How many days has it been? I cannot tell. I cannot get the man off my mind…and what I did. Every corner I turn, I dread running into him. Luckily such is not the case.
Eventually Arnexus, Rohveka, Connor, Genna and myself are able to slip away and get some much deserved rest. Goddess I have never been so tired before. I do not remember when I closed my eyes. One minute I’m asleep and another I am awake again and well rested. Thankfully the nightmares did not return this time. Were it not for exhaustion I fear I never would have slept.
We break our fast together and discuss the rumors milling about the city. No one has reported anything about Amara Naren’s remains or even her wheelchair. Surely someone would have come forth about her disappearance if nothing else. We agree that Sir William Croftsley needs to be made aware of what happened before news reaches the Queen and her advisers. Yet, before we leave we realize Genna is not with us. We know she left the Temple with us….. Where had she run off to now?
Just then a young messenger approaches us and says he has a missive for the Company of the Blue Dragon. Arnexus agrees to sign for it while Connor takes the missive. Of course all of our nerves are on edge after all the things that have happened in the city. We’re even more uneasy after Connor sees the seal of House Naren.
Apparently the deceased Amara Naren has invited us to a tea… I have a bad feeling about this. When discussing whether we should go, I offer the thought that Genna may already be there which is why we have been summoned. If Amara was alive…how I don’t know…she would not hesitate to have a second chance in eliminating us. We have little choice. We must go and see what she wants.
When we arrive at the estate, we are ushered inside. The guards seem a little gruff with us, but do not harm us. Apparently it is against Amara’s wishes that we come to any harm….that is by anyone but herself. We are lead into the Arboretum where a table is set for us and Amara sits at the head…oh yes….it is her alright.
Wary of what unruly magic and construct she might have summoned this time, I go and take a seat to her left, making sure to let the light of Ninkali wash over to her just in case she might be undead. Connor and the others, however, stay far away. For one so recently recalled from death, she seems rather jovial and amused at our wariness.
Amara claims she wishes to start over with us, but Connor is not willing to play her games. Immediately he asks her if she still wishes to murder people to which she laughs. It is not an evil or cruel laugh but one of pure glee….
Genna!!!! That sneaky little halfling! After all we’ve been through she does this to us?!
Of course we demand to know what is going on. She proceeds to say that she came back and took on the visage of Amara after one of the woman’s servants came to her about something stored in her labs. Apparently there is a plague that could wipe out the entire kingdom or parts of it hidden away inside her personal lab. By taking on Amara’s likeness Genna was able to do some investigating and find out some more information. She needs our help in destroying this bone plague for which there is no cure.
Clever girl! Still, she should have been more forthcoming.
She leads the way up the stairs to the second floor where Amara’s bedroom and study is located. Connor and Genna open the door with little trouble and discover that this is where Amara had kept all her financial records. Apparently her estate is vast and investments numerous. Knowing we need to see the laboratory we close the door and head to the third floor.
The laboratory door has one of the most complex locks we have ever come across before. Connor and Genna tell us that there are several linked traps joined to the five part locking mechanism. They both work on the door while the rest of us stand ready to aid them in what ever way we can. Given Amara’s love of locks and traps, we expect the worst. When we hear that final click I close my eyes and offer a quick prayer to Ninkali….but alas Connor and Genna did it!
As we enter the room we find glassware hanging from the ceiling, glass jars filled with body parts and strange fluid…it is similar to what we had found inside the basement of the warehouse. Before we can look around much more we hear a disembodied voice of Amara haunt us as a misshapen?…no…malformed?….no…..a piecemeal raven? owl? all of the above? sitting upon one of the glass jars. It tells us that its master would not want us here, to which I point back to Genna. The creature, however, is not amused. It knows Genna is not its true master. It has a bit of her inside it….so it claims.
Connor acts quickly as the bird tries to take flight and tries to knock the bird down. Rohveka and Arnexus too aid in stopping the bird creature as it tries to get to a cabinet. We are able to subdue it and Connor kills it with ease. As his blade pierces the bird, however, a silvery crackle of light appears around him, baffling…but now makes a little sense. Connor is far more than he seems, but alas I am getting ahead of myself.
We further investigate the room and discover two large contraptions facing a table that are capable of making the virus airborne. This whole lab is one giant distribution center! Several other mechanisms are throughout the room linked to various ways to release the plague should anyone tamper with them. Amara was serious about releasing this plague, but why?
Inside the cabinet the winged creature was trying to access is a human pieced suit with an opening at the top large enough for the bird. It was this it was trying to reach.
From what we scrounge up in the lab we discover that Amara did not create this virus but was able to improve upon the one her master, The Addler, had worked with. Apparently she had become fixated on this disease that not only affected her but she believed to be the divine hand of the gods. Only paladins with their ability of laying on hands are able to help lessen the effects of the plague, but they themselves cannot be infected. Priests and healers of other callings are unable to do anything to protect or heal the poor souls who have caught this dreadful plague. Why would anyone create such a horrific disease? I cannot fathom the reason…nor the mentality….
Further notes indicate that the green liquid in the glass jars contains the concentrated disease. There is no known cure, just as we had been told. We know we must destroy this lab, but without more information, we do not know how to do it safely. Connor and Genna disable the distribution center from inside to prevent any release from happening through the tunnels Amara had set up.
Then and only then do we turn our attention to another locked room, trapped similarly like the door. It must be her private library where she held all of her research. With the help of Ninkali Connor and Genna once more are able to open the door to reveal a treasure trove of books, some forbidden, some full of recipes and notes. It would take a lifetime to go through all of these books. I already see Arnexus’s eye drawn to a particular book. Before we touch anything though we check for more traps but find protections upon the books only. It seemed Amara never expected people to get this far.
Further in the room Connor finds a door that is much like a vault. As he approaches the door, standing in front of a window, the glass shatters and an arrow pierces him in the shoulder. An assassin! As turn to him and he removes the crossbolt, we hear a whirring sound. Immediately someone grabs it and throws it out the window where it explodes and sends pieces of shrapnel and gears flying everywhere.
Connor attempts to take out the assassin just as we hear a thud and the walls to the building begin to shudder and quake. Large hell hounds emerge from it before us. We have little room to maneuver and all chances of reaching Connor are lost as long as these beasts are here. One by one we unleash our might upon them, with me calling forth the might of Ninkali’s mightiest lightning.
Connor shouts something I do not completely hear…something about these things not having us….but honestly my mind was on the hounds and keeping them away from my companions. When I do chance a glance back toward Connor he looks different….radiant….more like a valiant king than ranger.
The last beast is sent back to its realm as Connor turns his attention back to the assassin. He shoots true and pierces her chest as she falls to her death. Breathless I turn my attention back to Connor just in time to see him collapse and the silvery glow about him dissipate.
Hurrying to his side, a celestial creature summoned by Arnexus draws near and hovers over Connor. It tells him “He is risen, he is born anew. The Shining Knight has been found”….
In wonder I look up to the Celestial before it fades. Turning my attention back to Connor I feel the energy of Ninkali surge within me and wash over his wounds. My mind however still reels from what the Celestial had said. The Shining Knight is a folk tale that has been around since the death of the king. It tells of the Knight restoring the kingdom. Could it be?
Genna unlocks the door to the vault as I continue to tend to Connor. They tell me there are all sorts of items inside, varying from collectibles to jewels….many items.
With our inn burned and no other place to go, we agree to stay within the estate as Amara’s guests while looking further into this plague and these strange items.
It was after that night that the nightmares returned again. This time, however, they do not fade when I awaken. The normal darkness of early morning filling the room is gone….I can see through the shadows….and whispers….vile whispers of demons fill my mind as my hands glow red. What is happening to me? Oh Goddess what is happening to me?!