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Messages - Phoenixguard09

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Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: September 25, 2021, 03:17:09 PM »
Quote from: Warrior
The Warrior is quite versatile, able to act as a ranged striker, a flanker and a primary tank all in the one build. The Warrior is not a caster class, and relies on using Combat Manoeuvres to cause damage, negate damage and apply status effects. The Warrior may wear any armour and wield most weapons. Outside combat, the Warrior is able to utilise a great deal of knowledge based abilities, mainly based around Common and Academic Knowledge related to fighting and tactics in general. The Warrior is one of few classes which can actually provide bonuses to the Command Skill. 

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+1 Initiative
+3 Dexterity or Strength
+2 Strength or Toughness
No armour restrictions.
Access to Common and Martial weapon list.
1 Common Weapon and 1 Martial Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Grappling
- Taunt
- Academic Knowledge (Military History)
- Academic Knowledge (Military Tactics)
- Common Knowledge (War)
- Contacts (Noble)
- Contacts (Mercenary Company)

Class Mechanics:

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Witch
The Witch is a Spirit-based primary caster class. The Witch has excellent utility out of combat and quite a few interesting niches to exploit in combat situations, making an excellent Support character. A Witch, like the Shaman, has a significant choice to make as they get stronger, making a pact with one of the two moons, Sehluna and Elladys and the spirits which dwell there. Doing so will grant the Witch even more capabilities. The Witch is a 'feral' casting option, with the ability to create Manifests, Curses and Blessings which harness the creativity of the player themselves.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
-1 Initiative
+5 Charisma or Willpower
+3 Dexterity or Intelligence
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
No free Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Animated Friends
- Black Spot
- Channelling
- Wraithsight
- Craft (Manifest)
- Craft (Poison)
- Craft (Remedy)
- Craft (Sigil)
- Common Knowledge (Herblore)
- Common Knowledge (Sidhe)
- Common Knowledge (Wilderness)
- Practical Divination (Astrology)
- Practical Divination (Oneiromancy)
- Practical Divination (Palmistry)
- Practical Divination (Tarot)
- Practical Divination (Tasseography)
- Craft (Witch's Blessing) Elladys Pact only
- Craft (Witch's Curse) Sehluna Pact only
- Contacts (Merchant)
- Contacts (Spirits of the Moons)
- Contacts (Spirits of the Wilds)

Class Mechanics:
Moon Pacts -
Animated Friends
Black Spot

Class Magic:
The Witch has access to the Spirit Magic system of casting. A Witch taking their first Magic Level receives the Spirit Magic (Residual) Sphere and two Spells from that list. After making their Pact with one of the two moons, the Witch may also take the Spirit Magic Sphere associated with their Pact.
The Witch has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Spirit Magic (Residual)
- Spirit Magic (Lunar)
- Spirit Magic (Midnight)
- Spirit Magic (Twilight)
- Spirit Magic (Elladys)
- Spirit Magic (Sehluna)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: September 25, 2021, 03:16:51 PM »
Quote from: Slayer
CURRENTLY UNPLAYABLE. IN PROGRESS.The Slayer is an interesting martial class which can prepare itself in such a way as to specialise in taking down specific foes. The Slayer has some out of combat utility too, having access to various knowledge and survival skills, albeit normally related to their quarry.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+1 Initiative
+3 Dexterity or Strength
+2 Toughness or Intelligence
Light and Medium armour only.
Access to Common, Martial and Specialist Ranged weapon list.
1 Common Weapon and 1 Martial or Specialist Ranged Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Grappling
- Analysis
- Craft (Traps)
To Be Continued
- Contacts (Noble)
- Contacts (Mercenary Company)

Class Mechanics:
Quarry -

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)
Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Warlock
The Warlock is predominantly a blaster, using sheer damage output and potential to control the battlefield. The Warlock is also capable of acting as a flanker, although this is dangerous. The Warlock is a caster class, with access to the Black Magic (Devastation), (Horror), (Vitae) and (Blight) Spheres. The Warlock can only wear light armour and can only wield basic weapons. Outside combat the Warlock's greatest asset is knowledge of daemonic entities and the Otherworld.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
-1 Initiative
+6 Willpower
+2 Intelligence or Charisma
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
1 Common Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Academic Knowledge (Black Magic)
- Academic Knowledge (Otherworld)
- Common Knowledge (Otherworld)
- Common Knowledge (Black Magic)
- Channelling
- Summoning
- Witchsight

Class Mechanics:

Class Magic:
The Warlock has access to the Black Magic system of casting. A Warlock taking their first Magic Level receives the Black Magic (Petty) Sphere and three Spells from that list.
The Warlock has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Black Magic (Petty)
- Black Magic (Blight)
- Black Magic (Horror)
- Black Magic (Vitae)
- Black Magic (Devastation)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: September 25, 2021, 03:12:48 PM »
Quote from: Seer
CURRENTLY UNPLAYABLE. IN PROGRESS.The Seer is a somewhat unusual character in the way it plays. Is often a good choice for a player who wishes to properly drive the plot. Predominantly a support class, the Seer can use comparatively subtle magics to assist their party both in and out of combat. As such, the Seer a considerable amount of utility out of combat, able to use their focus on intelligence, Divination spells and unique Foresight skill to interact with the plot in a way that other classes simply cannot.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+1 Initiative
+3 Intelligence
+2 Perception or +2 Willpower or +1 Soulfire
Light armour only.
Access to the Common weapon list
No free Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Practical Divination (Astrology)
- Practical Divination (Oneiromancy)
- Practical Divination (Palmistry)
- Practical Divination (Tarot)
- Practical Divination (Tasseography)
- Channelling
- Foresight

Class Mechanics:
- Cosmic Sense:
- Foresight:

Class Magic:
The Seer has access to the Arcane Magic system of casting. A Seer taking their first Magic Level receives the Arcane Magic (Petty) Sphere and two Spells from that list.
The Seer has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Arcane Magic (Petty)
- Arcane Magic (Divination)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Shaman
The Shaman is primarily a battlefield control class in combat and does so with the use of Curses. The Shaman is a caster class, able to use Spirit Magic to Dominate Seelie and Unseelie spirits into performing magical effects, providing a great deal of lockdown abilities, some damage and a great deal of negative effects on the battlefield. The Shaman is restricted to wearing light armour and can only wield basic weapons. Outside combat, Common Knowledge (Wilderness) and ability to communicate with spirits and animals makes them excellent scouts, especially in wilderness areas. Shamans are also capable healers, and can even use this ability to obtain resources, though this is time-intensive.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
-1 Initiative
+5 Willpower or Charisma
+3 Toughness, Dexterity or Strength
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
1 Common Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Animal Training
- Channelling
- Practical Divination (Astrology)
- Practical Divination (Oneiromancy)
- Practical Divination (Palmistry)
- Practical Divination (Tarot)
- Practical Divination (Tasseography)
- Common Knowledge (Herblore)
- Common Knowledge (Sidhe)
- Common Knowledge (Wilderness)
- Craft (Traps)
- Craft (Talismans)
- Craft (Totems)
- Wraithsight
- Spiritshaping (Seelie, Unseelie)*
- Contacts (Spirits of the Wild)

Class Mechanics:
Pact: Winter, Etesia, Vernal, Estival, Serotinal, Autumn

Class Magic:
The Shaman has access to Spirit Magic system of casting. A Shaman taking their first Magic Level receives the Spirit Magic (Residual) Sphere and three Spells from that list.
The Shaman has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Spirit Magic (Residual)
- Spirit Magic (Dawn)
- Spirit Magic (Noon)
- Spirit Magic (Twilight)
- Spirit Magic (Midnight)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: September 25, 2021, 03:10:58 PM »
Quote from: Ranger
The Ranger is a versatile class, able to provide good service as a ranged striker, a roving close-quarters flanker or even a secondary tank. The Ranger, through the Beastmaster and Hunter specialisations can even contribute in a support capacity too, able to bring wild animals into the fray and trap the area respectively. The Ranger is a caster class, with access to the Arcane Magic (Archery) Sphere. The Ranger is restricted to light or medium armour, but can wield most weapons, with access to the martial weapons list. Outside combat, the Ranger makes a fantastic scout, particularly in wilderness areas, and herblore makes them reasonable healers. 

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+0 Initiative
+4 Dexterity or +4 Strength
+3 Perception or +3 Toughness or +1 Soulfire
Light and medium armour only.
Access to Common, Specialist Ranged and Martial weapon list.
1 Common Weapon and 1 Martial or Specialist Ranged Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Animal Training
- Channelling
- Grappling
- Practical Divination (Astrology)
- Practical Divination (Tasseography)
- Common Knowledge (Herblore)
- Common Knowledge (Wilderness)
- Wraithsight
- Craft (Traps)
- Craft (Talismans)
- Contacts (Creatures of the Wild)

Class Mechanics

Class Magic:
The Ranger has access to both the Arcane Magic and Spirit Magic systems of casting. A Ranger taking their first Magic Level must choose to receive either the Arcane Magic (Petty) or Spirit Magic (Residual) Sphere and one Spell from the chosen list. The Ranger may choose to purchase the other casting system upon taking five Class Levels of Ranger. 
The Ranger has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Arcane Magic (Petty)
- Arcane Magic (Archery)
- Spirit Magic (Residual)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Rogue
The Rogue works best as a ranged striker, although they can also act as a roving flanker in combat. The Rogue is not a caster class, and is restricted to wearing only light or medium armour and but has access to most weapons. The Rogue's best qualities are their mobility and speed, with plenty of abilities which accentuate this. Outside combat the Rogue may ply their trade and earn money as a killer for hire, or go and steal valuables and will usually have contacts and knowledge of the underground, including fences. The Rogue also makes an effective scout, especially in urban areas.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+1 Initiative
+3 Dexterity or +3 Agility or +5 Charisma
Light and medium armour only.
Access to Common, Specialist Ranged and Martial weapon list.
1 Common Weapon and 1 Martial or Specialist Ranged Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Lockpicking
- Grappling
- Influence
- Sleight of Hand
- Pickpocket
- Craft (Traps)
- Common Knowledge (Criminal Underworld)
- Common Knowledge (Urban Life)
- Contacts (Merchants)
- Contacts (Mercenaries)
- Contacts (Criminal Underworld)

Class Mechanics

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Thanks Jubs, really appreciate it. I've been meaning to do it myself but never got around to it. :)

General Chatter - The Boozer / Re: July Pub
« on: July 21, 2021, 01:50:49 PM »
I'm going to my level best to get there. My email inbox didn't automatically sort the invitation into 'non-essential' this month. :)

Session 1.2: The Day After

To the Proprietors of the Or’Saer Emporium

My name is Hamlin Drybrush, and I wish to formally apply for the advertised position of apothecary's apprentice. I am thirteen years old and have lived in Stonebridge all my life.

Sadly, I do not have much in the way of experience which relates to the role I hope you will accept me for, but I am helpful, friendly, keen and an enthusiastic learner. My mother taught me my letters and numbers by the time I was five, and my father used to take me hunting and foraging in the Arbret when I was younger, so I know the lands around the town well enough.

One day I hope to become a proper alchemist and learn how to transmute things, and this would be the perfect first step.

I await your response eagerly,
Hamlin Drybrush

– Letter sent to the postbox of the Or’Saer Emporium, the only response to a job notice. The lettering is simple, large and somehow earnest.

Welcome to session 1.2 of Seven Stones and a Pale Shadow. This is of course, just the second half of our first session, but I have split it up for the sake of my own sanity as it took the better part of a year to write up both sessions.

Dawn breaks over the township of Stonebridge, revealing the thin carpet of pale mist wisping through the stony streets. A light drizzle of rain accompanies the mist, a drizzle which has remained constant throughout the night since the passing of the Chéserquine.

In the Pallid Mare inn, on the northern bank of Stonebridge, the general mood is quite subdued. It is very early, and the night previous was both long and tense. As such, many of those within the tavern, having stayed the evening, are still abed.

Not so in the room shared by Ignus Gritsword, Syntherion Voiculescu and Hadrina Cinel-Crimthann. Heaving himself out of the cot with difficulty, Ignus gently awakens the dozing Syntherion.

“I have business to attend to down by the forge, my lad. I’ll be there if you need me.” – Ignus, quietly.

“Okay, have fun. I’m going to try and find this mythical town square again.” – Syntherion, brightly, far too chipper for this early hour. He starts to gather his things, putting his cloak on.

“It is far too early to be having any kind of conversation, you two.” – Hadrina, lying on her back on the bed, staring at the dark ceiling.

Ignus nods, and ventures downstairs, finding the now familiar shape of the well-built and russet-haired Highlander, Michael McFyfe, hunched over a bowl of food, steam rising from it in the cool morning air. The common room is otherwise empty, save for the young Southron woman, sitting upon the bar. Taree, he seemed to remember Hadrina had said her name was.

The girl and Ignus exchange nods of greeting as he enters the room, and the dwarf sits next to Michael.

“Morning” – Ignus, settling into the seat with a slight groan. His frame is too large for the cot in his room. He is riddled with aches.

“Mornin’. Plans for the day?” – Michael, alternating his speech with quick bites of his bacon and eggs. He eats like a man who is used to having to eat swiftly, or else pass up the opportunity for a meal. A veteran, of some mercenary company or another, Ignus surmises.

“I have some business to attend to at the smithies down on the riverbank. I could do with the company, and perhaps the extra muscle. An ale, too please.” – Ignus, nodding his thanks to Taree as she brings a small plate of breakfast for him too. He flicks her a few coppers. The girl raises an eyebrow but makes no remark as she heads back to the bar to fix him a drink.

“I was planning on doing some shopping today, might be good to check out the forges. Good morning to you too, young man.” – Michael, finishing his meal and looking up from his plate to greet Syntherion, who has just come downstairs, a slight bounce in his step.

“Good morning! Are you coming with me to the town square?” – Syntherion, cheerfully, taking a seat at the table.

Michael shrugs his shoulders as Ignus sniggers under his breath. The old dwarf quickly disguises the laugh with a couple of coughs, taking a long draught from the tankard of ale Taree brought over with Synth’s breakfast.

* * *

Brynhildr leaves the Or’Saer Emporium in the early morning, the shaggy-furred shape of Venn trotting happily alongside her. The light drizzle of rain which falls from overhead causes her to shrug her cloak up over her shoulders some. She holds the corner out a little too, to provide shelter for the mammoth calf beside her.

Across the road from the apothecary lies a substantial yard with a homely structure, largely constructed of the strong arbret-pine so widely-used here in Stonebridge. The dwelling, a house built on massive stilts over what appears to be an extensive woodworking shop, is built on a massive scale, and as two of the occupants emerge and begin to traipse down the stairs at the front of the house, Bryn understands why.

She can tell immediately that they are both children, yet despite that, the taller of the two can look her in the eye with ease. They both sport short, pale blonde hair and fur and well-cut clothing. The smaller, still nearly six foot tall, moves with the unhurried and unconcerned bounce of youth and she can see his hair and horns are darker than the elder one, though they certainly share plenty of familial similarity.

Seeing Venn, the taller figure waves a greeting to the little mammoth calf, at which point the shaggy-furred little bugger immediately runs off into the gentle drizzle to meet these new people.

“Hello, hello! Who’s this?” – The taller Feartarbh, kneeling down to fuss over the little mammoth. Venn waves his trunk in greeting to both of them.

“I am so sorry. Venn, please, leave the nice people alone.” – Brynhildr, jogging over with a somewhat contrite expression.

“No, don’t apologise. He’s beautiful. Where did you get him?” – The taller Feartarbh. Venn has, now completely ignoring Bryn, rolled over onto his back to receive belly scritches.

“He was a gift. From an old teacher.” – Bryn, somewhat taken aback.

“Where are you from?” – The smaller of the pair, also scritching Venn rigorously.

“Do you mean where I was born, or…?” – Bryn, trailing off.

“Yeah, sure.” – The smaller one.

“Ah, from the north. The far north.” – Bryn, non-committal, not that the two Feartarbh seem to notice or really mind.

“The north, that’s so cool.” – The smaller one.

“Is it cold up there? I bet it’s really cold up there.” – The taller one.

“Yes, it is quite cold where I am from. There are colder places though.” – Bryn, shrugging.

“Did you see the Chéserquine? So cool, right?” – The taller one.

“Ah yes, I did. Dangerous, is it not?” – Brynhildr. Despite the incessant questions, she finds herself warming to the pair. They are friendly and open but most importantly, Venn likes them. That counts for a lot.

“Ah, yeah, a bit, a bit. They smashed in our window.” – The taller one, with an excited gleam in his eye. The smaller one nods hurriedly and points up towards the second storey of the house behind them, indicating a window with boarding hurriedly hammered in place over the breach.

“That doesn’t sound like a good thing.” – Brynhildr, looking up at the damage.

“No, it was pretty scary.” – The smaller one, his excited demeanour incongruous with his words.

“So the yard around the house, is this your family’s?” – Bryn, noting the sparse patches of grass growing in and around the house.

“Yes, it is. The lumberyard of Wraeth’s Woodworking, our family business.” – The taller of the pair, proudly.

“Would I be able to take Venn in there please? He likes to run around on the grass, and I do not really want to risk taking him outside the town walls. I promise I will clean up after him.” – Brynn, hopeful.

“Of course, that would be fine. It’s just grass. I know they won’t mind at all, but if you see our parents, tell them Charlie and Roland told you it was okay and that we’re friends. What’s your name?” – The taller one, indicating his name is Charlie and the younger one is Roland. He holds a hand out to Bryn to shake.

“Brynhildr.” – Bryn, taking the hand and shaking it firmly.

“Brynhildr?” – Charlie, trying to get his tongue around the unfamiliar pronunciation.

“Brynhildr.” – Bryn, nodding.

“Nice. Where’s that name from?” – Charlie, smiling.

“Home. Up north. Unterguardt.” – Bryn.

“And is that where Venn’s from too?” – Roland, still playing with the little mammoth.

“Ah, yes, it is.” – Bryn, nodding.

“Charlie, I think we need to go to Unterguardt one day.” – Roland, happily.

“It has been lovely meeting you, but we should really be getting a move on. I’ve only got a few hours before work. Please, head on in and get Venn on the grass. Hopefully we will see you later.” – Charlie, with a smile, giving Venn one last head pat.

Bryn nods her thanks with a small smile of her own and ushers Venn into the lumberyard. She sits down, her back against a small pile of arbret-logs and pulls her cloak tightly around her shoulders, watching Venn happily frolic in the misty morning drizzle. With a slight smile, revealing teeth just slightly too pointed for any Midlander, Bryn weaves a slight bit of magic into the air around them. The misty drizzle ceases, replaced now by flitting snowflakes forming above them. Venn’s trunk waves from side to side as he attempts to catch them as they fall. 

* * *

Crossing over the Main Thoroughfare, Ignus is disappointed to note that the Saltforge is empty and devoid of life. There is no sign of the Invarrian smith, Harold Wavebreak, nor his two apprentices.

“Bugger. Sorry Michael, might not be needing your assistance at all. Looks like they’re not open yet.” – Ignus, a note of disappointment in his voice. He had been looking forward to confronting the smith.

“Eh, that’s okay. I’ll just go on with the boy then, try to find this town square he keeps talking about. Between the two of us, I don’t know if there is one.” – Michael, under his breath and chuckling quietly, watching the Jeleni youth in question skipping on ahead across the cobblestones.

Ignus farewells Synth and Michael upon crossing the bridge, the two moving on, deeper into the town, while Ignus turns down the wide street which runs alongside the riverbank on the south-side.

Approaching the Steel Mill in the cold, grey, early morning light, Ignus is relieved to see the stout, grey-furred shape of Alvariste working at the forge, stoking the fires into life.

“I see you made it through the night!” – Alvariste, calling to Ignus, his brow furrowed above his one, amber eye.

“Not dead yet, my friend.” – Ignus, dropping his pack on the ground in preparation for another hard day’s work.

“Am I to assume you are working with me again today, Ignus?” – Alvariste, pumping the bellows.

“I will if that’s okay. I will be making my way over to the Saltforge later too, if they ever deign to open.” – Ignus, gruffly.

“They’ll open. I saw Wavebreak earlier this morning down by the river. He doesn’t normally start his forgefires until later in the morning anyway. Another mark against the man.” – Alvariste, sagely, a gleam of disapproval in his eye.

“Well then, I will help you until he does so, and then hope I can make a show of it.” – Ignus, with a note of satisfaction in his voice.

* * *

“Michael, this is not the right way, we’re just going back to the marketplace again.” – Syntherion, his voice plaintive.

Michael sighs and looks around.

“I’m sorry lad, I just don’t think you’ll ever find what you’re looking for because I’m not certain it actually exists. The closest thing to it is probably the Grand Market. Or maybe the central bridge.” – Michael, with a long-suffering tone.

“I’ll make a wager with you. You go your way, and I go mine. If I find the square, I get three sulvers. If I don’t, I'll give you three sulvers.” – Syntherion, flipping a silver coin from finger to finger.

Michael weighs up his options. On the one hand, he did say he would keep an eye on the boy. On the other hand, three sulvers is a lot of money. His own coin was fast running out and he had a few things he wanted to purchase this morning anyway. In addition to that, he was fairly confident there was no town square as such in Stonebridge.

The voice had told him so.

“Okay, it’s a deal.” – Michael, shaking Synth’s hand. The Jeleni grins and then dashes off down a side-street, leaving the Highlander alone in the early morning air. He shrugs and continues on, towards the Grand Market.

The market is dominated by tall, grey stone pillars, many of them bearing intricate artistic designs and carvings, and the vibrant, colourful sails draped between the pillars, providing both shade and a festive mood to the area. At this still rather early hour, and the morning after the Chéserquine, there are not a great many people gathered in the marketplace, but a handful of stalls have begun to set up for the day ahead.

Michael sees vendors selling foodstuffs of various kinds, and he stops at one stall, run by a Southron woman of somewhat indeterminable age, to purchase a few strips of dried and salted meat. He also buys a length of high-quality rope from another vendor.

“Interesting fact, for a long time the largest buildings in London were the one where they made the ropes for ships.” – Dev.
“I thought you said it was interesting. Nah, I’m sorry man, I couldn’t help it.” – Yohan, to a fair bit of laughter.
“I’ve been in that position a lot mate. The number of times I have said I have an interesting fact, shared it and then been immediately greeted with, ‘In no world was that interesting.’”
“Yeah, hardly a new place for me either.” – Dev.

As the Highlander steps away from the rope-vendor, slinging his new purchase from his belt, he espies five dwarves wheeling a locked chest in a wheelbarrow of sorts. Two are actually pushing it, one on either handle, while the other three surround it, keeping an eye out. They look ill at ease, but legitimate enough, all wearing a uniform of sorts, a pale grey tunic with some kind of golden badge or insignia pinned to the collar. Other than Michael, no one else seems to be paying them much mind as they continue on their way.

* * *

In the Or’Saer Emporium, slumped in a comfortable armchair on the lower level, Marwolaeth awakens from her slumber. She groans with pain as she shifts, then stifles her groans with a wince. She can hear no one active in the establishment. Caitrin must still be abed. She vaguely remembers waking from her doze long enough to see Brynhildr quietly leave with Venn in the early hours. Of Shadow, there is no sign, but heading upstairs, quietly and carefully so as not to awaken Caitrin, nor strain her various wounds, she can see her erstwhile bedroom door is open. Shadow’s pack lies upon the floor in the corner, a spare change of clothes bundled next to it. The bed is rumpled but made up.

“He intends to return then, I guess.” – Marwolaeth, to herself.

She heads back downstairs and enters the infirmary, where the sleeping form of Tomas can be found. He is still unconscious, but breathing. His airways are clear, but his breathing is still laboured and ragged. It will be some time before that damage heals.

Satisfied that the boy will live, Marwolaeth adjusts the blanket over his thin shoulders and leaves the room to prepare the Emporium for the day. She must write a letter too, a response to the young man who had answered her job call.

Quote from: Response to Job Application

To Hamlin Drybrush,

Thank you for your letter of application regarding the position at the Or’Saer Emporium.

We are contacting you to inform you that you have indeed been a successful applicant for the position, and ask that you start either immediately, or at your earliest convenience.

Either way, we ask that you attend our clinic as soon as you are able, as we shall need to discuss pay, lodgings (if applicable), working hours, and begin your training as an apprentice. I shall be able to answer any of your questions on site and look forward to seeing you soon.

With pleasure,
Marwolaeth Plendyn Or’Saer

Folding the parchment carefully, Marwolaeth places it in an envelope, drips hot green wax upon it and presses a seal bearing the name of the Or’Saer Emporium.

Now, to send it. She gathers up her things, puts on her boots and cloak and ventures out into the grey morning, locking the door behind her.

* * *

The hour is quite late when Hadrina finally rouses herself from her bed. Yesterday was a long day, and a harrowing night too and as such, she feels no pressing need to get up. She lays there for several hours, unable to get back to sleep, as the town slowly comes to life around the isolated darkness of her room. The window is closed, locked and still boarded up in preparation for the Chéserquine.

Eventually, she emerges and heads downstairs. She sees a handful of other patrons of the tavern, some older folk and a single, young Leathe, the girl from the night before. She sits in a booth by herself, reading from a large, black, leather-bound book, the spine and cover decorated in silver chasing. It looks hefty and expensive. Hadrina sits down at the table across from her.

Within moments, Taree emerges from behind the bar, carrying a small wooden plate with a single piping hot potato upon it.

“The usual, as ordered” – Taree, setting the plate down upon the table. Her gaze turns to the seated figure who accompanies Ailbhe this morning.

“Ah, the Danann. My mother told me about your swift action last night. She told me to fix you a breakfast on the house, if you’d like, as a thank you for your help.” – Taree, to Hadrina, her expression carefully neutral.

“Ah, yes, that would be lovely, thank you. I… I don’t really know what to have. What do you offer here, I guess?” – Hadrina, a little taken aback by this show of kindness.

“Well, bacon, mushrooms, potato and a hunk of bread with some butter is a very hearty breakfast we can put together for you. Will only take a moment. The bread was freshly baked this morning. Do your kind eat bread?” – Taree, shrugging. She looks genuinely curious.

“Yes, I would eat bread, thank you. That sounds very nice.” – Hadrina, smoothly skirting the question of her kind.

As Taree moves away to fix Hadrina’s breakfast, Ailbhe closes her book and begins to cut up her potato, her nose twitching in excitement.

“Have you tried the potato?” – Ailbhe, eyes locked on her steaming hot prize.

“No, not yet.” – Hadrina, eyebrow raised.

“Oh, you’re in for a treat. It’s the tastiest thing I’ve had in years.” – Ailbhe, scarfing the first morsel, burning her mouth in the process. She does the awkward ‘hsf-hsf-hsf’ thing with her mouth full, trying to blow on it while consuming it at the same time until finally, she swallows.

“Looks painful.” – Hadrina, wryly.

“Worth it. Gods, it’s worth it.” – Ailbhe, dreamily.

Taree returns with a massive plate, piled high with foodstuffs, which Hadrina gratefully receives and starts to dig into. With Ailbhe’s approving eye watching over her, the Danann divides the potato on her plate into pieces and takes a bite.

“You know, it’s not normally my thing. I prefer the bacon, but you’re right, it is very nice.” – Hadrina, diplomatically.

“If, ah, you’re not going to finish yours…” – Ailbhe, her suggestion trailing off into the air.

* * *

With her black cloak around her shoulders to guard her from the morning chill, Marwoaleth makes her way towards the Stonebridge Mail House. At this hour, the establishment has not quite opened yet, and when she arrives she sees the three young assistants standing at the door waiting for it to be unlocked as the old Dunscarth man, the post-master Eored, shuffles to the door, already sorting through his heavy ring of keys with a jingling of iron.

As the door swings open and the three boys troop inside, Eored turns to Marwolaeth with a smile.

“Good morning Miss Plendyn Or’Saer! I presume you have a letter to have delivered? Is it, perchance, a successful applicant to your apothecary?” – Eored, friendly.

“It is indeed. We’re very keen to have him work with us. If you would be so kind as to get this to the Drybrush residence, I would be grateful.” – Marwolaeth, handing the sealed letter to the old man, alongside a couple of coins.

“Of course, of course.” – Eored, smiling gently.

* * *

Traversing the still quiet Grand Market, Michael finds a low-slung stone building on the edge of the marketplace. The door is a heavy, black wood, chased with what looks like silver. Hanging above the door is an embossed sign bearing a name.

Brimsson & Sons.

Intrigued, Michael makes his way inside, hunching a little as he enters to get through the low doorway. He is, however, surprised that once inside, he can straighten again. The room is only dimly lit by the wan light entering through the narrow windows around the storefront and a single candle burning fitfully upon a stone counter at the far end of the room.

Between the front door where Michael stands and that counter at the rear, five long rows of glass cases stand proudly.

Behind the counter stands an old, hunched dwarven man. His skin is weather-beaten and leathery and his wispy hair and long beard are a grey so pale it borders on white, He holds a thick silver jewelry chain in one hand and works an oiled rag delicately along the links with the other. Beside him stand two more dwarves, younger in countenance and darker of hair. Unlike the older man, they wear the pale grey uniforms Michael noticed earlier and he recognises the two as part of the coterie he witnessed earlier wheeling the locked chest.

“Father, we have a guest.” - One of the younger dwarves, under his breath. Gently, he takes the chain and rag both from the old man.

“Why yes, we do indeed! How are you, and how can we help you, young master?” - The old dwarf, looking up at Michael with rheumy eyes. His voice however is surprisingly strong.

“I am well thank you. I was simply hoping to look around. Thank you for your welcome.” - Michael, respectfully.

“Just sing out if you need a hand, my lad.” - The old dwarf.

He can see the glass cases are filled with displays of jewellery and spends a significant time inspecting the wares of Brimsson & Sons. In the end, he purchases a simple bronze piece of iconography, the three supporting struts of the Triad, hanging from a thin steel chain.

“How’s business been?” - Michael, fastening the chain around his neck.

“Not great. Most of our business comes from travellers and the Chéserquine puts paid to that for a good week either side of them riding across the sky. Hopefully it will pick up shortly though.” - The old dwarf, Brimsson.

“There’s a festival of some kind soon though, no?” - Michael.

“Aye, there is indeed, the Festivale. Two days from now, an evening of drink and food and merry-making. It’s quite the event, quite worth staying in town for.” - Brimsson.

“Thank the Triad we survived, no?” - Michael, with a slight smile.

“That’s the origin of it, aye.” - Brimsson, nodding at the icon now hanging from Michael’s neck.

* * *

Having finished their breakfast, Hadrina and Ailbhe make their way together to the southern gate. Hadrina has a few things she wants to investigate on the more affluent side of town, and Ailbhe is quite keen to see the tall keep up close. In particular, Hadrina notes the evidence of damage throughout the town after the previous night.

For what it is worth, evidence of such is relatively scarce. The people of Stonebridge know full well what it is to live in the shadow of the fey court of the Viltshaws. When the Chéserquine rides, none remain out of doors. As long as the wards and charms are maintained and respected, and the necessary precautions are taken, no harm will come.

So say the stories at any rate, and if Hadrina is any judge, it would seem they have not led the people of Stonebridge astray.

Upon the southern bank of the Adhainn, Hadrina takes particular note of the stonework which makes up the majority of the town’s architecture. Compared to the larger southern city of Des-Cartes, which neighbours her own hometown of Bailett, she finds the ever-present grey stone and lack of greenery oppressive. Des-Cartes is beautiful, many buildings constructed from blocks of worked rose-sandstone, which gives much of the town a soft, pink hue. Fruit trees strung with lanterns with stained glass windows line the cobblestone streets of Des-Cartes, filling the streets with gaily coloured lights after the sun has set, whereas here, in Stonebridge, naught lines the streets but the occasional cast-iron lamp-post. No greenery, and the light is somehow cold and uninviting in the seasonal fog, unable to penetrate the thickness of the mist.

Now in the shadow of the keep, and withdrawn from her musings, Hadrina notes the substantial guard presence here in Stonebridge. She knows this is a border-region, and border-regions have a tendency towards greater armed presence. Significant numbers of armed soldiery seem to be mustered in and around the southern gate into the town, clad both in the dark blue tabards of the Stonebridge town-guard and the quartered red-and-black livery of what Hadrina assumes is the ruling family’s personal host.

She wracks her brain as they walk for the memory of the family’s name. She vaguely recalls Synth and Ignus speaking about it, but try as she might, she cannot remember it. No matter, she will ask one of them later if she deems it important.

“Treble!” – An excited voice from behind.

Hadrina and Ailbhe both turn to see Syntherion, skipping along to join them, his cloven hooves clipping across the stones.

“How are you, buddy?” – Ailbhe, friendly.

“Not getting into trouble are you, Synth?” – Hadrina, with at least some small note of concern in her voice.

“Not at all, that’s your name.” – Synth, with a grin. He reaches into a brown paper bag he carries, clenched in his left hand and pulls out two small, sweet pastries dusted with sugar. He tosses Ailbhe and Hadrina one each, then reaches into the bag and pulls out another two, which he quickly devours.

“These are amazing! Where did you find them?” – Ailbhe, excitedly.

“There’s a stall on the other side of the Grand Market, just over there. They do all kinds of delicious pastries and cooked fruits and it’s all really very amazing.” – Synth, pointing towards the south-western edge of the market.

“And you did pay for these, correct?” – Hadrina, narrowing her eyes.

“Sort of. I set up next to the stall with the psaltery for a bit and eventually they told me I’d done a good job and gave me the bag in thanks.” – Synth, grinning.

Whether they were sincere in their thanks, or if they merely gave the boy a bag of pastries to get him to shut up and go away, who can really say? Hadrina surely cannot, and she doesn’t have the heart to disabuse the boy of the notion they may have enjoyed his playing.

“Anyway, what are you up to? I’m still trying to find the town square.” – Synth, brushing crumbs out of his sandy fur.

“We were just looking around. I do need to find a herbalist around here though. I need some advice.” – Ailbhe, patting a small and battered old notebook at her side, tucked into her belt.

“There’s one nearby. I remember passing it yesterday returning from the hunt. Tall building, not far from here, nearly the only place around that seems to have some kind of garden.” – Hadrina, helpful.

“I’ll leave you to it then. I think I may have a date with the main bridge.” – Synth, who abruptly turns on his heel, unslinging his psaltery from over his shoulder and begins to play as he strolls in the direction of the Main Thoroughfare.

* * *

Before her stands the burnt-out remnants of what was once surely a beautiful manse. Still emitting faint trails of smoke in the cool morning air, the ruined house of the Jestain family is currently surrounded by a patrol of guards in quartered red-and-black livery.

“What happened here?” - Hadrina, questioning the nearest guard she sees, a tall, dark-haired Midlander man with thick stubble on his jaw and chin. He, like many of the guards, is covered in a layer of fine, grey ash.

“What it looks like. There was a fire last night. No one’s quite sure how it started, but it must have been an accident. As far as we’re aware, there was only the one survivor. Where did they take the boy again?” - the guard, turning to his compatriots.

“The Or’Saer Emporium, sir.” - Another guard, a young, pale-faced Midlander woman.

“Right, that’s the one. Anyway, we’ve been trying to clear some of the rubble to pull the bodies out all morning.” - The guard, turning back. Hadrina now notes the patch on his shoulder, indicating the man’s rank of captain.

“Has the boy said anything?” - Hadrina, curious.

“We do not know, we’ve been here the whole morning.” - The guard captain.

“We could go check on him if you like?” - Ailbhe, piping up from behind Hadrina. She is still looking at the burnt-out ruins of the manse, her brow furrowed in conversation.

“If you could do so, I’d be much obliged. Tell them Captain Elric has sent you. We still have our hands full here.” - The guard captain. As he speaks, two of the other guards shift a heavy beam.

“We’ve found another one! Triad, it’s a child.” - One of the guards. Captain Elric nods his thanks to Hadrina and Ailbhe, and then moves away to assist.

“Hey, Hadrina, why are most of the buildings on the south-bank made of stone?” - Ailbhe, whispering as they walk away.

“Prestige? It’s more expensive and the people on the south-bank can afford it? Why do you ask?” - Hadrina, with a frown.

“Because if that mansion was made of stone like most of the other buildings on this side of the river, it might not have burnt down like it did. I don’t know, it just seemed curious.” - Ailbhe, shrugging.

* * *

In the shadow of the great stone keep which dominates the southern side of Stonebridge, Marwolaeth strides along with some purpose. On her way back to the Emporium, she sees Bryn and Venn still exploring the sights of the town. The little mammoth calf clutches a long stick in his trunk, which he waves from side to side. Every now and then, he delivers a clumsy whack to a passerby and Bryn must quietly apologise. It looks accidental, but Marwolaeth notes the mischievous glint in the little creature’s eye.

Together they walk back towards the Emporium, stopping only briefly when they realise Shadow has fallen into step behind them without a word.

On the other side of the still chilly street, they note a small, brindle-furred Leathe girl, and a short Danann in a long leather coat, a bow slung over her back. The two look to be companions, and are also moving with some purpose.

The two parties reach the front door of the Emporium almost simultaneously, at which Marwolaeth abruptly pushes her way in front and inside. Bemused, the others follow her in.

Tucking products up on the shelves in the storefront, Caitrin looks towards the door with a smile. She is pale, noticeably more so than her more robust but otherwise so similar sister, and looks unwell.

“How has the morning treated you?” - Caitrin, to Marwolaeth, and nodding a greeting to Bryn as the tall woman enters the building.

“Ah, well enough. Has the boy woken yet?” - Marwolaeth, straight to business.

“He has, but he is sleeping again now. He’s eaten, or at least what little he could get down. I gave him a draught after that to help with the throat. Poor kid’s all shaken up. Couldn’t get anything out of him really.” - Caitrin, shaking her head.

LaPD had an incident here with a lemonade can, as the drink got up in her nose.
“Nothing worse than lemonade up the nose.”
“Nah there are worse things.” - Dev and Sins simultaneously.
“I was thinking whisky” - Dev.
“I was thinking Tic-Tacs.” - Sins.
“Speaking from experience?” - Dev.
“I’ve seen it done. Wasn’t pretty.” - Sins.

Marwolaeth seems a little disappointed but says nothing as she removes her long coat and hangs it up behind the counter before moving amongst the shelves at the store-front, picking up where Caitrin had left off.

“Hello!” - The raven, sitting in its nest on the windowsill.

“Hi!” - The Leathe girl, upon walking through the Emporium door.

“Hello!” - The raven, sitting in its nest on the windowsill.

“Hi!” - The Leathe girl, upon walking through the Emporium door.

“Hello!” - The raven, sitting in its nest on the windowsill.

“Hi!” - The Leathe girl, upon walking through the Emporium door.

“Hello!” - The raven, sitting in its nest on the windowsill.

“I f****** love this bird.” - The Leathe girl, upon walking through the Emporium door.

“And that’s my interaction. End scene.” - LD.

“Hello, and welcome to the Emporium” - Shadow, moving forward from around the counter with a flourish. He sweeps an arm out to encompass the Emporium’s shop-front before offering his hand to Hadrina to shake. He seems to be weighing up which hand to offer before settling on the right.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” - LaPD.
“Well, you’re not here. I’m just helping you out, running the shop while you’re busy.” - Pugsley.
“You don’t work here.” - LaPD.
“Think of it like an unpaid internship. If I impress you enough, will you give me a job?” - Pugsley.

“And hello to you as well. I’m glad you like our bird.” - Shadow, moving to Ailbhe and offering her a hand to shake as well, again the right, after a moment’s hesitation.

It’s probably worth noting that Pugsley’s mannerisms at the table are genuinely a delight to behold. The little details Pugsley makes sure to observe (the choosing which hand to shake with, the elaborate introductions, the quick glances at a new character’s footwear) unfortunately don’t translate across well in writing, but suffice to say it’s been a lot of fun. At the time of writing, Shadow has managed to completely irritate at least half of the party’s characters, but he’s also more than half the party’s players’ favourite character. This scene was particularly hard to transcribe due to the hysterical laughter coming from most of the table.

Marwolaeth emerges from behind the shelves and grabs the taller man by the back of the arm, spinning him in place to face her.

“Just what in the hells do you think you’re doing?” - Marwolaeth, in an angry hiss.

“Helping out while you’re busy.” - Shadow, face carefully neutral.

“You’re a bloody fool is what you are. We’ve been running this place well enough for long before you came along, and we’ll continue in that way long after you’ve left.” - Marwolaeth, still furious.

“You’re a mean boss.” - Yohan.
“I’m not his fecking boss, he doesn’t work here!” - LaPD.

“Okay, Ailbhe, how about we go over here and look at some of the herbs and leave them to it, shall we?” - Hadrina, carefully trying to guide the young Leathe away from the confrontation.

While Marwolaeth and Shadow continue their hissed conversation, Ailbhe reaches out and takes a green vial from one of the shelves.

“I’m pretty sure I know what this one is.” - Ailbhe, in an undertone, excitedly to Hadrina. She excitedly flips through the battered, dusty, leather-bound journal she normally carries at her side, and Hadrina catches a glimpse of the scratchy, tight handwriting and detailed diagrams inside. 

“Yes? What is it then?” - Hadrina, only half listening to her companion, still focussed mostly on the conversation between Shadow and Marwolaeth.

“Well, green normally means poison. Or it’s a potion.” - Ailbhe, who has no idea which one this vial contains.


“Would you like to take over then, boss?” - Shadow, quietly, deferentially.

“Of course I’d bloody well like to take over, you- Actually, you know what, you can help me. Keep an eye on the Danann.” - Marwolaeth, cutting herself off as Shadow nods in a placating fashion and backs away, arms outstretched. He takes his place, silently, behind the counter.

Ignoring the Danann herself, Marwolaeth approaches Ailbhe with as professional a demeanour as she can muster.

“Welcome to the Or’Saer Emporium. How can we help you?” - Marwolaeth, who can feel a stress headache encroaching.

“Hello! This journal belonged to my great aunt many years ago. She used to make all sorts of poisons and sedatives and stuff, and I thought, you know, that’d be pretty cool. I used to work in an old apothecary, but you see, I was more customer service and I was wondering if you might be able to help me out a bit.” - Ailbhe, indicating the journal to Marwolaeth.

“Well, we do craft some few choice poisons here, but not too many. I must confess they are not my personal specialty. I have a little knowledge, but I am not too good at making them myself. A few close calls in my time and I decided to quit while I was ahead.” - Marwolaeth, her tone professional.

“I can respect that.” - Ailbhe, nodding.

“If you would allow me to have a look at that book though, I can see what I can do with it.” - Marwolaeth, always on the look-out for opportunities to add to her repository of knowledge.

“Of course, that would be grand.” - Ailbhe, with a bright smile, handing the journal over.

“Gods, what is this?” - Marwolaeth, in somewhat awed wonder, flipping through the first few pages.

“I know, I know. She was apparently a bit dark and morbid. Also, I’m pretty sure a lot of the plants aren’t listed by their real names. Like, I don’t think ‘b****-grass’ is real.” - Ailbhe, oblivious to the growing look of consternation spreading across Marwolaeth’s face.

“I’ve heard of that. We’ve got some out the back.” - Shadow, lurking behind the counter.

“Oh, neat! Anyway, I’m not really after the more lethal poisons right now, I’m more after a sleep-time inducer I think. ” - Ailbhe, still oblivious, but now to the venomous look Marwolaeth shoots at the man.

“A strong sedative. Yes, we have a vial left out the back.” - Shadow, nodding sagely.

“I shall see what we can do.” - Marwolaeth, ignoring Shadow and slowly closing the journal. She notes that while the diagrams and processes are labelled and written in a, to be charitable, unique style, she is able to recognise most of the reagents from the detailed, though admittedly poor, drawings. She turns the journal over in her hands to look at the front cover.

F***-Off Poisons For F***-Off Lads
Belongs to Breanna Blackrose Ailbhe Blackrose

“An interesting book.” - Marwolaeth, handing the journal back to Ailbhe.

“She was an interesting woman.” - Ailbhe, with a definite note of pride.

“I’ll bet.” - Marwolaeth.

“Hello there. I was sent here by a guard captain Elric to check on the boy from the burning mansion. I was told he’d be here.” - Hadrina, who has approached Shadow, the man still standing behind the Emporium’s counter.

Shadow gives her a panicked look for the briefest moment and then immediately fades into shadow, his shape now an indeterminate black smear against the wall behind the counter. Despite his best efforts, Hadrina’s keen eyes are able to pick out his outline with little difficulty.

“Excuse me? I can still see you.” - Hadrina, starting to become exasperated.

“Pugsley’s just built a squid to play in this game.” - Yohan.

The shadowy-shape of Shadow flickers for a moment, then re-forms, revealing his rueful expression.

“Look, I’m still figuring that part out, okay?” - Shadow, mildly defensive.

“I can see that. Now, can you help me, or do I need to talk to your superior?” - Hadrina, losing patience.

Shadow draws a quill out from behind his back with a flourish and begins writing out a note using a scrap of parchment from under the counter. He writes the brief note, folds the paper over twice and signs the exterior of the note, Shadow in a messy scrawl.

“Give this to the captain.” - Shadow, solemnly handing the paper to the Danann.

She opens the note immediately.

The boy is alive.

“Do you need more?” - Shadow, upon seeing the frustrated look cross Hadrina’s face.

“A proper update would normally require a proper medical status, no?” - Hadrina, shaking her head.

Caitrin approaches the two at the counter from the direction of the infirmary, her expression carefully neutral, a modest sheaf of parchment in her hands.

“These notes contain everything Captain Elric might need. Tell him the boy is in our care and will be looked after to the best of our ability until his next of kin can be found.” - Caitrin, her voice cold.

“Thank you.” - Hadrina, taking the proffered notes, her expression slightly puzzled.

“Now, I must ask you to please leave the premises.” - Caitrin, stiffly. She shoots a glance at Marwolaeth, who nods slightly.

Hadrina’s eyes widen slightly and then she simply shakes her head dejectedly.

“As you wish. Ailbhe, if you are looking for me later, I’ll be heading back to the inn after delivering these notes.” - Hadrina, her expression grim.

“I’ll meet you there shortly, good luck with the notes. Safe travels!” - Ailbhe, who is still oblivious, now to the mistreatment her erstwhile companion is being subjected to.

“What do her boots look like?” - Pugsley, to general laughter.
“What the f*** dude?” - Redshirt.
“We’ve established, Shadow has a major foot fetish.” - Yohan.

“Do you have spare boots? If you leave those ones here, I’ll fix them up for you, as a thank you for your time.” - Shadow, to the confused Hadrina. The boots she wears are of worn and beaten leather, scuffed and dirty from many years of wide-ranging travels. They’re not in great condition.

Taking the notes, Hadrina ignores Shadow’s offer and exits silently into the Stonebridge streets. As she walks out the door, she pulls her hood up over head as the gentle rain falls from the sky above.

* * *

Still wandering the Grand Market, Michael espies a noticeboard on the edge of the commercial district. As he approaches it, he sees a well-groomed, dark-haired Midlander man in a well-fitted black suede doublet, pinning a new notice to the board.

He finishes just as Michael reaches the board. They exchange a silent nod of greeting, and the other man promptly leaves.

Quote from: Notice No.1, a little weathered, the notice seems to have been here for a few days at least:

With the Chéserquine about to thunder across the night sky, it is important to keep your spirits raised. Though the fury of the fey is not to be risked or trifled with, know that an unburdening of our worries is nearly upon us.

The Festivale approaches!

Be sure to stay safe, behind walls of strong stone and wood, when the Red Star passes between the Twin Moons. It would not do to miss out on the festivities!

Wine and ale will flow like the very Adhainn itself for the duration of the Festivale! Music will be played from the rooftops! Wonderful foodstuffs will abound for you to taste and enjoy! A unique experience unlike any other!

Quote from: Notice No.2, ripped away from the board:
Looking for young and ab-
-ook forward to hearing from you.

Quote from: Notice No.3, the newly posted notice:
Seeking a person of strong character and moral fortitude to investigate a difficult and unpleasant matter.

I have information to share with someone who would wish to look more closely into the fire which claimed the lives of the Jestain family. The authorities seem to be willing to pass it off as merely an accident, but I am not convinced.

If you have further information, or would like to offer your services, please inquire at the Galdon estate on Vail Street.   

Intrigued, Michael notes the address of the final notice and resolves to follow up on it, perhaps after the Festivale. For now, though, he will seek out the guardhouse. He recalls being told when he arrived in Stonebridge that the guardhouse is on the southern-bank, west of the keep.

He pulls his cloak forward a little more and pulls his hood up over his head as rain begins to fall.

* * *

“This bloody rain can just p*** off.” - Alvariste, growling under his breath. His massive, grey-furred arms ripple with muscle as the smith twists two bars of steel together in the forge-fires.

Ignus merely grunts by way of reply.

Only the sound of the hammer striking red-hot steel breaks the silence between the pair for some time after that until finally, the Bruin throws the welded blade down on a low bench and claps his clawed hands together.

“This is a miserable day. I feel like a hot meal, a roof over my head and something a little stronger than beer in my cup. What say you to lunch?” - Alvariste, his single eye gleaming.

“Why not? The Pallid Mare?” - Ignus, shrugging.

“Aye, the food’s alright. Hot, at least, which is to be recommended.” - Alvariste, nodding.

Together, the two smiths lock up the smithy, Ignus taking his unfinished rifle and storing it carefully in his pack, and then make their way over the Main Thoroughfare and back towards the Pallid Mare inn, hoods up to ward off the persistent, though only gentle rain.

Entering the inn, the two make their way to a booth seat and order a hot lunch, Ignus a hearty stew and hide of bread, Alvariste a cut of roasted mutton with boiled vegetables and a thick, spicy gravy he referred to as, ‘The Usual’.

“So, we’ve worked together for a few days now, but I know so little about you. What’s your story, friend?” - Alvariste, gratefully accepting the decanter of rye-liquor brought over to the table by a tall, blonde=furred young Feartarbh youth.

“It is a long one, not much of which I care to remember myself. I’m from the north, the Blackspine Mountains of Unterguardt, originally. Left at a young age, made a life for myself elsewhere, had that life stolen from me. Not a unique story, but not exactly a pleasant one either. Ended up south of here, in Bailett some years ago, tried to start afresh.” - Ignus, pulling out a battered silver locket on a chain from under his shirt.

“Haven’t been home since?” - Alvariste, pouring out a measure of the liquor for the two of them.

“No. Don’t feel I have one anymore.” - Ignus, taking the offered drink and downing it in one draught.

* * *

“Unfortunately, while we do have some sedatives, I fear we probably don’t have anything which works in quite the same way as any of the options presented in your journal there. If you like though, I can do some research and put something together for you if you give me a few hours. You’d be looking at about a sulver per application, and I completely understand if that’s out of your price-range. I may be able to point you elsewhere if that’s the case, but I’m not sure if anyone else would be able to help you out either.” - Marwolaeth, to Ailbhe.

“No, that seems quite reasonable. How many applications do you think you could put together this afternoon?” - Ailbhe, excited.

Marwolaeth frowns. She knows full well that she will be relying heavily on Caitrin’s expertise in this matter. She thinks maybe thirty would be possible, but with no guarantees.

“I should be able to make fifteen applications for you.” - Marwolaeth, erring on the side of caution.

“I don’t want to cut into your day too much. I know you have that sick boy to take care of. I might just get eight if that’s okay?” - Ailbhe, already fishing out the silver coins from her purse.

“I can definitely do eight, yes. Should only be a few hours hopefully, after the initial experiments and research.” - Marwolaeth, nodding and accepting the sulvers.

* * *

Their luncheon completed, Ignus and Alvariste make their way back to the Main Thoroughfare, ready to continue with the afternoon’s work. On their way, Ignus notes the piebald Invarrian watching his two apprentices, the tall, slender Feartarbh and the stocky young woman, probably a Woodsman, work at the fires of the Saltforge.

“He’s there. I shall see what I can do.” - Ignus, under his breath.

Alvariste merely nods and grunts in response and stomps off heavily towards the Steel-Mill.

Upon approaching the Saltforge, Ignus notes the way the Invarrian watches his apprentices. One of the apprentices, the young, dark-furred Feartarbh is hammering away at the anvil while the Woodsman girl works the bellows of the fires, bringing them to temperature.

“Ladham, no, not so hard boy. You must let the steel breathe a bit.” - The Invarrian master, stepping in and laying a hand on the big Feartarbh’s arm. To Ignus’ expert eye, the boy’s strikes were adequate, though his steel has perhaps cooled a little too much.

The Feartarbh looks confused and resumes striking the steel, though at a more sedate rate and with less power.

Ignus shakes his head in dismay. Judging by the quality of the work here, this lacklustre approach to craftsmanship has been prevalent for some time. He takes a finished blade from the display and considers it carefully. He quickly notes the uneven temper of the steel.

“Ah, friend, I did not see you there! Welcome to the Saltforge! How can I help you today?” - The Invarrian smith, favouring the dwarf with a wide, toothy grin.

“Greetings. I’m a wanderer in these lands, looking for someone to help me finish off a, uh, personal project.” - Ignus, tapping the barrel of the unfinished rifle which protrudes from over his shoulder.

“You’ve come to the right place then, my friend. Only the finest work leaves the Saltforge!” - The Invarrian, spreading his arms wide to encompass the, admittedly, rather extensive forgeworks. It is tidy and well-maintained, and if one did not possess an experienced eye, it would be very impressive.

“Quite. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you learn the craft?” - Ignus, placing the blade down and moving on to the next on display. Uneven temper and the edge has been poorly ground.

“Upon the high craggy cliffs of windswept Varr itself, amongst the finest Invarrian smiths. I come from a long line of master craftsmen, the favoured smiths of the Stormlords themselves!” - The Invarrian, grin growing ever wider. His theatrics have begun to draw a crowd, passersby intrigued by the unusual events.

Ignus does not have a particularly high opinion of Invarrian craftsmanship, but he chooses to keep that opinion to himself for now. He moves to the next sword on display. This one is not so bad as the others, but the balance seems off.

Spoiler: Invarrian smithing (click to show/hide)

He has seen more than enough at this point.

“How much is this one?” - Ignus, gruffly.

“That one there? Six sulvers. Fine work for the price, no?” - The Invarrian, loudly, his grin still ever-present.

“Hmm. How would you like to test your steel?” - Ignus, pitching his voice a little louder for the benefit of the crowd which has gathered.

“I would test my best work against that of any other smith in the world.” - The Invarrian, confidently.

“What of this blade then?” - Ignus, holding the sword with a hand gripping it tightly at either end. He makes to bend it.

“That one? No, not that one.” - The Invarrian, the ever-present grin faltering for once as he starts forward involuntarily.

“Did you not say you come from a long line of fine smiths?” - Ignus, feigning innocence.

“Indeed, the Wavebreaks have been the favoured smiths of the Stormlords of Varr for over a century.” - The Invarrian, Wavebreak presumably.

“So you said. Every piece should be a smith’s finest work, no? Why should it matter that I test this one?” - Ignus, assured.

“One cannot put the same love and care into every piece. That piece there is common, fit only for those without a discerning eye, but I see, my friend, that you have a keen eye for such things.” - The Invarrian, walking behind a counter and withdrawing a longsword from a long, narrow black box.

Definitely a higher quality weapon than the ones Ignus has inspected so far. The longsword is narrow, sharply-tapered with an even tempering on the steel. The Invarrian hands it to the dwarf carefully, almost reverently, and there is an audible murmuring in the gathered crowd as they see the blade. It is flashy and ostentatious, with delicate engravings on the quillons which trail down on the blade. The pommel appears to be a sharp-edged diamond-shaped block of blackened steel, attractive, but not practical. The hilt itself appears to be gilded.

There is also a very faint stress-line in the ricasso.

“More in line with what I expected to see from a scion of the Stormlord’s favoured smiths. May I test this piece?” - Ignus, to a confident nod from Wavebreak.

The dwarf takes the blade and walks out towards the crowd, drawing the entirety of their attention. He performs a handful of basic tests, flexing the blade back and forth, testing the balance. It responds well enough to the treatment.

“This isn’t a terrible blade, but the fact that it is your best work and it is still not worth a pittance just p***** me off.” - Ignus, growling to himself.

Ignus finally reaches the zenith of his performance. He takes the unique hammer he carries from his pack and wraps the head in a thick rag. He then looks up, seeing Wavebreak in the gathered crowd. The Invarrian’s grin is huge, but it begins to drop as he sees the determined look in Ignus’ eyes. A flicker of concern crosses his patched face.

Ignus tests the edge of the sword, smashing the rag-wrapped hammer down on the blade once, twice, a third time. He thumbs the edge, a slight roll but nothing major. Not bad. Wavebreak looks somewhat relieved.

Ignus flicks a small lever on the haft of his warhammer and a small steel claw-hook emerges from the back-side of the head. He quickly runs the hook down the blade towards the crossguard, twisting it as he does so.

The blade snaps at the stress point with a dull, metallic ring.

“If you wish to call yourself a master artisan, I suggest you seek retraining.” - Ignus, dropping the now bladeless hilt to the ground dismissively.

“The lesson is well-learnt. Thank you.” - Wavebreak, through gritted teeth. He is no longer smiling at all.

Ignus nods and stalks away through the crowd, which itself slowly disperses. At the rear, the grizzled form of Alvariste stands, a lop-sided smile on his face and clawed hands clapping his approval. Together, he and Ignus cross the bridge once more and set to work for the afternoon at the Steel-Mill.

* * *

“So, Caitrin, what do we get if we just mix a heap of these sedatives together.” - Marwolaeth.

“Probably a casualty.” - Caitrin.

In the small, lantern-lit workshop behind the Emporium’s shopfront, with the drumming of the rain outside beating upon the shingled roof of the shop, Caitrin and Marwolaeth work over a long table, carefully cutting and measuring various reagents.

It takes a little over three hours, but Caitrin and Marwolaeth do eventually emerge from their workshop in the rear of the shop with enough sedative for nine applications.

Marwolaeth sits down behind the counter and dips a sterile silver needle in the vial and prepares to stab the meat of her forearm.

“I do wish you wouldn’t test our products on yourself like that.” - Caitrin, shaking her head as she gathers up more items to stock the shelves.

“It is usually the best way, however… Shadow! Come here, I need you!” - Marwolaeth, with a mischievous grin. Caitrin smiles back, shakes her head and walks away.

There is no answer from Shadow as nearly a minute passes.

“Stuff this.” - Marwolaeth, leaving her seat and stalking away through the shelves of the shopfront, looking for her quarry.

* * *

“Shadow! Come here, I need you!” - Marwolaeth’s voice rising up from behind the counter.

Shadow is immediately cautious. Marwolaeth has never sounded this excited by the thought of his presence before.

Something’s up.

He hears her sneaking around behind one of the shelves, the tell-tale sound of someone with little training in the arts of stealth trying to be as quiet as possible.

Suddenly, Marwolaeth launches out from behind one of the shelves, bumping into Shadow as she does. There is a faint glint of silver as something in her hand jabs into her own neck. Slowly, she falls back, her body trying and failing to fight off the sedative as best it can. Her hands claw at his coat as she falls backwards and her eyes gradually roll back into her head as she slumps to the floor.

“I’ll never get a better chance than this.” - Shadow, to himself.

Then he steals her boots and darts off upstairs, knocking quietly on the door of Bryn’s room.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” - Redshirt.
The refrain of the night, really.

“Yes?” - Bryn’s voice. She sounds distracted.

“May I come in please? I need to hide.” - Shadow.

There is a definite sigh from the interior of the room before the door gently swings open. Bryn stands in the doorway, her expression neutral. Behind her, Venn lies on the bed, peering curiously out at Shadow. She gestures for him to enter, then closes the door and sits down on the edge of the bed and pointedly opens her book.

Shadow sits upon the floor with his back to the door and pulls out various leather-working tools from a compact pack on his belt. He sets to his task of completely patching Marwolaeth’s old, worn boots. It takes him a few hours, but when he is done, they are exemplary.

He would have been done sooner if it were not for Venn’s insistence on belly scritches every ten minutes.

“He better not clean them too well, the dried and crusty blood on the soles is the only thing giving me any purchase on the floors.” - LaPD.
“I can do whatever you like to them.” - Pugsley.
“Don’t ‘Spice Girl’ them.” - LaPD.
Whatever that means.
“By the time you are done, they are significantly better than when you received them.”
“Received them. That’s a very charitable way to put it.” - Ladyhawk.
“Anti-received? Reverse-received?” - LaPD.
“Stole?” - LD.

* * *

Having delivered the notes on the Jestain boy to a grateful Captain Elric, Hadrina found herself at a bit of a loss. The market interested her little. She took a turn exploring the plains to the north for a while, but that quickly lost its appeal too. Within an hour of leaving the town’s walls, she finds herself heading back, thinking to meet up with Ignus at the Steel-Mill.

Upon the bridge she overhears a commotion at another forge on the riverbank. A tall, bearded Midlander clad in the red and black quartered livery prevalent on the southern-bank shouts at a rather shamefaced, pie-bald Invarrian smith in a long red leather coat. She picks out only pieces of the conversation, something about being sold poor quality work.

Upon arriving at the Steel-Mill, she finds Ignus and Alvariste working together. The dwarf is in an uncommonly good mood.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you smile in about five years.” - Hadrina, to Ignus.

“I don’t think I’ve had that much fun in about twenty-five years, lass. Come here, and try this on, we’ve made you a gift.” - Ignus, holding up a light plate cuirass.

The reward granted to Ignus for assisting Alvariste was a 45% reduction on High and Masterwork quality equipment crafted by Alvariste. Yohan chose to utilise this immediately and provided Hadrina with the finest single piece of armour she can currently wear. (A light plate cuirass is genuinely very good. Early game, Hadrina is going to be very hard for me to damage.)

* * *

“Well, that serves you right.” - Caitrin’s voice. It sounds somewhat distorted.

Marwolaeth’s eyes open to the world. She looks around blearily, lying upon the Emporium’s wooden floor. She can barely make out the dark shape of Caitrin kneeling beside her.

“It works.” - Marwolaeth, croaking in response.

“It sure does. You’ve been out for well over an hour.” - Caitrin. Her expression gives the impression of concern, but her voice betrays some mirth.

“Don’t you dare laugh. Wait, where are my boots?” - Marwolaeth, slowly sitting up with a groan.

* * *

Ailbhe returns to the Emporium at the agreed upon time and arrives to see Marwolaeth, looking rather dishevelled, standing behind the counter of the apothecary.

“I have your sedatives here. Oh, pardon me.” - Marwolaeth, yawning.

“No, that’s quite alright, thank you very much.” - Ailbhe, yawning as well. She takes the offered sedatives and pockets them.

“Say, have you seen a pair of boots around?” - Marwolaeth.

* * *

As the afternoon draws on, Syntherion packs up on the Main Thoroughfare and heads toward the shelter of the Pallid Mare, where he had promised to meet Ignus and Hadrina later. He has completely forgotten about the bet he made with Michael. He is, however, hungry, and is very much looking forward to a hot meal at the Pallid Mare with his friends before heading out onto the town streets later tonight.

* * *

At the Steel-Mill, Ignus and Hadrina bid farewell to Alvariste for the evening, and they too venture out towards the Pallid Mare. Compared to yesterday, the streets are bustling with activity, as townspeople begin to partake of the festivities which serve as prelude to the Festivale.

* * *

Pockets full of freshly-crafted sedative, Ailbhe dashes back to the Pallid Mare herself. She can’t wait for another of those glorious baked potatoes for dinner. On the way, she sees Michael and slows down to join him as he trudges back from the guardhouse. They offered him a temporary contract with the guard, which he has decided to consider.

Together, they make their way to the Pallid Mare, pushing through a not inconsiderable crowd beginning to gather on the streets. Once inside the inn, they join Syntherion, Ignus and Hadrina at their booth and the five enjoy a hot meal and a few drinks together.

* * *

Within the Or’Saer Emporium, Marwolaeth finally finds her boots, with a note attached.

Quote from: The note
My thanks for letting us stay here a while. I hope you find them more comfortable than they were before.

She slips them on, and though she would never admit it, they feel ten times better. The broken buckle on the left has been repaired, they have been re-soled and the leather uppers have been polished to a gleaming black shine. She notes the stitching between the pieces of the upper is a stylised lightning bolt shape, picked out in fine, indigo thread.

She returns downstairs to check upon the Jestain boy.

* * *

Within the safety of his borrowed room, behind a locked door, Shadow lies upon the bed, staring up at the ceiling in total darkness.

“Why him?” - Shadow, to the darkness.

If the darkness responds, only he can hear it.

* * *

In the guest-room of the Or’Saer Emporium, Bryn sits on the bed, reading. Her hand itches absent-mindedly at her upper arm and she winces as she presses too hard. She closes the book and sets it on the bare bedside table before lighting the lamp upon the table.

She can hear a commotion of some kind outside and looks out the window. The sun has set quickly, but the various torchlights and lanterns which illuminate the streets allow her to see the thronging people outside.

The sounds of revelry turn swiftly to panic. She hears screams as a thick fog rolls through the streets. In the sky overhead, the Red Star passes between the light of the twin moons. There is a rustling like leaves in the wind, a howling like wolves in the forest and a wild, cacophonous shrieking. From the sky comes the ominous report of thunderous hoofbeats.

A hunting horn rings, murderously loud in the evening air.

“Fuuuuuu-” - Redshirt.

The Chéserquine rides again.

And we left it there…

The Wrap-Up:
This was an absolute monster to write up, and my sincere apologies for how long it took. Between the quality of the recording (god-awful), the small matter of a world-wide pandemic and my own, in the grand scheme of things, personal battles with depression and self-worth, this was honestly a real slog to get through.

Now that all the set up has been done and I have changed career, hopefully I should be able to get into a more regular schedule with the write-ups and produce more content.

As to the session itself, it is a little hard to provide much insight into it as it was actually December 2019 that we played it. Such a massive hiatus between our first and second session definitely took a toll, but it’s all good. Thankfully, we’ve been able to get a few more consistent sessions in this year after taking practically all of 2020 off due to Covid.

Pugsley noted after the session that he felt he should have seen the twist at the end coming, what with how much I had talked up the Chéserquine and how minor it actually seemed in play.

The rest of the table seemed to agree with him, but no one said they picked it beforehand, so I’ll take that as a win.

At any rate, we hope you enjoyed this. Please do stay tuned for me. I really should be getting these out at a better rate in the coming months.

Thanks for reading,

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: June 30, 2021, 12:11:18 PM »
Quote from: Mesmer
The Mesmer is predominantly a battlefield control specialist, able to use magic to mess with enemy minds, even going so far as Domination effects. The Mesmer is a caster class, with access to Petty Magic and the Arcane Magic (Illusion) and (Mental) Spheres. The Mesmer is restricted to wearing only light armour and can only wield basic weapons. Outside combat, the Mesmer is quite versatile, able to use their skills with illusions and hypnotism to perform for crowds, although they must be careful where they do this as not everyone likes magic. They are also capable thieves, and due to their abilities make excellent scouts. They can also use their magic to boost their abilities as the party face.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+0 Initiative
+2 Soulfire
+2 Willpower or Dexterity
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
1 Common Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Channelling
- Dreamshape
- Lockpicking
- Hypnotism
- Perform (Illusions)
- Mesmerisation
- Sleight of Hand
- Practical Divination (Oneiromancy)
- Common Knowledge (Arcane Magic)

Class Mechanics:
- Disbelief:
- Dreamshaping:
- Mesmerisation:
- Shattering: As a Free Action on their Turn, the Mesmer may Shatter any/all active Illusions they have currently active. Shattering an Illusion ends the effect immediately, but has no other native effect, however many Spells and Talents will provide additional effects upon Shattering.

Class Magic:
The Mesmer has access to the Arcane Magic system of casting. A Mesmer taking their first Magic Level receives the Arcane Magic (Petty) Sphere and two Spells from that list.
The Mesmer has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Arcane Magic (Petty)
- Arcane Magic (Illusions)
- Arcane Magic (Mentalism)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Necromancer
The Necromancer is predominantly battlefield control and support through the use of raised minions. Using Black Magic and corpses, the Necromancer is able to create an army under their command and is able to provide buffs such as Bone Armour to them and/or allies. The Necromancer is a caster class, with access to the Black Magic (Entropy), (Vitae) and (Bone) Spheres. The Necromancer is restricted to wearing light or medium armour and can only use basic weapons. Outside combat, the Necromancer would appear to be quite limited, however the implications of using the raised corpses of the vanquished as slaves means the Necromancer has a lot of viability for the savvy player.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
-1 Initiative
+3 Willpower
+2 Toughness or +3 Intelligence
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
1 Common Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Academic Knowledge (Black Magic)
- Academic Knowledge (Necromancy)
- Academic Knowledge (Otherworld)
- Common Knowledge (Otherworld)
- Common Knowledge (Black Magic)
- Common Knowledge (Necromancy)
- Common Knowledge (Corpses)
- Channelling
- Necromancy (Patchwork, Wight, Dwimmerlaik, Wraith, Ghast, Ghul, Revenant)
- Craft (Poisons)
- Summoning
- Witchsight

Class Mechanics:

Class Magic:
The Necromancer has access to the Black Magic system of casting. A Necromancer taking their first Magic Level receives the Black Magic (Petty) Sphere and two Spells from that list.
The Necromancer has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Black Magic (Petty)
- Black Magic (Entropy)
- Black Magic (Vitae)
- Black Magic (Bone)
- Black Magic (Reaper)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: June 30, 2021, 12:07:19 PM »
Quote from: Mage
The Mage can play a variety of roles, but are usually best served as either battlefield control or just sheer blasters. The Mage has access to plenty of magic, which can be used in a variety of roles. The Mage is, obviously, a caster class, with access to Petty Magic and the Arcane Magic (Pyromancy), (Aquamancy), (Aeromancy), (Geomancy), (Divination), (Kineticism) and (Mentalism) Spheres. The Mage is restricted to wearing only light armour and wielding basic weapons. Outside combat the Mage is quite versatile, able to use magic to provide small bonuses in many different challenges. A Mage with Academy Training also has access to a wide variety of Academic Knowledge Skills, which is generally more valuable than Common Knowledge.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
-1 Initiative
+2 Soulfire
+2 Willpower
+3 Intelligence
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
No free Weapon Proficiency

Class Skills:
- Academic Knowledge (Arcane Magic)
- Academy Training
- Common Knowledge (Arcane Magic)
- Channelling
- Contacts (Mage)

Class Mechanics:
- Familiar:

Class Magic:
The Mage has access to the Arcane Magic system of casting. A Mage taking their first Magic Level receives the Arcane Magic (Petty) Sphere and three Spells from that list.
The Mage has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Arcane Magic (Petty)
- Arcane Magic (Aeromancy)
- Arcane Magic (Aquamancy)
- Arcane Magic (Geomancy)
- Arcane Magic (Kineticism)
- Arcane Magic (Mentalism)
- Arcane Magic (Pyromancy)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Marshall
CURRENTLY UNPLAYABLE. IN PROGRESS.The Marshall is mainly a mundane support character, with a reasonable amount of personal survivability. The Marshall is best served providing significant bonuses to allies around them, using their unique Warcry and Tactica systems and judicious use of their various enhancements to the Command Skill to support their allies. The Marshall shines in open battlefield situations, but has a reasonable amount of utility out of combat in a social setting too, able to use their intelligence and forceful personality to get what they need.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+0 Initiative
+3 Intelligence
+2 Charisma or +1 Perception
+2 Perception or +1 Charisma
No armour restrictions.
Access to the Common, Martial and Specialist Ranged weapon lists.
1 Common Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Grappling
- Tactica
- Perform (Orator)
- Academic Knowledge (History)
- Common Knowledge (War)
- Contacts (Mercenary Company)

Class Mechanics:
- Warcry:
- Tactica: Upon the party rolling Initiative at the beginning of an encounter, but before the encounter itself actually begins, the Marshall may roll a Tactica Check (keyed off Intelligence). Each degree of success garnered by the Tactica Check allows the Marshall's player to adjust the Initiative order by that many points. For example, a Marshall garnering five degrees of success on their Tactica Check will allow the player to adjust the position of up to five combatants, whether they be allies or enemies, by one point each, to take one enemy and drop them down the ranking a full five points, or to take one ally and provide them an increase of five points or any combination of the above. 

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Character Creation
« on: June 22, 2021, 12:23:58 PM »
Quote from: Guardian
The Guardian is primarily a tank class, although it is easy to create a Guardian which is good at causing damage too. The Guardian works best in a mixed support and tank role, able to provide the rest of the party with beneficial shielding effects, while also attracting the attention of the enemy's heaviest hitters and shrugging it off. The Guardian is a caster class, with access to the Arcane Magic (Petty) and (Guardian) Spheres. The Guardian is able to wear any armour and wield most weapons, with access to the martial weapons list. Outside combat, the Guardian is quite limited, but in combat, they are fantastic.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
+0 Initiative
+3 Strength or Dexterity
+3 Willpower or Toughness
No armour restrictions.
Access to Common and Martial weapon lists.
2 Common Weapon or 1 Martial Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Grappling
- Taunt
- Channelling
- Common Knowledge (War)
- Contacts (Noble)
- Contacts (Mercenary Company)

Class Mechanics

Class Magic:
The Guardian has access to the Arcane Magic system of casting. A Guardian taking their first Magic Level receives the Arcane Magic (Petty) Sphere and one Spell from that list.
The Guardian has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Arcane Magic (Petty)
- Arcane Magic (Guardian)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Quote from: Lorekeeper
The Lorekeeper is a particularly versatile primary caster class. While not naturally a combat powerhouse, the Lorekeeper is able to provide significant advantages to a party out of combat situations, acting as a repository of knowledge. With nearly unparalleled access to siffering magical disciplines, the Lorekeeper is able to specialise in either Arcane or Black Magic, able to choose from the (Petty) Sphere of either denomination and (Words of Power) and (Kineticism) and (Horror) and (Vitae) Spheres respectively. They also gain exclusive access to the Lore Magic mechanic, which enables them to find and craft their own unique spells. The Lorekeeper is greatly restricted in the weapons and armour they can wear and wield, but that matters little when compared to their utility both in and out of combat.

Class Statistic Modifiers
+1 Health every 2nd Level
-1 Initiative
+3 Intelligence or Willpower
+1 Soulfire
Light armour only.
Access to Common weapon list.
No free Weapon Proficiency.

Class Skills:
- Academy Training
- Channelling
- Spell Combat
- Summoning
- Witchsight
- Craft (Arcane Focus)
- Craft (Scroll)
- Practical Divination (Astrology)
- Practical Divination (Oneiromancy)
- Practical Divination (Tarot)
- Academic Knowledge (History)
- Academic Knowledge (Literature)
- Academic Knowledge (Magic)
- Academic Knowledge (Nobility)
- Academic Knowledge (Otherworld)
- Common Knowledge (Magic)
- Common Knowledge (Otherworld)
- Contacts (Noble)
- Contacts (Mage)
- Contacts (Archive)

Class Mechanics

Class Magic:
The Lorekeeper has access to the Arcane and Black Magic systems of casting. A Lorekeeper taking their first Magic Level receives either the Arcane Magic (Petty) or Black Magic (Petty) Sphere and one Spell from that list. The Lorekeeper may then take the other system of Magic upon reaching their 5th total Character Level. In addition to this, the Lorekeeper may take any Lore Magic Spheres they wish at any level.
The Lorekeeper has access to the following Magic Spheres:
- Arcane Magic (Petty)
- Arcane Magic (Words of Power)
- Arcane Magic (Kineticism)
- Black Magic (Petty)
- Black Magic (Horror)
- Black Magic (Vitae)
- Lore Magic (Ancient)
- Lore Magic (Dark)
- Lore Magic (Prophetic)
- Lore Magic (War)

Spoiler: Class Talents: (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Class Rewards (click to show/hide)

Been a while since this has been updated. My apologies, life has got in the way a little. The next chapter should be coming shortly, but until then I shall provide you with some pictures of our band of intrepid adventurers, as crafted on Heroforge, largely by the miscreants behind the characters.

Spoiler: Brynhildr Gyldenskinn (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Michael McFyfe (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Ailbhe Blackrose (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Syntherion Voiculescu (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Ignus Gritsword (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Shadow (click to show/hide)

Spoiler: Charlie Gwyn Valdemar (click to show/hide)

Inquisition is pretty good. I preferred most of the Inquisition companions to those in DA2. For what it's worth, it is also a very pretty game.

Personally, I think I preferred the gameplay of DA2 to the others. Inquisition is pretty damn simple, and while DA2 certainly is more simplistic in that way than Origins was, at least it was fast paced and felt somewhat interesting. Despite (or perhaps because of) all the flashy lights in Inquisition, the combat had a tendency to feel bland for me. Obviously, others' mileage may vary.

The companions in Inquisition are generally very good.

Norbayne / Re: Norbayne Short Stories
« on: April 03, 2021, 09:55:09 AM »
Spoiler: Our Light (click to show/hide)

I'm honoured. Well done to everyone who entered this year, there's some fantastic pieces of work up there.

Probably going to pinch Agaming's On a Bright and Twisted Night and tweak it to run for my Norbayne group in the near future. A very cool premise.

Session 1.1: A Dark Night

”Oh wow, it’s a real adventurer.

I can’t believe this. I’m in a s***** little town, in the middle of a crisis. I’ve just met with an adventurer in a tavern. This is just like the stories.

I am so hyped right now.

It’s finally happening. YES!”

- Ailbhe Blackrose’s internal monologue upon meeting Michael McFyfe.

Welcome to the first real session of Seven Stones and a Pale Shadow. Tonight, we have our full allotment of players, the whole kit and caboodle, so to speak. What exciting times we live in.

“You’ve lost The Game.” – Ladyhawk.
“Great.” – Redshirt.
“Have to keep the tradition alive.” – Ladyhawk.

The busy confines of the Pallid Mare ring with the general clamour of an eating and drinking establishment packed to the rafters, the sounds of slightly subdued merriment and over it all, the wailing notes of Syntherion Voiculescu’s psaltery accompanied by his clear vocals as the young Jeleni completes his rendition of a famous folk-tune.

There is scattered applause from around the inn as the music draws to a close. A slightly-built Leathe girl with merle fur stops trying to pull her companion, a heavy-set bearded Highlander with russet-brown hair, out of his seat to dance with her and clambers upon the table instead, clapping with great enthusiasm. She whistles her appreciation as Synth stands and bows to the crowd, most of whom have already turned their attention elsewhere.

“Ailbhe has been un-ironically just bopping. ‘This is so cultural.’ She’s just living for it.” – LD.
“Synth is probably a little bit taken aback by the existence of applause.” – Sins.

As an aside, whether it be the acoustics of where we played that night or merely where we had the recording device set up, listening to the recording, whenever either LaPD or Redshirt laughs, my ears bleed. Yohan made a reference early on about how high the recording spiked when LaPD laughed during the introduction and it only got worse from there.

Also, the train which passes by every half an hour is not particularly welcome either.

So gentle reader, you owe me. I’m coming for your young. :D

Sitting at the booth in between that of the rambunctious Leathe and her companion, and Synth’s stage, an elderly dwarf and a raven-haired Danann share a drink and a bite to eat. The dwarf shakes his head.

“I’m regretting telling him to go up there now.” – Ignus, gruff.

Hadrina doesn’t respond, but merely grins, an expression of good humour perhaps, baring her fangs. It would be off-putting to anyone who doesn’t know her, but she need not worry about that with Ignus.

She takes a long pull from the tankard of ale before her. It isn’t terrible, if perhaps a little watery. Then the music starts up once more and she feels as if the ale isn’t strong enough.

* * *

Outside the tavern, on the stone streets of the town, all movement has ceased. All afternoon the cry had been taken up by the clergy of the Triad. Tonight, is the fated night, the dreaded Chéserquine. Windows and doors throughout the township have been boarded up, the better to withstand the spectral hunt which will blow through the settlement, sweeping up any and all who are unprotected and bear them away into the dark to join the Mesnee d’Hellequin.

Now, with the sun almost entirely dipped down below the horizon, the shadows lengthen across the countryside. Any who would brave the encroaching darkness would note the shadows almost dancing of their own accord, fell lights glimmering in the darkened woods of the Viltshaws. None, however, dare venture outdoors now for miles around.

Deep in the woods, a chittering begins, soft, faint, susurrating. It grows slowly, into a dull drone. Shrieks and cries echo through the still woodland, alien and terrifying. The power of the Chéserquine grows.

* * *

Brynhildr, safe now within the sturdy walls of the Or’Saer Emporium, sits upon the floor near the door, her back against the stone wall, absent-mindedly throwing a pinecone to a small shaggy mammoth calf. The mammoth trots after the pinecone, picking it up tenderly with his prehensile trunk and carries it back to the tall woman, depositing it in her lap for her to throw again.

While engaged in this game, she inspects the fine runes carved into the threshold of the doorway. They are narrow, small lines intersecting cleanly with each other, forming precise geometric patterns, each little rune equidistant from the next in succession. To her witchsight, the charcoal grey of her eyes giving way to an almost icy frost for a moment, the sigils gleam with a slight trace of magic, though she does not recognise it.

“Marwolaeth, did you carve these?” – Bryn, calling to the woman behind the Emporium’s front counter.

The stocky apothecary and her sister had provided a simple dinner for their guests and now, while Shadow cleaned up after dinner, Marwolaeth was reading the letters she had retrieved from the Stonebridge mail-house.

“I’m sorry, carve what? Oh those? No, they were there when we first rented the place. They’re on all the windowsills too.” – Marwolaeth, shrugging, then returning to her reading.

Caitrin emerges from the stairway, her breathing slightly ragged, her pale and gaunt features somewhat softened by the warm lantern-light illuminating the room.

“I have locked up everything upstairs. Is there anything you would like me to do while you check everything over?” – Caitrin, to Marwoaleth.

“No dear, just rest for me. I quite like the look of this applicant though, so if you’re happy to try him out, we’ll get in touch with him in the morning.” – Marwolaeth, handing the letter of application to her sister before tramping upstairs herself.

Caitrin sits down behind the counter to read the letter, sparing an amused smile for the shape of Venn who comes barrelling around the corner after a thrown pinecone.

“Does she take her shoes off?” – Pugsley, for the second time that night.
“Why are you so obsessed with this character’s feet?” – Dev.
“Pugsley, we’ve been playing for all of about ten minutes and you’ve already developed a foot fetish.” – Yohan.
“It’ll all make sense later.” – LaPD, laughing.
“I don’t really want it to.” – Yohan.
“He’s an undercover fashion designer?” – Sins.
“Undercover? Mate, I’m not hiding it.” – Pugsley.

LaPD then went into detail about how Shadow Fashion Industries would work, with a hidden designer secretively going about their business, the model with their back turned and unable to feel any clothes upon them. Finally, impatient and confused, they turn around to see Shadow, laying clothes out upon the ground, over the model’s own shadow. He exclaims they have ruined his masterpiece, performs the Shadow Gang hand sign and disappears in a huff.

It was very funny, but the train went by as she described it, so unfortunately, I cannot transcribe it word for word.

* * *

“Okay love, that’s enough now!” – Mallida, the stout innkeeper of the Pallid Mare, waving her hand to Syntherion.

The youth brings the music to a crescendo, then bows and leaves the raised stage, the last note of his psaltery hanging, hauntingly in the air. Silence descends upon the tavern, as the reality of the night sets in. He sits next to Hadrina in the booth, even his incorrigible spirits seemingly dampened somewhat by the tension within the establishment.

Tail twitching with excitement, the Leathe girl, Ailbhe Blackrose, stands and moves towards one of the boarded-up windows and peeks out between the wooden slats, oblivious to the horrified looks she is receiving from the other patrons. Outside, on the darkened streets, she can see a heavy fog billowing in the night. As she watches, shrieks and whoops, as if every creature of the forest were outside, split the night, a nightmarish mash of sound. The fog billows and shifts, as if disturbed by something moving unseen and a creaking sound emanates forth from it, almost like wood moving and shifting under extreme duress. She notices a glimpse, here and there, of antlers, like those of a stag, the icy shafts of spears, spectral pennants blowing in an unnatural breeze. She sees eyes glowing bright red in the night and wisps of movement all through the fog as it eddies, ripples and shifts almost like water. Here and there the shapes of low-slung creatures stalk, eyes and fangs glinting in the dim light, through the fog.

She feels a slight tremble of trepidation as the raven-haired Danann moves to join her from the booth next to her own. Hadrina says nothing to the Leathe, merely standing beside her, staring out into the night, cat’s eyes gleaming with a faint emerald green light.

“What are they?” – Ailbhe, quietly, almost to herself.

“Sidhe of the forest. Just spirits of the wild.” – Hadrina, solemnly. For just a brief moment more, she continues to look out the window.

The reverie is broken by the sound of the door of the Pallid Mare creaking open and an old man, a stout Midlander with greying hair, strides out into the embrace of the night. There are a few shocked gasps as the door swings open and the mist starts to billow in.

“Quick, close the door!” – Mallida, a note of panic in her voice. 

A few patrons of the inn move to the doorway, Michael and Ailbhe among them, but none are swifter than the Danann who darts to the wooden door where it has been left swaying gently in the cold night air. She closes it, and as she does so, her eyes land upon the figure of the grey-haired old man as he stumbles into the mist. As the fog begins to envelope him fully, another figure emerges from the darkness. Tall, unnaturally so, blacker than the night around it and wearing what appears to be a tall crown of brambles and branches silhouetted against the night sky, the figure is nightmarish in aspect and rides upon a steed of some kind, as fell and dark as the rider itself. The fog raises around the apparition, sweeping the old man up in its wake, and the rider and steed burst into the night sky above, the thunderous report of hooves beating across the roof of the inn as Hadrina slams the door shut.

The Danann sinks to the floor, her back to the closed door. She makes a conscious effort to steady her breathing and regain some composure before her green eyes glare out at the rest of the horrified clientele.

“No one else is going outside until this whole thing is over.” – Hadrina, and while her tone is harsh, her close companions, Ignus and Syntherion, can detect just the slightest quaver in her voice.

Outside, there is a heavy crash of thunder and rain begins to fall steadily from the dark clouds above.

* * *

Boarded up within the Or’Saer Emporium, Bryn watches on as Venn happily enjoys Caitrin’s company. The slight woman has built a small bed for the mammoth calf, almost a soft nest of blankets and cushions, and she sits down next to it, petting the little creature. She looks up at Bryn and smiles gently as the mammoth rolls over on his back, nudging her hand with his trunk to get some good scritches on his belly.

Venn’s mannerisms are basically those of our dog, Zeus.

Thunder crashes in the sky above and the rain begins to fall over Stonebridge. The sudden noise causes Venn to stir slightly in his nest, coming to his feet with a little trumpet of alarm, and Bryn kneels beside Caitrin to soothe the little creature’s panic.

“He’s a beautiful little thing.” – Caitrin, quietly, as Venn tramples the bedding in a circle before setting himself down to rest once more. His trunk extends, questing for the familiarity of Bryn’s hand.

“He is. We’ve been through a lot together already.” – Bryn, gently taking the little mammoth’s trunk in her hand and allowing him to hold on to her as both the rain and the Mesnee d’Hellequin descend upon the darkened streets of Stonebridge.

* * *

“Who was he?” – Hadrina, to Mallida.

Behind her, Ignus has pulled one of the long bench seats out from their booth and propped it against the door. He has also taken a long, sturdy iron bar from his packed belongings and wedged it between the doorframe, across the door, barring access. Now he sits upon it, a flagon of ale in one hand and a curious looking hammer in the other, his clouded eyes surveying the firelit room. Despite his stout legs swinging in the air from the seat, he still cuts a somewhat imposing figure.

“A traveller, I did not learn his name. He has been here for a few days now and paid well to stay in a room upstairs. As far as I know, he had hardly left his room until tonight, except to silently take a meal.” – Mallida, helplessly.

Where most of the Pallid Mare’s denizens seem to be caught in a variety of states between panic and shock, Syntherion is far from it. His eyes dart around the tavern excitedly, and he marvels at the fury of the storm outside and the thunder of the hooves beating upon the cobblestone streets and the rooves of the buildings all around. Silently, he begins to compose a song to himself.

Ailbhe seats herself beside the stout form of Ignus, the old dwarf pointedly ignoring both the Leathe’s presence and her friendly nod of greeting.

“So, do you take taverns hostage often?” – Ailbhe, guilelessly.

She is ignored, and she sniffs and turns away, but remains seated upon the bench.

* * *

The hours pass and finally the howling cacophony, thunderous hoofbeats and swirling gale of wind and mist begin to recede, the Chéserquine retreating into the forested hills of the Viltshaws to await the next astrological anomaly which would allow them to wage their hunt across the surrounding lands once more.

The impact of the rain drumming a gentle pattern upon the exterior of the Or’Saer Emporium is the only sound which remains. That, and the softly whiffling snoring of Venn, curled up in the nest Caitrin made for him. Gently, so as not wake him, Bryn extricates her hand and forearm from his grasp and clambers to her feet. She walks across the front room of the Emporium, to where Marwolaeth and Caitrin sit in companionable silence, behind the shop counter.

“Is it over?” – Brynhildr, her quiet, accented voice breaking the silence of the dimly-lit room.

Wordlessly, Marwolaeth rises from her seat and crosses over to the doorway. She stands there for a moment with her ear against the wooden door, listening intently.  Beyond, there is only the rainfall, and the soft breeze wafting through the streets, nothing alike to the howling gale which accompanied the Chéserquine.

With a whisper, Marwolaeth opens the front door, revealing the darkened streets of the south-bank of Stonebridge. The rain starts to lessen, and the dark clouds begin to disperse somewhat, allowing the light of the twin moons to bathe the town in faint silvery light. The unnatural fog is gone.

“I think that might be it. Congratulations on surviving your first Chéserquine.” – Marwolaeth, her tone quiet and on edge, still wary, belying her flippant words.

“Congratulations on surviving your first Chéserquine.” – Another voice, cadence and intonation nearly the same, coming from the blackbird nestled in a nest upon the windowsill. The voice is remarkably alike to Marwolaeth’s own, but it almost seems to have a mocking quality to it.

Both Shadow and Bryn move to join Marwolaeth at the open doorway and look out into the night. It is peaceful now, and quiet, save for the steady drizzle of rain which continues to fall upon the town.

“Is that smoke? Yes, it is, look.” – Shadow, taking a sniff of the night air before pointing across the way. A faint orange glow illuminates the sky, growing stronger with every second.

It would seem one of the dwellings here upon the southern bank of Stonebridge has caught alight. Faint trails of smoke begin to lift from the site of the fire.

“Venn, stay here.” – Bryn, to the little mammoth, as she and Marwolaeth take off into the darkened streets.

Caitrin moves to the door to stand alongside Shadow as the man watches the other two women dart off into the night.

“Should we go with them?” – Caitrin, a note of concern in her reedy voice.

“Perhaps it is best you stay here, stand guard and all that. Hold the door.” – Shadow, his hands on her thin shoulders, as he gently moves her back a few paces from the doorway. He then turns and dashes off into the night himself, closing the door behind him.

“Caitrin looks down and realises he has taken her shoes.” – Dev.

* * *

As the thunder from outside begins to recede, the inhabitants of the Pallid Mare begin to stir. Mallida slowly makes her way to the window and risks a peek outside. There is nothing to be seen, beyond the slight drifting haze of gentle rain.

“I think it is over, everyone.” – Mallida, who slumps against the wooden windowsill.

There is a ragged cheer from a handful of throats at her words, and slowly, wearily, a select few of the denizens of the inn start to pack their belongings and make their way out the door and into the night. Many others start to head to the bar, Michael among them, where Mallida returns and takes their drink orders. The majority either relax, sit back and converse quietly with their fellows a little more freely, relief writ large upon their faces, or begin to bed down properly for the night.

* * *

As Bryn and Marwolaeth run through the streets at pace, the orange glow in the sky above grows stronger and clearer. As they approach the fire, the cries of those fighting to contain and control the blaze can be heard, as can panicked screams. This close to the keep, the inhabitants of this district are more affluent and well-to-do than those in other parts of the town.

Marwolaeth and Brynhildr come to a stop, Shadow joining them only a few moments later. Before stands a tall mansion, clearly the home of a prominent family of Stonebridge. The house is a blazing pillar of light, white-hot flames licking up the stone supports to consume the wooden beams and majority of the structure.

Marwolaeth briefly remembers back to when she first arrived in Stonebridge, just after she had set up the Emporium. She had been called to this mansion to treat the son of the head of the family, quite young at the time. What was their family name again?

She cannot remember, though it matters little now.

A handful of citizens of the town have set up a chain of people, passing buckets along the line between a town-well to the east and those casting the water onto the flames. Marwolaethe approaches one of them.

“Do you know if there’s still anyone inside?” – Marwolaeth, a note of urgency in her voice.

“Yes! There is! We could hear the screams. No one can get inside though, look at it!” – One of the volunteers, receiving a bucket from the man further along the chain from him. He takes the heavy vessel and strides as close as he can to the mansion, about to cast the water over the flames.

There is a piercing scream, a child’s voice from within the house, and the first floor’s ceiling caves in, the bright flames increasing in intensity as the wood and stone smashes to the ground. The team of firefighters shy back, away from the explosion as flames roar out the front windows.

“No, don’t stop! There’s still a child in there!” – Marwolaeth, taking a small vial of a viscous, dark liquid from the satchel at her side.

The diminutive woman pulls the stopper from the vial and downs the liquid within, wincing as she does so. The pain is incredible, as her lungs physically transmute within her chest, expanding in size and altering in their composition, becoming far more efficient. She takes an inhumanly deep breath, holds it, and dashes to the front door of the mansion, taking the burning wood in her thick-gloved hands. She tries to pull it open, but it will not budge. She starts to push against it, but again, it does not shift. Eventually she begins to slam her shoulder into the door again and again, losing precious seconds of saved air.

The door still refuses to give way.

Tying a strip of cloth over his mouth and nose, Shadow join Marwolaeth at the door, having taken a bucket full of water from the chain of volunteers, risking closer proximity to the flames than they were able to manage. He douses the door in water and turns back, tossing the empty bucket to the firefighters, awaiting the next loaded bucket.

Marwolaeth spies a window, blasted open by the furious inferno, and makes her way to it, clambering over the shattered glass, and into the interior of the manse. Her teeth grit as a shard of glass slices through the thick leather of one of her gloves, and into the flesh of her hand within.

Outside, Brynhildr joins Shadow at the end of the chain, and together they venture in closer to the house than others would dare, trying to keep an eye on Marwolaeth as best they can.

As for Marwolaeth, it is incredibly difficult to get her bearings. The sound of the flames consuming the house around her is immense, as is the unbearable heat and the shifting heat-haze. Before her lies what is left of communal living area of sorts, though the elements which would distinguish it as such are swiftly being consumed. There is a door too, closed, which presumably leads further into the mansion.

She opens the door, and as she does so, a substantial wooden beam crashes down from the ceiling above, falling at a diagonal angle across the long hallway beyond. It is heavily aflame, and Marwolaeth is forced back a touch by the flaring of the flames as the beam falls. She lets out a cry of pain as the flames reach for her, letting out yet more precious air as she does so.

Carefully, she picks her way past the fallen beam, keeping her eyes peeled for any sign of life around her.

“Hello! Can anyone here me?” – Marwolaeth, calling desperately, trying to pitch her voice above the roaring inferno.

There is no answering voice, not least that she can hear, but at the end of the hallway, opposite the caved in staircase, there is a pile of debris and rubble, obscuring a doorway. She thinks, maybe, she can hear the scraping of stone rubble being shifted.

Marwolaeth makes her way down the hallway and attempts to clamber over the fallen rubble and debris. She slips and falls, and as the burning debris clatters down around her, she utters a curse as she burns herself. She staggers upright again and, with the difficulty she experiences in doing so, looks down and notes a knife-like shard of stone has punched through the flesh of her lower leg, blood welling up around the puncture wound.

LaPimpDaddy failed the Climb Check to pass over the pile of debris by a fair amount and then took the maximum environmental damage for the round too.

I offered to take a Luck Point to re-roll the environmental damage, which brought the result down by 1. Marwolaeth still took 4 Damage from the house crumbling and burning around her.

“My, how generous you are.” – LaPD.
“Tell you what, that’s a pretty poor return for a Luck Point. I’ll allow you to re-roll your Climb Check too.”

The re-roll results in a straight success.

Again she attempts to clamber over the rubble, and this time she is successful, falling over the other side. There, in the room, caught under a light pile of smouldering debris, lies the unconscious form of a small, maybe twelve-year-old sandy-haired boy. She remembers his name as she sees his face. Tomas.

Urgently, she pulls the boy free of the rubble and tries to pick him, but she trips and falls, burning herself a little in the process. With difficulty, her strength failing as the last of her breath begins to escape her, Marwolaeth takes an arm and attempts to drag the limp body of the boy along the floor.

Outside, Shadow and Bryn abandon their efforts with the buckets, the outermost flames quelled enough now that others can take their place so close to the house. They circuit around the mansion, looking for another point of egress, or even better, a sign of Marwolaeth. Eventually, through a window around the back, Shadow spies her, weakly dragging the limp body of a child. Above her, a wooden beam crumbles and falls, and the house shifts and groans.

“Bryn! Around here!” – Shadow, calling out as he draws one of his curved blades and smashes the grimy window with a single heavy strike with the pommel. He takes his cloak and wraps it around his hand to protect it, and uses the makeshift covering to smash aside the remaining glass shards in the window-frame.

Brynhildr skids to a stop, having broken into a run at Shadow’s call and mutters a quick incantation under her breath. Glimmering silver and pale blue ice rimes her form, sparkling iridescent in the flickering firelight. She manages, with some difficulty to clamber through the broken window, shards of ice chipping off her and spitting away into the flames.

“Take the boy! The boy!” – Marwolaeth, desperately trying to hand the boy to her larger companion, using the last of her air.

Bryn fumbles in the heat, feeling her armour literally melting around her. Together, they are able to, with difficulty, haul the boy out through the window, dropping him into Shadow’s arms.

The two women follow the boy out, Marwolaeth first. She slips as she clambers out and would have fallen back into the house if it weren’t for Shadow, who takes her arms and pulls her out bodily. Brynhildr follows behind momentarily, unable to perceive any signs of anyone else trapped in the inferno over the roaring flames and the cries of those outside, attempting to fight the blaze.

“Where are we while all this happening? Is there a chance we would have heard any of this?” – Yohan.
“We’re on the other side of the town.” – LD.
“The fun side of town. The party side of town.” – Dev.

Marwolaeth rips her coat off and throws it on the ground, stamping on the smouldering garment. She coughs, a wretched hacking thing, her throat torn up by the smoke in the air.

“Are you okay?” – Shadow, to Marwolaeth, genuine concern in his tone.

She ignores him and continues to stamp on her coat before suddenly looking up at him, a stricken expression on her face.

“The boy? Where’s the boy?” – Marwolaeth, panicked.

Shadow had taken the boy and dragged him over to the side wall of the neighbouring house, leaving him there on his back while he returned to assist Marwolaeth and Brynhildr in their own escape from the burning mansion.

“With a dagger in his chest.” – Redshirt.
“He appears to have suffered a heart attack, brought about by the knife, embedded in his chest.”

Marwolaeth’s eyes lock on the small figure and she staggers towards him. Falling to her knees on the packed dirt ground, she rolls him on his side. She is relieved to note there is a pulse and Tomas is breathing, albeit faintly. The breathing is wheezy and laboured and he is covered in various minor burns, but for the most part, other than being unconscious, the boy seems to be okay.

In fact, for the most part, his injuries seem to be lesser than Marwolaeth’s own.

“Is he still alive?” – Shadow.

“Yes, but he will need significant care. We need to take him back to the apothecary.” – Marwolaeth.

* * *

Within the now somewhat lively Pallid Mare, Ailbhe sidles over to where Syntherion sits in a booth seat, excitedly jotting down his newly composed lyrics on a napkin with a small charcoal stick.

“Hi! What’s your name?” – Ailbhe, cheerfully extending a hand in greeting.

“Syntherion, yours?” – Synth, equally cheerful.

“Ailbhe. Your name is a little hard to pronounce. Do you have a nickname?” – Ailbhe, trying to surreptitiously crane her neck a little to see Synth’s composition, and failing miserably.

“Yeah, Synth… Do you have a nickname? Are you looking forward to the Festivale? Do you know if we need tickets?” – Synth, a flood of questions bubbling forth. He has absolutely no idea that Ailbhe is trying to read his lyrics.

“No nickname, but I’d like one. Maybe you can give me one? Very much looking forward to it Synt’ and no, I don’t think you need a ticket to go. I’m pretty sure you just turn up and join the party.” – Ailbhe, whose accent doesn’t do the ‘-th’ sound very well. Also, she has no idea as to the ticketing situation of the Festivale. She’s right, but she is totally just making it up.

“I’d love to give you one. I’m already working on it. I’ll let you know what I come up with. I’m really looking forward to the Festivale too, it’s going to be great fun. I hope there’s plenty of food and music and dancing and fireworks and above all, I’m just glad I won’t need a ticket, because I haven’t bought one and I wouldn’t know where to do so.” – Synth, excited to have found just about the only person in Stonebridge capable of keeping up with his scattered approach to conversation.

While this is happening, Michael at the bar feels a stout presence behind him, at his elbow. He turns slightly to see a heavy-set dwarf of considerable years with a long, well-maintained salt-and-pepper grey beard. His bare arms are corded with hard muscle, an artefact of decades of hard work at the forge. His eyes are a cloudy white, but the dwarf seems to be able to see without any difficulty.

“I see the kids are getting along well.” – The dwarf, gruffly, jerking his head back in the direction of Syntherion and Ailbhe in the booth, their conversation growing louder and more excited by the minute.

“They’re chattering away like a house on fire!” – LD, before dissolving into a helpless fit of laughter.

“Seems to be the case, friend. Michael.” – Michael, extending a hand in greeting towards the dwarf, who takes it in a grasp that feels like it could crack a brick.

“Ignus. The lad is Syntherion, the Danann, Hadrina.” – Ignus, indicating the two other members of his little ‘family’.

“Well met.” – Michael, who receives his drink and then decides to wait for Ignus to order his own.

“Two ales please and I also have a question. The man who took off into the night before, what room was he staying in?” – Ignus, handing over a few coppers.

“I suppose he won’t be coming back for anything in there. Third floor, second door on your right. Let me know if you find anything worthwhile.” – Mallida, pouring two flagons of frothy ale. 

Receiving the ales, Ignus and Michael make their way back to the booth, joining Syntherion, Ailbhe and an increasingly annoyed Hadrina.

“Okay, we have the innkeeper’s permission to go check out that man’s room upstairs. Who wants to help me search it?” – Ignus, directing his question to Synth and Ailbhe, who both nod with some excitement.

“Sure.” – Michael, taking a draught of ale. Leaning against the wall in the booth, Hadrina nods too.

Together, the five traipse upstairs, Ignus swiftly falling behind, in part due to his stocky build and advanced age, and in part due to both Synth and Ailbhe fair racing one another up the staircase.

Eventually, Ignus joins them at the room, with a disgruntled expression upon his face, and withdraws the key Mallida gave him.

Opening the door reveals a small, simple room. There is a single bed, made, pushed against the far wall. There is a dresser too, a washbasin and a small table with a single wooden chair next to it.

“Here, look.” – Hadrina, pulling a small slip of paper from where it is tucked beneath the side of the thin mattress. She unfolds it, reads it and hands it to Ignus.

I hear them – The note, thin lettering written in black ink in a spidery hand.

“Nice writing. Looks educated.” – Synth, looking at the note over Ignus’ shoulder.

Other than the note, there is little of any consequence. No signs of belongings the man has left behind, nor of any other writing.

“The bed’s made. Doesn’t even look disturbed at all. How long did the innkeep say he was here? Three days, no?” – Michael, puzzled.

“Aye, there abouts. Look at the dust everywhere too.” – Ignus, running a single finger on the beaten pillow upon the bed. It comes away with a thin layer of dust.

“The only thing not covered in dust is this chair over here.” – Hadrina, pulling the chair out to inspect it.

“Mood.” – LD.
“Yeah, that’s just me going to work. I go in the room, sit down and just wait to die.” – Yohan.

“What do you think he could hear?” – Ailbhe, reading the note herself. No one answers her, though Ignus, Hadrina and Michael all share a dark look.

“He must have known he was going to die and wanted to go out on his own terms. It’s really the only thing I can think of. He must have been planning this for a while.” – Hadrina, quietly.

They continue to search for anything of note in the room but turn up nothing. Eventually, the companions troop out of the room, leaving Hadrina as the last.

The Danann sighs, disappointed, and follows the others back downstairs to the common room.

Within the tavern, the rest of the night passes otherwise uneventfully. After some time getting to know one another over a few drinks, the five eventually retire to their respective rooms.

* * *

“Quick, quick, come in, come in.” – Caitrin, holding open the front door for the three companions.

Having brought the limp body of Tomas to the safety of the Or’Saer Emporium, Marwolaeth begins to set about the task of preparing a place to treat the boy. She takes off her coat and gloves, putting them aside, wincing as she disturbs her burn-wounds.

“You need to have them looked at yourself Marwolaeth.” – Caitrin, gesturing to the substantial injuries her sister bears.

“Not until the boy’s looked after.” – Marwolaeth, he proceeds to do exactly that.

The next hour passes swiftly as Marwolaeth, with the assistance of Caitrin, ensures the boy’s survival. Eventually, bleary-eyed and weary, Marwolaeth is convinced the boy will make it. His airways are clear, but his breathing is still weak, and she can hear the stress of his scarred lungs with every breath he takes.

He has, thankfully, not been too severely burned. In fact, her own wounds are worse in that regard, as she correctly surmised earlier. With the boy now resting fitfully in a cot, Marwolaeth allows Caitrin to attend to her own burns. Shadow offers a hand too, holding equipment and salves for Caitrin as she deftly cleans and dresses Marwolaeth’s injuries. She also must clean and stitch the glass laceration to Marwolaeth’s hand and the puncture wound to her calf. It is slow going in the uncertain light as Shadow hands Marwolaeth a very strong drink to take the sting away and then holds a candle close to the wounds for Caitrin to work by.

Outside the infirmary, Bryn has removed her own outer-coat, frowning at the singeing and burn-marks upon it. She sits behind the front-counter, Venn curled up on the ground at her feet, feeling helpless. It is an unusual feeling for her.

She doesn’t like it.

* * *

And that is not where we left it, but I’m doing that thing where I sit on a piece of work for months without really getting anywhere with it, so I’ve decided to split this session in half…

The Wrap-Up:
There we have it, the Chéserquine has passed over the region of Stonebridge. This was a good little introductory session I feel. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and we even managed to get two of the groups to sort of join each other. :P

Obviously, there is more interaction between the two groups in the second half of the session which covers the day after the Chéserquine, but I felt the end of the night was a pretty good place to leave our tale for now.

Also, our next write-up will be Session 0.5: The Good Brother, which will be our last prologue, set contemporaneously with Session 1.1 and 1.2, which will see Charlie introduced into the group.

In addition to this, we will also be playing Session 1.3 this weekend, all going well, which is very exciting. We are expecting the full complement of players too, which is always nice.

Thank you for reading,

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