This adventure took place on Thanvas 11-12, 6,995.
The Story Continues
Kail and Kurt caught their breath after murdering Bernice. Then they updated Annika and Geneva on what was going on. Meanwhile, Magnus caught up (deciding to go on in the night rather than risk an ugly reaction from the superstitious village folk.) He was met at the front by the surly groom Ed, and after paying him a small bribe, he was let into the house by the housekeeper. The butler was nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, Kurt told Karswell the deed was done. Karswell gave him a sack with 100 silver in it, and then rapidly packed and slipped out of the house. Kurt shrugged and stuffed the rags he used to clean the blood from Kail’s equipment under Karswell’s mattress, prepared to frame the now-absent butler for Bernice’s death.
Kurt buttled, bringing Magnus in with the rest of the group as they strategized further.
Encounter on the Moor
Poe the monk crept up closer to the five mercenaries and the gypsy wagon full of women, noting the disguise of the caravan to look older than it was. Noting the guards were sloppy and not expecting trouble, he bribed some of the horses with winter apples hanging near their picket line. Then he put a blanket on one, and a bit in its mouth, and rode off with the horse as the guards started up in alarm.
Having committed a hanging offense for no clear reason, he rode to the De Morcey house. Ed told him to hide his horse in an outbuilding, it couldn’t be in the respectable stable. Instead, Poe rode to the village, then out on the road over the moor, leaving the area on his stolen horse.
Two of the mercenaries with the wagon had gone to a point on the road, as it was one of the few ways to leave the area. Poe identified them when he got close enough, and as he raced past them arrows flew at his back; his toughening through training and meditation allowed him to deflect harm and race away into the night, vanishing without a trace.
Before breakfast, Magnus searched the nursery using his wizard sight. He noticed that the house was steeped in mystic energies; a practitioner of the Arts lived there. He also found a simmering mystic flavor, a box that had been present when magic was performed. It was hidden in the mothballed toybox.
Opening it, the men found a snakeskin-leather bound book, “Rites of the Lamenting Mother.” Kail read the Draxive, and looked at the pictures with Magnus. The book outlined a ritual for anointing a young girl to join the Order, anointed with the blood of her brothers three times in a row on the first days of her first three cycles.
The box also contained a clockwork pump and rubber hose with a needle. The kit smelled of ether and blood. Horrified, the men boxed it back up and returned it to its hiding place.
Elena seemed to have some shy romantic interest in Magnus, considering his power. For his part, Magnus saw the sorcerous energies stitched in red runes across both Lady Christabel and her handmaiden Elena. The other handmaiden, Radolpha, was absent.
Another Trip to Town
At the servants’ breakfast, Karswell’s absence was noted. Ed and Kurt rode in to town to look for him, and saw a crowd at the tavern. Inside, Kurt fast-talked and bribed the town guard to let him look at the dead body. It was Karswell, expertly killed with a knife thrust to the armpit. However, looking more closely, Kurt saw Karswell had been tortured, skin flayed from him, older wounds not yet healed. Grimacing, Kurt lightened Karswell’s corpse of his treasure, and promised to take the news to the manor house.
The Beginning of the End
After breakfast, Annika walked with Geneva and Kail, and they discussed the gruesome finds of the morning. Then they intercepted Lord James on his constitutional.
Annika calmly laid it out, with her assistants chiming in on their areas of expertise. Lady Christabel and her two handmaidens were members of a Scarabaen cult, the Unutterable Sorority of Mourners, worshiping the Lamenting Mother. While the cult claimed to be under the auspice of worshiping the Lady of the White Way, they were actually powerful sorceresses affiliated with the Crimson League, specifically in the tradition of Nerlanda Kir. Christabel planned to murder her sons to anoint her daughter so Julia would inherit sorceress powers as her mother had.
Karswell had involved Kurt and Kail in murdering Bernice, and that act was finished and Karswell fled. James struggled with this information, struggled to keep himself under control. He demanded to see the box and its damning evidence; they went inside, dredged up the box, and showed its dark glories to the master of the house. Furious, he went to his quarters and fetched his hand-and-a-half blade, prepared to slay his wife for her evil.
Annika sent Geneva downstairs to fetch her weapons. On the way back, Geneva saw Kurt burst into the house with news from town. The two of them were ambushed by Radolpha, who cast a strange spell to entwine them in red tendrils. As Kurt’s monkey chanted death at her, Geneva twirled free of the tentacles of magic and slew Radolpha out of hand.
Racing up the stairs, they joined the others, and Annika suggested to James that Lady Christabel might be in Julia’s room. Telling the tutor to stay with the boys and lock the door, they went across the hall.
James failed to kick his own door down, but Kail stepped in and did the trick. They piled in to see Christabel standing behind a dazed Julia. As they confronted her, Elena attacked from behind, locked in battle with Geneva.
Kurt slid out of sight to the stairwell, and Kail strongarmed Julia away from Christabel so the evil sorceress could not use her daughter as a meat shield. Magnus desperately pitted his power against that of the wicked Lady Christabel, but she overbore him, burning him with her magic. James charged in to slay his wife, but her spell completed, and he was her puppet, spinning and telling them to leave the family alone.
After a dazzling exchange of flickering blades, the stalemate between Geneva and Elena was broken by Kurt stabbing the sorceress Elena in the back, killing her.
Magnus still struggled against Christabel’s potent sorcery, but she bound him in his bones so he could not move. Annika battered at James, forcing him from the room so he could no longer protect Christabel. Kail raced in and hewed her down with his heavy blade even as she chanted foul sorcery, Scarabaen steel silencing a second abomination in the De Morcey House.
Lord James needed some time to gather his composure, so Annika took Julia to the boys and the tutor, and provided some comfort to the shocked family.
After he gathered his wits, Lord James had lunch with his family, then informed the servants of the official story; Christabel overdosed on sleeping drugs and could not be saved. Then he bound the three sorceresses together with special bonds and herbs, and buried them at the crossroads; in Harrowfaust, a noble’s education included such important rituals and considerations. No one wanted to see Christabel again…
The saviors of the De Morcey house stayed on a few days, then traveled with Lord James and his family to Trivium. Lord James paid for some education for them, in various interests that they could pursue in the bustling city.
Then he offered Annika the opportunity to help him manage some business interests to the south, in Setine, the White Rose. Of course, she accepted.