The Un-Made Crown

Conflicted Spirit, Part Sept

Something lurks in the shadows....but who might it be?

Things have been growing stranger and stranger by far. As if we were not already looking behind our backs for signs of treachery, signs which followed our party no matter where we went, things have grown even stranger. Genna wanted to check out the Bolger’s shop in Highbridge. Wanting to support her and help answer questions surrounding his death, we went with her. Upon arrival, we found nothing amiss. The shop was warded with magic wards that seemed to be in place. It is odd that a tea shop would be protected by wards. Why would it need to be so? It seemed I knew far to little about halfling culture afterall.

As soon as we entered the shop, Arnexus and Genna seemed mesmerized by something in the air. There was residual planar energy. It seems to unnerve Arnexus, which puts me ill at ease….but does the opposite to Genna. While we looked around the shop, Genna was somehow drawn into another plane…disappeared completely. Out of concern we called for her, but received no answer. After several minutes, she finally emerges from a shadowy corner of the room with a package, meant for a prestigious nobleman, in hand. She told us that she had found a table laden with packages similar to these all tied with a knot that only could have been done by the Bolger. I am sorry to say the curiosity of my companions insisted in opening the package. I could hardly disagree even though it felt wrong. Still, what if these packages held the key as to Bolger’s sudden onset of a strange illness?

Inside the package was none other than powder from a ground rhino horn, an illegal item highly taxed but with many uses in various medicinal practices. Lord Telflorian was not the most healthy of men by any means. It made sense why a man in his position within the city might wish for discretion. So it was that we confirmed suspicion on bolger being a smuggler of sorts.

Genna wanted time to explore this new realm more but was highly cautioned against it. The idea of traversing another plane clearly was cautioned against by the wizard. It was for this reason that Rohveka joined her as she returned the package. What time they were away, I was nervous. What if something happened to them? It was not like we could follow… I did not like it one bit. Only when they emerged unscathed was I comforted. Genna and Rohveka then told us that they had found a ledger listing the items there. Only one package was missing, a frost egg meant for an L. Bertrove, a name which does not ring any bells. Genna did not seem to believe that the Bolger’s death was the result of an illness. She thought someone might have wanted this frost egg.

As we further discussed the matter, we heard a sudden knock on the door that startled us all. It seemed that Esmerelda knew where we were…how I do not know. It was with trepidation that we opened the door and let her in. Here before us stood the very woman who was named in the attack upon Rohveka’s mother. Sensing Rohveka’s tension, I drew closer to her. Facing this dangerous woman here and now would be disaster. We needed cooler heads prevailing.

Esmerelda then told us that she was not responsible for the attack on Rohveka’s mother, but that someone wishing to eliminate those gifted with the ability to walk through the shadow planes, the very plane we had seen Genna disappear into earlier. She went on to say that the Bolger’s death was not an illness, but the result of a very specific poison, one dangerous only to haflings. All of us were shocked by this news except for Genna. It seemed it was a highly kept secret among the halfling community, for their own safety I imagine. All Esmerelda told us seems strange but I can sense no dishonesty from her. As foul tempered a woman she is, she was not wishing us harm. She instead seemed very concerned about her niece….yes, Genna… Why had she kept such things from us? Yet, this was not all we discovered. Apparently Highbridge was built around several shadow portals. It had been a highly kept secret all this time.

So, not only are we looking for some person seeking to kill or apprehend the son of the former king, we also have someone…a very powerful someone who can transverse the shadow planes and eliminate those who also can walk the planes. Esmerelda parts with the advice that we should further seek out information on the slavers.

Rohveka wished to return to her mother. Given her state of mind after this strange encounter with Esmerelda, we all felt that we should go with her. Things were moving far too quickly…and strangely to be left alone. Still, I had not forgotten the announcement of my sister’s sudden engagement. Other matters were far more pressing, though.

When we arrived at the ward where Rohveka’s mother was being kept, we were told that she was sleeping and could not be disturbed. This highly upset Roh….eventually I was able to convince the nun that it would ease her mind to have a friend just look in on her. When I was taken to the room I was still prevented from entering. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully with three healing candles burning around her. All seemed to be normal….how could I have missed it though? It was only after Roh remembered the herbs that Liddie had given her that we discovered the truth. Genna disguised herself as a nun and snuck into the room….Roh’s mother was not there….

When Genna returned to bear this news Roh and Connor grew livid. Without taking the time to formulate a plan, they rushed off in anger back to the hospital, demanding to be let in. Even Arnexus seemed to be behind their insistence. This was not how matters should have been handled. I understood exactly why Roh was upset. Still, without a plan at hand, we were walking into an unknown situation….possibly into a trap. Roh pushed past the nurse with the rest of us at her heels only to rush into her mother’s room.

Roh’s mother was here….and awake….but Genna had said she was not here. It made no sense…. Just then Arnexus noticed that this woman shimmered while Genna saw two shadows where only one should have been…she was not as she appeared. Right before our eyes, she transformed into a hag and lunged toward Roh. A fierce battle ensues but we eventually are able to subdue her. Just as we secure her, the smell of smoke fills the halls and drifts into the room. The hospital is on fire! Genna and Roh drag the woman out while Arnexus, Connor and I try to help people evacuate. The bodies of three nuns are in the waiting area, murdered with blood pooling around them. The hag was not alone in her deception. This had been a trap….eerily similar to the one laid out for Genna’s family.

Once we are all safely out, we come upon a crowd already forming. People begin pointing and shouting that Connor was the one seen setting the fire. He has no other choice but to hide among the crowd, blending in. Arnexus tries to soothe members of the crowd just as the Templars arrive. We share with them what we discovered in the hospital and amazingly get their support to question the hag before she is punished.

Genna sends for Grandma Liddie to aid in the questioning. I am beginning to loathe hags just as much as Connor. How many were behind all of these events? After questioning we begin to discover that Roh’s, mother was taken for healing that only the hags could perform…and to “tell the story right”. It seemed that Bolger’s death too was the result of these hags so Esmerelda could be blamed for the attack. When the hag was further questioned about the slaves they had taken, she told them that they had been moved from the warehouse in Helian to “where the fae oaks grow when not in an elven forest”….the Old Nemi Grove?

That is familiar to me…. Ninkali supposedly fell in love with a mortal ranger and gave birth to seven daughters. Her husband, Hurne, hunted them so they were turned into oaks for their protection. The royal populace was so entranced with the story that they tried to recreate it. Over time the land was flooded and all remnants were washed away.

The hag is forced to tell us that there were three who had come to Helian but more than a handful were involved in this plot. They wanted Esmerelda dead and urged us to kill her for our safety. They had tried to kill her numerous times and failed to do so over and over again. If we killed her, they might even release Roh’s mother. Things turned more odd when Arnexus posed a question to the hag that she did not want to answer…actually seemed afraid to answer. Was the hag involved with the being that had corrupted the world? Her only answer was “that which you see was never meant to be”.

All of this is a blurr….Genna and Connor told us later that it was indeed a hag we had questioned and not a mortal man. Some powerful magic is at hand seeking to make us stumble. We’re getting closer…but to what?

We have to rescue Roh’s mother. Of that there is no doubt. Still…my famiy….I fear I may not see them again. I should write a letter to them…but what do I say? I know nothing of this man she is to marry. Yet, I trust my father and mother. They would protect her and see that she marries a strong man who will be good to her. Of that I have no doubt.

Goddess watch over us as we walk further down this path. We do not know what we might discover. Grant me wisdom to act wisely and help guide my companions. Walking this path in the real world is much harder than I had anticipated. I fear I am not ready…but I trust the Mother’s wisdom in sending me out. Light our path ahead.

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