Previously, on Phoenix Rising…
… Rudigar stiffly walked towards Kel and addressed her most formally – almost chillingly one could say. He gave her a small, but respectful bow and was obviously not happy to be here taking care of this matter,
“Princess Keladry. Here is a message from your mother. Read it and give me your answer forthwith.” He handed her a sealed envelope which Kel slowly took and opened. The she read the letter .…
The letter read:
I do hope this letter finds you well and that you haven’t gone and killed the messenger. You are proving yourself to be quite the warrior from what I’ve been hearing. Please forgive the airship incident. Those “people” were not sanctioned by us. They somehow heard about what we really planned on doing, intercepted and killed the real crew, and then tried to kidnap you for ransom. The ones that were left after you and your friends, quite frankly, handed them their asses, were dealt with appropriately and severely; never to trouble any persons again. The entire family misses you and wants to see you again – and even though you may not believe me – I miss you too. I hope that we can come to some sort of agreement on these matters.
But you must know that your “disappearance” is now to the point of causing an incident of national proportions for us here. I have been able to cover for your absence all this time but soon no more excuses will be accepted by your betrothed’s family. Riindaerth Emmarask is nearly completely beside himself in worry and anger and I fear that he doesn’t believe my excuses about your whereabouts any longer but is too polite to question me openly, bless his young heart. But his father won’t have any problem doing that and if I have to reveal that you “ran away like a spoiled school girl,” then I fear that exorbitant reparations will be asked for and those demands will be backed by the crown itself! This could ruin us; maybe even strip us of our titles and land, my dearest child! Do you really hate me and your family so much that you would destroy our name, your name, our family, and risk losing everything just because you don’t want to marry?
Your running from your duty has gone on long enough. I need you, nay; we all need you to come back. Please come back! Come with your friends. None of you will be in danger and your friends will be considered honored house guests. I promise on my word as a Crownsilver! I realize now that you may not be meant to be married off like some beautiful, shining prize and we need to find a solution to the situation. But we need you here to do that – they will not listen to anything we have to say about you and the marriage unless you are physically present and they hear it from you.
Please don’t destroy us because of my mistakes with you. Maybe I deserve that fate, but the rest of the family surely does not and neither do you.
Your loving Mother
Kimba Anastasia Crownsilver
Kel then said, “Well it looks like I have to go speak with mother.”
“Is that your answer, Princess?” Rudigar inquired. When Kel indicated that it was, Rudigar continued, “Good. Then we shall leave as soon as you are ready. When will you be ready Keladry?”
“Tomorrow morning,” Kel answered.
“Will that be the actual morning or your usual time frame and we should be ready to leave the day after?” Rudigar snidely remarked.
Kel looked quite perturbed by that statement but answered in an even tone, “I said tomorrow morning.”
“Very good Princess. We shall expect to see you at the Neverwinter docks in the morning.” With that Rudigar and the complement of Crownsilver soldiers bowed and took their leave.
Our heroes then took their leave of Lord Neverember and went about some business before they would need to leave in the morning. Kel went and made sure that her temple was still under construction and progressing, while the rest of the party went around town to sell off the latest spoils they had acquired from Arrealla’a stronghold on the Storval Plateau and did some personal shopping and errands. The rest of the day and night passed by uneventfully.
The next morning our heroes made their way towards the docks but what they saw there was no ordinary sailing ship ready to take them back to Kel’s home. Parked on dry land they saw an airship – undoubtedly owned by the Crownsilvers for their golden emblem was emblazoned on the bow right next to the purple dragons of the King of Cormyr. But as Zerak looked more closely at it he began to realize that this was not just an ordinary airship (if such a thing as an ordinary airship actually existed) but that this was none other than a real Spelljammer vessel. He became extremely excited and began to try to relay this information to Jobi and whoever else would listen, but none of the others had the same heartfelt appreciation for this type of craft.
When they boarded, all the crew gave bows of deference and respect to Kel before going about their business. Kel immediately went down below to find herself suitable quarters, having traveled this way before she was familiar with the layout of their family’s ships. The rest of the group were greeted by Rudigar, who seemed quite a bit more pleasant today, almost as stern, but at least pleasant. He welcomed them aboard and had one of the crewmen show them to their quarters below.
The journey back to the Crownsilver estate was only a couple days long and uneventful. When they arrived and disembarked, Kel’s friends got their first look at where she had grown up. It was a pretty vast enclave, with the manor house several times the size of Asphodel’s castle. But what really struck Zerak was the fact that there were more Spelljammer ships berthed here. He was truly fascinated with them but still went with the group to the house for formal introductions.
When they finally reached Kel’s mother’s parlor, one could feel the air get colder and thicker as the two women, mother and daughter first looked up each other and made curt greetings to each other. Then her mother started explaining to her more of the details of what was going on and what was expected of Kel. As they spoke, the group learned that Kel’s arranged marriage was done by the king’s family, not hers nor her betrothed’s family, the Emmarasks. Kel was quite confused by all this that her supposedly not marrying this man Rinddaerth, could and would cause her family to be stripped of title and land and that an agent of the crown had made this threat to her mother.
Kel kept on asking her mother why this was so and what was in their past that made this so important. Kimba did not know at all, but in the process it came to be realized that her uncle, Rudigar actually did know something about this but was either unable or unwilling to tell them what the exact nature of whatever dealings had gone on in the past that warranted this marriage. Kimba became furious with Rudigar but was unable to do anything about it so she dismissed him. Then Kel decided that she wanted to look through their library and see if she could find out anything about what was going on. The rest of our heroes also followed her out but not before Zola and Blackwell noticed that Kimba’s hand were shaking as if she was affected either by fear, illness, or anger, or all of the above. They mentioned it to Kel but she just dismissed it.
Zola went and explored the castle to see what the lay of the land was – just in case they needed to make a hasty retreat for some such emergency purposes. Blackwell cased the place out sneakily and tried to glean any information by eavesdropping on the people within the castle. Jobi went to the gardens and spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the Crownsilver’s very elegant and well-kept gardens. Asphodel walked around a bit but eventually made her way to the gardens where she found Jobi and sat with her, also trying to relax.
Zerak decided to go back to the Spelljammer ships and ogle them. He spent quite a bit of time talking with one of the servants who was cleaning one of the ships. But eventually it seemed to Zerak that he wasn’t getting much back in the way of conversation from this person so he decided to fly around the ships to get a better look at them. After a bit, someone flagged him to come down and land. The man introduced himself as Aloysius. He was definitely a wizard but was also wearing a gleaming mithril chain shirt. He spent some time speaking with Zerak, then offered him a tour of the ship. Then, to Zerak’s utter joyfulness, he offered him a ride. When the ship took off, it was the fastest Zerak had ever gone and was completely exhilarating and fearful at the same time. After a few minutes of flying around, the ship stopped and Aloysius came above deck and then really made Zerak’s day by asking him if he wanted to try and fly the ship. So Zerak got the very basics of Spelljamming and was able to fly the ship back and forth for quite a distance before Aloysius took over again. He said Zerak had done well for his first lesson and now wanted to show him what could be done with practice. He told him to tell the crew to get ready for a demo and when Zerak told them this they scrambled very quickly and every last one of them lashed themselves down very, very tightly. So Zerak did as well. Good thing too for Aloysius was an excellent pilot – damned crazy – but excellent. He took that ship through rolls, spins, dives, climbs, and even sometimes it felt like it was completely out of control. But it wasn’t and when he finally stopped the craft it was during a nose dive towards the earth and stopped just in the nick of time before smashing into the dirt. When it came to a stop, Zerak immediately vomited but felt wonderful. He thanked him for the ride and the chance to drive and then went to find Jobi to tell her all about it.
Meanwhile, Kel has spent most of the day within the library but did not find much information at all, other than it appeared that her royal family just appeared on the scene 350 years ago. Also it seemed that once every one hundred years or so, a person from her family and the Emmarask family wed, but were never mentioned again in the history books. Kel’s siblings came to visit her while she was in the library and it was good to see them again but none of them had any more knowledge of what was going on. Her twin brother asked her to go spare with him and since she had had enough looking through musty tomes, she agreed. While they were sparring, others came by and watched the two. Her brother commented that she had grown significantly in skill since she had been away and after a while they had finished and retired to get dinner and drinks.
While all this was going on and just about at the time that Zerak had found Jobi and started to excited tell her about his Spelljammer adventure, Asphodel, who had been sleeping next to Jobi, suddenly and very loudly awoke with a scream that made Jobi jump and fall to the ground. When questioned, Asphodel wouldn’t say a lot, only that she’s been having a recurring nightmare about past events. And so the conversation was dropped so that everyone then went for dinner and later to retire for the evening.
After breakfast the next day, Kel was required to meet with Rinndaerth. She decided to have Zola go with her, which at first seemed to put out Rinndaerth since he had wanted to speak with her privately about this family matter. But eventually he acquiesced and told Kel and Zola what he had found out about why the two of them were being forced into this marriage.
He tells her that they are part of a deal their ancestors made with the crown and that they are to be sacrificed to the old Adella tomb after the marriage, where they enter and will never be seen again. Apparently long ago (350 years actually) their two families had conspired with the then king (same family as today’s king) to bring down the royal house of Adella. They were successful and the Adella name has been all but completely removed from history and their lands are now the Emmarask’s and Crownsilver’s lands. The crown had added one more condition that every hundred years a couple of the crown’s choosing would be sacrificed – the reason for the sacrifice is unknown now. But the two of them had been chosen for this.
Rinndaerth goes on to explain that his research into the matter had led him to find a funerary baton and a poem about the Adella’s and he presented both to the two women:
Set thee off from Slumbering Cat
Seeking where the Dead are at
Journey north and east apace
To find Medusa’s iron embrace,
Follow now the Spider Star
Behind the Wall that hides its Face
To our Sad, Abandoned Place
If visit ye the Long Deceased
Find the Will to Feed the Beast
Then Begin where all Men End
Light go out and Breath Suspend
Egress through the Stony Door
After turning Face to Floor
Each Adellan Branch has Room
In its Silent, Musty Tomb
For at least one Careless Soul
Wouldst thou fill that Empty Hole?
He believes that the slumbering cat mentioned in the poem is the Lion Sleeps Inn and that the actual tomb resides north and east of the inn. He continues that he feels their only hope is for someone to go into the tomb and retrieve all historical notes, papers, books, etc. that pertain to the house Adella’s affairs with the king and crown to find out what treachery was visited upon them. In addition, the Adella’s had a house sword, said to be an intelligent weapon. That along with the papers would be proof enough that he crown continues this treachery and may be the catalyst needed to end these arranged marriages/death sentences.
Kel asked why he just didn’t go to the other houses and reveal this information. Rinndaerth told her that the other houses are firmly behind the crown and that just their two houses would not stand a chance to get this matter undone. That’s why they need to evidence so they can prove the crown is not to be completely trusted. Kel thought that something like this may cause civil war within the nation and he agreed that was a possibility. But the other alternative was much worse for the two of them.
Rinndaerth knew he was not capable of retrieving those items in the tomb – he wasn’t a soldier and would never have the abilities needed to such a dangerous thing. But Kel is and does and she has friends that may actually want to help them with this issue. Zola agreed and then they sent for the rest of the group to discuss the matter. All but Asphodel and Zerak showed up in a timely matter – it seemed that the two were deep in a private discussion and were not willing at first to break it off and join the rest. Eventually they do however and hear what everyone else had heard.
The next catch Rinndaerth mentioned is that the marriage was to be formally announced that night at the banquet. A representative of the crown would be there and they had to make sure that he believed the two of them were going through with the wedding and were none-the-wiser about the background machinations of the crown. Then they had only a week to penetrate the old tomb and get the evidence. They would have to leave late this night without being seen. This meant that they were going to need help in order to get out of the compound without being spotted. So Kel reluctantly went to her mother to explain the situation and see if she could get her help by getting a ship to leave with them after the banquet.
She found her mother in her study and set about explaining everything she had learned. As she spoke she could see her mother starting to unravel and by the time she was done, her mother was shaking and crying and nearly inconsolable. But with some time Kel was able to get her mother to setup a late night escape that would ensure that no one thought anything other than what was supposed to be going on was.
The banquet went as expected and no one seemed suspicious of the two newly engaged young people. When the time came to sneak out of the compound, her mother escorted Kel, Rinndaerth and the rest of our heroes to her personal Spelljammer. No one else was around except for the small crew for the ship. Kimba told Kel that the people on the ship are completely trustworthy and will not betray anything. So our heroes boarded the Spelljammer and then took off in search of the Adella’s ancient tomb…
Until next session, I bid you adieu.