Realms of Myth

The Campaign Begins:
After a Crisis, a Party forms to Investigate

The house of Dacre was attacked and put to fire and sword, destroyed by agents of the house of Penwyth, Sir Arnold, Earl Maralad.
Only one of the Dacre family survived, the heir Lucien. He found refuge with Earl Lindsey, the liege lord of the Dacre’s, barely making it to the refuge of his lordship’s lands alive.

Half marsh-elf brothers Thalaniarion or Thal and Ellesavalensar (Ellesar) learned an important noble, the Marchioness Lucinda, was abducted from the marshes of their home by the Rolluntinduil, taken to the town of Digby, and then set sail with the most notorious of all pirates, James the Black.

The dwarf alchemist, Ogham, working in Fallond in the resplendant enclosed ghetto called Dwarf Hall with its over-built enclosed streets with clerestory windows such as are found in cathedrals elsewhere, found himself the only one of his kind remaining, after a dust-up between the accepted pagan faith and the Church of the Light over “benefit of clergy” regarding the high crimes of a foreign witch against the dwarf community. Ogham had work to do – he had only just completed his apprenticeship and started his practice. To have fled along with the rest without making sure that everything he had in the works was completed and delivered would have destroyed his name, professionally.

Thal and Ellesar came to the dwarf’s ghost-town shop, Thal for his usual purchase of ritual supplies, Ellesar for healing herbs to save himself the time it would otherwise take to forage them. A short conversation later an offer was made and a contract struck with Ogham for his services on retainer. The three left Fallond in haste to bring word of the abduction of the Marchioness Lucinda to Lucien, Lord Dacre, who was being hosted by the Contessa of Lindsey, Earl Lindsey being absent on an extended hunting excursion.

Plans were made to travel west to the 5 Forests of Mummersetshire to secure allies, friends of Lucien, then to Fallond to secure passage to the dingy and dangerous pirate haven of Digby by ship.

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Pursuing remnants of house Dacre and attracting assassins

Highlights from 2014-02-01

Lucien, Ellasar, Thal, and attendants rode West from Daldrin Tor in Lundeinshire while the dwarf Ogham stayed behind. They travelled to the Five Forests of Mummersetshire to enlist aid and stayed at the Broken Axle Inn in the village of Piddlington. They encountered Ranulf of Ponce, a musician who escaped the tragic extinguishing of the house of Dacre at Erebord. Ranulf knew of others who had escaped and might serve to support Lucien.

Together they traveled to nearby Grendle Tup which is in view of Foxwoerth Hall, the seat of her honor, the Dame of Mummersetshire (a sergeanty held directly from the crown). There they met with Edred Longshanks, a fighting man still willing to serve the house of Dacre who agreed to meet the party the next day at Foxwoerth.

After meeting with Edred the party continued with Ranulf to Foxwoerth, where they were bathed and dressed by attendants in order to dine with the mistress of the feof, Dame Esturme, and also her exceedingly beautiful daughter, the Lady Rhiarra. During the night, an assassin attempted to scale the walls of Foxwoerth and was killed with crossbow bolts as the Hue and Cry was raised against him. Investigation by Ellasar revealed that the assassin had camped some distance outside the walls with one other. Thal and Lucien remained with the body to see what they could learn. To Lucien’s startlement and abject horror, Thal conjured and bound the spirit of the dead assassin to answer some questions. By his Art it was discovered that the assassin was a warrior ordered on a mission by his master Sir Arnold Penwyth, Lord Maralad, to kill Lucien in pursuit of a vendetta against the house of Dacre. Accompanying the assassin there had been one other, named by the dead assassin as Ronan Aldiss, who was discovered by Ellasar to have fled the little encampment by the time he had arrived.

Edred Longshanks met up with the party after the investigation of the assassin, and the party prepared to move out, on their way to Fallond to hire a ship.

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Ambush on the road to Fallond

Lucien, Elassar, Thal, and company planned to ride from Foxwoerth to Fallond,
a journey of some 40 miles. On the way out of the manor compound, the camp site used by the would-be assassin was visited. Thal used magick to observe what had happened there and reported a physical description of the assassin’s companion to the party, along with a summary of the conversations the two had before the assassin departed to do his evil work. When the assassin did not return by dawn, his companion left to join up with a few of their fellows to ambush Dacre and his companions on the road. All were to be slain, but Dacre without mistake, or they would suffer Earl Maralad’s wrath.

Quick progress was made as the party rode at high speed to the edge of the Five Forests,
where the road met the river Dansis. There they were attacked by four men, two of whom opened with a salvo of sling stones.
Lucien’s groom-cum-valet Robert was knocked unconcsious in the first pass as the troupe swept by. Thal suffered a couple mishaps with his magic in an attempt to influence the course of events, first causing his hair to fall out and shortly afterwards blood began to run from every opening. Additionally, Thal’s fingernails began to grow at an accelerated rate,
extending and curling around until he needed assistance from Elassar to trim them back in order to retain basic function of his hands.
Despite this, most members of the party were successful in combat, including Elassar’s massive dog. One of the attackers was killed. Another, grievously wounded, was set on his horse and ordered to return to his master (Sir Arnold Penwyth, Lord Maralad), and two more were taken prisoner and brought along by the party. Thal attempted to heal his bleeding using a ritual magick and failed, then tried again with a quicker, more difficult spell and succeeded. All trace of the blood was removed from his body, although not his clothing, which was still awash in it. He changed from his bloodied clothes into clean garments, his only other set of fine elfin attire.

The party traveled to the next small village along the road, Tippleberry, in neighboring Tuppenshire. There they sought healing and rest, making use of the midwife and the old wise woman, Widow Beauchamp (BEECH-um), both, to save the lives of the two prisoners and their own man, Robert. Afterwards, Lucien made arrangements with the village reeve, Thomas, for the two prisoners to be held and cared for as long as a year’s time. Lucien had use for these blackguards. They could be instrumental in dragging Penwyth, Lord Maralad, under charges before Parliament … and maybe even winning.

In the morning the party continued on to Fallond. There Thal sought assistance
from the Wizard’s Guild. The party waited patiently outside as Thal followed a path of doors that opened seemingly of their own volition, torches and braziers springing into bright and cheerily dancing flames for his benefit as he approached, coming at last to a staircase where, on calling out, he scared a poor, frail old maid out of a few more of her precious years as she swept up. She conducted him to an expensively appointed solar and informed him the guildmaster Peregrinus would join him momentarily. Thal saw no one else in all the guildhall until he was greeted by a man swathed in some of the costliest silken brocades embroidered in gold, rich sleeves and hems of deepest wine-dark velvet trailing a half-dozen feet behind him, with a tall biretta of velvet so black it seemed to deny the presence of light completely. The soft scents of the perfumes and scented oils with which he was dabbed and in which the sculptured waves of his coif were dressed arrived with the opening of the door through which he entered. He offered his hand and introduced himself in cultured tones as Perigrinus, head of the guild, the light from the two small high round windows glittering across the collection of rings adorning his hand. He remarked at how astonished and how honored he was to receive one who bore elfin blood.
Thal consulted with him, but was at some pains to describe the difficult position in which he found himself, subject to a hex contracted from a mistake in the handling of his Arts but having been left unequipped with the knowledge of any sort of formula for the dispelling of the works of his craft. Pereginus expressed his deep concern that Thal’s master had allowed him out into the world without having equipped him with that lore, and then relief that the rest of his brothers of the guild were occupied or absent. They would have been making an unseemly fuss over him in the hopes to win him as their journeyman for the privilege of teaching him that which he lacked. Dispeling the hex could have easily enough been done, but the guild master had been reluctant to do so only to send him out on his own again, for it would only be a matter of time before he was so vexed again. Returning time and again for such services would damage his reputation and even, all too soon, mark him as a target among his unscrupulous colleagues, someone who might even be bound and exploited. Peregrinus offered the prodigious resources of the guild, and his own as tutor, as a gesture of amity he hoped would not be lost upon the elfs, in the hopes of starting to build a bridge betwixt the mortal practitioners and those among the elfs. If only Thal would consent to join the guild, the papers for which would take a couple of days to prepare and see recorded into the guildhall records and also into the rolls of the city.

Lucien was not happy to lose those two days, but Edred allowed that it was not unlikely that finding a boat to go to Digby, one which the party could hire with reasonable expectation of making port alive and not bound up to be sold for slaves out of the country, could take a couple days.

Those matters resolved, the party went together with Lucien to Fairingay Palace high atop Crown Hill to deliver a letter from Dame Esturme at Foxwoerth to the queen. They stopped a moment to take in the sight of the city spreading out at the foot of the hill and the grand sight of Kingsbridge rising in the distance, gateway to the northern half of the realm. On showing the letter and seal to the guards at the gate, one of the men was told off by their sergeant to conduct the party to the Queen’s Hall, where her majesty was still in residence following the great faire for the month before. They ended up taking somewhat of a circuitous path about the grounds and buildings so their horses could be dropped with Robert at the stables. Queen Islaelia was found in a upper chamber taking her ease with a half-dozen of her fine ladies and a few highly favored and trusted noblemen of the court. The ladies were all a twitter at the presence of the half-elfs, so handsome, even stunning in Thal’s case, they were. Islaelia thanked Lucien for the letter, and stepped into the light from one of the windows to read it, chuckling and smiling in good humor to receive a letter of good cheer from her closest confidante. She paused a moment to shush the ladies, so forward had they become in their unseemly admiration of the two half-elfs, and then finished her reading. She turned back to Lucien and questioned him as to the truth of the rumours from the marches regarding his father’s foef. She listened sharply to his tale, but afterwards insisted on questioning Lucien in detail about what had happened. To spare him having to unpack his heart before her whole suite she commanded the room cleared so he might speak in confidence with her. Ellasar and Thal retired along with the queen’s retinue.

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From Fallond to Digby

Adventure Log 2014-03-01, Smoke and Mirrors 4

The party in Fallond enjoyed pleasant late spring weather with scattered clouds, some wind, and the chattering of seasonal birds. Lucien was released from his interview with the queen to enjoy the court, given wine, and spoke with Lady Deirdre. Her rich, dark brown hair, pale skin, freckles, and subtle accent betrayed her Enladdisi roots. Together, the party whiled the day away at court with much wine, dancing and pleasant banter.

Afterwards, one of Her Majesty’s harbingers secured lodgings for the party at the Old Gregory, presenting Butler Jarvis with a sealed letter close from the queen, under her private or Small Seal, explaining that Her Majesty was providing for lodgings. The Old Gregory was the nicely appointed town house of a noble by the name of Gregory, that had long been operated as a house of call in his absences, eventually sold to the butler as a going business concern. There the party learned that Princess Lylondoria of the marsh elfs of the north kingdom had stayed in that very building for the run of the Great Faire that had ended the previous month, apparently bringing a complaint to the King and Queen of the harsh rule of the Lady Crystalla Maria, or Crystalla Buia (“Dark Crystal”), who owned the wardship of the young elfling.

Shortly after getting settled in, Edred was dispatched to search for a boat to give passage to Digby. Lucien gave Edred 4 shillings to facilitate his task. The dwarf Ogham arrived to meet the party having received the message from Lucien which had been dispatched to him at Lindsey as Lucien departed Foxwoerth, and the party informed Ogham of recent events.

Following their supper, Lucien ordered brandy which was later delivered and shared in conversation with Ogham, in Lucien’s private chambers. Dwarfs visited Erebord before its fall. Lucien remembered at last having seen Ogham with the contingent of dwarfs that had visited. He asked what their business had been. Ogham admitted that, as Lucien was the last heir of the house, it was likely he held a secret to which Lucien, of all people, should be privy. Apparently Fire Pines, long forgotten and become the stuff of children’s stories and legend, had been discovered growing at a place called Ruir Coomb within the patrimony of the Dacre family. It had long been protected by the locals who lived closest to them. When the dwarves were addressed to be enlisted as discreet agents, they sent a party of representatives to inspect the trees and verify the quality of the wood. On their return to Fallond after, they were set upon by highwaymen. While they were stripped down to their shirts and underthings and all valuables taken, the brigands seemed most interested in the small sample of the wood they carried with them. This had happened within a month of the “tournament” that sparked the conflict between Lord Dacre, Lucien’s father, and the Earl of Maralad.

Edred returned and reported having got a lead on a boat that might offer passage to Digby, but it would take another day at least to sort everything around – and so the evening passed.

The next day, Thal, Ellasar, and Ogham discussed their needs for medicinal and magickal herbs and settled on buying from the merchants they could find in town. They set out together by late morning, mindful that the markets closed at noon and shops closed at three in the afternoon.

After they left, Lucien descended to the great hall to take his ease and await their return. Enjoying a glass of wine, soldiers dressed in the king’s livery, tabards of rich MacDearth blue emblazoned with a great white hawk, a red rose in one talon, a yellow in the other, entered and called for the master of the house. Butler Jarvis appeared and addressed the men. He allowed as they should wait and continued on about his work. After disappearing into the service areas of the house, the chamber maid, Anne, came discreetly down the steps to whisper in Lucien’s ear that Jarvis was upstairs and wanting a word with his lordship. Lucien obliged by going upstairs to find Jarvis waiting outside the door to his chambers. Passing quickly within, Jarvis let Lucien know that the dwarf that had arrived the previous evening to join their party was wanted for questioning. Apparently the King wants to speak with the last of HIS dwarfs remaining in his kingdom.

Lucien went out to look for Ogham, to warn him, soon catching the attention of a VERY swift and resourceful street urchin to aid him in his task. With the promise of a bright new silver shilling, the lad – and his friends – were off like a shot. How hard could it be? The only dwarf left in the kingdom out shopping for magickal whats-its had to be somewheres around the wizards’ guildhall. Lucien then looked for a local beadle and quizzed him, if he were a wizard in need of such things where would he be – at which the beadle looked both alarmed and concerned – and told him how to get to the precincts of the wizards’ guild. Ogham was found, the urchin was paid (he, the silver and all his friends disappearing as soon as the shilling took flight towards him). Lucien delivered the warning. Ogham saw no good coming of any meeting with the king, so he took his leave of Lucien and the halfelfs to find an inn at the docks. He ended up at Daddlewharf’s, where he ran into Edred. Questioned as to why he would take lodgings there rather than stay at the VERY posh Olde Gregory (on the queen’s silver), Ogham explained what had developed, at which point Edred said “You need to come wit’ me.”

Edred helped Ogham find refuge in a room in “Sweet Alice’s” house of pleasure. Now, Alice’s isn’t duly licensed or regulated by the church, as is customary, he explained as they walked, but she is a gal with a good heart who serves a good hot meal and a tasty pint of stout for a fair price, and all the people of the neighborhood look out for her, including the Watch. Her customers tended to favor the tasty candied violets, crystalized ginger, sweet pickled plums and other light treats she also peddles, of which she was also fond, but they all knew that she had other sweets for sale if one knew how to ask nicely and discretely. Alice saw Ogham quietly installed and his domestic needs attended to, as soon as Edred dropped some silver into her “treasure chest”, which she provocatively shook afterwards, making a noticeable jingling..

With the halfelfs, Lucien took the second sealed Letter Close under the queen’s Small Seal to the Porter of Fairingay Palace, access to the armory in the grand, main gatehouse of the palace, was given for the party to equip themselves. Sir Gregg, an accomplished knight and primary assistant of the Porter, helped the party with their needs. Edred and Robert got suitably attired in much-needed armor while Gregg recommended a less “twiggy” blade for smiting Lucien’s growing list of enemies to replace the “knitting needle” he commonly carried as a sidearm, which was more appropriate for honor duels but not so much for surviving on the battle field. Ellasar and Thal stocked up on arrows and Ellasar’s massive mastiff, Margle, was measured for armor.

Edred returned from his labors and searches just after supper and, as Anne saw to getting him fed, informed Lucien that a ship offering passage to Digby was found. This was the only man Edred could truly trust to carry them safely to harbor there without fear of being beaten and robbed then sold into slavery, considering where they were headed. The captain, Sir Emeric de Lacy was a cousin of the Dacres and, what’s more, a Knight considering taking vows to become a knight in holy orders. Edred warned there was a tale there, and not a happy one, but it was a tale that was not his to tell. The party were slated to leave on the morning tide, needed to be on the quay to be loaded at first light so they could sail by the time the sun broke the horizon.

That night, someone attempted to break in to Ogham’s room but he scared them away. Intruders also managed to open the shutters to the window of Ellasar and Thal’s chamber at the Gregory. The intruder hurled a dagger before attempting to climb through. Thal hit the intruder at the window very strongly with his quarterstaff, knocking him back more than a dozen feet to fall down more than 20 feet to the cobblestoned street below, flat on his back, where he lay dead, shattered. Lucien heard the ruckus and sounded the alarm. Jarvis came to assist and in turn raised the Hue and Cry and called out the constable, that no one mistake them for the miscreants. The body of the fallen intruder was dragged inside. Lord Lucien occupied the constable and kept him at a distance while Thal examined the body by magickal means.

Conjuring shadows of the past, Thal reviewed the echoes and phantoms of the events leading up to the break in. From his vantage point outside in the street: there had been four men, Rudy, Rex, Andy, and the one now dead, Phil. Acrobats all, they stood on each other’s shoulders to get access to the window. Going inside to read the body, Thal discovered that he had been in good health, well-fed and well-groomed at the time of his death – "well-kept" came prominently to mind. Phil had been an acrobat and knife thrower, one of the players, who was part of a troupe that did not always perform together but did dark work as needed. Associated with him was a vision of a large stone hall or manor in the countryside to the East. This was where he had belonged, was his home, no place that Thal was familiar with. There was also an image of the badge of Maralad and some images of the Five Forests which also resonated as home. When attempting afterwards to actually raise his spirit for questioning, Thal messed up the magick and was rendered temporarily deaf, at which point he decided to stop his magickal investigation. Ogham agreed to provide an alchemical cure for the hex for a modest fee of 10 shillings, which Ellasar paid.

Prior to leaving aboard the Cécile, Thal left a note for the head of the Wizard’s Guild, Master Peregrinus, saying he was still interested in signing the papers for entrance into the guild, but would perforce be away for a time.

The party got on the hired boat and brought horses, pony, cart and gear along. The ship was splendid in decoration and appointments. Viewed by Ogham through a monocle that was fitted with a magickal crystal to reveal the motivations and intent behind peoples’ words and deeds. Captain Sir Emeric de Lacy, seemed wracked by desperation, with a determination to keeping his situation secret, and driven by a need to protect his family. On the voyage Thal used the resonance remaining with the ship to the port of Digby where it had spent a fair amount of time to provide a second sight vision of of the port town. Digby awaited them by a deep channel in a shroud of grey fog. The town was situated on an island surrounded by fens, the island and nearby areas being heavily wooded. Digby itself appeared ramshackle and dominated by a tower and compound in some disrepair at one end of the town. At the docks were six ships, two flying pennants of yellow with a kingfisher, the sigil of the earl of Fisher, the other four openly flying various sorts of pirate or freebooter flags.

On the voyage to Digby the captain at last consented to share his secrets with his kinsman, Lucien. He spoke privately in his quarters with him of Sir Etienne, Lord Jourdain, who had long wanted to ally himself with the de Lacys and marry his sister, Cécile. Unexpected costs came to the de Lacys. A number of years passed after his first proposal of a marriage had been rejected. One parcel of lands and manors after another had to be alienated to satisfy various creditors and meet other long-standing obligations, until only three manors were left. Lord Jourdain repeated his offer of marriage to Cécile, whom he was determined to have. The last three manors were given as her dowry. Their family fallen on such hard times, no other lord would take her, even with so respectable a dowry. Now Sir Emeric managed the ship as captain because he must, and plied his skills on the tournament circuit as much as he could. He had not seen Cécile in three years. She moved in with the Jourdain when she was married and was not allowed to communicate or travel. House Jourdain was ruled by Vice, it seemed. Sir Emeric could do nothing, as he believed that Cécile was not safe and he believed her welfare rode on his cooperation in carrying shipments of goods out of the country … without the king’s customs cocket seal.

During the voyage, Robert and Edred gradually healed the wounds they suffered on the road from Foxwoerth to Fallond.

Asked about Digby, Thal spoke of amoral elfs who visit Digby fairly frequently, but don’t live there. They enjoy the challenge of the hunt and killing the marsh elfs’ traditional enemies, the trolls.

Approaching Digby, the party came up with a plan. Thal masked those who were willing with a charm providing anonymity, a glamour that caused people to see who and what they expected, rather than the bearers of the charm as they truly were. Then the party confronted and questioned the Portreeve whose job it was to take hedage money from ships docking, ensuring that all Earl Rustin’s taxes got collected. Additionally, Ogham used a couple of alchemical preparations to add robustness to our armor at a cost of 10 shilling for each such treatment. Lucien instructed Edred to allow this enhancement to his armor, determined to see his childhood friend safe.

Having finally sailed safely into port, Thal at first failed to cast the charm of anonymity except upon himself, but was successful on the second try. Lucien decided against being cloaked in magick.

Leaving the ship, the party was informed that gear, cart and horses/pony must be off-loaded by nightfall or the party was welcome to continue on to the Lightning Coast, their last ports of call in Shanria before sailing south to Terraños.

Arriving in Digby there were many packages, crates, barrels and bales without any signs of the royal cocket seal, of any royal taxes having been paid. Lucien marched down the quay towards the little stone tower-house that was indicated by one of the stevedores as the office of the Portreeve. Lucien stood in the doorway brandishing a shield painted MacDearth Blue, the King’s color, and asked to see the Portreeve. The two men dickering with the Portreeve when he arrived quickly concluded their business and left. The charm of anonymity worked, causing the reeve and most others to see the three party members trailing along behind Lucien as soldiers in the same livery as appeared on the shield being so boldly waved about.

Lucien asked the Portreeve about the Marchioness who had been “trussed up like a Litmas pig”. He briefly put up brave front. Information was offered for money. For one shilling Lucien was told that the Marchioness was with James the Black on The Raven, the most notorious of all pirates and pirate ships. The Portreeve also told Lucien he should talk to the captains, Erik and Lanfred, of the two ships flying the colors of the Earl of Fisher. They were the earl’s own men and would best know who Dacre needed to talk to concerning the whereabouts of Lady Lucinda.

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A Fragile Alliance with the Wizards of Digby

Still under protection from my charm to bestow an impression of anonymity and Ogham’s magickal formula to enhance armor, Lucien, Edred, Ogham, Ellesar and I left the office of the Portreeve of Digby and made our way back toward the docks, hoping to talk to the captains or crew of the ships bearing Fisher’s bright yellow pennant. Fifteen men bearing badges showing a black tower on a field of forest green intercepted us, however and proceeded to surround us. A crowd emerged to gather around. The liveried soldiers grabbed Lucien who turned to us and shouted, “Find the Marchioness!” Ellesar set his hound Margle upon our foes, but as he took down the first man he was quickly pierced by the dispassionate, cold professional swords of his fellows and killed. Enraged, Ellesar threw himself on the soldiers, only to be just as swiftly dispatched. The soldiers gave no quarter.
Oh, my brother.
I held myself ever so still, ’lest I share the same fate. Lucien was taken away, and the rest of us were allowed to drag away the corpses to get them out of the sun, such as it was, that they might be composed and dressed for their final rites. Woodenly I moved, feeling nothing but a cold emptiness in my heart where so recently my brother had burned with the fire of life. The drama apparently over, the strangely quiet, murmuring crowd dissipated.

Having sequestered the bodies of the fallen on the ship that still carried our belongings, we decided to continue with the plan to question Erik or Lanfred, the captains of the ships at port flying the colors of the Earl of Fisher – or both, perhaps, as was my own preference. Because of the potential for myself and the dwarf Ogham to call attention to ourselves by our mere presence, it was decided that Edred would do the talking while the rest of us guarded his back.

We approached the two ships, Lanfred’s Sea Wolf docked on the right and Eric’s Leopard on the left. Edred stepped up to the Sea Wolf and requested to board. Talking to the deck hand he learned that James the Black had left the port of Digby a couple of weeks ago with no problems, just as he had planned. His ship the Raven was said to be headed to the Isle of May, a mythical island in the Page Sea often obscured by fog, or otherwise simply, strangely, absent, commonly considered to be nothing more than an old fairytale by landlubbers and sailors alike.

Unsatisfied with what had been learned, we decided to go into town to find others to question. Three taverns stood most prominently along the docks; Daddlewharf’s (named after a comical sea bird), the Brass Lantern, and the Pearl. Nearby, however, was Madame Richaud’s House of Pulchritude, where the owners of the other three advised a visit if looking for news of James the Black. We called upon Madame Richaud at her House of Pulchritude and found the madam to, instead, be a tall, handsome man shrouded in a large, elaborately coiffed black wig tied with a bright silk scarf and strung with pearls and chains of gold and silver, heavy gold earring hanging from his right ear, eyebrows drawn in thick graceful arches, thick black mustache and goatee, in an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse trimmed in fancy lace showing a deep hairy chest, and layers of voluminous peasant skirts cut of fine fabrics, like some wealthy gypsy, with hard-soled black swashbuckler boots whose heels had to be four fingers thick if they were one.
Edred asked about James the Black and Madame replied that he did come there by custom, but had not been for a couple weeks. Richaud sent one of maids to fetch a small cask from the buttery, an exceptional grade of fine liquor of dwarfish make, then poured out about three to four times the size of a normal serving into a couple fat-bellied cups. Edred asked about the special lady James the Black was with and Richaud sniffed in disdain and responded that James had gone because he had a package to deliver – a very pretty and curvaceous package who thought way too much of herself. Edred foolishly downed his drink and gave Richaud ten shillings, which were carefully counted and considered before the conversation continued.
“The tower where that unpleasant package was lodged, as a show of courtesy, is on the other side of the island, and those dwelling there are the wizards who are going to be in charge here no matter what Earl Rustin thinks.”
Then Richaud suggested, if Edred wanted to know anything else, he should come upstairs. Edred followed with no small trepidation.

Downstairs with the others, I scanned the room for hidden items and found some concealed objects that appeared to be essentially mundane. The room was exquisitely appointed with an artistic chandelier glittering with cut crystals, yards and yards of fine tapestries, heavy velvet curtains, and furnishings of expert craftsmanship. A girl came down and saw me. Eyes wide, proceeded to shyly attend and serve food, seemingly not even noticing the rest of my fellows. I did my best to keep the girl occupied with small talk and gave her a shilling for the food and drink (twice what I knew it was worth). While I kept the girl distracted, Ogham used some magickal alchemical preparation to get news of others: The Marchioness? was here a couple of weeks ago; The Isle of May? nothing; James the Black? Madame Richaud knows him and another woman upstairs awaits his return; Lucien? a man upstairs is under orders to capture Lucien, if found.

I casually questioned the girl, whose name was Eve, about the situation in town. It seemed there was some rivalry between the Earl and the wizards of the town. The wizards supported the pirates’ activities by providing financing for their repairs and enterprises, when needed, and by fencing valuables taken as booty on their raids. An increasing number of soldiers worked for the wizards, and have fought against the Earl’s men. Sailors around town, including James the Black and some others, speak of the Isle of May being cloaked by mist – a fog that is supposed to be a border between worlds. The mists and the island they hide appears and disappears without rhyme or reason. Time may flow differently there, slower. No one knows why the wizards want to take over, but under the full moon none are welcome by the cove near the tower. Neither the wizards nor their household staff nor soldiers ever spend time in town, but always stay in the walled compound unless out about the wizards’ business.

Madame Richaud called down for a flagon. Ogham waived Eve off so she could continue to sit and talk with me, fetched the flagon and took it up himself. Then he came back down and fetched another flagon and used “service” as a pretext for entering and inspecting the rooms upstairs. Doubtless under the influence of my charm he appeared to anyone he encountered as one of the nameless and faceless household staff. Behind the first door he opened the room was unoccupied, but behind the second door was a soldier asleep with a girl. Ogham made noise with the flagon and tray to wake the soldier, making apology that he had only come for the washing. The man swiftly ordered him out, so Ogham took the soldier’s clothes and meekly left the room. Downstairs Ogham stashed the clothes and the flagon in the kitchen.

With continued questioning,, Eve cautiously and gently informed me that Madame Richaud was available to the highest bidder. I obliged her by giving her another shilling for her explanations and help. Ogham and I requested that Eve fetch the earl of Fisher’s man from upstairs. After a short delay the disgruntled man appeared wearing a dressing gown 6in’s too short for him, for lack of proper clothing. Questioned about Lucien, the soldier reported that his lord is looking for Lucien, and said that common gossip could explain why. The soldier also stated that the local wizards are an inconvenience for the Earl who has not yet decided how to handle them. Neither the soldier’s own business nor his problem.

Edred returned and after some awkward conversation that seemed to make Eve and the earl’s man nervous, we decided to go directly to the wizards’ Turrim Tacitum, on the other side of the island. I volunteered to speak for the group, being a wizard myself and having no small practice with discourse and diplomacy. I let the charm of anonymity go for myself, restoring my normal appearance, and the rest followed as we walked across town and approached the tower directly. The tower loomed above from inside a walled compound.
At the gate were armed and armored guards, whom i hailed, requesting audience with the wizards of the tower.
The one who must have been in charge told off one of his men to take us up, and directed us to follow him to the tower, grinning all the while.
As we passed through the arching stonework of the great gate in the wall that marked the perimeter of the wizards’ domain, I felt the subtle sensation tingling along my spiritual senses that revealed we were crossing into a place guarded by a powerful magickal Ægis.
I hung back momentarily to inform the others of this as they passed within, that it called for all of us to be cautious.
Inside, we found two other buildings, a long residence hall, no doubt for the servants and men at arms, and a great round house with half a dozen chimneys climbing up its outside wall, no doubt the kitchens, all connected to the tower and each other by covered walkways, and there was much activity. We crossed the courtyard, past the small dooryard garden by the kitchen door where I observed a number of common herbs I knew. Onward, we climbed the steps up the mott on which the tower had been built, in a style that was centuries old now, up to the main portal into the tower itself, trailing our escort.
As we gained the small, walled fighting platform before the main portal, we found sudden silence. The noise of the compound’s bustling activity and the sounds of the town beyond were completely absent, clearly blocked by some magickal charm.
Turrim Tacitum … yes … Silent Tower, indeed.
We noted the grounds and the tower itself were a mess, haphazardly maintained at best, with even serious wear left unrepaired, to the point where window shutters hung so badly warped they were unable to block the weather, drafty at best. Up to the top of the tower our escort conducted us, to the topmost chamber (or very nearly), where we found the wizards conducting the business of their domain.
We were greeted respectfully enough.
I proceeded to lay forth our situation to the masters of the tower and proposed that they release our Lord Lucien to us so that we could all work together against the Earl and restore the Marchioness. A rather physicality impressive man stood and identified himself as Edmorriah and spoke for the wizards. At first he accused me of working with the wizards’ guild of Fallond. I discounted such claims, explaining that the wizards’ guild had no power over me. (I didn’t feel that my impending plan to join that august body was germane to the matter at hand) Master Edmorriah observed that with the Marchioness gone the lands under her purview were falling into chaos and would continue to do so until the Marches were in flames. I explained that, ultimately, the Marchioness was liege lady to Lucien and whatever might remain of house Dacre. This impending chaos was clearly the intent of the Earl of Fisher, as he was responsible for the abduction of the Marchioness.
Edmorriah shrugged, she had been an agreeable enough guest, and her care had been small enough price to pay to keep Rustin at bay while they attended to their own affairs. At his lordship’s request, James the Black took her and sailed off to the Isle of May so to land no later than Midsummer’s Eve. And we are once again at peace … he frowned briefly … until the next time. I again repeated the offer to work against the Earl of Fisher and to rescue the Marchioness in exchange for the release of Lucien, and the wizards agreed in principle with specific arrangements to be discussed further and agreed upon later, over supper.

The wizards claimed they had no quarters to spare, so one of their members, named Anan, recommended we stay at the Pewter Mug in town. We were invited to return to sup that evening with them and discuss specific terms of agreement, after we had made our arrangements for our lodgings settled in and refreshed ourselves. We took our leave. One of the household men at arms, by the name of Erin, escorted us back out and over to the Pewter Mug Inn. The inn was a gated “U” shaped building with a courtyard between wings of one, two, and three stories. The keeper was Ian, and we made arrangements with him for quarters, storage, and boarding for the horses. Ogham was nervous about keeping his supply of alchemical agents in Digby, so I offered my personal guarantee to replace anything, in the event something might be lost. Erin accompanied us as we retrieved our belongings from the ship, including horses and the bodies of Ellesar and Margle to be prepared for last rites.
All settled into the inn, we dressed and prepared ourselves and at last returned to the tower at sundown to join the wizards for supper. The chamber was reconfigured for a meal by then, trestle tables and benches which had stood unnoticed along the walls deployed for the use of all. The tables were covered with fine cloths and laid out with excellent food.
Lucien was then ushered in and welcomed, and he replied he was looking forward to meeting the Marchioness.
We were all seated at a table just below the high table where sat the masters, kept company by five men dressed in scholastic robes but, compared to the Wardens and Magister of the high table, it was clear that here were three journeymen, named Andry, Barabas and Pantos, and two young apprentices, Josephus and Mandred. Magister Edmorriah and three Wardens, Gilead and Anan and Anan’s creature Harald, spoke in low voices in turn with each other during the meal. The high table had been set for five, however. One of the great chairs at it remained conspicuously empty.
The masters paid scant attention to us, their guests. Our five tablemates listened but said little, although Pantos remarked that his master was missing, accounting for the empty chair at the high table, at which Josephus looked rather despondent. As the meal progressed, they started to warm to our genial company enough to ask about our travels and about Lord Lucien. We obliged with pleasantries and much abbreviated accounts of our more recent exploits, and learned that Barabas had served his apprenticeship under Magister Edmorriah, Pantos under the missing Warden Ambrosius, and Andry under the apparently much reviled Warden Anan. Andry and Mandred shared a look that made it clear they were in accord in that opinion of Warden Anan.
As supper neared its conclusion, Magister Edmorriah and the three Wardens present finally expressed their agreement to make the Marchioness available, but they asked a boon in return. They needed something. They were apparently in the midst of delicate negotiations with some foriegn lord to establish their independence from earl Rustin.

After supper it was clear the journeymen and apprentices were still rather hesitant to speak, but I used my uncanny social graces to loosen their tongues. Pantos seemed the most willing to speak of the five, despite Barabas’ thunderous looks, reporting being anxious about Warden Ambrosius having been missing for more than a week. He was last seen at the chapel where he most commonly meditated, the one at the end of the promontory, by the water’s edge, down the hill behind the tower, built upon the old Caladoran temple ruin. There was apparently an ancient crypt there which served as a secondary chamber for the master’s ruminations. Pantos agreed to show us the temple ruin, Barabas shrugged and shook his head, and Pantos continued to explain. There was more going on than met the eye. Edmorriah did not want Ambrosius to return, nor did he want Ambrosius declared dead, since then custom and the charter of the group would dictate his replacement on the Council. It was clear that Barabas and Pantos were respectful, even friendly, colleagues, but also that as Edmorriah’s protégé, Barabas would take that seat if the Magister had anything to say about it, even at Pantos’ expense. Thus, Edmorriah would do his best to see us on our way as quickly as possible to limit opportunities to interfere. Andry warned that Anan saw himself as Edmorriah’s heir, and he was just as keen that Andry sit that empty chair.
We took our leave for an after supper walk around the grounds, out the postern gate and around the compound.

All that was left of the ruined Caladoran temple on the shore at the bottom of the hill behind the tower were the worn but still bright white marble steps and the base on which it had once stood. It was surrounded by water on three sides with marble mooring posts for boats, great bronze rings hanging from them, heavily corroded. The original temple remains had been cleared away, that the small graceful chapel of the Light could be raised on top of its foundation. Stepping on the marble steps rising up from the water towards the chapel, I could feel the presence of strong mana. This was a place of Power. I announced to the others that the area was saturated with elemental power and they should be cautious and respectful.
Pantos revealed yet another secret: Edmorriah wanted the party to move so we would not be tempted to embroil ourselves in their affairs, yes, BUT even moreso that we not interfere with the harvesting of moon lotuses that bloom throughout the cove during the nights of the full moon. The lives of those unlucky enough to have stumbled upon the presence of the lotuses had been sacrificed without a second thought in the past. Their masters were all of the same mind in that regard, still, and unlikely to change their minds in that regard. Here was a secret worth killing and dying for. These flowers shone with an inner light, blooming only for the nights of the full moon, and enabling magicks to be cast with increased Potence most tame and biddable – that did not increase the difficulty of the task in the way that gathering more Potence into a casting normally would. This use killed the flower. The flowers are a marker of the strong presence of Spirit here. The cove is a gate used by water faeries who have offered the wizards a charter, encouraging them to claim the island and the town on behalf of the fey, who would then be their generous and obliging lords. Together, it seemed, they all hate the Earl of Fisher. Ambrosius opposed the charter because of potential consequences that Edmorriah does not believe in. He suspected the island of Digby would then become like the Isle of May, appearing only at certain times enshrouded by obscuring mists as it connects to the lands of faerie where whole villages and towns lie under the water, only sometimes rising above.

We discussed the situation amongst ourselves and decided to first secure the Marchioness, then possibly return to intervene with the situation here in Digby.

Written June the 18th, in the year commonly referred to by the Mortal Realms as sixteen-hundred and forty-two; four days prior the summer solstice, and six days prior the fullness off the moon, by mine own hand, such as it is

Magister Thaliñiarion
grateful initiate of the mysteries of the Ars Quintates

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Marchioness found, Marchioness lost again

Adventure Log 2014-04-26, Smoke and Mirrors episode 6

The Wizards of Digby hosted a dinner where the party was reunited, and informed us that a ship had been arranged for Lucien and party. It was suggested that Thal try to conjure shadows of the past to reveal what happened to Ambrosius. Thal concluded that an optimal time to do this would present itself at an hour before midnight. A clock tower in town visible from the battlements of the Silent Tower allowed the party to track time. The wizard Pantos, once apprenticed to Ambrosius, accompanied the party at dinner and afterward. Arthur and Edred examined the grounds while Thal meditated at the top of the tower in order to gather his energies.

There was a chapel adjacent to the tower but outside the magick Ægis under which the compound lay, on the shore at the end of the promontory where the tower stood, built on the faded glory of ancient Calador. What Olde World god it had served was a mystery. In the chapel, Arthur noticed a reliquary dedicated to the Light prominently displayed. The attending priest explained it contained the hand of Saint Wembly who was hanged long ago by the Caldorans.

Meeting later, Edred inquired about the possibility of drugging or poisoning the wizards. The party concluded this would not be practical. Lucien consulted with Barabas, previous apprentice of Edmorriah. Finally, the party waited until darkness. The town became quiet. The priest had gone from the chapel, but the dove – thought to be a genius to Ambrosius was still there, staying near to the peak of the roof.

At the first step on chapel stone Thal realized something was very wrong and let the party know. The wizards Pantos and Barabas agreed and gave additional explanation. The aura of the Light normally receded after sundown, but in the chapel the aura retained its strength. The aura of Light was especially strong around the reliquary. Down the narrow steps behind the altar they passed into the crypt. Revealing shadows of the past showed Ambrosius entering the crypt, and then disappearing with a flourish of the hand as if moving behind a magick curtain of sparkling emerald fire. It seemed the clash of magicks caused by the aura of the Light from the reliquary held closed the passage used by Ambrosius, thus locking him out and preventing his return. Arthur and Lucien lifted the reliquary and moved it outside the chapel, onto the shore, at which point the candles on the altar and on the great stands beside the altar, and even the Eternal Flame on the altar itself, dimmed as the aura of Light receded.

After a series of failures that tried the last shred of my discipline and training, I took the rest of the party by the hand and led them through the Veil to find Ambrosius. Linked hand-to-hand, I took them all on an exploration through Spirit of the different layers of reality tied to this place. The chapel crypt became a circle of menhirs on a grassy knoll, then the menhirs became a colonnade of ancient Caladoran columns in softly gleaming white marble, and at last the party found Ambrosius starving, dehydrated, too weak to walk on his own, lying by a glistening pool under a great columned pavilion under a dome of alabaster. We returned through the Veils and used the small boat docked by the chaplain’s hut to bring Ambrosius to the Gilded Swan, where he could recover without worry of interference from his rivals in the wizards’ tower.

We then returned to our rooms, got three or four hours sleep, and got up to trudge through the fog that had descended in the meantime to the punts that waited to take us to the waiting ship. That ship turned out to be the same that brought us from Fallond, the Merry Célcile, with its tortured captain, Sir Emeric, Lucien’s distant cousin. All our gear and beasts had been loaded again, provisions taken on, and a silver lantern was now mounted to the beautifully carven figurehead on the prow which shone with emerald fire. Sir Emeric related that Edmorriah had explained the lantern would lead us in the direction of the Marchioness. The ship sailed out. The moon hung unmoving in the sky, until we were embraced by the fog. The mood on the ship became dark and foreboding. Edred played his concertina to raise spirits, but his little monkey, Jack, refused to dance and the mood remained heavy. From out of the fog and mist an elf of transcendent beauty standing in a small, gleaming white boat gradually materialized and approached, attended by a bevy of mermaids and mermen. The fog thinned enough to admit the light of the moon and stars again, but only just. The etherial beauty revealed herself to be the Lady Eva, the very first Contessa Fisher stepped out from the pages of the history books. She bid us to return the marchioness and foil Earl Rustin’s plans and, if possible, to find her son’s remains to have them properly buried. Earl Rustin knew where they would be found if we could not find them. She made it quite clear, there was a debt of blood between herself and Earl Rustin.

The ship sailed on through trackless seas, rocking and lurching through the waves following the emerald light of the silver lantern, fog so thick it continued to hide the moon. We and the crew alike fidgeted nervously and waited with scant patience. It looked like the sea and seemed to act like the sea, but the winds that filled our sails left no mark on the fog and mist through which we sailed, and it was preternaturally quiet. At wits end, at long last, the fog shredded before us at least enough to reveal an island with an artificial cove built into the base of high cliffs, guarded by a pair of stout encircling seas walls. As we pulled into the cove we could see the colors that identified the other ship moored there as The Raven, the ship of James the Black. Cargo elevators ascended cliffs up to a delicate gothic palace with walls of glass at the top. The palace had a strange lack of defenses of any kind. It presented walls of leaded glass like some strange secular cathedral, its great doors standing open wide to the outside, seeming to offer warm hospitality to any who would enter. As we approached we could first hear and then see a strange vision of a great celebration inside. Pirates from the Raven danced with mythic fey creatures in joyous abandon. But the smiles on the faces of the fierce pirates were forced, even strained and in their eyes were looks of pure terror. At the end of the great hall the Marchioness and James the Black sat at the high table on a broad dais alongside a silver-gray elf king with emerald eyes.

We cautiously picked our way through the festivities, threading through the dancing pirates and their fey partners, all clad in the most magnificent raiment, toward where the Marchioness sat. Halfway along the hall through the “merrily” dancing throng The crowd and the dancers all came to a sudden stop, as if time itself froze. In a flick of a butterfly’s wing, all stood still. There we found Her, whom we know only as the Lady Bizarre. The dancers caught in mid-cavort wheeled around Her. She was the center of their merriment, of their world. Dressed in a cloud of flowing diaphanous robes whose edges glittered with jewels like rainbow dew drops and gleamed with jewelry of silver and gold that looked for all the world like it had grown there, it appeared that she wore a grandiose wig teased to flow high above her head, only it danced and waved like a living thing in unseen winds only She could feel. Her makeup sparkled and shaped her features dramatically. From what could be seen, she had the build of a great Earth Mother, all soft, generous curves. She introduced herself as the mistress of the hall, Brilliant House, and of the revel in progress. Edred tried to distract her with his notorious charms, but was silenced with a wave of her hand and the very tiniest wrinkle of ill temper on her brow. Thal attempted to make use of a magick cantrip and was stopped with a similar gesture and told simply to desist.

Lucien used a small mirror to see the reflection of the Lady Bizarre. Her reflection showed her true form which was so horrifying, withered and corpse-like, that Lucien dropped the mirror. The Lady Bizarre scolded and warned Lucien about being so rude to have brought such a trinket of vanity into her house.

Asked about the Marchioness, Lady Bizarre turned and gestured at Lucinda and insisted that she had entered Brilliant House of her own free will, that she was enjoying herself and did not wish to leave. This was very telling. The danger here was very real. The Marchioness then called from the high table that she indeed found the house and the hospitality lovely, her eyes bright and wide … and vacant as a cow’s – as if bemused by some charm, in my considered professional opinion as a Wizard of no mean talent.

As Lady Bizarre had her back turned addressing Marchioness Lucinda, Lucien picked up his mirror again and tried to use it from over the Lady’s shoulder to show Lucinda the creature’s true form. Lucinda’s puzzlement barely registered on her visage. Then the Lady turned to see what Lucinda was looking at, to come face to face with Lucien’s up-raised mirror.
There was no way to avoid getting an eye-full of Her Truth revealed in that little mirror. She shrieked as if riven by a burning brand, then fairly burst in a flurry of midnight feathers into a flock of ravens that swirled in a vortex of sorts for a moment where She had just been standing before scattering to fly away – out the great doors, our every open window and the open rafters.

With the Lady Bizarre gone, the Truth of the “celebration” She had conjured was revealed.
Everywhere we looked, all around the hall, we could finally see that every one of the pirates was, in fact, dead. Their marvelous, magickal, mythical dancing partners were naught but painted figures of leather and canvass hung on branch and twig, stuffed with sawdust and straw, dressed in yards of paper and paint, gilt and glass. Under our feet, we slowly realized, the floor in every direction was coated with a sticky redness – their blood as they had been danced like puppets to their deaths for the unfathomable, alien joy of the Lady.
At the high table at the end of the hall, Lucinda and James had fallen face first into their plates, both unconscious, no longer propped up by Her sorcery. The elegant grey elf king with emerald eyes was also pitched forward into his plate, but no more real than any of the marvelous counterfeit dancers whose arms were still intertwined with those of their dead pirate partners.

Arthur grabbed the Marchioness first and carried her with assistance. Thal dragged James the Black along, and together the party made haste back to the ship. Angry storm clouds boiled and grew high in the air above the palace of glass. We warned the few crew members left behind on the Raven to guard it of what had transpired, and of the danger that the swiftly growing storm roiling above the palace represented. At the last moment, their fear mastered them and they fled their sleek, dark ship to join us in escape.

As our broad-bellied merchant ship sailed slowly out of the harbor, great jagged rocks began rising up one at a time like feral fangs seeking to close the gap between the seawalls – or pierce our hull to sink us. Or both. One of these jagged rocks rose only a short distance from the stern of the ship, a near miss that tied the guts in knots, but we were able to scrape by and make our way out of the harbor to the safety of the open sea at last. As the ship sailed back into the unnaturally thick fog surrounding the island, lightning could be seen striking down from the roiling clouds that swirled above the glass palace atop the cliffs, rendering it into rubble.

On board the ship, we tied up the three surviving crew members of the Raven, securing them along with James the Black in the cargo hold, and met with the Marchioness. Coming out of her stupor, Lucinda demanded the company of James the Black, furious that he should have been tied up and stowed in the hold. She was implacable, until Edred managed to sooth her enough to convince her to retire with him for a short time, through the gentle application of an astounding degree of compassion and charisma. As he took her by the arm to gently guide her to his cabin, a small vial fell from the confines of her sleeve, unbeknownst to her. Ogham shook a bit out onto the end of his finger to test it. It smelled of lilacs and lavender, of honeysuckle, blood and sweat. He recognized it as his master’s work, identified it as a love potion.

Lucien led the way to the hold to rouse James and confront him with the vial, accusing him of having enslaved the Marchioness with it. It was all too soon evident that it was in fact he who was unnaturally besotted with Lucinda, pining for her and demanding their reunion. He admitted to seeing the vial before and identified it as her perfume. Lucien left him there and swiftly proceeded to Edred’s cabin, concerned that he might also have fallen prey to Lucinda.
Edred answered the door, clearly unhappy at having been disturbed, but behind his back Lucinda was clearly looking all around on the floor.
“Missing something?” Lucien asked, holding up the vial.
“Give that back to me, churl!”
She boldly owned the vial was hers and that she had purchased it in preparation for a much-needed diversion, only to find herself in Earl Rustin’s clutches, commended to James the Black’s care. She turned the Earl’s man into her willing swain without the slightest taint of regret. She heaped her scorn upon our – and especially Lucien’s – temerity in judging her actions. She was a world away above us, socially. She was his ultimate liege lord. How dare we?!

I offered to read the Marchioness’ spirit and body for any traces of charms or curses or other influences that might have remained from her sojourn with Lady Bizarre. Lucinda objected strenuously, but Lucien convinced me that in these circumstances it would make sense to examine her in spite of those objections in order to expose any hidden threat that might be inspiring her to behave so. I shrugged and wove my charm around the her with great alacrity and precision and was all too soon utterly convinced there was no charm or curse or other such influencing her. That led to my dark realization that she was all on her own a most troublesome and objectionable creature. I reported this directly to Lucien in a low voice by saying that the situation was worse than he had imagined and that she was indeed free of all foreign influence of magick, and unfortunately free of wisdom and any shred of decency or self-discipline, as well.

At this point Lucien sent Arthur to talk to the Captain, who agreed to explain his understanding of the situation to Lucinda.
While Arthur engaged the Captain, Lucien suggested a moment topside to take the air and led his Lady liege up on deck.
“The first sensible thing thou hast said since I found myself upon this ragged little boat.”
She pointedly waited until Lucien offered his arm, then allowed him to escort her above. Suspecting she might be capable of hitherto unsuspected and unpredictable wickedness, I followed behind at a discreet distance while attempting to keep her Ladyship in view. Lucien took her up the short flight of steps to the forecastle. I followed only only as far as the base of the steps. My presence would be far too obvious and intrusive on that small raised platform. While I could still see where they were, my sight was largely obstructed. When the boat pitched and rolled on the waves causing Lucinda to stumble, I saw Lucien reach for her, She lurched suddenly before disappearing. From what I saw I could not be sure, but I strongly suspected that Lucien had helped her overboard, if not actually thrown her over. I was not terribly distressed by this, at first. Initially I thought it might be an attempt to instill in her a modicum of contrition, or respect, especially for us who had worked so diligently in her cause. But when Lucien made no move to rescue or offer aid at all, I sprinted up the steps to stand beside him, considered diving into the sea to make rescue myself. Briefly taking in the swirling, inky water and the strange thick fog that already obscured the splashing and struggling and muffled the intermittent cries of her final moments, I thought briefly of my brother’s sad fate and the fact that we were, in fact, between worlds. The sea we rode upon was more of a metaphor, a suggestion, and not at all what it appeared to be.
I chose to continue living instead of taking any such great risk.

Shortly after, I engaged Lucien in some very direct discussion of what our shared priorities and next steps should be. It was clear from that conversation that I agreed with Lucien that our Marchioness had essentially been lured to her death by the malevolent actions of Earl Rustin and James the Black and we had done the best we could to restore her.

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She fell into pounding sea almost silently
my hand remembering the softness of her satin train

It was dinner when the rest of my compatriots were made known to me in the tower.

Except one of them, of course, who had died. Half of the half-elfs in a thousand years.
His brother spoke with an impassioned passionlessness of his death at the hands of the mercenaries of the Terram Tacitus, the “quiet earth”. There is another meaning to that phrase, Terram Tacitus, which is, “the grave”.

The fabric of the Marchioness Lucinda’s dress was satin, but the security of the girdle trussing up the yards of fabric in the train for her ease of movement was naturally of the most costly velvet, threaded with gold, the better to show her wealth and station … and for the grip.

My friends had been spoon-fed many of the same facts by other factors of the quiet tower as I had by Pantos, ‘opposed’ as he was by his fellow journeymen and former apprentices. His master, Ambrosius, who had serious reservations about the pact with Faerie (as any sane man would), had vanished during a visit to the crypts of the chapel where magical regios held sway, dreamlands intertwining with the mortal world, where he was overseen by an apparent ‘genius’, a spirit of the Light.
Heaven save us from servants of the Light.
Like Lady Dacre, her cool hand on my cheeks, just as my hands must have seemed to Lucinda on the deck of the Marie Celeste ( the lost maiden) when they brushed her skin.

Is all of this really happening, or am I just a bookmark in the involuted articulation of history?

We convened with Pantos and Barabus (really, Barabus, that unsaintly name?) to the slow-disintegrating parapets of the loudest silent circle of wizards in Shanria. My vassal, Arthur Miller, conveniently discovered by the wizards here as I was, and Edred, plucked from mountain penury by my own hand, would survey the grounds and walls and guards and boundaries while Thal meditated not upon his brother’s death, but upon a magick to look into the past to find Ambrosius (honestly, can the wizards of this slowly rotting place not have thought to try such a thing or is such magick somehow conveniently elfin?).

I was left to wander the halls, bother various journeymen and especially Master Klaus to round out my understanding. Although I understand magick not at all, it seems to work shockingly like politics and countries, each different branch holding multiple intrigues and interests.

We convened at the chapel below, just outside the compound on the shore at the very end of the promontory guarding the wizards’ cove, where we quickly discovered a conveniently- and anonymously-arrived real reliquary of the Light (and wherefore are there such grisly necromantic miracles in the wide world that so needs love and hope and actual Light) seems to have blocked Ambrosius’ return from the onion-skin dreamworlds that overlap in this sacred place. Sweet Arthur became the guard of the reliquary while we plunged through the emerald fire that separates Regio of creation.

We brought the starved salvific Ambrosius out of the temple where he was trapped, to a small skiff moored for surely mundane purposes below the chaplain’s shack and conveyed him for recovery into Digby (which begs examination, but there it is).

Are some hands destined for salvation, while others are damned beforehand?
Is it possible that within each good person lurks the likelihood of damnation, and that this is inherent in the plans of the Light? And if that is indeed the case, are we certain that the Light is the salvific force we imagine, or is it another pawn of deceptions the likes of which Lady Bizarre would be proud?

The next afternoon, before the recovery of Ambrosius, and without the aid of Pantos or convenient Barabus, we hung a silver lantern burning green fire from the figurehead of poor Emeric’s ship and sailed, sleepless all, for the Isle of May.

All the long weeks, the many fires and kindly (if barbed) offers and disappointments have provided me with no gracious space to consider my place in the scheme of things except as the ultimate servant: a man with no place of his own except to try and recover what has been burned away, and to preserve what still shines.
I can almost see Ellesar’s eyes in the clovers, and in pale sunsets in the mist from captive parapets in the east.

The mansion on the Isle of May is constructed as no other building in man’s experience – or at least my own. Above the pirate ship, The Raven, sworn to the dread Pirate peacock James the Black, it stands without wall or guerdon with wide walls of glass, lit paths and open approach from above and below. This was my warning that the master of this house was dread indeed.

I am not a wizard, and our wizard did not brim with advice – but that was not new.

We arrived at a kind of dance. A frantic throwing about in interwoven circles from side to side between grizzled pirates and beautiful elfin creatures of tender flame. I should have struck a fire at the entrance. I should not have expected sense or sanity to hold sway. And yet…. Like hands on the railing, like a cry for help from the chill approximation of sea between worlds, I expected order to rule here upon May as I did elsewhere that it clearly did not.

We came abreast of the cloud of diaphanous silks wreathing her false and terrible loveliness before Lady Bizarre stopped the manic thrashing about of the dance, before the lavender-eyed blankness of the false elfin prince at the high table betrayed the hollow places occupied by James and Lucinda became clear for their warning.

She was glorious and terrible simultaneously.

She tempted us with the revelation of our secrets. Or was that just mine?

From each of us, Lady Bizarre (who became small and inoffensive even after I saw the terror of her true shape in the circle of self-obsession I carried with me as a memory of someone else’s childhood) would have extracted an awful, essential price.

The Queen gave me access to the breadth of her holdings to support my cause. I take only the smallest piece that what will not be missed. Who is to blame?

Trying to free Lucinda from her spellbind, I shewed the Lady, the Bizarre, the teeth and the darkness that I had seen of her composition. It was an accident. She broke at such self-awareness, as any courtier might. She became a veritable cloud of ravens or crows – I know not which – and fled, shrieking.

The dead seamen hung on hooks and stanchions above the dance floor of their deaths, on the straw-stuffed painted manikins their partners at the dance were suddenly revealed to be. “They came with violence in their hearts?” What man has never done such a thing? What woman? Violence lives everywhere, it is omnipresent. The Light is not.

We fled with Lucinda and James.

We contemplated the Raven, but left it to the storm boiling above destroying the defenselessness of the hilltop manor. Perhaps this is how the Fae learn human frailty and failing: by the transitive property of accidents.

We took sail as the ocean rose and the wind raised. Stones thrust themselves up from the belly of hate that was Lady Bizarre. “You have come of your own free will,” she drooled upon us.

Is it that the more rules that rule a man, the more susceptible he is to manipulation, or the more devoted a man is to the rule of law the freer he is? Does a man who murders his rightful lord for reasons wrathful and more reasonable than any court could attest suffer from a weakness of the spirit or a resolve of the same?

Back aboard ship, the unconscious Pirate King was restrained (his men already cordoned in their own cabin – a mercy in the worst of analyses). The Marchioness accidentally dropped a phial of a love potion while headed for her inadequate chambers, drawn by Edred’s charms.

The court will observe that she assailed her rescuers with the invective of captors, but no more than was her right. The judgemental will attest that no propriety except those of the most privileged was observed.

The wizard Thal, cool in the seas between worlds with the silver lantern guiding us home, observed and attested that the Marchioness Lucinda suffered no lingering enchantment nor effect from her sojourn with The Bizarre.

The great and dread Pirate James the Black was witnessed to pine and cry for his ‘beloved’, and his unnatural need for her, the capricious Marchioness Lucinda.

The Last Dwarf, Ogham, attested to the efficacy of the love potion she had employed against and upon the rakish gentleman. There would be no one else, I, Baron Lucien Lord Dacre observed, to attest to the selfishness, asserted privilege and altogether spoiled and rotten nature of the Marchioness Lucinda.

I consulted with no one.

I brought the Marchioness out onto the deck of Sir Emeric’s ship.

I would like to say that the great losses, and the visages of the dead in the bitch Bizarre’s realm had driven me to some state only the Maenads of old plays would recognize. But cold was the blue fury in my heart when I led her onto the foredeck.

Cool was my apology and slow the acceptance of this creature so poorly adapted to its courtly environment of interaction: lies and truth.

“Your Majesty,” I, Baron Lucien, Lord Dacre began.

“Your Grace,” I started as I watched the grey and azure sea of a world separate – and most importantly – with different laws than my own.

Later, I imagined myself saying, “I tried to save her,” as I met the queen’s eyes. For of all the Light’s creatures, women understand the attempted salvation of those – mostly men – who are unworthy of it.
“So many have died and so much has begun to burn,” I said to the Marchioness or imagined I said. She waved it away as the sun waves away the fog. "Ach – peasants – "
“But such was the cunning and machination of the Earls Rustin and Penwyth that having seen and experienced,” and here, to my shame, I would manage a tear, “what they had subjected her to that – unexpected and unbeknownst to myself, she sought her own end, and threw herself over the railing, and into the sounding sea.”

Without intent, but with malice aforethought I grasped the bundle of her trussed-up train and the structure of her corset, and I threw her from the vessel and into the cool waters of a Regio – of a mostly-imaginary sea.

“She cried for help while we stood frozen.”

Once.

Twice.

Like Thomas with the Light Bearer.

And then silence.

“And that is what has become of the Marchioness Lucinda of Low March” declared Lucien of the fallen house of Dacre to the Parliament of Shanria. Every syllable was meant, and honest – after the fashion of any honesty in the world, which is partial … with the inconvenient bits shorn away.

Did he see her in the long days on the journey to Fallond? Did the Lady Dacre stand weeping in the mist outside his cabin – or exulting?

None can say, perhaps, except Thal the Half-Elven, who one night received a human cousin, weeping, “Oh, what else is there to do? What past can find me, even of Wizards in such a place?” or an unsteady sworn-man, one Arthur of the Mill who has attested only, “I seek to live a good life. A virtuous life,” and such was the accent on virtuous, that anyone knew he meant in opposition….

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The things you do for friends
Cock blocking in the most extreme

These wizards are really on my bad side. First they kidnap Lucien and then they keep some dark secrets and worst of all they have several brain washed women walking around not really wanting to have a little fun. I mean it took me all of my charm and skill just to get with one. While walking around the compound making a mental map and noticing their guard routes and rotations I started thinking about possibly poisoning all of the wizards with a sleeping agent. I figured I could seduce a chambermaid to help me get the poison into their food. I went and spoke to Thal about the possibility of poisoning the wizards but found that would be a foolish endeavor. So instead I found a chambermaid to sleep with.

The evening came and we went to the little chapel to investigate the missing wizard on the council. Once we got the holy artifact out of the church, Thal was able to use his magick (after some time) and opened a portal to the faery lands. We found the missing wizard and were able to bring him back to the normal world. I escorted him and one of his compatriots by boat to the town to let them both rest up and get some food in them.

The next morning we were put on a ship to the Isle of May by the wizards. We were able to get to the island with little fan fare. When we got to the island we found the marchioness next to the Pirate James the black sitting at the head of a table around a bunch of dead pirates dancing with faery magic. This crazy faery spoke of riddles and for us to give up something of ourselves. Thanks to Lucien being clever he was able to use a mirror to break the magick and we got the marchioness James the Black and got the hell out of there.

On the ship I tried to get a little closer to the very good looking marchioness.and was just about to get with her when Lucien in his infinite wisdom interrupted us and started talking to the marchioness. I went up top to clear my head and get some cold air to calm my desire. As I stood on deck smelling the sea and trying to calm myself, Lucien comes on deck with the marchioness and she falls into the water. I was going to jump in to try and rescue her but realized that would be a very bad idea.

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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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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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