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[GROWFEST] – Low Summer – Sunday, Wealsun 16, CY586 – Mid Afternoon

Narcamemnus studies Taurinius for a moment and, concerned, he says "Are we good to go? You look a bit pale, after collapsing."

Using the divine sending stone, Taurinius asks Dante “What has happened in Sterich?”

Dante responds “Sterich fell to a brief invasion and occupation by humanoids from the Stark Mounds. This was an after effect of the routing of the enemy southward from the Duchy of Geoff. The people of Sterich were initially caught by surprise and fell back. They regrouped in their capital city of Istivin, under the banner of the Marchioness, the ruler who has united many of the clans. We are aware that five clans did not join with her banner. Clan Wallace was one of them. Most of the humanoids were pushed back, though we know that some do remain in parts of Sterich. We have not been involved because the people of Sterich want little to do with us. We left them to their fate.”

Narcamemnus is very eager to proceed back downstairs. He says “I looked around while you were sleeping and couldn't find anything very useful. It's all broken,” he says.

“Do you have any contacts in Sterich?” Taurinius asks.

“No,” Narcamemnus replies. “Very few outsiders travel there, unless it is by invitation. Our closest contacts would reside on the border, in Flen.”

“Then that is where we should go.”

“Are we going look around downstairs?”

“Yes,” Taurinius replies as he picks himself up.

“Great!” he exclaims excitedly.

Narcamemnus searches as they move back downstairs ... there is nothing but broken glass and charred possessions amidst the wreckage of the tower.

They investigate the trapdoor in the storeroom and use magical light sources to illuminate the tunnel down there. Narcamemnus has produced two magical stones that glow and float, according to his command. A highly polished brass ladder leads down. The tunnel itself is smooth, and the walls and floor consist of solid dirt, apparently shaped by magic. The air is thick with smoke and the odour of burnt flesh. Visibility is very poor, owing to the residual smoke.

“Doesn't smell good,” Narcamemnus remarks. “You first, or me?”

“I first,” Taurinius tells him.

“We should cover our faces with cloth to breathe through,” Narcamemnus warns. “Here ... have some of this ... he tears some cloth into strips and moistens them with some water. That should work,” he says.

Taurinius and his companion quickly discover that at intervals along the corridor the solid wooden doors to storerooms, presumably containing magical supplies and mundane equipment, have each been systematically smashed, splintered and all contents have been destroyed.

At the midpoint of the corridor is the source of the smell of burnt flesh; the bodies of six red robed humans are here. Narcamemnus inspects the bodies. They carry no possessions and appear to have been the victims of some form of magical ward or special defence.

“Monks of the Scarlet Brotherhood,” Narcamemnus says. “They are a long way from home, given their homeland is far across the Azure Sea. Perhaps they are local converts, not necessarily from Keoland but more likely they'd be from the Hold of the Sea Princes. When you were absent, Taurinius, the political landscape shifted. Some states were infiltrated by these monks and sided with them. The Sea Princes' allegiance now lies with the Scarlet Brotherhood and their leader is a man named Elder Brother Hammandaturian, Shepherd of the Sea. They do have internal problems, of course, because some locals did not give away their freedom so easily. There is an organised resistance there, partly sponsored by Keoland.”

Taurinius remains silent, assessing the grisly scene.

“This is clearly a sign that the Scarlet Brotherhood is involved in Gnaeus' disappearance.” Narcamemnus tells him. “They do not employ magic themselves, so those who came with them have obviously provided that expertise. You mentioned black robed spellcasters in your vision?”


“That is pretty vague and they may not necessarily be the 'Broken Wands' that the temple spoke of. Let us keep our minds open to other possibilities.”

“Well ... they could have come from Sterich. That is where the fire rods originally came from.”

Narcamemnus locates a concealed door in one of the storerooms. “Hey, wait a minute! Look at this ....” he produces some tools and manipulates something on the wall and then a section of it morphs into a new tunnel. “It was warded,” he says. “Another fire trap. But now it's safe for us to pass. Let's check this out.”

“You first,” Taurinius says. “In case it is magically trapped. I've got your back.”

The tunnel leads to two rooms; a bedchamber with a wardrobe and a desk and a separate room secured with a locked door. Narcamemnus picks the lock with ease and reveals a storeroom that holds many scrolls, spellbooks and magical items:

  • approximately 100 potions
  • approximately 300 scrolls
  • twenty spellbooks
  • a variety of Flanaess-related literature and books relating to the planes
  • Ring of Rapid Healing (epic item)
  • Rod of Epic Splendor (epic item)
  • Bracers of Epic Armour +11
  • Mantle of Great Stealth (+30 of hide and move silently checks)
  • Periapt of Epic Wisdom (+8 wisdom)

“Should we take them?” Narcamemnus asks.
“They are not ours to take.” Taurinius tells him.
“A pity ... they look very powerful.”
“They are not ours. But it begs the question; what are we going to do with them? They need to be protected. “
“The fire ward will reactivate once we leave through the secret door. I doubt anyone else is going to find that.”
“So you think it is safe, leaving them here?” Taurinius enquires, unsure of his friend's motives.
Narcmemnus smiles at that and says “If I was a good friend of a powerful wizard, then I am sure he wouldn't mind if his good friend borrowed the items to ensure they were held in safekeeping.”
... I knew he was going to say that ... “Do as you see fit. But remember we are borrowing them for safekeeping.” Taurinius tells him.

“Absolutely,” Narcamemnus says. “Wait a moment,” – he concentrates and Taurinius sees him holding a metal rod. “You should wear those bracers they are very powerful – and that ring will heal you quickly if you put it on, but I think it will take 24 hours before it starts its effect. I'll borrow the mantle and the rod. We'll toss a coin to see who can borrow the gemstone. I hope I win because its very nice. “

“Take it then ... just remember it's not ours.” Taurinius walks off, slightly disgusted.

“Hey ... listen ... don't be upset ... I know we're only borrowing these. Don't worry. They will all be given back. Those books and things will just have to stay here as they are. I wouldn't want to interfere with a spellcaster's book anyway because they'd probably drive me mad.”

Ganeus' hidden bedchamber also contains an interesting diagram etched and painted upon one wall. “That is a representation of the planes,” Narcamemnus remarks. “Fascinating. He has some specific locations marked. Brass, Tu'narath, Sigil, Manifest, Union and Eternica. That is curious. From my studies I know of Brass and have heard of Sigil. They are great cities in the planes. Hard to reach. You've been to Eternica? And aren't we are following clues that have revealed Union's existence to us?”

“Mmmmm ...” Taurinius replies absent mindedly.

“Great ... now that's all secure ... I wonder where this tunnel leads to. I wonder where those bad guys got in? Shall we see?”

“Yes ... stay alert for traps.”

Narcamemnus commands his floating light stones to pierce the smoke and light the way. They oblige. The tunnel leads 200' to a dead end. “This isn't a dead end,” he remarks. “Wait a minute.”

He produces his toolset again and fiddles with the wall. An opening appears with a stone room beyond. The room looks like it contains some pumping equipment and a few pipes are connected to it. Narcamemnus steps through and encourages Taurinius to follow him inside.

They find themselves in small stone structure and there are two small windows that offer a view outside. There is a locked steel door in one side. Looking out of one of the windows, Taurinius can see the structure they are inside is elevated above a lake, presumably attached to the side of a cliff or something. The lake lies about 15' below. Beyond it is a stream that seems to lead out into marshlands.

Narcamemnus says this room was not breached, so that is curious. Perhaps the attackers simply identified where the tunnel is and teleported inside to gain entry. This pump house seems undisturbed. He inspects the outer door and confirms it remains locked.

They retrace their steps through the tunnel.

“What shall we do about these?” Narcamemnus asks, referring to the bodies. “Should we leave them?”
“We'll get the guards in to give us a hand to move them.”
“OK then, we might want to get the priests to do some kind of blessing too, just in case.”

They both go outside and find the priests of Pelor and the soldiers of Keoland are waiting for news.
The eldest priest approaches and asks “What of the wizard? Is he alive or dead?”
“He lives but has been captured,” Taurinius confirms. “The Scarlet Brotherhood was involved. They had dark robed magic users with them and there are six bodies underground, in a tunnel, that will have to be removed. “ He also outlines briefly what they have learned. “We will be going to Flen.”

The priest looks relieved at the news that Gnaeus lives but is saddened to hear he has been taken away. He is alarmed that the Scarlet Brotherhood is involved and even more so to hear that dark magic has been employed on Keoland's territory. He tells the commander the soldiers to immediately secure this place and collect the bodies for blessings and burial. Also send word to the capital and inform the king of what has come to pass. “I wish you well in your further travels. May Pelor protect you and offer you good grace. Be well.”

[GROWFEST] – Low Summer – Sunday, Wealsun 16, CY586 – Late Afternoon

To get to Sterich, the best means of travel is to fly to Flen and cross the Keoland/Sterich border from there. Taurinius recalls from his earlier travels that Flen is a lawless, immoral place.

“Shall I go with you?” Narcamemnus asks.
“Where else are you going to be?”
“Oh nowhere special – I was merely wondering if you needed me to be with you or needed me to deliver news or a message anywhere else?”
“I have the stone to send messages and I need you here with me.”
“Excellent,” he says. “Let's go to Flen!”

They fly to the Good Hills to a location that overlooks Flen and the Davish River. Taurinius prepares to use a Daern's instant fortress when Narcamemnus smiles and stands with a flourish and says “Allow me!” Taurinius sees he is holding the splendid looking rod from Ganeus' storage. He activates it and a magnificent palatial manor house appears, sprawling across the hillside as a wondrous magnificent estate. There are sufficient servants and fine food to service their needs and potentially up to 250 people, if that was ever required.

Taurinius shakes his head in disbelief. So much for being low key ...

[GROWFEST] – Low Summer – Sunday, Wealsun 16, CY586 – Early Evening

Inside the magical mansion, both men eat a fine banquet. The servants ensure all needs are met and they feel very relaxed.

“This is the life, eh? A man could get very attached to this. Very attached indeed. What is the plan from here?” Narcamemnus says.

“Do you have any contacts in Flen?”

“Yes, some. I am a favoured bard of the Countess' court, she is the local provincial ruler in these parts of Keoland. “

“Then tomorrow we should visit and pay our respects, as would only be proper and correct.”

“She is correctly addressed as Countess Oyanna of House Kaprysse and she will be most pleased to us, I am most certain. Also, “ he says. “The Knights of the Watch have established a chapter house in the town and at any given time there will be two knights on station. It is a token gesture that was agreed to by the Countess and the King, in recognition of the part you played in the beginning of the struggles against the Darkest One. The temples during recent times had been attacked by magical fire and establishing the presence of the Watchers was seen as a positive step. The locals might not like what the knights actually stand for, but all is well as both parties typically leave each other well alone. It's a mutual tolerance I suspect.”

Taurinius uses his divine sending stone to contact home ... he speaks with Angelia and Angelika:

“Is everything OK?” Angelia enquires.
Taurinius basically says that Gnaeus has been taken and he will get Dante to fully explain what has happened. They talk through the night and make up a bedtime story for Angelika. We'll be in Sterich and will be in touch the next day.

[GROWFEST] – Low Summer – Moonday, Wealsun 17, CY586 – Early Morning

Narcamenus remarks that the house will remain in place for another two and a half days, so the griffon can easily remain stabled and cared for, and fed, out of sight if Taurinius wishes it.

Breakfast is superb. Taurinius notices that Narcamemnus is now wearing magnificent finely crafted and obviously very expensive clothes, worth tens of thousands of gold pieces in value. He looks like a king! Taurinius suggests he change into something 'relative' to the occasion. Crestfallen, Narcamemnus agrees “I see your point,” he says. “I will save the clothes for later when we meet the Countess. That rod is truly amazing!”

On foot, both go down the hill to visit chapter house. It is staffed by two knights:

  • High Manticore Sir Aristotiles Lunarus (Fighter 3/Cleric 1/Knight of Watch 7)
  • Resilient Master Vigil Sir Amacles Maximus (Fighter 4/Knight of the Watch 3)

They offer him sanctuary and inform him that recently they observed wagons of the Mouqollad Consortium taking two dozen red robed monks south, towards the Joten mountain ranges. Their purpose was unclear. The wagon train was unusual, in that it also included two carriages, made of metal with shuttered windows, and the occupants of those could not be determined. None of Flen's locals were able to get a glimpse of them either.

The two knights also inform Taurinius that the mountains have become more active with humanoid activity recently. They do not know why but do suspect it does not bode well for the region's stability if they intend to establish another foothold within it, having been routed from Sterich previously.

They share a meal and prayers and rest well, without any incident.

“Tonight,” the knights tell him, “is the rise of Luna as a new moon. If you are outdoors, be wary, for the lycanthropes may be out. We are wary in this region because it feels so tainted with its low respect for the deities and unblessed ways of life.”

“Tell us, what brings you to our sanctuary in this unholy haven?” Aristotiles asks.

“We are on our way to Sterich, to find a friend who has been taken from me. " Taurinius informs him. "The order and the Alliance of Good Faiths are becoming aware of new alliances and changing politics that may affect you here in Flen so I will ensure that word is passed through, so you remain aware of what is going on.”

Aristotiles thanks him. “Is there anything we might do to provide assistance? Who are you planning to meet in Sterich?”

“I do not know who we will meet,” Taurinius responds, looking at Narcamemnus who shrugs.

“Clan Wallace,” Narcamemnus suggests. “We're not sure who else to see on that side of the border. The clan's name is currently our only lead.”

“We will travel to the capital and speak to the new clan leader.”

Narcamemnus looks surprised. “The Marchioness?”

“Why not?”

“Her Magnitude, Resbin Dren Esmondav, Marchioness of Sterich, and Stewardess of the Great Western Gate ... there is no reason why she would not see you for her ruling family has recently sworn fealty to the King of Keoland and has pledged allegiance after her family position was weakened in Sterich's civil strife. I suppose that if we make arrangements through the Countess, she will speak to the King and have us sent.”

“No – we will go direct – but do inform the Countess that we are going because I have a personal grievance with one of the Marchioness' clans.”

“So you don't require an audience with the Countess before we travel? “

“Yes – to pay my respects.”

“OK, so I will inform her separately from that meeting?”

“Yes, if you would.”

“Very well,” Narcamemnus says, looking confused.

“Narcamemnus, sometimes we have to forget about politics. I am not a politician. It is not often that I have chosen to use my authority. If I have to move mountains to get a friend back I will.”

“Then let's go and get prepared to meet the Countess!“

Taurinius informs the knights that the house can provide anything they need while they are in Flen. Enjoy the facilities over the next two days at your disposal.

They thank him for the privilege and say they will pass on any more news if it comes to hand.

[GROWFEST] – Low Summer – Moonday, Wealsun 17, CY586 – Mid day

Taurinius again contacts his mother with the divine sending stone - “Our intention is to go to Sterich and visit the Marchioness. Our knowledge leads us to Clan Wallace ... I am going to lay the evidence against that clan ... they may refute that evidence and reply in kind or they can challenge me to combat.”

“That is brave son, your father will be proud,” she tells him.

“The reason I say this is that it may transgress some political niceties because I know the Marchioness has made an alliance with Keoland and I have no intention of going through the King of Keoland, or his representative in Flen, to seek an audience with the ruler of Sterich. I believe I have the personal right to enter Sterich because of Gnaeus' kidnapping and that there are powers out there who wish myself and my family dead.”

“Tell me son, why involve the Marchiones?. If your quarrel lies with Clan Wallace then why not simply go there and deal with the problem direct? Would you like divine guidance in this? I can pray for you, if that its what your seek?”

“If I go there directly then I will be going in there blind. I am going to need the help of the Marchioness and her people to help me understand the lay of the land.”

“Yes, my son, follow your heart in this matter. May Heironeous be with you in your quest.”

Narcamemnus obtained some information while Taurinius was preoccupied in his communication:

Taurinius knows that the magical fire rods of Suel were originally being smuggled by Clan Wallace of Sterich as that is what the Moquollad Consortium merchants have confirmed.

Clan Wallace is the nearest clan holding across the border from Flen. The clan is based in a small stone keep, located on a petrified rock outcropping that overlooks a prominent fortified hilltop village. Any approach to the Clan Wallace location will be observed, unless deliberate steps have been taken to conceal the approach with magic (invisibility, etc).

Clan Wallace derives most of its wellbeing from trade and resources they have to hand are predominantly minerals, which they mine, such as iron, silver and electrum.

During the recent humanoid invasion of Sterich, Clan Wallace was spared as they struck deals with the humanoids and, in fact assisted them against the Marchioness together with at least four other clans. Even now, with the humanoids having been pressed back to the Stark Mounds, Clan Wallace has retained some of them as “friends and advisors” with at least 70 orcs, half-orcs and ogres living nearby and with them.

The clan is led by a man named Gregor Wallace and he is a large barbaric looking man with at least a hundred and fifty similar looking loyal clan warriors.

“That's what you'll be heading into,” Narcamemnus says.
“Exactly, I don't think I could survive a hundred and fifty ...”
“There is something else I have learnt from ... some associates ...” Narcamemnus says.

A man named Cortas Mortain has been staying with them, at the clan house, and it is from there that he coordinated the delivery of the Suel fire rods to the “Broken Wands” ... my informant remains uncertain as to whether or not Cortas is still in that place.

“When are leaving for Sterich? ”

“Tomorrow. The house can folded up I presume ...”

“Not really ... it will just disappear when it is ready.” Narcamemnus tells him.
“Really, so we just leave it?”
“Yes, he says, it will just fade away as though it were never there. I can't make another one appear for at least a week.”

[GROWFEST] – Low Summer – Moonday, Wealsun 17, CY586 – Mid Afternoon

Taurinius visits the Countess, as arranged. Narcamemnus is dressed extravagantly again ...

They are greeted and escorted by the Senschal and courtiers through the countess' palace, to her audience chamber. She greets Taurinius with great interest, and smiles when she sees Narcamemnus.

“Greetings old friend, you charming scoundrel and welcome stalwart master vigil ... Taurinius? I believe our good friend here has told me your name.”

Taurinius exchanges the greeting and informs the Countess of his basic intent to travel to Sterich.

“Thank you for paying your respects and informing me that you travelling to Sterich. If you don't my asking, what is the attraction in Sterich? Are you seeking to open new trade in their fine minerals?”

“I am seeking a friend who has been kidnapped by persons residing as advisors to Clan Wallace.”

She looks surprised at this and asks “Do you possess clear evidence of this as fact?”

“Yes,” and he states the evidence, including linkages to prophecy and the power groups and Gnaeus' final message.

Her eyes widen at this news “It is a vast conspiracy and most elaborate for it to have been constructed if all the enemy wanted to do is kidnap one of your friends. Granted, Gnaeus is a special commodity in Keoland, for as you know we have shunned most magic as it is only he who wields it in our lands, and we allow it for he is a peaceful man who uses his gift for peaceful purposes. We are saddened to hear of the loss of your friend and will extend assistance to you if that is required. The man named Cortas Mortain ... is it he you wish to target, or is it the Clan?”

“Both. What you do not know is that these powers are gathering because I did something that has upset their future. In doing this we have groups from the Scarlet Brotherhood, to the Broken Wands, to the humanoids now frequenting the Jotens, and we have Clan Wallace who committed acts of treason against their own people during the war by backing the enemy and giving them weapons, and sheilding evil who can direct an attack against one of your own citizens. Now I say that I am not here as a politican. I am here because a friend who has helped me in the past has been taken against his will. My family has been threatened, so I will make this quite clear. I am going to Sterich to let Clan Wallace that I know of them and i know of their deeds. What Keoland may reflect on is whether you, as a kingdom, can afford to have this clan festering on your border considering it attacked one of your citizens. As I said, I am not a politician. But if we sit here and do nothing then that clan will continue doing its clandestine work. You might just say this got very personal.”

She gets a gleam in her eyes as Taurinius speaks and she nods approvingly of what he says. “You are a man of honour and great dignity,” she says. “I have heard of your exploits and I remember when you first travelled through my lands. You have grown much in status since then and you must know this. I have enormous respect for your station and it is timely that you bring these wider matters to my attention and equally the attention of the state. I will personally inform the Marchioness and the King of Keoland that both may turn a blind eye to any disruptive happenings that may commence in the territory of Clan Wallace. They will understand. You need to know that Clan Wallace is indeed a thorn in many sides. Gregor Wallace has seen fit to announce his clan will lead a revolt against the Marchioness and his involvement with the humanoids has added weight to recent arguments that the clan must be dealt with. You are free to do as you wish with the clan in the search for your friend. I will petition the King to send troops to assist you if that is your wish. The Marchioness has already rallied her loyal clans to her banner and it is only a matter of time before they attack Clan Wallace in any case. If something were to happen, that weakens their leadership, then the loyal clans will certainly attack. If Clan Wallace falls, then the other clans that sided with them will be much easier to deal with. I will see to it that nobody stands in your way if you wish to exact personal judgement on Clan Wallace to get our friend back. I do hope he is well and safe.”

Taurinius thaks her and suggests that she petition the King for troops as he feels if Keoland attacks with Sterich, then the alliance between both will only be strenthened as a result of this which can only help the future of both peoples that reside in these lands. As for judgment he would much rather refer judgement of Gregor to the leader of Sterich as he has committed crimes against her and has threatened the stability of that state. But those around him, such as the Scarlet Brotherhood and Cortas Mortain, they are the answer to where Gnaeus is and he will not be light on judging them.

“Then it is settled, the petition shall be made this night. You are welcome to stay here, although she says, I have observed a magnificant palatial mansion on that other prominent hilltop. Do you know anything about that?”

Narcamemnus coughs.

“As one of my wedding gifts I possess an item that provides a tower. But your scoundrel friend here has seen fit to employ an item we are safekeeping for Gnaeus to provide the mansion you have seen. I apologise that and will accept your hospitality for this night.” Taurinius tells her.

She laughs. “It is done. The arrangements are made. Rest well this night, good knight. And if the wolves' howling disturbs you, do not obsess on that. Nothing can harm us. The wild things will keep clear of bright light.”

“I would like to patrol and make sure the guards are OK.”

“As you see fit, brave knight. But rest will also be important for your engagement with Clan Wallace when that takes place.”

Taurinius talks with the guards, etc. Then he gets some rest. It is uneventful in the local environment, save for the howling in the hills and distant mountains.

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