Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Session Eighteen: The Man of Law's Tale

Alexandre Arrives

Pierre begins tending to Maurice’s arm, but doesn’t get very far before the door to the chambers flies open and Lord Alexandre enters, followed by a rotund man in robes and two guards. Alexandre, out of breath and in a panic, seems to think that it was Lady Valerie who was dangling from the window. Although he is relieved that it wasn’t her, he is disturbed to find that Sir Henri and his party are still within the castle.

The rotund man, whom Alexandre introduces as Dr. Poitier, talks shop with Pierre while the latter continues to work on Maurice. Sir Henri hints that it was Lady Valerie who brought them to the tower, and more or less says that, if he and his party are discovered by Baron Stephane, that he would prefer to take all the blame for trespassing rather than have any of it fall on her.

Lord Alexandre seems quite fine with this, but is also insistent that the party leave at once, if not sooner. He begins to ramble about how very bad it would be for everyone if Baron Stephane learned that Sir Henri and his friends were not only hanging about the castle, but also a floor down from the scene of the murder in Lord Alexandre’s old chambers.

Pierre announces that, now that Maurice has been tended to, they can freely depart. Sir Henri attempts to give a silver coin to Dr. Poitier for his services, only to have his generosity rebuffed by Lord Alexandre. The baronet informs Sir Henri that Dr. Poitier is the household physician and is paid quite a considerable sum, thank you very much. Dr. Poitier, for his part, is crestfallen.

Moments later, the group is all but thrown out of the castle gates. Night has fallen over the valley, and the group contemplate their next move.

Lurking About Maisy, Part One

Sabina and Andre visit the kitchen to talk to Ines. They find her much more talkative, if still somewhat sharp-tongued. Ines is both grateful and surprised that Baroness Louise did not turn out or execute the kitchen staff in the aftermath of the poisoning. She goes on to say that the baroness wanted everything to be perfect for the dinner party for Constance. Ines thinks that this is in part because the baroness prides herself as a hostess, and in part because she wanted to rub the fact that she was housing Constance in the face of Grandcamp. Ines says that the baroness even came to the kitchen herself to see to the preparation of the meal, which Ines notes was unusual.

Upstairs, Garnier chats with Dame Jeanne. The knight informs him, in clipped terms, that yes, all of the knights have angered the baroness at one time or another, but that those who were at the party had either wronged her most recently or were multiple offenders. She also says that, in the baroness’ opinion, the knights at the party were the weakest of Maisy’s knights.

“But what’s weird,” says Jeanne, “is what she did with their armor.”

Dame Jeanne of House Maisy

Garnier prods her on this point, and learns that local custom is to bury all fallen knights with their armor and other equipage. Instead, the baroness buried the knights without any gear at all, and set up their armor in her receiving hall, presumably as some kind of memorial. Dame Jeanne no longer likes going into the receiving hall and finds the display of the armor of her dead compatriots to be especially ghoulish.

Dame Jeanne departs for her own quarters as Sabina and Andre return. The three of them compare notes, decide to let Magnus sleep off his rich meal, and resolve to explore Castle Maisy—first separately, then together. Frieda stays behind to watch over Magnus.

A Return to the Shrine

Outside Castle Grandcamp, Sir Henri notices his two squires are engaged in a rather heated discussion. He butts in to ask what’s going on and is told by Jim that he’s trying to convince Jules to tell “good Sir ‘Enri,” something that he noticed. When pressed, Jules mentions that he is pretty sure that he saw a concealed door in the walls of Lord Alexandre’s old chambers. He quickly adds that he doesn’t know how to open it, or where it goes, but he’s definitely probably sure there is a door there. The group file this information away, hoping that they will be able to re-enter Grandcamp later.

Pierre suggests to Sir Henri that they travel south to Maisy to see how the others are doing. Sir Henri agrees, but says that he would first like to stop at the shrine to speak to Constance.

Constance is first surprised to see the group and is then heartened to learn that Sir Henri and the others are working hard to clear her name. She becomes even more hopeful when she learns, from Sir Henri, that Lady Valerie still likes her and thinks she’s innocent.

Pierre shows Constance the bloodied kerchief, and asks if she ever saw anyone in Grandcamp with a similar one. She admits that she’s never seen anything like that before. Sir Henri, who has been curious about something ever since first becoming embroiled in this mystery, then asks Constance how she escaped both Grandcamp and Maisy.

Constance replies that, when she was imprisoned in the dungeons at Grandcamp, Lady Valerie took pity on her and released her. The young noblewoman also took care to reposition and distract the household guards, so that Constance could leave through the castle gate.

Being imprisoned at Maisy was another matter entirely, and Constance was sure that she was going to be executed once the baroness recovered. However, before that happened, Lady Josephine was able to rise from her sickbed, released Constance, and escorted her down into the lower levels of Maisy. There, she showed Constance the culvert that ran beneath the castle and told her which way to go to escape. Constance admits that Lady Josephine didn’t seem to like her very much and had no real motive to do this.

Confused, and with yet more questions, Sir Henri promises Constance that the company will continue to try and exonerate her. He and his friends then proceed to Maisy.

All in All, Constance is Still Just Stuck in the Wall

Lurking Around Maisy, Part Two

Andre prowls around an upper floor walkway that overlooks the courtyard. Seeing a guard, he hides himself and waits. A moment later, Lady Josephine, who has just finished her practice in the yard, happens to pass buy. The guard rather forwardly asks if the lady is all right, as he suspects that she has gotten into another fight with her mother. Lady Josephine upbraids the guard for his overfamiliarity and strides off to her chambers.

Under the pretext of checking on her horse, Hellbitch, Sabina crosses the courtyard to snoop around. She sees the aftermath of Lady Josephine’s training session, including a dagger shoved through a sturdy board. Recalling that the final deathblow to Baronet Arthur had been a dagger blow through his sternum, she begins to grow suspicious.

Between them, Garnier, Andre, and Sabina locate the castle crypts, the reception hall, and the chapel to the Lady. They decide to search the crypts first. They descend the steps and find a lantern hanging on a hook just outside the entrance to the crypts, which they take and light. Upon entering, they find the sarcophagi of the baroness’ ancestors, as well as ten temporary coffins made out of wood. The lids on all the coffins are nailed shut, but Andre easily pries one open with his dagger.

The body within the coffin is seemingly naked and wrapped tightly in a winding sheet. Andre lifts the body and Garnier holds the lamp as Sabina unwinds the sheet to get a look at the corpse. The dead knight beneath is already decaying. He bears awful, claw-like marks on his neck and across his eyes. He is also unnaturally pale and withered, and seems to be devoid of blood.

Andre, who grew up in Kislev and has heard all manner of terrible folk tales, immediately suspects vampires. He begins to relate his opinions to the others, who only become more nervous. Garnier insists that they unwrap the rest of the body and, when they do, he bends to inspect every inch of the dead knight’s flesh. He finds no other wounds or puncture marks other than the injuries on the neck and face, but he realizes that none of these injures would have caused the knight to lose all of his blood.

The group then hears a quiet tread on the stairs leading down to the crypt. They stuff the corpse back into the coffin, push the lid down as best as they are able, and douse the lantern, before hiding in between the sarcophagi. Their alarm is more or less for nothing, as whoever came down the stairs reaches for the lamp, doesn’t find it, and, with a huff, proceeds back up the stairs.

The Reception Hall

Thanking the Lady for their good luck, Garnier, Andre, and Sabina wait a few moments before leaving the crypts and heading up the stairs. Andre and Garnier suspect that whoever nearly entered the crypt will probably come back, and so they both wind up hiding in a too-small alcove to wait for their return. Sabina has had enough of crypts, and says that she will search the receiving hall and return to see how Magnus and Frieda are doing.

Leaving her companions behind, Sabina finds and enters Castle Maisy’s large and ornate reception hall. There, she sees the armor of the ten dead knights standing on pedestals, though the arrangement feels less to Sabina like a memorial and more like trophies. She hesitantly approaches to inspect the armor and finds that most suits have bloodstains on the inside.

She quickly departs for the sleeping quarters.

A “Chance” Meeting

Andre and Garnier do not have to wait long before Lady Josephine comes down the hallway, holding a small lantern. The duo watch from their hiding space as the lady begins to descend into the crypt. At this moment, Andre steps out to confront Lady Josephine, who accuses him and Garnier of snooping. Garnier insists that they were just walking around the castle that they were guests in, and ask what Josephine was doing.

A frosty moment follows and Lady Josephine excuses herself. It is clear to Garnier that she was up to something, but also that she will not tell anyone else that she found Andre and Garnier near the crypts.

Andre and Garnier return to the sleeping quarters.

Lady Josephine, Caught Wandering at Night

Reunited

Sir Henri’s party arrives at Castle Maisy and, after some curt questions from the guards at the gate, are permitted to come inside and rejoin the others in the sleeping quarters. Garnier shoves Magnus awake before leaping back to avoid the knife that Magnus keeps under his pillow.

The company shares what they have learned with one another and discover that there are two hemophiliacs in the same valley. With this new knowledge in mind, Garnier and Magnus decide to re-interview the cook.

Ines is none too pleased to see Magnus again, but agrees to follow the duo into the hallway so that they can converse more privately. Garnier enters into a very intense conversation with Ines, in which he circumspectly remarks that he knows there’s someone else in the valley who suffers from Ines’ condition, and that Ines might want to know that this other person is living happily and well.

This upsets Ines so much that she drags both Garnier and Magnus into a kitchen storeroom to continue the conversation in double private. After some questioning, Ines tells Garnier that her blood condition is a Chaos mutation, which she inherited from her grandfather. Her grandfather worked for a noble several miles away from the valley and, when a young man, was ordered to help clean up an area that had been befouled by Chaos. The close contact caused her grandfather to become afflicted and change, “though not so anyone could see,” and the noble released her grandfather from his service so that he could find another place to settle and live the remainder of his life in peace.

Garnier is now fairly certain that Ines is Valerie’s biological mother, though a later conversation with Sabina creates a new possibility: That Ines was Valerie’s wet nurse, and that she passed her Chaos mutation to Valerie through her milk. In either case, there is a connection between the two noble houses, though the reason for its obfuscation still remains a mystery.

Magnus, having heard about Andre’s talk about vampires, decides to test Ines by “accidentally” opening a sack and spilling several beans on the floor. He asks if Ines needs to count them obsessively to see how many there are. Annoyed, she shoos both men out of the storage room and grabs a broom.

The Chapel

The company reconvenes. Magnus asks if there is a chapel in the castle, as he suspects that vampires would not leave such a place of worship unmarred if they could help it. Sabina, having found the way to the chapel before, leads the group to it.

The chapel is small, peaceful, and properly adorned for the worship of the Lady. While most of the company feel better standing in it, Sir Henri once again feels the strange “attention” he experienced around Guillaumette at the Truce Inn. Renee’s injured arm begins to itch most fearsomely.

A quick search of the chapel reveals a locked door concealed behind one of the room’s thick draperies. Frieda is once again called upon to pick the lock, which she does without difficulty. The entire company produces lanterns and torches before disappearing down the spiral staircase beyond the door.

They soon end up in a small chamber that reeks of a sickly sweet, coppery odor. In the center is a large cauldron, filled nearly to the rim with clotted blood. On the opposite wall, two large, rust-encrusted blades hang on either side of a banner that bears a strange symbol featuring the snarling heads of two wolves. Frieda consults her notebook and tells the company that this is one of the symbols of Khorne, the Chaos God of war, hatred, martial skill, and blood.

Blood for the Blood God



Saturday, April 30, 2022

Session Seventeen: The Man of Law's Tale

Paix

Maurice and Renee continue their wanderings around Paix before eventually returning to the Truce Inn. There, Maurice plays dice with some of the locals, while Renee chats with Guillaumette at the bar. 

Maurice plays to lose, thereby ingratiating the locals to him. He then talks to them about Constance and Lord Arthur. He learns that Constance was a very serious, very stern, but basically decent child. Her family passed away last winter from some kind of illness, but there was no hint of foul play. The locals seem to like her, but most do not know her all that well. They also say that they were concerned about her marriage to Lord Arthur, because the man was known to be a bully and a thug. They confess that, if Constance had to kill Lord Arthur to defend herself from his cruelty, they would not be surprised. They would also be very sympathetic.

Renee asks Guillaumette about the valley’s wine, as she suspects that this is the vector by which the knights, the baroness, and her daughter were poisoned. She learns a great deal about the local wine trade, but nothing actionable.

After spending a lot of time cooling their heels in the Truce Inn, Maurice and Renee decide to travel to Grandcamp to catch up with Sir Henri and his party.

Lady Valerie

Lady Valerie

Sir Henri, Pierre, and the squires introduce themselves to the Lady Valerie, who is quite intrigued with them and is very happy to make their acquaintance. They notice that Lady Valerie’s left hand is heavily bandaged, and that she wears leggings and an undershirt of very thick fabric under her gown. Curious, Pierre convinces her to let him remove the bandage. He discovers only a tiny scrape, and yet the wading is absolutely soaked with blood.

Lady Valerie explains that she wanted to get a closer look at a bird who was nesting outside the library window. She tripped, fell, and scraped her hand, which bled profusely. She indicates that this is normal for her, and that her brother Alexandre and the house physician, Dr. Poitier, gave her hell for it.

While Pierre rewraps the wound, Sir Henri talks to Lady Valerie, first giving her his condolences and then asking about the murder of her brother. Among other things, she mentions that she rather liked Lady Constance, and thought that she was a good match for her brother. She says that the first she heard of the murder was when Constance started screaming the morning after the wedding. She doesn’t think that Lady Constance did it, but her father, Baron Stephane, has his own ideas about what happened.

Speaking of the baron, a courtier comes running out of the castle and informs Sir Henri that Baron Stephane requires his presence in the receiving hall. As Sir Henri, Pierre, Jim, and Jules follow the courtier to the hall, Pierre privately tells the knight that he believes that Lady Valerie suffers from hemophilia.

The Kitchen

Ines, Head Cook of Castle Maisy

Across the pond, in Maisy, the other group finds their way to the castle kitchens. They find it abuzz with activity, as it appears the staff are in the middle of preparing a late afternoon meal for the baroness. A hard-looking older woman presides over the frenetic activity, hounding the others and ordering them to work faster. As the group stare from the doorway, the woman pushes aside one of her subordinates, chides him for cutting the parsnips unevenly, and loudly says that she will do it herself.

This ends abruptly when, in her haste, she slices her finger with the knife. The air in the kitchen briefly turns to that of worry and concern. One of the other cooks fetches bandages as the woman squeezes her injured finger cand calls for some salt.

The group seize this moment to make their way into the kitchen proper to start asking questions. Garnier eases things by seeing to the woman’s finger and tightly bandaging it with an only slightly dirty kitchen rag. He notices that the cut is small, but that it seems to bleed profusely. He wonders, silently, if the woman suffers from hemophilia.

Magnus makes things harder by wandering around in the kitchen and tasting the soup. The woman, who the group now know is named Ines, yells at him to stop what he’s doing and get out. Magnus more or less ignores her.

While Ines is distracted by Magnus’ antics, Andre purloins a bottle of wine.

Ines tells the group, in no uncertain terms, to get the hell out of her kitchen and not to come back until after the dinner rush. She says that she’ll answer their questions then, if she feels like it.

At that point, Several servants enter the kitchen to take the food up to the baroness’ table. Moments afterward, a courtier also arrives and says that the baroness has asked them to dine. The group follows the courtier and the servants. Magnus snags a roll on the way out.

The Baron

Baron Stephane Coligny, Lord Grandcamp

Sir Henri, Pierre, and the squires meet Baron Stephane in his receiving hall. The baron is a formidable man who makes his displeasure with the group—and with Alexandre hiring them—well known. He confirms that Sir Henri was once recently Squire Henri before saying that he recently received a raven from a cousin in Brienne. Said cousin is none other than Sir Charles du Theobard, who accuses Sir Henri and his friends of sullying his honor and stealing an ancestral sword. Sir Henri demurs and says that he did not see what became of Sir Charles’ sword after their encounter in Brienne.

The interview goes poorly from there, with the baron insisting that Constance is the culprit, and that Sir Henri is wasting his time. The baron does finally agree that if Sir Henri brings him substantial evidence that someone else is the murderer, he will grant him another audience, but, until then, he wants the group to leave his castle post haste.

The interview ends abruptly, and the courtier dutifully escorts the group out to the courtyard. As they leave, they see a small figure lurking just outside the receiving hall. It is clear that this figure has heard every word and is now following them. Sir Henri realizes that it is none other than the Lady Valerie.

The Baroness

The group is brought along a walkway above the castle courtyard. Below, they see a dressed down Lady Josephine training alone with various weapons and target dummies. Even from a distance, they can tell that she is furious about something. Sabina is suitably impressed when the lady, with a cry of rage, stabs a plank so ferociously with a dagger that the point erupts from the far side of the wood. 

Continuing on, the group is brought to a dining room, where Baroness Louise is preparing to eat with several of her knights. The baroness is quite friendly and very generous with the food and wine from her larder. She tells the players that her daughter has already explained what they are doing in her castle, and that she will put them up while they conduct their investigation. She also asks that, should she be attacked by Grandcamp, that the group stand in defense of Maisy.

Garnier, at the far end of the table, attempts to get into the good graces of Jeanne, one of the baroness’ knights. Jeanne rebuffs his interest and also his suggestion that she “try Sabina.” Undaunted, Garnier presses onward, talking about the night of the mass poisoning. He wonders, out loud, if the knights that died were the best of the household or the worst, and opines that perhaps they were not in the good graces of the baroness.

This causes Jeanne to loudly tell him to shut the hell up. She then tells him, more quietly, that she will talk to him later.

At the other end of the table, Magnus’ capacious appetite seems to have caught the attention of the baroness. The two of them engage in an impromptu eating contest, with both the mercenary and the baroness shoveling an ungodly amount of food into their maws. Magnus soon succumbs to an upset stomach and a food coma. The baroness smugly cements her victory by plucking an olive off of Magnus’ plate and eating it.

After dinner, the group is escorted to several small cells, which they learned once belonged to the now deceased knights. Magnus washes himself and then passes out on his bed, snoring. Sabina and Andre head off to the kitchen to speak with Ines. A short time later, Dame Jeanne arrives to speak to Garnier.

Baroness Louise Santignion, Lady Maisy

The Scene of the Crime

In the courtyard of Castle Grandcamp, Lady Valerie apologizes for how shabbily her father has treated the group. Sir Henri tells her that apologies are not necessary, as he sends for his horse and prepares to leave.

Just at that moment, Maurice and Renee arrive from Paix. Reunited, the company members fill one another in on what they have discovered. Lady Valerie, dazzled at seeing a woman who is also an adventurer, interrupts the conversation to pepper Renee with questions.

In her excitement, Lady Valerie asks if the group would like to look at the murder scene. She says that she can take them into the tower “the back way” so that her father would be none the wiser. The group, desperate for a chance to gather evidence, accepts.

Lady Valerie leads them up to the third floor of the tower, to a door that is closed but whose latch has been splintered and broken. Screwing up her courage, Lady Valerie says that beyond that door are her brother’s chambers. She says that she will go with the group, even though the sight of the room makes her uncomfortable.

Inside, they see the bridal bed is covered in a large quantity of dried blood. Leaving Lady Valerie hanging around by the door, the rest search the room. They find the following:

  • Sir Henri notices that there is a human-sized void in the bed, in which no blood has flowed. He guesses that this means that Constance was indeed asleep, and only woke up after the murder had been committed.
  • Sir Henri also finds the hunting dagger, encrusted with blood, lying just under the bed.
  • Maurice finds a pair of goblets and an ewer, all of which contain the dregs of red wine. He also notices that all have a peculiar, foul smell. The group agrees that the wine was likely drugged.
  • Pierre searches one of the wardrobes and finds a red silk kerchief stuffed into a boot. The kerchief is caked in dried blood.

Since the door was locked, the group assumes that the murderer must have either had a key or gotten into the room other means. Maurice tests this theory by hopping out onto one of the window ledges and trying to climb the outer wall of the tower to the fourth floor.

This…does not go well.

Maurice’s fingers slip on the mossy stones of the tower. He manages to control his descent somewhat, so that he is able to grab onto the ledge of a second-floor window as he falls past it. The sudden stop badly strains his arm, leaving Maurice in too rough a shape to pull himself to safety.

In a panic, the rest of the group try to quickly think of a plan to retrieve Maurice. Renee throws down a rope, but Maurice is in too precarious a place to try to grab onto it.

Lady Valerie takes charge and leads the group down to the second floor. They barge into chambers much like the one just above, except that it is entirely empty of furniture. Just as Maurice’s fingers are slipping off of the windowsill, Renee and Pierre grab ahold of Maurice and pull him to safety.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Session Sixteen: The Man of Law's Tale

The Valley of Grandcamp-Maisy

Hospitality

The people of Paix are, however, not without courtesy, and they soon invite the company to rest and sup at the Truce Inn before continuing on their way. The company gratefully stables their beasts, enters the inn, and makes themselves comfortable. They note a fine, old table in one corner of the room that has been roped off with velvet cordons. They also note that the other patrons of the inn seem to be worried about the ill fortunes plaguing the valley.

The company gains the attention of the tavernkeeper, Guillaumette Poirer—to whom Renee and Sir Henri find themselves strongly drawn—and orders strong ale and lunches. As they begin to tuck into their meals, they pepper Guillaumette with questions. The tavernkeeper, being a naturally gregarious and friendly sort, is only too happy to answer them. They learn the following:

The Valley’s Troubles

The troubles in the valley center around a young woman from Paix named Constance du Lac. She was orphaned the previous winter when the bitter cold and a horrible affliction took her parents. Her fortunes seemed to rise, however, when she caught the eye of Baronet Arthur Coligny, of Grandcamp.

Their courtship was swift and, in but a month, the two were officially wed. The nuptials went off splendidly, but the next morning, Constance awoke in her wedding bed to find that Lord Arthur had savagely murdered. Baron Stephane, Arthur’s father, put the blame squarely on Constance, and would have had her executed had she not fled Grandcamp.

Constance went to Maisy and threw herself on the mercy of Baroness Louise. Since the baron and baroness have been long-time rivals, it pleased the baroness no end to take in someone who had brought such ruin to the baron’s family. All was well, until the baroness threw a welcoming feast for Constance, in which the baroness, ten of her knights, and her daughter Josephine were in attendance.

Minutes into the feast, the knights began screaming and clawing at their eyes and their throats before falling down dead. Baroness Louise and Lady Josephine were also stricken, but recovered after a bit of bed rest. Poison was suspected and, as Constance was unaffected, it was assumed that she was the poisoner. The baroness, suspecting that Constance was secretly in league with Baron Stephane, demanded her head, but Constance fled before the baroness’ orders could be carried out.

Guillaumette and the rest of the people in Paix fear that these actions will soon plunge the valley into war, and that no serf nor commoner will be safe then. She says that there was a war in the valley 100 years ago that fairly soaked the ground in blood until the Miracle of Saint Jaqueline put an abrupt end to the fighting. The cordoned off table in the Truce Inn is where the peace treaty that ended that war was signed. It is kept in a place of prominence to serve as a reminder of what is now at stake.

Guillaumette, Proprietor of the Truce Inn

The Pilgrims and the Monk

Guillaumette served the pilgrims before insisting that they hurry on their way. She informs the company that they are no more than a half day behind the pilgrims, who are now on their way to Castle Carcassonne.

Guillaumette also says that she spoke to the monk a few days before. She described him as sorrowful, but very humble and kind. On a hunch, Sabina asks if the monk offered to hear Guillaumette’s prayers. The tavernkeeper says that he did, and that he kindly offered to write it down in his book, since she herself cannot ready.

She then produces a slip of yellow paper from her apron and presents it to the company. Pierre and Frieda notice that the handwriting has become much more unsteady, and that several of the words are nearly lost beneath splotches of ink. It reads:

Merciful Lady, PLEASE, Guillaumette of Paix only desires PEACE in the valley.

The company has by now convinced the tavernkeeper that they are the monk’s good friends. Sabina uses this to her advantage, ands tell Guillaumette that the monk forgot to mention that the prayer must first be burned before it reaches the Lady. Guillaumette does so, and the company watches in apprehension as the slip of paper burns to ashes.

Sir Henri and Renee discover that they no longer feel the strange attraction to Guillaumette. Renee also notices that she has stopped absently scratching at her wounded arm.

Farewells and Greetings

Shortly thereafter, the company realizes that Sir Jean-Marc is not seated at table with them. This leads to a confused discussion and a brief search. Maurice steps outside and notices that Ambrose, the knight’s horse, has been taken from the stables.

The company is baffled by his disappearance, though they suspect that Sir Jean-Marc has gone to either find himself or to do something to “put things aright” after his startling admission to them on the bridge.

At roughly the same time, a former marine, Andre Morgan, awakens with throbbing head in his room upstairs. Fighting the effects of his hangover, he dresses himself and clumps downstairs, only to discover that it is the early afternoon and that his fellow pilgrims have already departed.

He is invited to join the company and soon learns that they are the erstwhile guards that Gascon Gascoigne, the pilgrimage leader, hired to keep them safe. He trades stories with them and learns of their frankly bizarre adventures. He, himself, has little to offer in return, though he does scoff in surprise when he learns that the company has not had to pay all the little fees to visit the various temples, shrines, and churches along their route. The company becomes convinced that Gascon is scamming his charges, possibly to raise the fees needed to pay their salaries.

Andre Morgan, Former Marine, Current Pilgrim

The Shrine of Saint Jacqueline

The company travels to the shrine in the center of the lake, where they learn the tale of Saint Jacqueline. In the last days of the war that had brought so much blood and death to the valley, a common woman named Jacqueline stood between the forces of Grandcamp and Maisy. She begged the nobles and their armies to leave off their bloodshed for the good of the people and the valley.

The nobles refused and spurred their armies forward. In the clash Jacqueline was trampled beneath their horses and slain.

But then, the earth tore itself asunder and a great lake appeared in the center of the valley, providing a barrier between both noble houses and driving off both armies. In the middle of the lake, where Jacqueline fell, rose an island.

The company learned all this and more as they visited with the priests of the island and purchased pilgrim badges (struck in the shape of an eye). While there, Garnier, Magnus, and Maurice also discovered that the shrine had a new anchorite shut up in an alcove, who turned out to be none other than Constance du Lac.

Speaking to Constance, the company learns a bit more about what has transpired in the valley, and of Constance’s part in it. To wit:

  • Constance caught the eye of Lord Arthur of Grandcamp. She admits that he was quite smitten with her, but that she did not really love him. However, he was offering her a life free from hardship, and he seemed a decent enough sort, so she thought that she could grow to love him, eventually.
  • Arthur’s father, Baron Stephane of Grandcamp, did not approve of the union. The two eloped and were married at the shrine with only a few priests for witnesses.
  • All was well on their wedding night, and both of them shared a bed in Arthur’s room (on the third floor of the castle tower). However, when Constance awoke in the morning, she was covered in blood and saw that Arthur had been savagely murdered in the night.
  • The murder weapon was a hunting knife that had once belonged to Arthur’s mother, which had been given to Constance as one of her marriage gifts. Arthur had been stabbed several times with it—the last time through his breastbone.
  • Baron Stephane, of course, wanted her executed immediately, but she was able to escape Grandcamp and flee south to Maisy.

The company then interrupts to ask why, if Maisy had given her sanctuary, that Constance was now an anchorite on the island. Constance patiently sighs and continues.

  • Baroness Louise and her daughter (both of Maisy) were very kind to her, but also seemed amused that they were harboring a fugitive who had caused so much trouble.
  • Baroness Louise, who appears to be something of a gourmand, threw a lavish feast for Constance. She also invited her daughter, Josephine, and half of her household knights.
  • During the feast, the knights died horrifically from some sort of poison, clawing at their throats and eyes as they fell. The baroness and her daughter were afflicted, but not as badly, and quickly recovered.
  • Constance was the only one at the feast who did not suffer the poison’s effects.
  • The baroness, suspecting that  Constance had poisoned her household as part of a long and convoluted game by the people of Grandcamp, called for her head. However, Constance was able to escape to the shrine, where she begged the priests to save her.

The company does not have long to ruminate on these new facts before they hear several riders galloping toward the shrine.

Constance du Lac

The Company is Impressed

The company steps outside and is quickly introduced to Lord Alexandre—son of Baron Stephane and younger brother of Lord Arthur—along with two of his household knights. Alexandre’s condescension and lordly airs puts the company off of him immediately. He tells the company that his father fears attack by the traitorous scum of Maisy, and says that he will hire them as mercenaries for five crown a head.

At about this time, Lady Josephine arrives at the shrine with two of her household knights, and she and Alexandre begin to hurl insults at one another. Once she hears what Alexandre is offering the company, she counters that she will give them 10 crown a head to protect Maisy from Grandcamp.

It is here that Pierre appeals to reason. He says that, from what the company has heard, there are many unanswered questions surrounding the misfortunes of both noble households. He says that he would prefer it if the nobles would hire the company to be investigators, not sellswords, and that they promise to get to the truth of the matter.

Pierre is able to persuade Josephine and Alexandre of the company’s good intentions. Both agree to pay the company their fees for “investigative work,” before leaving the shrine to return to their own lands. Sir Henri, Pierre, Jules, and Jim travel north to Grandcamp with Alexandre, while Frieda, Sabina, Andre, Garnier, and Magnus travel south to Maisy. Maurice and Renee travel back to Paix with a very worried Henri the innkeeper, and also to conduct their own investigations.

Grandcamp

Alexandre abandons Sir Henri, Pierre, Jules, and Jim in the courtyard at Grandcamp. A young lady of perhaps thirteen, who is reading in the courtyard, watches the new arrivals over the top of her very weighty book, but neither approaches them nor says anything.

Sir Henri soon locates the stables, where he sees to his horse and befriends a stableboy.  Though the stableboy is quite friendly, he is unable to tell Sir Henri much of anything he doesn’t already know. He does indicate that the young lady in the courtyard is Lady Valerie Coligny, the youngest child of Baron Stephane.

Lord Alexandre (Don't Sue Me, Matt Mercer)

Maisy

Frieda, Sabina, Andre, Garnier, and Magnus accompany Lady Josephine to Maisy, though she says that she must leave them at the gate in order to announce their presence to her lady mother. The group wanders the courtyard, where they soon find an impromptu memorial that has been set up for the dead knights. While there, Sabina befriends a servant girl of the household, who tells them that Baroness Louise has asked that the memorial be cleared away. The girl confesses that, despite these orders, she cannot bring herself to do it.

The group, suspecting that the knights were poisoned by something at the feast, ask the serving girl if she can bring them down to the castle kitchen. The girl obliges.

Paix

Henry the innkeeper parts ways with Maurice and Renee to arrange for rooms at the Truce Inn. Once this is done, the two wander Paix looking for merchants of various types.

They first visit a taciturn blacksmith and ask him if he makes rings. Renee is briefly discomfited when the smith assumes that she and Maurice are a couple. Renee clarifies that they want to know if he made a wedding ring for Constance, but the smith says that he did not. He suspects that Lord Arthur gifted her the wedding ring that was once worn by his late mother.

Maurice then asks where he might buy herbs in Paix. The blacksmith directs him to an elderly woman who lives on the outskirts of the town. The woman welcomes Renee and Maurice into her home and Maurice attempts to see if he can buy poison from her—in a circumspect way.

Renee is briefly discomfited when the old woman assumes that Maurice wants to buy Renee herbs because she is in the “family way,” but manages to keep quiet for Maurice’s sake. Maurice procures a paralytic herbal concoction, but learns that the old woman has nothing of the potency or awfulness of the poison that laid low the Maisy knights.

Lady Josephine


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Session Fifteen: The Cook’s Tale

A Bonus Payment

Just after the company patches themselves up and collects the bounty from their fallen foe, Monsieur Corentin arrives with several very ashamed guards and a reinvigorated cook. The cook immediately throws herself upon Pierre, hugging him and thanking him, and the company, for freeing her from Amelia’s servitude. Pierre is taken quite aback.

Corentin applauds the company for getting rid of a daemon problem he didn’t know he had, but also demands that they leave the property as soon as possible. Garnier says that he will, and he will surely tell everyone how they defeated a daemon on the property of an otherwise reputable establishment, unless Corentin pays them to keep quiet. They earn another 100 Crown from Corentin before they are escorted off the premises.

Monsieur Corentin 

A Quiet Evening

The company stops in the markets of Poissy to spend some of their wealth. Frieda travels to the booth of a bowyer and hands over the bows and remaining arrows that she, Jim, and Jules used in the recent battle. The company soon learns that Frieda stopped by the bowyer’s and left one of her books as collateral to better arm herself and the two Poissy boys.

Frieda apologizes about the loss of several arrows, but makes it up to the bowyer by leaping onto one of his tables and spending the next few minutes proudly advertising for him. Among other things, Frieda mentions that the bowyer’s goods are of fine workmanship and are battle-tested against the forces of the Ruinous Powers. Business for the bowyer booms.

A little later, the company returns Echarde to the Reverend Father and goes back to the Corbin farm for a rest. The company takes turns bathing—with Sir Jean-Marc going first, of course, and watch the family drama play out between Lunette and her son Jules. Lunette is delighted that Jim and Jules have become squires to Sir Henri. Jules begs her to stop making a fuss about it.

Maurice pays some Crown to Henri the Innkeeper, who is appreciative, but confused. Maurice says that he earned the money improperly, and wanted to pay the innkeeper for his kindness. Henri seems reluctant to accept the money, until Sabina confirms that the money was won at gambling and not stolen. Henri promises to spend the money on good foodstuffs the next time he gets the opportunity.

The company gathers for an evening meal and recounts their exploits, to the horror and delight of Henri and Lunette. They then go to the Corbin barn, pass out on the hay, and get a decent night’s sleep.

Setting Out

Pierre tends to everyone’s wounds as Henri packs up his cart and prepares to set off. Lunette further embarrasses her son by presenting him with a gaudy red capelet to wear. When he resists, she tells him that she’s worried his neck will be cold—to the amusement of all and sundry.

The company sets off eastward to their next stop, the Valley of Grandcamp-Maisy. Along the way, they encounter other travelers, including a troupe of costumed mummers who accost them with a song and a brief slapstick performance.

The Yellow Knight

The company is approaching the bridge that will take them across a river and into Grandcamp-Maisy when they are accosted by a man of good Bretonnian serf stock. He introduces himself as Onzel, and says that he is in the service of the Yellow Knight, a Knight of the Grail. He goes on to say that his master was bid by the Lady to encamp near this bridge, and to duel any knight who passed by. Onzel then asks if Sir Henri and Sir Jean-Marc would be so kind as to duel his master. Sir Henri agrees readily, but Sir Jean-Marc seems skeptical.

Onzel, Servant of the Yellow Knight

The company is led to a large tree near the bridge, beneath which can be found a beautiful pavilion and the equipage, arms, and trappings of a knight. There is also a golden horse of singular stature and beauty, that Renee immediately covets. Moments after they arrive, a large man helmed, fully armored, and wearing a yellow surcoat strides forth from the pavilion. He introduces himself as the Yellow Knight and bids the company welcome.

The Yellow Knight seems to recognize Sir Jean-Marc’s heraldry and asks for him to lift his visor and to give his name. Sir Jean-Marc reluctantly acquiesces, to which the Yellow Knight responds by saying that he “has not seen Sir Jean-Marc in a very long time” and that “he is glad the rumors of Sir Jean-Marc’s death were exaggerated.” Both of these comments worry Sir Jean-Marc a great deal.

Onzel informs his master that Sir Henri will fight him first, and the Yellow Knight asks if Sir Henri would prefer to duel with lance or sword. Sir Henri picks the lance, and the Yellow Knight allows him to equip himself with one of the blunted lances leaning up against the tree. While Sir Henri picks out his weapon, Onzel saddles the golden horse, whom the Yellow Knight addresses as “Lightbringer.” He tells the company that he acquired the horse from a trader in Tilea, and that Lightbringer’s name in Tilean is much prettier than its Bretonnian name.

Lightbringer, the Yellow Knight's Steed

Magnus, who knows some Tilean, spends an agonizingly long amount of time trying to remember how to say “Lightbringer” in that language.

The contest with Sir Henri is over almost as quickly as it began, with the young knight unhorsed on the first pass. The Yellow Knight offers a hand and thanks Sir Henri for agreeing to duel him. He then asks Sir Jean-Marc if he would like to duel next.

Sir Henri, realizing that he has not gotten the name of the Yellow Knight, now asks it. The knight, for his part, seems ashamed that he has asked for the names of Sir Henri and Sir Jean-Marc without giving his own. He removes his helm, revealing himself to be an elderly man with a long, white beard. He says that he is, “Nikodemas de la Tour, the Yellow Knight, the Knight of the Fallen Tower.”

Sir Jean-Marc also chooses to duel Sir Nikodemas with lances. He fares better than his former squire, striking Sir Nikodemas on the first pass and breaking his lance upon him in the second. Alas, he, too, is unhorsed and defeated.

The company spends some more time speaking to Sir Nikodemas. He tells them that he has been tasked by the Lady to be a shining example of honor and virtue to the people of Bretonnia, and that there are too many people in the world who are cruel liars who lack a direction in life.

Hearing his words, Sir Henri kneels before Sir Nikodemas and asks him to bless him in the Lady’s name. Maurice also steps forward, and asks for Sir Nikodemas to bless his bow. Sir Nikodemas blesses both, “in the name of the one that I serve.”

The company bids farewell to the Yellow Knight and rides off, crossing the long bridge into Grandcamp-Maisy. On their way across, Garnier notices that Sir Jean-Marc has stayed behind to talk privately to the Yellow Knight.

Nikodemas de la Tour, the Yellow Knight

Wild Mass Guessing

When Sir Jean-Marc rejoins them, the company begins a hasty conversation about their opinions of the Yellow Knight. To a person, they do not trust him. Sabina points out that the Yellow Knight did not use the Lady’s name in his blessing, and suspects that he may be a servant of Chaos. Garnier also noticed this and agrees with Sabina. Maurice and Sir Henri are now concerned about what the Yellow Knight’s blessing might actually entail. Other things the company noticed include:

  • That they have seen the Yellow Knight’s blazon before, but they don’t know where.
  • That the Knight of the Fallen Tower was known to keep a monster or daemon in his tower, and when he and the daemon were defeated, he hung upside down and beheaded.
  • Renee suspects that the Yellow Knight might be Umbrian, the horse thief mentioned in Berjols.
  • That the Yellow Knight seems to know Sir Jean-Marc, though Sir Jean-Marc is sure he has never met the man before. 

At this point, Sir Jean-Marc, clearly ashamed, tells the company that he needs to tell them something that will likely destroy their opinion of him. He explains that he, not the Yellow Knight, is the “Umbrian” mentioned in the wanted poster. The company presses him for details and he explains, haltingly, that he found the real Sir Jean-Marc dead on the day of his knighting and took the man’s armor, equipage, and peerage for himself. He says that the horse he rides was originally called Jules, which explains a small mystery that the company has been wondering about.

Just as the company begins to ask whether Sir Jean-Marc is really a knight, or if Sir Henri is even a knight at all, Magnus erupts:

“I remembered! ‘Lightbringer’ in Tilean is ‘Deluca.’”

Though the rest of the company is baffled, Magnus is delighted.

The company decide to return to the tree and press the Yellow Knight for answers. When they cross the bridge, they find that knight, horse, pavilion, equipment, and humble servant are all gone, leaving no sign other than flattened grass and hoofprints that they were there at all.

The Blazon of the Yellow Knight

Grandcamp-Maisy

The company recrosses the river and approaches Paix and the Truce Inn, the first settlement in the valley. There, they encounter several murmuring commonfolk, who seem to be talking about them. When approached, the commonfolk say that the company should ride on without stopping, otherwise they might be impressed to serve as warriors in a growing conflict.

Apparently, two noble families live in the valley, and have kept a tenuous peace for years thanks to the Miracle of the Lake. Unfortunately, intrigues and murders have recently occurred, and now the two houses are at one another’s throats again. Because the company seems to be comprised of hardy warriors, the commonfolk will be recruited—or forced—to serve one or the other house until the conflict is resolved.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Session Fourteen: The Cook’s Tale

Battle In the Brothel

One of the Myriad Forms of Amelia

The daemon that was once Amelia grows in size and stature. They duel Sir Jean-Marc at the end of the corridor, leaving their guards to deal with the rest of the company. 

The sight of the daemon is so unsettling (and perhaps arousing) that full half the company turns and flees out into the hallway. Sabina, however, forces herself to recall her shame during the battle with the deadship, and this causes her to grit her teeth, curse Chaos, and turn around.

Pierre, unafraid, leaves the battle anyway. He rushes upstairs, screaming a warning at Monsieur Corentin and his guards. He demands that the guards come and aid the company with the dreadful battle against the daemon. Corentin allows the guards to go with Pierre.

As Pierre descends, he remembers that he has the cylindrical container which was bequeathed to them by the Reverend Father. Realizing that any aid—especially that of a divine nature—would be useful now, he opens it and sees Echarde, the blade of Saint Maxence, contained within. He holds it aloft dramatically as he returns to the battle, and the sight of it causes those in the company to regain their courage and turn back to the fight.

The Holy Blade Echarde

It does very little, alas, to aid the contingent of guards that come with him. They take one look at the daemon, turn, and flee.

Pierre passes the dagger to Magnus, who does not immediately recognize that he is now in possession of a saintly relic. Nevertheless, he zigzags between Amelia’s guards to reach Sir Jean-Marc’s side, ready to aid the badly wounded knight in the continuing battle.

The rest of the company wield blade, staff, and bow to whittle away at Amelia’s guards. The guards have been utterly hollowed out by being too long in her presence, and seem to feel neither wounds nor fear as they lock shields and relentlessly press their attack. Wounds are exchanged on both sides, including one that should have—at the very least—struck off Renee’s arm at the shoulder. Those in the company who are wise in the ways of martial combat know how implausible this is, but they are too busy defending themselves to give thought as to why this is so.

Pierre does his best to tend to the wounded and to keep the battle line intact.

At the far end of the corridor, knight and mercenary strike true, mortally injuring the daemon and causing them to decrease rapidly back to human size. Sabina, seeing this, prays that this is the opening that she has long been waiting for. Throwing aside her bow, she draws her pistol and shoots the daemon in the heart. It dissolves into purplish slime and smoke, leaving only the horrid whip behind.

The daemon’s defeat does not do anything to halt the guards’ attacks. Magnus and Sir Jean-Marc try to muster their flagging strength and limp back to the battle to aid their friends. A furious strike from Sabina gains the blessing of the Lord of all Bears, and one of the guards goes down.

And then…from a side stairwell comes a woman’s voice, “Für Sigmar! Für das Imperium! Tod dem Chaos!

Frieda to the Rescue!

At that moment, Frieda, Jules, and Jim burst into the hallway armed with bows. They let fly a volley of arrows, one of which nearly skewers Sir Henri. Frieda is much luckier, though, catching one of the guards in the throat and sending him swiftly into Morr’s keeping.

The battle ends shortly thereafter, and the exhausted company counts their blessings, gives thanks to various powers, and strips the guards of their equipment to keep as the spoils of war.

Magnus eyes the daemonic whip with some concern, especially since Renee voices her desire to possess it for herself. Realizing at last that he has a blessed weapon, he uses it to slice the whip in two. This causes him a brief moment of shame and discomfort as his body unwillingly convulses in sexual release.

As the whip blackens and rots away, a young, hairless woman, bisected by a raw, red scar that runs encircles her front to back appears. The company, suspecting that she is also a daemon of Slaanesh, moves to strike her down, but she bids them to pause.

“You have killed my sister and freed me from her weapon,” she says. “According to the rules of the ritual that bound me, I must tell you that you may call upon me for one favor, which I must grant. If you refuse, I will leave you in peace.”

A Most Unholy Whip

As Magnus lunges to thrust Echarde into the woman’s midsection, she laughs and vanishes in a cloud of purple smoke.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Session Thirteen: The Cook's Tale

Everything, All at Once

Sabina and Garnier, who have both been trying to corral their gambling-addicted companions, both independently realize that if the addiction has a magical component, perhaps divine intervention could mitigate or remove it. 

Sir Henri tries to get away from Sabina to return to the Baton to gamble, but Sabina latches onto his arm and refuses to let him leave. The knight finds her grip quite formidable, and remains, though his hunger to return to the table grows.

Jim approaches the Baton and is immediately recognized by Sabina, who calls him over. Jim is reticent to do so, but eventually obeys. Sabina learns that he has come to participate in the High Stakes room to win Jules’ freedom. Sabina tells him, in no uncertain terms, that doing so will merely doom him to a lifetime of servitude to the Baton. Jim, still in the thrall of his own gambling addiction, is difficult to convince.

In the meantime, Maurice and Magnus, finding no one is supervising them for the moment, purchase more chits. Magnus buys a small fortune and has a guard escort him to the High Stakes room. Maurice exchanges a much smaller sum and goes back to his favorite roulette table.

Upstairs, Renee is saved when a guard bursts into the brothel hallway, stating loudly that there is an incident and demanding the brothel’s healing kit. Renee follows him outside to find Pierre and Sir Jean-Marc wading through a crowd of onlookers, holding a bloodied Jules. She follows them outside. The guard does as well, baffled that Pierre—a self-professed physician—never takes the proffered healing kit.

Jim Again

Back to the Shrine

Bringing Jules out of the Baton does little to improve his dissipated condition, and so Sir Jean-Marc, at Sabina’s urging, tosses the young man onto Ambrose and prepares to ride to the shrine. As the group prepares to ride off, Garnier seizes his opportunity and slips into the High Stakes room after Magnus. In a daring gambit, he steals half of Magnus’ chits and flees the Baton, forcing the enraged mercenary to follow after him. To compound the insult—and to ensure Magnus follows—Garnier mounts Bartholomule and uses her to outdistance Magnus and follow the others to the shrine.

The entire company—less Maurice—arrive at the shrine perhaps a quarter hour later. Magnus, exhausted, but still enraged, runs into the shrine after them and tries to throttle Garnier, only to be clouted soundly on the helmet by Sir Henri. The company quickly confers with the Reverend Father and, explaining their dire need, enters the shrine’s chapel, dragging Magnus along with them.

One holy rite, and an anointment of holy oils, later purges Magnus, Sir Henri, Jim (dragged along by Sabina), and Jules of their gambling lust. Jules, however, still remains distant and without affect. The company tells the Reverend Father of their fears that the Ruinous Powers are involved and show him the slip of paper they found on Jules’ person. The company decides to try to burn the parchment, and the Reverend Father gives them a dish and holy oil to improve their success. He sends them outside to perform this task while he prays to the Lady for guidance.

Jules Returns

The company pours holy oil in the dish, says a prayer to the Lady, ignites the oil, and burns the parchment. Immediately, Jules comes around, confused and swearing. He has no idea where he is and has no memory of the last few days. The company soon realize that they preferred his previous personality much better.

Upon questioning, Jules reveals that, while going to the Baton to make a little money at the tables, he encountered a weeping monk with a book. Jules spoke with him and the monk said that, while he didn’t want to ask, he was sure that Jules had a wish that he wanted granted. Jules was then told that could get what he desired by writing his wish in the Lady’s book, which the monk carried. When Jules snapped that he couldn’t read, the monk agreed to write the wish in the book for him, which Jules accepted. The monk did so, tore out the wish, handed it to Jules, and went on his way weeping.

Jules then goes on to explain that he won big for a while at the Baton, but his luck turned, and he soon was heavily in debt. He said that Monsieur Corentin was kind enough to give him a job to work off his debt and…that was the last thing he remembers.

Hearing this, the company decides it would be safer if Jules would return to his mother’s place, which Jules adamantly refuses. Jim, however, knowing what the group is capable of, says that he will make arrangements for himself and his friend and drags Jules out of the shrine, saying very quick and very polite replies.

Shortly after the duo leave, the group are approached by an acolyte, who gives them a metal container. They are told that the contents of the container are being loaned to them by the Reverend Father, and that they should open it when the time is right. They are also told to return this gift once they have made use of it. The company promises to do so and departs.

Back to the Baton

The company discovers, to their shame, that they have completely forgotten about Maurice. They return to the Baton in order to reclaim him and to put an end to the foul magic pervading the place.

Upon arrival, Sir Jean-Marc is approached by Amelia, who tells the knight that she has secured an interview with him and Monsieur Corentin. In all the confusion, Sir Jean-Marc asks if his friends can attend and then receives an answer in the affirmative. He is then taken aside by Amelia who tells him, in a terrified whisper, that there is evil afoot in the Baton. She begs Sir Jean-Marc to protect her and, when he promises to do so, she kisses him on the cheek and leaves.

The company enters and finds Maurice, who has been on a losing streak at the table and has just bet the last of his funds. Perhaps due to the arrival of his friends, or perhaps due to the grace of the Lady, he hits it big on his final bet, walking away with 36 Gold. Garnier accompanies both Maurice and Magnus to the front desk, where the two cash in their chits for actual money. Garnier decides to keep one of the chits as a memento of this awful place.

It is about this time that a guard informs Sir Jean-Marc that Monsieur Corentin will meet with the group on the upstairs veranda. The guard then escorts the company to the veranda to wait for him.

The Upstairs Veranda

Monsieur Corentin

The veranda is empty apart from a large guard presence and a bartender named Ruby, who is told to give the company drinks for free. Magnus immediately befriends Ruby and takes advantage, ordering several drinks and a large plate of food for himself.

After some time, Monsieur Corentin arrives, flanked by a pair of guards. His amiable demeanor rapidly deteriorates when the company accuses him of all manner of nefarious deeds and plots. The company demands to see the records of the people who are working off their debts at the Baton, and Corentin is so intimidated that he agrees, sending one of his guards to fetch Amelia and the appropriate records.

Magnus becomes convinced that Corentin is lying to them, so he hauls off and belts him in the stomach, driving him to his knees. Corentin milks this injury for sympathy, but gets very little, as he insists that he has no idea what the group is talking about.

Since Amelia has not yet arrived with the records, the company asks Corentin to send for the cook. When she is brought up and presented, Corentin is aghast at her diminished and zombie-like state. He tells the group that he has no idea why she is like this, that he is too busy to work directly with the new hires, and that Amelia handles all the day-to-day administrative tasks of the Baton.

His words confirm some of the group’s suspicions—especially Garnier, Sabina, and Renee—and they now are fairly certain that it is not Corentin, but Amelia, who is actually the mastermind behind the strange goings on at the Baton. The company realizes that they, however briefly, have the advantage. They know, but Amelia might not know that they know.

Monsieur Corentin

J’Accuse!

Sir Jean-Marc says that he will go downstairs to “see what’s keeping Amelia.” He does so, only to find her coming up the stairs to the veranda. Amelia, looking terrified, tells Sir Jean-Marc that she has found evidence of Corentin’s evil deeds, and asks him to come with her so that she can show him.

Sir Jean-Marc does, accompanying her through the gaming room downstairs and into the brothel hallway. The rest of the company follow Sir Jean-Marc at a distance, weapons ready. They all notice, to their growing concern, that the gaming hall and brothel hallway are now deserted and eerily quiet.

At the far end of the brothel hallway, Sir Jean-Marc calls Amelia’s bluff and raises his mace. Amelia cackles at him and, rather oddly, tugs a single long, pink ribbon out of her hair. Sir Jean-Marc, suspecting that foul magic is about to be employed, strikes Amelia, sending her crashing into the wall.

“Guards!” she cries, and four heavily armed men burst into the hallway behind Sir Jean-Marc, cutting him off from the rest of the arriving company.

Amelia stands and, holding out her ribbon, shouts, “Come, sister! Awaken! Let us introduce them to the litany of the delicious pain!”

She then transforms to a horrific demonic thing, holding a barbed and many-tailed whip.