Chapter Seventy-Two

October 6, 2012


27th of Plowmonth



            Ulric’s father is proud of his accomplishments, and imparts some advice on running a county.  Ulric shares that he shall henceforth be known as Ulric von Heltragen, which means “Bright Bear.”  We introduce Sir Stefan and all of his men to Arany, lest they encounter him later in any battles.  We say our goodbyes, and begin the one month journey back to what is now unequivocally Ulric’s county.


1st of Harvestmonth


            We arrive back at the former Castle Itchovitch and begin the lengthy process of settling in and make repairs.  Ulric names me the Spymistress and instructs me to begin taking control of the acquirers in the area.  Everyone is busy working within their own respective disciplines and settling into the city.  I have a room in the castle, which I work to decorate to my tastes little by little.  I use my personal share of the spoils from the war, after tithing, to commission some more powerful weapons and to prepare for the time we begin to adventure again.  Ulric’s beard has grown in full and thick.


1st of Autumnharvestmonth


            A cleric of Ehlonna arrives to take Ulric up on his offer of cultivating an orchard in exchange for the land to build their own church in the city.  Briggette hands over the peach pits we previously collected from the priestess who helped us find the Orb of Winter.


1st of Storemonth


            Briggette comes to me and tells me that she has missed her monthly cycle.  I had noticed that she had reversed her brooch when we arrived back at the county.  I congratulate her, and offer any help I can give.  She goes to visit the priest of Ehlonna who is able to confirm that she is, indeed, pregnant, and that the child is male.  She decides that, unless Ulric objects—and she can’t imagine he will, she will name the boy after Ulric’s father.  Stefan Heltragen is expected in the middle of Haymonth next year.

            Two stars arrive to help stomp out any remaining vestiges of the heresy here.  We make accommodations and help as much as we can.  They check in with Ulric about once per week and keep us informed of their progress.  After about a month, they tell us that there is still a demon in the county which appears to be hopping from person to person.  Ulric grants them permission to do whatever they deem necessary to clear the evil.

            Also, around this time, Brianna informs us that she must leave for some time to attend to the duties of her order.  The parting is sad, but we understand her duty and let her know that she is, of course, always welcome.


7th of Darkmonth


            Ulric has set up Wednesdays as the court days where citizens can bring their petitions to him for adjudication.  On this day, Briggette asks him to clear the court.  He does so, and only the two of them, Boian, Korvinean, Gustav and myself remain.  Briggette stands before Ulric as a petitioner and says, “My Lord, I have a gift for you.”

            “Okay, what’s that?”

            “I present to you Stefan von Heltragen,” she replies while pointing toward her stomach.  He looks around the room confused, and he cannot see anyone around her.  Sensing his discombobulation, she continues, “You’ll get to meet him in about seven months.”

            Ulric still seems lost, unable to comprehend what is happening, when Gustav leans down and whispers in his ear, “Your wife is pregnant, My Lord.”

            Rather than clearing things up, he seems even more confused, “We had a conversation about this.”

            Taken aback and suddenly worried, Briggette says, “But you grew your beard out!”

            Again, the logic escapes Ulric, but he seems to be coming to terms with his impending fatherhood.   He sends word to his father and names me Briggette’s personal protector:  should anything happen to her, he will hold me personally accountable.  And so begins several months of headaches and worry for me. 


            A few months later, Brannick shows up and orders Briggette not to train or ride at any pace faster than a gallop until the baby arrives.  We have celebrations of our birthdays, including a countywide holiday for our Count’s birthday on the 4th of Stormmonth.


11th of Haymonth


            On the morning of the 11th of Haymonth, little Stefan Bellyn von Heltragen is born full of robust health and chubby blonde cuteness.  A massive celebration is held throughout the county, and the bards are all sent to the farthest corners to sing of the new heir to the Heltragen holdings.

            About two weeks after Stefan’s birth, Briggette suddenly wakes up in the wee small hours of the morning.  Ulric, sensing her motion, begins to stir.  She looks over toward Stefan’s cradle, and as her eyes gather focus, she notices something wrapped around the bottom of the cradle.  It appears to be a large tail, covered with feathers.  Rather than jump up and prepare to fight, she seems at ease and allows her eyes to follow the tail up until she sees a giant, winged feathered snake taking up the majority of the room.  She begins to scream, but no sound comes out.  Ulric reaches for Law’s Claw, but for some reason, he does not lift the weapon.

            The creature opens its mouth, and it has rows of teeth.  It begins to speak.  “Blood of my blood, defend our name, protect our heritage, and lay waste to those who would sully our house.  To the south, near the end of this isle, lies a town of Pearl Glen.  In this town is a monster, a monster that desecrates our name.  Go there, slay this beast, defend our name, and protect the blood of the beautiful serpent.  Bring glory back to our name and the name of your children.  You and yours are the last of our line.  Through you, and only through you, do we have a heel with which to crush the Serpent Mother’s head.  For that you will need more than your sword.  Go find the beast that brings dishonor upon us and cut out its heart.  We have not forgotten you.  We are here, and we are watching.”  The beast fades into nothing and disappears.

About that time, the guards kick the door in.  Ulric is on his feet immediately.  The guards say that Boian raised the alarm below.  As he arrives a moment later, he explains that he felt a presence in the room.  Moments thereafter, Silas suddenly appears in the room.  He holds his hand up to silence the questions that are popping up around the room, and slowly scans the area.  They notice that his eyes are glowing.  After he is satisfied that the area is safe, he explains that he had warded the crib, and the disturbance summoned him here.  He asks Briggette to hold up the baby, and he removes a foot-long blue and green iridescent feather from the swaddling.  Silas places wards and protections on the nursery floor, then returns back to his home.

The next morning, we begin to make arrangements to head south.  Gustav will remain in charge until we can return.