What light….part 2

Written By: Stephen Dove - Mar• 21•14

A Dragon Warriors RPG Adventure

Today’s post is the second part of the standalone RPG adventure;What light through yonder window breaks. Part  1 is here. This adventure will eventually be re-written and re-organised as a free PDF, but is being released in this form, to take advantage of the ‘serialisation effect’ of a weekly blog post. This adventure is statted for up Dragon Warriors RPG, and is designed for 4 characters of 1st Rank, but don’t let that put you off, as it would be very easy to adapt this scenario for any other FRPG. This adventure is actually a part of a larger campaign entitled the Cantorbridge Tales; see ‘Vindashire and Cantorbridge Tales in the categories menu on the sidebar for all posts relating to this ‘Road Sandbox’ campaign. ———————————————————————————————

What a tangled web we Weave….

By now, the PCs should have worked out that something is very wrong in the City of Netherford. They may even have connected some of the strange happenings with Phillip Weaver; the four-year old son of wealthy cloth merchants, Margaret and Tobias Weaver. If so, then they will no doubt find their way to the Weaver House (it is the large blue house on the corner of Wharf Street and Scale’s Lane).

The house is a fairly sumptuous two-story half timbered building boasting solid doors, and a side-stable. Inside, the house is well appointed, with wood-panelling, costly hangings and roaring fires burning apple-scented logs. Yet all is not well in the Weaver household; once there, the PCs must convince the steward, Rollo, to let them in. Rollo is a haughty and very correct Asmulian servant who will be loath to let ‘vagabonds’ or ‘villeins’ disturb his Master, though one hint of knowledge about Phillip will assuage his doubts. The PCs will then be lead up to Master Weaver, who is sitting in his dark counting house, the drapes still covering the windows, disconsolate. His little boy and heir has been missing for several days, and now his Wife has vanished too.

If the PCs ask to see the boy’s room or Margaret’s they’ll find the Solar where Phillip plays contains a large floor length glass mirror that Tobias brought back as a present for Margaret, from Ferromaine. Any PCs who are magically sensitive will feel that the mirror is radiating a faint dweomer of some kind. They might also notice that the power is growing stronger as dusk approaches and the moon rises…. A search of Margaret’s room (wealthy couples often slept separately at this time) will also reveal a diary, written in Elleslandic, next to her jewel-inlaid triptych.The diary reveals Margaret’s secret; ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————– 13th of Weald-Monath, Year of Our Lord, 946 Anno Sancto

Oh God on High; do not think to punish your useless vessel in this hour, for today has been the most trying, and yet the most joyous day of my life! My waters broke in the early hours; thank St Simeon that my Husband was away. 

I sent Maud for the Midwife though twas but an hour ere midnight. Old Mab arrived soon after, and I was wracked by the birthing pangs then. It lasted for hours and I was nigh spent, and when the babe at last came free, I knew at once by his grey pallor and stillness, that something was wrong; just as it had been all the other times. My babe was again stillborn and my life and happiness gone unto death with him. Mab nodded sadly as she cut the cord.

I burst into tears then and raged at God and all the Saints; for had I not been on pilgrimage, visiting every shrine on the Maiden’s Walk and taking the waters at St Bridget’s; had I not held ten vigils at the Cathedral, allowing myself not a wink of sleep as the Bishop had proscribed; and had I not purified myself by fasting and scourging my flesh, even as the Abbott of Clee had admonished me. All for nothing! Mab made to take the still babe then and I knew what its fate was to be; to hang as a garish token on her ‘witching tree’, that the evil spirit who brought forth this cold, dead thing from my womb should not escape and should instead be trapped, unable to visit the same evil upon me or some other poor women. And yet, this deed had Mab done four times for me ere this day; to no avail, for it seems an evil spirit is within my breast.

It was then seemed as if my lips moved themselves, as I begged Mab on bended knees to take the body to the ancient temple; the ruined tower across the river about which the fishwives tell such stories. One toothless old crone once swore to me, when I was a child myself, that in her Grandmother’s time, a babe, dead and cold, had been revived by the altar in the roots of that place. But if God had scorned me, why should I not turn to the Old Powers; for I had tried the straight and narrow way and if my husband had returned to this, my fifth dead babe, why I should be cast off for another, and lose my place and my station. What a bitter reward that seemed to me then for one who had been so loving of God. Mab took up the babe, but made a sign against evil; and then she was gone and I remember little of that night, save the rawness of my grief and a gathering despair. Indeed, I packed my bags, against the hour when Tobias might arrive and order me off. I finally slept just as the false dawn was across the eastern sky, but I dreamed such terrible dreams as I have never had ere that night nor since.

I awoke only an hour after dawn, as Rollo hammered upon my chamber door. Mab haunted his steps. At first she feigned as if all was lost, but then her cankered face broke into the broadest of grins. And; miracle of miracles, she bore in her arms a living, breathing child, who soon gave full vent to his lungs when she passed him to me. I looked into that tiny face and was lost; for it was the fairest thing I had ever seen. ‘There there Mistress Weaver’ Mab crooned, ‘for here’s a cure for what’s ailing ye and no mistake!’. I wept then; wave after wave of tears flowing unbidden and unstoppable, until I was quite hoarse and as weak as a new-born kitten. But the babe suckled greedily and soon all my cares were forgotten. God be praised; for perhaps that shrine is an ancient Fane to The Most High, wrought by the men of Selentium in far off days.

Yet I must declare in all seriousness now, that had the blackest devil healed my child and brought him back to me, then to that foul creature I  would now gladly give my thanks, though not my prayers nor offerings; I am still in my wits after all. God be praised for this miracle! I shall name this boy Phillip, after my own dear Father, may God rest his soul. ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— The Midwife

If it is early in the day, the PCs might want to seek out ‘Old Mab’. Rollo can direct them, for she lives nearby in Weavering; at the junction of Weavering Street and Weavers’ Walk. But Mab is not there; she is out in one of the nearby villages, tending to yet another women who is about to give birth, and the PCs questions must wait.

Through a Glass Darkly

If the PCs are in the Weaver house at dusk, they might notice (Stealth of 12) strange signs of movement out of the corners of their eyes; always as reflections in the panes of glass in the windows or the mirror, as if someone is crossing the room behind them. Yet when they turn, there is no-one there in the room with them. All the glass in the house now registers faintly with the dweomer and the mirror is like a sun.

As the moon climbs into the sky, but an hour after dusk, the mirror begins to glow to those with Mage-Sight, and suddenly all within the house can hear the whispered voice of a tiny child, chuckling as if at play and calling ‘Father!, Father!’. Tobias Weaver, if present, clutches his head; clearly unaware that anyone else can hear the voice, and obviously thinking that his reason has broken and given way to madness.

If the PCs do not watch or restrain him, then when the child’s voice starts singing an eerie lullaby, he will fall under some kind of spell and begin to walk towards the mirror in his wife’s room, his eyes glassy and his jaw slack. Indeed, the ‘boy’ Phillip will appear in the windows downstairs as a pale reflection, to try and get the PCs’ attention, whilst his magic summons his ‘Father’ into the Nantwylds with his song. If Tobias is still able, he presses his hand against the glass and finds the surface yields to his touch, as the moonlight spills in through the window. Soon he has vanished into the mirror, and can be seen in the pane, reunited with his Wife and Child, who suddenly appear from one of the other rooms in the mirror-version of the Weaver House.

If the PCs try to enter the mirror, it is much harder for them, as the surface of the mirror seems as thick and as sticky as treacle. All who wish to pass through must make a Strength check against an Str of 13 and each attempt takes a PC a full half a minute to pull themselves through; so that by the time anyone is on the other side, the Weavers are gone and the mirror version of the house is as cold and dark as the grave…….

A room with a view

Fate is a fickle mistress and a combination of bad luck or a lack of curiosity on the PCs’ part, may leave them at a dead-end and unable to find the Weaver’s House. What’s a GM to do? The answer is to run this encounter to get them into the Nantwylds. Where-ever the PCs are staying, they are turfed out of their rooms, to accommodate a wealthier group of pilgrims from Ongus.

The PCs must find new lodgings and the only places with any rooms are:

1) The Plough Inn on Fore Street

2) The River Inn on St Job’s Street (next to the Fish Market).

3) The Crossed Swords, on the junction of Chandler’s Lane and Drover’s Lane

In each case, the Innkeeper can be convinced to give the party the use of his daughter’s room for a reduced price; sending the poor girl to sleep at her aunt’s house when not serving at the Inn. The new room is smaller and in all ways inferior to their last billet, but does boast a nice full length mirror of beaten copper; you can I hope, see where this is going….

The following encounter happens on the fourth night of the eight-night feast of Martinmas; the first night of the full moon in fact. If this has already passed in your game by the time you need this encounter; say instead that this is a ‘blood-moon’; a full moon that is red and baleful. This is the night when the Changeling in Phillip Weaver’s shape is at its most powerful, but also allows the PCs to follow the ‘boy’ through the mirror, and into a Gloaming called The Nantwylds. On the stroke of moonrise, and eerie singing is heard in the PCs’ room, just below the level of audibility. Joan, a serving wench, will push open the door and glide into the room, obviously sleep walking. She will pass straight into the mirror, as if its surface is quicksilver and not glass. If the PCs attempt to follow her then the surface of the mirror seems to them to be as thick and as sticky as treacle. All who wish to pass through must make a Strength check against an Str of 13 and each attempt takes a PC a full half a minute to pull themselves through; so that by the time anyone is on the other side, then Joan is long gone and the mirror version of the Inn is as cold and dark as the grave…….

The Nantwylds

Gloamings are otherworlds, created by the collective power of the human unconscious, long ago. This particular Gloaming has no physical location in the waking world; but all mirrors in Netherford act as portals into this tiny realm, though humans cannot normally enter it unless they know a certain ritual. Only those touched by the Fey can enter without arcane knowledge or power, and only then during the feast of Martinmas. Thus only those PCs who are cursed and have lost their shadows can enter the Gloaming at this time; unless of course, the Changeling deliberately brings them or others into the Nantwylds using his siren dweomer (see later). Netherford_gloaming12

n.b. This map is a work in progress. In particular, the Labyrinth is not completed. The Nantwylds is a very small Gloaming, who patron lord has long since left.  Since the people of Netherford have long been protected by the coming of the True Faith, the Nantwylds have been slowing ebbing away for many hundreds of years and the ‘reflection’ of the City of Netherford in the Nantwylds is of a decaying, tangled ruin swarming with ivy and thorn thickets and covered in leprous lichens. Even the river has shifted its course and many of the towers on the old east wall are now islands.

The Nantwylds are surrounded on all sides by thick mists. Seen from a high place, these mists appear to be low lying and do not stop the light of the sun; which hangs eternally just below the horizon, as if it is at just the moment after sunset. Anyone passing into these mists may never been seen again, for the mists are the True Wylds; the place where chaos rules and anything is possible. The Old Gods themselves once stepped from these mists; and elves and fey and all manner of fell things still enter the Nantwylds even today from this eldritch haze. Such monsters can do so safely, being creatures of eldritch nature. But humans are beings bound by natural law and without magical protection, stepping into the mist is perilous indeed. A traveller so doing could end up travelling vast distances or even back or forward in time. Sorcerors uses the various roads that leave the Nantwylds and enter the mists, to journey all over the world of Legend, as will be seen later.

The stars are forever alight in the eastern sky of the Nantwylds, but never show in the west and true night never comes; thus without lowlight vision, all PCs are at -2 Perception but a torch is never absolutely necessary except underground. The season in the Nantwylds is eternally Summer and the woods and forests smell of the sultry perfume of wild-flowers and of the harvest, and are ever alive with the buzzing of bees and the chirping of crickets.

In the beginning…. If the PCs followed the Weavers here, they emerge in the Labyrinth at location 6. If they were staying at an Inn and followed Joan in; from the Plough Inn, then they emerge from an exact facsimile in location 9 from the River Inn, then they emerge at location 7 from the Crossed Swords, they emerge at location 12 Whatever the case, if any magic-users in the party can make a Perception roll, against a Stealth of 10, they notice that this whole place is alive with magical energy. All Sorcerors, Elementalists and Warlocks gain +1d8 magic points per ‘day’. Mystics also now must fatigue TWICE whilst here in the Nantwylds, before being unable to cast spells. In addition, all direct attack spells gain +2 to Magical Attack and all indirect spells gain +2 to speed. Next time……………The Denizens of the Nantwylds!

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