Chapter One Hundred Fourteen

November 2, 2013


5th of Autumnharvestmonth


            When we are done talking with him, I approach the Red Ferret.  “Good morning, old friend.”  He looks up from his companion he is speaking with as if he doesn’t know me.  I realize he might be in the middle of something, apologize, and leave with the rest of my group.  As we exit, I note how sharp all of the dragon’s teeth in the skull entryway are.

            From there, we head to the cathedral of St. Cuthbert.  We are greeted, “Is there something we can do for you, or have you just come to pray?”  Ulric indicates he has just come to pray, and Briggette goes to check in with the high priest, who remains in a state of suspended animation, and the interim high priest.

            “Lord Protector,” he greets her.

            “Your Eminence,” Briggette replies.

            “What can I do for you?”

            “I just wanted to check on the general state of things, and on . . . his other Eminence,” she tells him.  He replies that the senior priest is the same as he has been for 22 months, in an odd sleep-like trance where his body does not deteriorate despite the lack of food and water.  Further, they have not found any enchantment upon him, nor any aura of evil.  She speaks with him for a while of the state of our affairs, from the adventures we’ve had to the status of our chapter houses and military buildup in anticipation of the coming battles.

            After our visit to the cathedral, I go to visit my contact at the bar.  He tells me that the capital has been extra quiet lately, which is news in and of itself.  He still hears from his contacts, but they have nothing really to report.  Nothing seems to be going on.

            That evening, we meet up again and head up to see the Duke.  We announce that we are visiting the city and tell him of our trip to the Spine—and back.  He asks about our plans to march South in the spring.  We talk about our enemy’s plan to divide the country, and Ulric says he intends an intense and surgical strike.

            After we complete our update, we fade back into the larger group at court this evening.  Briggette is stunning in her burgundy gown, and soon a young woman approaches her.  The girl is in a well-made but plain grey dress and sports brown tightly-curled Groznian hair.  “My Lady?” she curtsies.  “Are you the Countess Heltragen?”

            “I am,” Briggette answers warily.

            “You are unattended?” the girl seems confused.

            “I am.”

            “That seems odd.  You are a very important lady.  You should have attendants.” Overhearing this, I am immediately tuned into the conversation.

            “That’s not necessary; I have help where I need it,” Briggette assures her.

            “You have no desire for attending ladies?”

            “Not unless they’re going to lift a sword,” Briggette replies.  The girl looks genuinely confused.  “It’s not necessary; I don’t hold court.”

            “But are you not the wife of Count Heltragen?  He holds court.”

            “I have other responsibilities.  I don’t have time for sewing and reading and other courtly pursuits.  I am here only as a courtesy because I am married to the Count.”

            “Is this true of all the ladies in the West?” the girl seems confused.

            “I don’t know.  I don’t really talk to the ladies in the West.  I talk much more to their husbands in military concerns.”

            “Scandalous!”  The shock is apparent on the young lady’s face.

            “What is your name?”


            “And where are you from, Cynthia?”

            “I am a ward of the Duke,” she replies.

            “That doesn’t answer the question.  Where are you from?”

            “I’m from the North.  My parents were killed in the war, and the Duke is keeping me here until we can find a proper husband who can hold the county.”

            “My condolences on your loss,” Briggette replies.  The two discuss further the political ramifications, and finally, Cynthia comes out and asks if Ulric has an unwed brother.  She also asks if he is as handsome as Ulric is.  She says that the Duke speaks highly of House Zurwald and says he’s mentioned that she might want to consider a match with Lucien.  She asks Briggette if it would be okay to speak to Ulric about the matter.

            Briggette takes the girl to introduce her to Ulric.  He tells her that he thinks Lucien might be amenable to this plan as he is not one to sit idly by and wait for Iulien to fail to produce an heir.  She asks for an audience with the middle Zurwald, and Ulric agrees to introduce her.  She takes her leave, saying she will be ready to go when we are.

            About ten minutes later, Ulric feels a slap on his shoulder and turns to see Count Rotheschilde.  He is quite inebriated, but manages to discuss strategy about the impending threats.  He agrees to take his forces toward the conflict to the North while we focus on the South. 

            The next day, Ulric retrieves her to go to Grozney and meet the family.  She is dressed in her finest, proudly displaying her house colors in both her clothing and her jewels.  Nicodemus teleports us to the courtyard of Castle Zurwald.

            We wait the requisite few moments for the guards to settle from being so startled, and the head steward is quick to bring a cloak to protect the women from the rain falling here.  He takes us inside, and Laurana comes out to greet us.  She turns to the girl, “And who is this, Ulric?  Your second wife?”  He is taken aback and laughs wholeheartedly.

            “No, this is Cynthia of the House Torok, a ward of the Duke,” Ulric replies.  Laurana greets her warmly and goes to rouse Sir Stefan, who has gone back to bed due to not feeling well.  “Would you see that Lucien comes as well; this matter concerns him, too.”

            “Of course,” Laurana replies off-handedly, “I think he is bathing.”

            “Well, this is a recent development,” Ulric says, and we all share a laugh at the brotherly jab.  Laurana takes her leave and we make ourselves comfortable.  Shortly thereafter, Lucien joins us, and Ulric makes his introduction.  The girl is bashful in the presence of this man who may become her husband, and Lucien, of course, is slightly confused as to what is going on.  He greets her politely and begs her leave to speak with his brother a moment.  The two discuss the idea of a marriage to align the houses, and a few moments later, Sir Stefan comes downstairs and greets us all.

            Ulric introduces Cynthia, and explains why she has come to visit.  We all sit down to eat and talk for a while, then Sir Stefan asks us to join him in the other room.  We leave Lucien and Cynthia to talk and get to know one another.  As we enter the next room, we can see that Stefan has maps laid out, and is planning for the coming invasion.  They go on to speak about the girl, her county, and the political ramifications of this match.  He can’t see any real reason to object, and agrees to discuss it with the Duke.

            After that, Ulric asks to speak to his father one on one, so Briggette, Laurana and I leave the room while they talk.  Laurana takes the opportunity to talk to us about the strange sickness plaguing Sir Stefan.  We discuss several possible factors, and she tells us that she believes he is being cursed.  We talk for a bit about various theories as to what’s happening, but we are interrupted by a chambermaid carrying out her duties.

            Ulric and Nicodemus pull Sir Stefan into another room, and Nicodemus performs some blood magic to find out what is going on.  He casts and discovers that there is something leaving a sort of evil residue on the Count, and that something is likely from the Abyss.  Briggette is able to see that it has been coming in and out of a nearby window, and we suggest they ward the room and the castle as a whole.

            We gather together, and Nicodemus casts to bring us back to the capital.  He takes his leave of us, and we wait out our time for our items to be complete.


            We return home to Heltragen on the 18th of Autumnharvestmonth, and two days later, Nicodemus shows up to take us to the island.  We appear on a rock face with carvings in it which Nicodemus tells us is a sort of landing pad for those teleporting to the island.  He tells Silas to not be afraid to teleport us away whether we like it or not, and takes his leave of us. There are stairs cut into the stone, leading down away from the ledge.  We head down and into a small town where the houses seem to be mostly intact and in very good shape for being a thousand years old.  It’s also strange that there is no wall around this town.  We search through about twenty of the houses, finding not much of anything, and move on.  As we come across a small rise, we see another unwalled town ahead, but notice that the far side of the area has a large wall beyond it.

            Korvinean scouts ahead and sees that there are orcs in the town, and we all prepare to go in.  As we approach, they spot us and start to frantically run around yelling, “Monsters!”  One large one runs up to us and asks, “Who you?”  He speaks in a broken form of Cuthbertine.  Briggette answers him in Cuthbertine, telling him who we are and why we’re here.  He sees Korvinean and tells us that they have one of his kind here.  He leads us to a tree house out of town where we meet an elf with green hair.  Korvinean tells us she is a wild elf.