A Rising Tide

Town Criers Update 2015-01-11

The Criers Guild, High Sung Notes of Red Glory, has been spreading the joyous news of the birth of the Red Duchess. Her mother, the Countessa Dashelle is reported in good health and will soon take on the role of Regent of the Duchess as per the laws and customs of this fair realm. Father Isadore, of the Silent Order, has stepped down from his position of Regent for the Realm though he remains a close advisor to the Countessa.

The City is ecstatic with the news, and the ladies of the Mosaic of Summer promise a week of festivities. The Treasury has opened its coffers, subsidizing every tavern, both low and high, while the crafts guilds have all released their workers for the festivities. Expect little in the way of official commerce, or tradeflow during this time.

Breaking with tradition, the Countessa has asked that royal gifts be stayed. She wishes all to know that she recognizes the hardships of this past year and would prefer that those who wish to honour the Red Duchess do so at the temples with prayer and quiet donations. The Crier’s Guild hints that the nobility are furious at this lost opportunity to outshine each other, while the guilds have given a collective sigh of relief at the savings.

The Crier’s Guild further notes that the Khemreni trade fleet arrived in harbour at the moment of the Red Duchess’ birth. Portentious, or merely chance? Few will fail to notice glorious array of sails in the harbour, and beyond. The City Chancellor would like to remind the citizens that the Khemreni are our guests and are to be treated accordingly, while the Diamantine of Port Nereshim would like everyone to remember that the Khemreni are heretical apostates and we should all be careful to not let them corrupt our souls.

The Khemreni, for their part, welcome all who wish to engage in spirited commerce but would like to note that Khemreni law holds on the decks of their vessels while outside the harbour.

House Evereux, formerly of Vistonia, formerly of Auverne, has arrived in Anhalt. They have acquired the Buddenbrook estate west of Melnora from House Varnhagen. No doubt Evereux agents are now working to clear any nasty surprises left behind. The elders amongst the citizenry may remember that House Evereux is the hereditary seat of the Lourian Prince of Trees. It shall be interesting to see how this comes into play.

Rumours spreading since Evereux’s arrival indicate that the southern realm of La Seca has gone to war with sea borne foe. Little else is known at this time, but the enemy may had been making gains against Ajdallah’s chosen nation and therefore it is likely they are demonic in nature.

Finally, rumours are spreading that a new card has appeared in the Book of Pages. The Crier’s Guild would first like to remind you that use of the deck is forbidden sorcery, punishable by hanging by the Inquisition who are thankfully thinly represented in Anhalt. The guild goes on to say that the new card is titled “The Ravens” and no one is quite sure what it may represent.

A fish in hand is worth two in the bush

How can a plan go so terribly awry? It seems the way of things for this small crew.

The plan had been to sneak into the village, find Wrist and escape. Perhaps, if they had time, find a priest and crack his skull open. But no, that did not happen. They spotted the priest, and the Merchant sought to engage him in banter while the rest continued their work. But the priest was wily, and new these for unwelcome foreigners.

They found Wrist, yes, held caged and transformed; his body warping into a sea creature’s while insanity dripped from him like melt water. “Find a goblet” he said, “Destroy it to free me.”

The others then stumbled into the torchlight around the priest and the Merchant. From no where a blue cloud of death erupted, melting flesh and wood and metal. villages ran screaming, and a melee began but briefly before the priest ruptured with foul magics. Seeing their priest become so much butchered meat, the fisherfolk scattered and left the wayward crew to their business.

They found the goblets, but could not bring themselves to destroy Wrist’s. Instead they managed to put his cage on a wagon, and trot him back to town. He howled the entire time, even as fog creatures came to escort the fearful adventurers.

They return to the ringing of bells, and a night that has not yet passed in the city. As sleep took them, Wrist broke free and now wanders lonely and enraged through the streets of the town.

Is this all just a smoked red herring?

How it is that events always turn for the worse. The Con Artist’s friend Taz — more of a friend of her other friend Wrist, really — tracks her down in a panic. Wrist is kidnapped! Stolen away! Forced to return to his home village. What?

The green-eyed man from the Isles appeared and with Wrists’ cousins, forced him away. Probably back to his home village, Calder’s Run. What could this mean?

The Con Artist, naturally, gathers her army. The Blacksmith doesn’t feel the urgency, but goes to get the Historian anyway. Perhaps the Historian should now be the Apprentice, for that is how he spends his time in Dishun’s Apothecary — as an apprentice. Dishun sends him on his way with a mysterious glass vial filled with something green and evil.

To the east the army travels: The Merchant, the Blacksmith, the Apprentice and the Con Artist. Plus, of course, the army: The Merchant’s Bodyguard, Taz and three of his dubious friends from the dockworker’s unions and Mutt, the bouncer at the Con Artists’ regular hangout.

Into the foggy east they go, knowing it is a fell time to walk the fens. Hags are about, as are the Grey Ladies, either bringing a horrible fate though one brings more spilled blood than the other.

Calder’s Run is an unwelcoming place. Strange fishy totems guard the wagon track, and fog threatens to swallow the interlopers into the muck of the swamp. But they perservere.

It is midnight when eyes are set upon the village, and the little army sees bustling activity. Midnight in a village readying itself for a wedding. How strange.

Scribes and scrolls and all things dusty

The Blacksmith’s key is miraculous, and opens a door which leads to further mysteries. Whatever happened to Lady Thea, it appears it was unpleasant. The Con Artist worries that her friend might be in deeper trouble than they thought, and convinces him to leave town for a bit. After, of course, handing the amulet to her.

Amulet in hand, the party wonders what to do? Can they give it as a gift to the nobility and hope that the high and mighty will resolve everything for them? Sometimes passing the buck is harder than it looks.

The Con Artist visits the city’s archives, and hires a scribe to gather information from old tomes and dusty scrolls. Perhaps something in history might point to what this amulet is about? Information is costly, however, and there is concern that they may not be able to pay for it.

Meanwhile something seems terribly wrong with the Historian.

Events continue to march forward, and the party is ever caught in its wake.

A Key in the Night

The world never seems to slow. Even as the weary party returns to Marinburgh, hoping for rest and hot food, events continue to race forward.

The Countessa is due for motherhood in the next few days, bringing into the world the next Red Duke or Duchess.

The Merchant’s family worries about how to put their best foot forward in these changing times.

The con artist discovers that her friends on the street have pilfered a trinket that had slipped her mind, and now its owner has gone missing.

The party gathers, with the Blacksmith miraculously producing a key from a leaden lump of metal, they are ready to delve further into mysteries.

Of Stone Tablets and Burning Bushes

The party has grown desperate, trying to discover the secret of Mary’s Ford.

The Blacksmith, the Scholar, and the Con Artist recruit a few townsfolk to help them dig further into the ruins in the swamp. Here they discover a tablet of stone, glowing strangely, buried beneath the fallen ruins. The Scholar is forced to wear the cursed ring once more, but shares little of his insights once he recovers.

The Merchant remains steadfastly at camp, attempting to ignore the goings on and pretending that all is normal.

The Blacksmith, and the Con Artist take the cursed ring, and the tablet, into the Cob Hill and succeed in unleashing a terrible energy that knocks them like rag dolls and shakes the earth.

Upon awakening, they find the village abandoned. The fields sprout with weeds and long grasses. No one has been here in some time. The Merchant’s cousin, a caravan master, has lucked to stumbled upon them, and promises to return them to the safety of Marinburgh.

The mysteries of Mary’s Ford remain undiscovered.

A ring of confusion

Following the surgery on the poor guard, The Historian, Con-Artist and Blacksmith head back to the swamp to poke around the stones. The Merchant stays behind with their bodyguard, only to witness the poor guard dissolve into feathers and ash and brittle bones.

At the swamp, the Blacksmith begins an excavation showing the standing stones are really the tops of buried pillars. Much work needs to be done, more than a single man can do. On the way back they chat with the witch, Dania, who feeds them stew, and sends them on their way.

In the village, the three find their companion drunk on moonshine so they go off to find the priest. A heartfelt discussion later, the Con Artist feels like they are no further ahead. So back into Cob Hill they go. Forcing the Historian to wear the gold ring opens the secret door, but leaves the Historian in progressively worse state.

He reads the frescoes, and tells them about an ancient war behind a Queen and her consort. Where her consort rebelled, summoned demons and tore about the kingdom. She captured him, but could not bring herself to slay the madman. Instead, locking him up for all eternity in a magic prison.

Dangly bits and other horrors

Following the discoveries beneath Cob Hill, the party regrouped outside. The Merchant decided he wanted to go home. The others were adamant to stay, particularly the Con Artist at least to continue her charade a little longer. Eventually they resolved to stay for a day or two more.

The Con Artist and the Blacksmith decided to go visit the witch, Dania. Wisely, the Merchant and the Historian stayed behind at camp. The Historian caught some mice for lunch, then naps. A nap filled with nightmares.

The witch turned out to be surprisingly reasonable. She fed the two cake. She fed them bacon & potato soup. She told them some history, pointed out some other local ruins, and may have accidentally implicated Father Matthew in the deaths of the children.

The Con Artist and the Blacksmith went to investigate the ruins, but resolved little. The Merchant became worried, and headed off to find them. They met on the road, and cake was shared.

Later that evening a man was found running naked and raving through the village. He was concussed by the Merchant and may never awaken. The party recognized him as one the Merchant’s guards, sent off to find supplies. This was concerning, for where were the others?

The Historian awoke, and performed surgery on the guard. From the incision, ravens flew free. Eyeless ravens, with too many wings and beaks. They escaped into the sky, despite the Blacksmith’s best attempts.

Birds of Feather

Something was clearly not right in this village, and the team was suspicious.

Struggling to piece the clues together, they gathered at the site of Cob Hill to investigate. Here they found that the landslide had revealed a passageway inside the mound. Opening into a large buried temple of some sort, they poked around amidst the detritus of a long gone era.

The historian put on a found ring and immediately collapsed, though a door opened at the same time. The party investigated deeper, carrying their unconscious comrade with them. The historian dreamt dreams of eyeless ravens, torment and torture. His friends found an abandoned, looted crypt, and evidence that they were not the only recent visitors.

A secret door was found. The Historian struggled against the Bride. The others descended further, to find a hall of frescoes and odd glowing corals growing from the walls. Coral which burnt flesh and drank the blood of those who stumbled into them. The party smashed a lot of coral.

The Historian awoke when the party found a room of glowing crystal imprisoning an old man. They found touching the crystal to be quite unpleasant.

A Village of Fears

Having not consulted maps, the wayward party travels unprepared to the village of Mary’s Ford. Surviving on potatoes, and foraged mushrooms, morale falls and bitter arguments ensue. But the trial lasts only three days, and afternoon sunlight washes away anger as the village comes into view over the crest of a hill.

But not all is tranquil here. The deeply religious locals have found a savior in the Con Artist, for she has been sent by Safaya. Nightmares plague the town, and children have been drowning themselves in the river. A witch, Dania, is said to be the cause.

The Historian/Survivalist, and the Merchant go out into the woods to hunt but turn up nothing but sharp words. The Merchant sends all but two of his guards east, to Handorf, to get supplies and perhaps aid.

The Blacksmith uproots a stump, while the Con Artist investigates Farmer Patrick and the mystery of Cob Hill.


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