Intermission Season 2
The Sea Of Sorrows – Homecoming
The halfling ranger and the tall ashen elven barbarian held onto the rope as tightly as they could. Water assailed them from every direction. Nearby, Gondal was madly tying down another cord from the front mast. The ship rocked again precariously. Through the roar of the angry ocean, they occasionally heard snippets of Daniella’s orders coming from the wheel. The front mast snapped and Imyel slid across the deck. The rope spun free from her ankle as disappeared into the ocean as Tede and Ancur pulled Imyel from the edge. Another loud crash, and the three of them crashed to the deck and rolled the other way. Before they could fly off the edge of the ship, Imyel caught a piece of netting and pulled herself back to her feet. The ship finally righted itself and the next wave was upon them. Imyel saw her companions brace themselves but the wave hit weakly and everyone held on easily. Slowly, the storm subsided, and the waves began to diminish. The small crew of the unnamed vessel slumped to the deck.
“I thought that was the end,” Tede called. The others laughed, relieved to have survived another storm. “After everything, we’ve been through, it would be unfair to be shipwrecked again.”
“Ha!’ called Ancur. Reaching beneath the railing, he grasped several cords. Using all the strength he had remaining, he heaved the remnants of the front sail and its broken mast back onto the deck.
“Looks salvageable to me,” Daniella smiled. “Gondal, head below deck and check the cabins and galley, take Tede with you. Ancur, hold the mast just there and let Imyel wrap it.”
They had been at sea for 5 days, following the stars at night and the sun’s course roughly by day. The horrors of Markovia were behind them. Daniella thought they were less than a week from the coast of the Western Core. Gondal returned to the deck a minute later. “Daniella….well everyone really.” He held rectangular block in his hand. Imyel turned away from Ancur to look closer. “Everything below decks is fine, the food and water are safe” Gonal began. “But the force of the storm, seems to have knocked open some kind of hidden compartment in the galley.”
Gondal held up the small brick for them to see. It appeared to be solid gold. Imyel looked closer. The top of the brick seemed to be engraved with a language she didn’t recognize. In the centre, a man in a heavy crown was embossed in the gold. Daniella stared. Gondal continued, ”I recognize the writing. That’s the face of the wizard King Azalin of Darkon. There are 15 of these bricks including this one. Darkonian mined gold bars. And Tede found a sack of gold coins too.”
That night, Daniella opened one of the many bottles of wine they had found in the galley. While Ancur watched the sea, the others drank and told stories on the deck. Splitting the treasure five ways would give each five bars and 420 gold pieces.
The next day, Ancur spotted an island far to the south. After he described it to Daniella, she told the crew she believed it to be the dreaded Bluebeard’s island, Blaustein. “Best we give it wide berth, my friends. As inhospitable as Markovia surely, even if it may not appear so at first.” She saw the dejected faces around her.
“But fear not, for immediately east of Blaustein, maybe a days sail from here, is Port A Lucine. We shall land there and decide whether to continue to Mordent on sea or by carriage. You will be in Memory Haven by the end of the week Imyel.” Imyel, reluctant to believe the news, smiled politely.
In the end, Daniella turned out to be wrong, but was only off by a final day’s travel. Their small vessel, safely moored in Mordentshire, saw them that far and after a chance meeting in the street with one Rudolph Van Richten, the survivors had an audience with the lord of Mordent, Jules Weathermay, who welcomed the wayward Imyel back to Mordent with tales of the survival of Memory Haven and miraculous defeat of Toben. She sat with the elderly lord in a finely upholstered carriage as the walls of Memory Haven came into view. “You are home” Weathermay smiled, as he saw her staring out the window. Now, I must talk once more with your mother and that wizard Augustin about the matter of my missing son.”
Dementlieu – The Dutiful Son.
Bertrand stood at the open door of the study. The darkness within seemed to reach to him, he longed to light the lamp he’d left at the base of the stairs. But to disobey father would show weakness and his father had demanded no light in this wing of their home. He would not disappear as had Jean Bastien, or become enraptured with a suitor as had Celeste, or become a drunkard and fool such as Andre. Surprisingly, it was Andre’s recent behavior that bothered him the most. The group of spoiled young nobles Andre had thrown in with were vain and self interested. He saw their debauchery and foolishness from a mile away, so why couldn’t his brother? Bertrand wondered how long Andre could hide the truth from his wealthy new friends.
“Buuuuurtrand,” the deep voice of his father echoed in the study.
“I am here, father,” Bertrand replied unsteadily. He wished he could see more than a dim shadow of Arnaud De Montier within. “I have done as you asked. They have agreed to the loan. Now, what would you have me do with the money?”
“The DuSuis shipping portfolio lies at yoooour feet”
Bertrand carefully knelt and ran his hand slowly into the darkened study. His fingers brushed against paper and he drew the small booklet across the dark threshold.
“Father, the DuSuis are a ruined house. Their bid to reemerge will fail, Henry is the laughing stock of the north quarter.”
“Buuurtrand! For our house to rise, we muuuust noooot do as expected. We must now pull the strings…’
“Okay, I will do as you bid. But when we rise we will need the others. You must let me talk to Andre at least. In time, Celeste will lose interest in her nobleman. We will find Jean Bastien, wherever he’s gone.”
“I know exaaaaactly where your brother is. Mordent, to the south. He is adventuring in a town called Memory Haven.”
“Father, how? How do you know this?”
“I have other sooources than you, son. Now, bother yourself with Jean-Bastien no longer. He will join us soon enough, and he will do his duuuuty. See to the De Suis matter, just as we did the Van Dorn and Bloor. The stars will align soon my son, and when they do, the puzzle is complete.”
Bertrand walked through the halls back to the lighted portion of the house. He thought to himself about all that had befallen the De Montier family. For a brief second, the facts didn’t align. All the contradictory information, the bizarre tasks, and general oddness glared in his mind. Suddenly, he felt as though on the verge of some deep realization. But altogether too quickly, the feeling passed and fog enveloped his mind once more. He set out to do as he was bid.
Lamordia – The Trek
Baron Aubrecker walked across the study. His guests made themselves at home. It had been years since he’d seen Ivan Dragonov. The legendary adventurer was in his later years now. Much of his huge mane of red hair was now streaked with gray. Nonetheless, he still carried himself with the confidence and deadliness Aubrecker had always admired. The other human, surprisingly, was a Falkovnian. Of few words, Drado’s eyes held a deep reservoir of pain. Aubrecker was an intelligent man. Five minutes with Drado and he surmised the man had been low ranking falkovnian military, turned deserted, mercenary and finally adventurer. The other two were elves, fascinating people whose kind Aubrecker had met only once before. Aldereth and Ailuna were at the centre of this journey, their investment much greater than that of their companions. He wondered what Dragonov had got himself into.
“I found the map. Schloss Teranfar is deep in the mountains but I’ve had the servants gather the supplies and tools that you will need. A local guide has been arranged but you will need to follow the map and be careful. When you pass beyond the Giant’s teeth, you will be beyond my reach.” Aubrecker announced. “I bid you well and wish you success on this mission, despite its foolhardiness. We will speak again in the morning.” And so saying, the lord of Lamordia retired to his quarters.
Mordent – Beyond the walls of sleep.
His footsteps echoed in the empty halls. He spent every day here, but in the near darkness, it seemed to take on a unfamiliar almost hazy character. Finally, he reached her room. Two orderlies awaited him. He found himself unable to look into their faces. It was no matter, he was beginning to recognize this as little more than a reflection of events that had already occurred. They opened the door and one of the vaguely white man shaped things waved a short club at the woman contained within. Dr Illhousen entered, cautiously examining the straitjacket that constrained his former colleague. Ashcroft sneered at him with disdain from the floor.
He knelt and lifted her into a sitting position. “I was coming to ask you a question,” Illhousen spoke kindly. “About the records I’ve been going through in the basement. The boy was your patient at one time, and surprisingly, you kept the little information they gave you even if you never actually gave it more than a cursory thought.”
Ashcroft snarled as she had hours ago when the real conversation had taken place. “Ask your questions, you weak minded fool. I am weary of being restrained, I could be curing these people and you keep me among them!”
Illhousen sensed his time was short. Why was he here if he’d already done this? For a second, deeper sleep threatened to inhibit his reason. The doctor fought to keep his mind clear and continued what he increasingly knew as a charade. “What information can you give me here that you couldn’t in the waking world, Ashcroft?” The question was more for himself than the representation before him. “The boy was asleep but his mother had spoke about his earlier disappearance. What am I not seeing?”
Ashcroft’s eyes turned towards him emptily. “Everything.” she hissed. A deep clang sounded from somewhere down the halls.
Illhousen got his answer. This was his answer, exactly as he’d begun to fear. The clang sounded again and he noticed the orderlies stood immediately behind him. The cell had somehow increased greatly in size. “I must be leaving” Illhousen spoke as he darted beneath the grasping hand of an indistinct orderly. Ashcroft howled in delight as the two figures gave chase. Illhousen raced for the hallway and saw yet another faceless white being closing the chamber door. He knew suddenly that if he was trapped here, he could become much the same as the boy or even worse. With a burst of speed, he slipped through the closing door and into the hallway. Ashcroft’s mad cries echoed behind him. “She’s here, you fool, she’s here and she’s on to you!”. Was it possibly Ashcroft was really here too? It didn’t matter. Illhousen focused on the clang as it sounded a third time, but to his horror, the sound was actually fainter than it had been. He turned and found himself in the common room, nearly tripping over an abandoned wheelchair. Across the room he saw a figure with its back to him standing before the battered gramophone the patients adored so greatly. Unfamiliar music blared cacophonously in the room. The figure appeared wrapped in black and swayed slightly. He perceived it suddenly as a her and began to back towards the north corridor. He could see the long train of her black gown reaching across the floor towards him. It was her. This was contact. This was what he feared and dreaded and ultimately knew to be true this whole time. He madly raced down endless halls and crashed and smashed his way as the sound of the grandfather clock rang its final time.
He awoke with a start. Quickly, he fumbled for the small bowl near his bedside and inhaled deeply of the fragrances within. Lavender. He lit his small lantern and held up the letter he’d written to himself before bed. It was true. After three more tests, one of which included observing a mark left in the dust on the great grandfather clock, he was thoroughly convinced he was awake. He fumbled through a file folder on his desk, marked in black marker with a single name on the label. “Max”. Another folder beneath slid to the floor. The name on it read “Imyel”. A slip of paper fell out of between other pages and drifted to the floor. Illhousen raised the drawing to the light. It was a crude drawing the boy had done after his first disappearance years ago. Max had depicted a boy walking in some kind of jungle in the company of great monsters that bared the features of animals twisted with those of man. Another drawing in the folder showed the boy running from a dark smudge. Illhousen knew it the moment he saw it for the Bride in his own dream. Any thought of returning to sleep was long gone. It was time to begin preparations and decide who else to trust with his knowledge.