobles today!)
It having been a long day, Lord Lucien treated us to a night of dancing and revelry.
After that, it was quite late, and we returned to the Parson’s Rest to go to bed.
One last surprise awaited us.
The archmage materialized, snatched Ogham, and dematerialized again. There was no time to react. Exhausted, we went to our rooms to sleep, to prepare for the day ahead.

[Although I have some concern for Ogham’s safety, I do not believe that he will come to any harm. The kingdom appears desperate for the resources generated by the dwarves. As such, I would anticipate attempts at reconciliation. Who better to take a message of peace and goodwill to the dwarves than the last dwarf in the kingdom?]

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"You had a Dwarf with you."

Adventure Log 2014-05-10, Smoke and Mirrors episode 7

Moments after the Marchioness went overboard Thal came up to the foredeck and spoke with Lucien. Arthur was also on deck and told the stunned crew to make a boat ready.

Thal tried to fetch the magick lantern, which was now shining toward the stern of the ship, from where it hung from the bow. As the deck heaved Thal fell from the prow of the ship, failed to catch the rigging, and was only saved from the waves by Lucien grabbing him by the foot and hauling Thal back on board. Thal was wet with spray from the faerie waters, but was dry again in mere moments ….

Lucien asked Arthur for help fetching the magick lantern at the prow. Arthur found a boathook. Thal took the boathook and Lucien told Arthur to fetch Captain Emeric de Lacie from below deck.

Thal used the boat hook to fetch the lantern, then said “Oops!” as he flung it to the sea. Lucien tried to stop him, but the device went over the side and into the water with a splash.

Arthur returned with Captain Emerik who pushed aside the helmsman and took command. The Captain spun the wheel hard. The ship pitched violently to the side, throwing people against the decks and rails.

Ogham came up to the deck and asked what had happened. He used his special monocle to watch Lucien answer, but the answers Lucien gave revealed little.

While helping to prepare the ship’s boat, Arthur stopped for a moment and closed his eyes as if suddenly deep in thought or having visions. Then Arthur told the party he had a vision of the Marchioness. Thal cast a Charm of Finding directed at the Marchioness, first to no effect, but the second time giving a specific direction. “That way!” Thal exclaimed and pointed forward.

The moon began to set, the fog began to thin, and just as familiar stars became visible the first glow of sunrise began to obscure them.

Arthur told the party that we were looking for an island or a beach of some sort.
“Land ho!” cried the crew, and the ship quickly approached the shoreline to the north.
The ship’s boat had room for eight, the Captain, two hands, and up to four of the party could go and leave room to return the Marchioness. Ogham, Thal, and Arthur climbed into the small boat and made way to the shore. There they found a figure washed up on the shore, the prone form of the Marchioness Lucinda unconscious in her drenched clothes. Wet, but not cold, she was returned to the ship and laid out in a cabin. Ogham used magicks unknown to the others to bind the Marchioness to her cabin, and Thal announced that as she was so bound she had transitioned from charmed to sleeping. Arthur fetched dry clothes and he and Lucien removed the waterlogged garments from the Marchioness and dressed her in extra clothes from the crew.

Then the party consulted with the Captain about their next destination. Lucien wanted to take the Marchioness to Fallond directly, but Ogham protested that he would face trouble there. The nearest port of Tunsburgh was considered, then it was agreed the ship would sail to Bridgeport, instead. Even though over a month had passed while the party was in faerie and it was now midsummer, this would enable relatively safe travel to Fallond without putting Captin Emeric’s mission to the South at risk.

On the second day of sailing and before arrival at Bridgeport the Marchioness Lucinda woke, looked around, asked questions, and appeared to have lost all memory even of her home by the majestic river Dansis. Arthur asked others for help with Lucinda, and was guarded when Edred appeared to misunderstand his intent. Lucien asked for Thal’s help and Thal cast a spell to read her aura by magick in an attempt to understand what had happened to the Marchioness. Thal told the party that upon Lucinda he sensed a faerie enchantment of great strength like a great storm or a caged beast. Lucien ordered Edred to fetch food and drink for Lucinda, then Lucien spoke with and attempted to console her fear, to modest success. Thal attempted to distract the Marchioness with a story, but he stumbled over the words and was quieted.

The ship made port at Bridgeport. Arthur went to the market to get more acceptable clothes for Marchioness Lucinda. Lucien agreed to leave James the Black and his remaining crew with Captain Emeric to exchange for reward.

Arthur went to the market to get better clothes for Lucinda and bought monk’s robes, clothing for a woman of modest social position, also a gift for his sister, then he submitted a letter to be delivered before returning. Edred went to the market, set up a booth, performed music, and engaged in games of chance with the crowds gathered there and returned with a clutch of coins for his efforts. Thal spent most of the day finding shaded spots on deck where he could meditate peacefully, then later cloaked Ogham in magickal Anonymity to protect him while visiting cities where dwarfs are no longer known.

Lucinda attempted to leave her quarters and found herself unable. She cried despondently for help and was consoled by Lucien, yet remained fearful and upset. Arthur returned in the afternoon with a bearer and many packages. Ogham released the Marchioness from her magickal confinement, then the party prepared to cross massive, sprawling Kingsbridge bearing the Marchioness on Ogham’s cart. The crossing was tiring as traffic was thick and snarled. The party passsed through four checkpoints, one at each of the four castles along the bridge. In the square at the end of the bridge in Fallond the party found the Parson’s Rest, an inn that appeared sufficient, yet unencumbered with such regal trappings such as had been found at the Old Gregory when the party was last in Fallond.

When the party reached the royal palace, a compound covering roughly a square mile, Lucien sent a message to the Queen that the mission to recover the Marchioness Lucinda had considerable success and summoned Lord Greash, the Porter of Fairingay Palace, to arrange a royal audience.

Drinks were served during the hour that passed before the Porter returned to announce that Her Majesty would grant audience. The Porter led the party through the massive palace complex to the main throne room. There more than two hundreed people were assembled, between the court and petitioners. The King announced the Queen’s departure from the throne room and she left to give audience, through a private gallery above, over-looking the throne hall, to the chambers beyond.

In these private chambers the Queen was presented with the oddly dressed and visibly addled Marchioness Lucinda. Thal related to the Queen the critical moments of the confrontation with the Lady Bizarre and Lucien, then Lucien added details to the account including the appearance of Lady Dacre near the Lady Bizarre. The Queen ordered Lucinda taken to the Regent’s tower. When Lucien implicated Earl Rustin was involved in the abduction of the Marchioness the Queen said such an accusation could not be entertained or even tolerated without proof. Then there was an awkward silence.

The Queen said that Perigrinus Umbrum, Master of the Wizards Guild, would be interested in hearing of the machinations of the rogue wizards of Digby, and she ordered a letter of introduction to Perigrinus be produced by one of her ladies under her Privy Seal.

At this time, mention was made of the murderous louts the party had left imprisoned in a chapel crypt at the edge of Mummersetshire, but the Queen brushed this aside to discuss more pressing matters. As a result of a single woman bent on vengeance, the treaty with dwarf kind had been sundered and the Treaty Between Two Churches was at risk as pagans demanded Benefit of Clergy for their own. Just three weeks earlier there had come reports of cracks of thunder up and down the mountains where dwarf kind dwell. Great plumes of dust were raised, and it was found the dwarfs had buried themselves securely under stone. With this the royal mines were no longer operating or even reachable, and the throne would be bankrupt in weeks. Because of this, the King greatly desired to question the dwarf who had been seen with us. Lucien and Thal both made brave attempts to convince the Queen that Ogham should be allowed to decide for himself when to be available for questioning. With that, royal audience was over and the door wards called to show the party out.

Arrangements were made through the awkward Apprentice Furguson for an audience with Perigrinus. That left time for the party to return to the Parson’s Rest. Ogham was informed of the great interest in pursuit of discourse with him, then the rest of the party went to see Perigrinus.
In the crowded palace grounds where even great titled Lords must call in favors to have brief use of a single small room, Perigrinus was found to have an entire finely appointed tower to himself. Entering the tower Thal felt the presence of a powerful magickal Ægis, and he informed the others that use of magicks there would at best be ineffective and at worst considered an offense. The queen’s letter of introduction was given to Perigrinus, who said that things had changed. Perigrinus estimated the curse upon Lucinda to be very powerful and not easily undone, then he revealed that the Island of Digby was no longer of this mortal realm. Arthur suggested acquiring a relic to help clear the curse on Lucinda, and Perigrinus suggested that Lady Bess, the pagan representative to the crown might be helpful in that regard. Thal promised to return to join with the Wizards Guild, but only after resolution of currently critical problems.

On the way out of the palace, Lady Rhiarra was encountered with Mother Olivia, a religious figure of the Sisters of St. Melois, a skilled healer, as evinced by the long green velvet gloves that she wore drawn up to her elbows. Lady Rhiarra spoke of dramatic changes in the kingdom.
“Things have become unstable, especially with the difficulties caused by loss of the king’s silver mines, which had been under the care of the dwarfs.”
Luckily, her family wealth came not from that source, but if the kingdom fell into chaos that might not be any salvation.
“You had a dwarf with you, as I recall,” Lady Rhiarra observed, “When you visited mother and I at Foxweorth.” The party was invited to a house of call by the name of “The Great North”, decorated with trophies of beasts on the walls and a bear skin on a high table. There the night was drunk and danced away.

Upon returning to the Parson’s Rest in the late evening, Thal sensed magicks at work and warned the others. Then Thal attempted to heighten his senses by magickal means so as to be ready for any event, but the spell casting went awry and his hair, still short as it regrew, flew again from his head with a “Poof!” and settled about him. As the party dispersed to their rooms upstairs, Lucien heard wind and Perigrinus appeared beside him on the upper landing of the stairs. He pointed at Ogham and conjured six soldiers with swords and spears who surrounded the dwarf. Then Perigrinus made a gesture with his staff and with a rush of wind Ogham and the soldiers were gone. Perigrinus intoned some words ancient and obscure and, with a “Poof!” of air, he also was gone.

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