Magnus and Jim Recover
Jim, having been tended to by Pierre, wakes up. He’s glad to hear that the battle is over.
Magnus, too, comes around, and is trying to figure out why his head hurts and why there’s sand in his eye. He impatiently waits for Renee to until him and then demands his knife. The rest of the company points out that Renee has it. Renee, reluctantly, gives the knife back to Magnus.
Once he gets his breath back,
Jean-Marc tells the company about what happened to him since they parted ways
(or, less charitably, since he was admitted he was an impostor and ran away
from them). He did not get far before he was thrown by his horse, Ambrose,
struck his head on a rock, and blacked out for a long time.
While unconscious, he found
himself in a dark place being addressed by a strange figure in a yellow robe.
The figure told Sir Jean-Marc many “secret truths” that he only half-remembers,
but which he recalls were terrifying to hear.
Sometime later, he awoke in the
forest. He wandered around for a bit, trying to help the commonfolk, before he
was eventually set upon by a dozen of the Chaos cultists. He was eventually
brought low and imprisoned in the cells beneath the fighting arena. He says
that this period of time was very hazy, but he does recall that the cult wanted
to feed him to something they called, “The Mouth of Khorne,” but were afraid to
do so because of a mark he bore.
Sir Jean-Marc shows this mark to the company. It is a scar on his chest, over his heart, and looks exactly like the one that was on Renee and Sir Henri. Pierre says he can remove that without a problem.
The Mouth of Khorne
The company hears a clattering
sound from behind a pair of imposing double doors. Investigating, they find a
circular chamber that has the look of a slaughterhouse, with human and animal
body parts casually strewn about. The room is dimly lit by several braziers,
which surround a large iron cauldron caked with blood and rust and radiating foul
One of the braziers was recently
knocked over by two terrified and hogtied people. The company frees them, and
learns that they were about to be sacrificed, cut up, and thrown into the
cauldron along with the animal parts. They were spared when the fight started,
and accidentally tipped over the brazier trying to free themselves.
The company inspects the cauldron and finds that the inside contains a residue of blood, rendered fat, and other fluids. They surmise that the cult was using this cauldron, along with human and animal victims, to create their beast man army.
Magnus announces that he is going to “try something” and thrusts the tip of his magical dagger into the side of the cauldron. The thick, albeit rusted, iron offers no resistance, and Magnus quickly saws out a ragged circular chunk from the side of the cauldron. As it clatters to the floor, the company feels the fell magic in the room rapidly diminish.
|Like This. Kinda!|
The forest arena and ruins are
now deserted. The crowd seems to have been a mix of people looking for a good
time, who fled when they saw they were taking part in a Chaos rite, and
cultists who ran away after seeing the company’s battle prowess and the
emergence of the manticore.
The company makes a quick search of the tunnels, the arena, and the ruins on the hill above. They find Sir Jean-Marc’s armor as well as a letter in one of Gillian’s apron pockets. It is once again from the mysterious “Q” and speaks of the company’s recent victories against Chaos in Colmar. The company is disturbed to discover that it seems that the four Ruinous Powers and the Horned God of the skaven are allying for some great project. They discuss their part in all of this, and of the intentions of their yellow-clad “patron.”
Too exhausted to deliberate further, the company finds the wagon that bore them to the pit fights in the first place and leaves with the still-sleeping Andre and the freed prisoners.
|The Letter from Q to Gillian|
The company returns to Epernay at
dawn, to find that their deeds seem to have preceded them. They recount their
recent misadventure to Henri the innkeeper and the pilgrims that are early
risers. The pilgrims insist that they don’t mind staying another day in Epernay
while the company recuperates from their latest battle.
Sir Jean-Marc is surprised and delighted that they have, at last, found the pilgrims.
Frieda rushes into Sabina’s arms
and apologizes that she didn’t accompany her to help with the cultists. Sabina
says that, honestly, she was glad that Frieda was here, safe in the inn, because
the battle at the pit fights was “just fucking awful.”
Meanwhile, Jim and Jules have a
much more platonic, but no less heartfelt, reunion. Jim insists that he’s fine,
and that he’s proud that everyone said he fought well. The two squires then
take turns to try and fill Sir Jean-Marc in on all the weird stuff that’s
transpired since he went away.
The company then eats, bathes, and passes out for several hours. Sir Jean-Marc himself thoroughly befouls a bathtub to get himself clean, goes through gallons of hot water, and pays the inn a sizeable tip for the service. He then goes under Pierre’s knife and has the hideous mark removed from his person.
A bit later, finally feeling refreshed, the company heads out into Epernay on various errands. Most go to the shops and marketplaces to purchase equipment and essentials. Andre returns to the landship to get it ready for the next leg of the pilgrimage. Sir Henri, Sir Jean-Marc, and Magnus visit the local temple of Verena to learn more about the mark and the entity associated with it.
This is briefly stymied when, once they have been escorted into the temple’s library, that only Magnus can read. The two knights wait while Magnus pores through old texts and, in at least one instance, passes out on top of a pile of temple books. Once he wakes up and resumes study, his investigations bear fruit. He learns the following:
- The mark belongs to a lesser Chaos power worshipped by a small cult in Bolgasgrad, which is presumably somewhere in Kislev.
- The mark is traditionally a double-sided Y symbol, but it is always drawn incorrectly, with parts added or removed.
- The Chaos power is known as the “Chaos god of Chaos,” whose worshippers have no hierarchy and no strictures.
- There is mention that the power is fickle, and cannot be relied upon by the other Ruinous Powers. There is mention of the power, for instance, helping Khorne foul the plans of Slaanesh, only to help Slaanesh to get revenge on Khorne.
- There is a final mention that this Chaos power is related to another lesser power known as Necoho, who also has a cult in Bolgasgrad.
|Sir Jean-Marc, Post Cleanup|
The company gathers for dinner at the inn and hears what Sir Jean-Marc, Sir Henri, and Magnus (mostly Magnus) discovered at the temple. They all agree that this information means that the “wishes,” the monk, the Yellow Knight, the strange marks that keep appearing everywhere, and similar events are all related to this Chaos power. They are still unsure why this power has taken an interest in them or what, if anything, its ultimate goal is.
Magnus is ultimately persuaded to give up his magic knife to make everyone more comfortable. He, somewhat reluctantly, gives it to Jim, who promises to look after it.
The evening passes otherwise uneventfully and everyone goes to bed.
The only incident of note is that Renee is awoken, in the middle of the night, by Sabina and Frieda sharing a very intimate moment in Sabina’s bed. Renee replies by splashing an ewer of water on the amorous couple. Frieda squeals and hides, while Sabina’s reaction is not recorded here. Eventually, the three women go to sleep.
The next morning, the pilgrimage packs their things and gets ready to board the landship. They find Antonella and Andre conversing pleasantly and feeding one another cherries.
Frieda stays far away from Renee and refuses to make eye contact with her. The others notice that she seems perpetually rosy-cheeked today.
The company gets underway and is soon heading eastward down the road to the small town of Saint-Ouen. They are forced to stop when the landship throws a track. While Antonella makes repairs, the company and the pilgrims help gather fuel and water for the ship before settling down to a roadside lunch.
While eating, a score or so children come walking up the road from the direction of Saint-Ouen. The company is unnerved that the children are traveling without adult supervision or protection, but do not give much a voice to these concerns. The children, for their part, say that they are traveling to sing the praises of their Lady to any who will hear it. It takes very little urging from the company for the children to launch into a beautiful song in Classical. Andre mentions that this is the same song Chauncey sang back in the tavern in Epernay.
The children continue their journey and, once the track is repaired and put back on the landship’s wheels, the company resumes theirs. Henri the innkeeper soon mounts the bow of the landship and, though he is rattled by the ship’s passage and the noise of its steam engine, tells the tale of the Grail Virgin of Saint-Ouen.
The Grail Virgin of Saint-Ouen
It is well known in Bretonnia that there are youths who are the special vessels of the Lady. These youths wander the land, often with knights as their protectors, preaching the word of the Lady and following her will wherever they went.
In olden times, the area around Saint-Ouen was wilder than it is now, and, as it was close to the wood elfs demesne in the Quenelles, was absolutely rife with heathen and heretic alike.
There was one Grail virgin who
came to Saint-Ouen to spread the word of the Lady. It was often her custom to
walk the countryside, singing beautiful songs of the Lady’s grace and mercy.
This so angered the heathens that lived and worked beyond Saint-Ouen that they
plotted her death.
They came upon the Grail virgin when she was alone and unprotected, beheaded her, and hid her corpse in the belly of an ancient and rotten tree.
Those in the town who served the Lady well went out in search of her, but could not find her. The folk that they encountered offered little help to the search, as they were heathens and were secretly glad that the Grail virgin’s proselytization had at last been silenced.
It was then that the searchers heard the Grail virgin singing, her voice carried on the wind by a miracle of the Lady. They followed the song to the tree and found the Grail virgin’s head, decapitated but still singing.
Enraged at the great crime that had been done, the searchers took the Lady’s vengeance against the heathens of the forest. When they were done, they bore the Grail virgin’s remains back to the Lady’s shrine in Saint-Ouen.
The Grail virgin’s head is now on display in the shrine, above the altar of the Lady. It no longer sings, but it is perfectly preserved and still has the bloom of life upon its cheeks.