Lady Miriam Celther, student of Berwickshire history, after spending many years in the closed cloisters of Tottenhill Abbey and amongst the brethren of the Templar Keep of Gatesheath, was called to the priesthood in the autumn of 1013. Below is the continued tale of her path from Supplicant to Mother of the faith, servant of the All Father and his oath sworn Knights and the joys and hardships that have come her way.
My thanks to all those who have organised, monstered and played at Newcastle, Derby, Leeds and Tees Valley branches over the last six months. My apologies for taking so long to get this update written, and for forgetting the details of all that occurred. Bear with me for further updates, including the upcoming Springfest Special!
Troubles in Ashbourne – December 2013
Ashbourne; a place where the Law is disregarded and dark dealings are done in the thin shadows, a place of danger. The adventurers were sent to investigate a number of thefts and disappearances and ran into villagers being bullied out of their taxes, orcs casting blood magic and illicit goods being smuggled into town in the “gifts” brought by the Hogfather, representative of the local pig farming union. This dodgy dealing rumbled, the “gifts” confiscated and brought back to town, the adventurers were able to stop a riot when the orcs (used as local slave labour) broke free of their chains and fought back against the militia who were punishing them for their misbehaviour. But things are grim in Ashbourne, and it is hoped that soon peace and the Law can be restored.
The Path of Glory – December 2013
Lady Miriam and her second cousin Squire Peter Sabloir-Flessan travelled to Derwentshire to meet with a group of travellers hunting for a “hidden” Crowan Abbey. After a run in with the “Law” being dished out by the Credo against a group of dwarves withholding iron from the towns (which many in the party objected to), they came to an entrance to the Abbey. After proving their worth and promising to walk the three paths of Glory, Honour and Sacrifice, it came to light that this Abbey had been lost to time itself, having been hidden from the dark threat of Dominus who still had warriors and tormented souls bound to his will. On the path they were asked to free the people from its grasp – leading to many duels between the Crowan and Knightly members of the party – before coming a hollow where Dominus was present. Fighting against the undead that rose at its command, and resisting the fear that it tried to spread amongst the party, the Crowans were able to beat back the threat and free part of the Abbey from the monster that assailed it. Lady Miriam, defended by her second cousin and Sir Gregor Mallifar of the Black Order, fought to save the life of the Crowan priest by calling upon Lord Sidhe’s blessing to heal his wounds. In doing so, they were both able to cleanse the area after the battle and walk the final path of Glory, where they were called upon to tell of their great deeds. For Miriam this was difficult as she did not see her deeds as glorious, but bolstered by her fellows proclaiming their encouragement of her conduct, she recounted her actions against the dragon Koh’bara and her deeds of the day.
They came to a battle ground where a golden eagle lay on a cloth. After some debate her second cousin held the item aloft, calling up the ghosts of the Axirian Legion who were bound to it. Defiant against their foe, Peter and others proclaimed the glory of their people, of Ithron, of their faith, proving to the watching spirits that Glory is not always in victory, and that they were worthy of knowledge of the Crowan Abbey. The ghosts vanished, the wounded tended to, and the adventurers returned to walk the Paths of Honour and Sacrifice another day.
The Tombs of Willow’s Deep – January 2014
There had been dark elf incursions on the edge of Baron DePiercy’s land out of Willow’s Deep, and a group of adventurers were sent into the area to investigate. Lady Miriam accompanied them to try and act as a negotiator, but it became clear after a few brief scuffles with the dark elves that these creatures were being forced out of their homes by undead and fae. After persuading them to let the adventurers pass unharmed (with an unpronounceable password), the group hurried on to find a Spriggen working on a tunnel wall. They told them that their lord the Black Prince had taken over the area and that they weren’t welcome, but after disarming and killing the accompanying Red Cap the adventurers were able to convince him to let them pass. He warned them that they’d only get out at the other entrance to the valley, and subsequently blocked off their tunnel behind them.
They found dwarves being forced to work by a variety of fae and freed them from their bonds, learning that they were being made to dig down to some old buildings long since buried. Eventually they came to one of these structures where a dark necromantic taint clung to the very ground. In a long, complex, set of events the land was cleansed so that the Gods could once again cast their gaze upon it, and a Longstorian potted tree was implanted over a Necromantic node to bind the foul energy. The tree flourished on the soulfire pouring through it, turning the glade into a Longstorian-blessed site and the undead that kept arising at the Wraith’s command of “rise and rise again” were quelled.
However, Mr Lowe chose then to speak with the necromantic energy nestled in the corpse, and was shocked to find he had brought a piece of the Black Prince of Berwickshire before them. Lady Miriam had a funny turn after listening to the creature speak of what had come before and attempting to form blood oaths with those there, confirming her own reading with alarming clarity. As Sidhe’s voice murmured that all there made a choice, she was able to build a greater and disturbing picture of what was causing the undead to rise up – oaths sworn in blood to the Black Prince.
They continued on their way towards the further exit, coming across more undead and fae before finding a great tomb being dug out of the ground.
With skills of a trained tomb raider, Finn and Mr Lowe were able to recover a sword and a book from the clutches of the Mummy Salvi Grethel, who rose from his slumber at their presence. After fighting against the creature, they were able to destroy his earthly remains through the gifts of the gods, before making their speedy way home.
Sadly the book was beyond recovery, but it began Miriam’s search for the Chronicle of the Black Prince …
In search of a maid – January 2014
A murder was committed in the upstairs study of Baronet Stewart DePiercy’s new home in Thanemouth – a scribe, in a locked room, was found dead with grevious wounds. Initial investigations indicated magical foul play, but did not rule out the presence of undead involvement. One member of the house staff had avoided questioning, and Sir Stewart was determined to find out what she knew. Having received reports of her whereabouts, the group set off to find her and get to the bottom of the events of that awful night.
However, the death of a merchant’s son in unfortunate circumstances brought further urgency to their task, and after tracking the girl they found her under attack by Scarahai. But, as the girl was wounded, a dark mass rose from the body and latched onto an Orc – something Miriam had seen before. Dashing to heal the young woman and noting the wound in her forehead matching her observations of shadows leaving a body, Miriam and Finn left the others fighting off the Scarahai and dashed off after the Orc who had wandered away.
But from out of the woods rose a Templar Hant who sent those who came against them to sleep and Miriam, in her ignorance, did nothing for him and his restless wanderings. However, she was to learn more of the grevious misdeed he had done at a later date.
After it left them alone, Finn led the party on after the Orc, and the party fought through foulspawn and Scarahai before coming upon a black shrouded figure who was carrying a small wooden skull – something the maid recalled moving in her Ladyship’s room before her horrid nightmare had begun – a nightmare filled with blood and terrible deeds that she had no control over.
They were too late to stop the figure from vanishing into a tree, but they were able to recover the wooden skull with its grim contents, returning the maid to Thanemouth to continue their investigation into the strange happenings of the baronetcy. And this was only the beginning of Miriam’s woe …
That night she slept in the same room as the wooden skull and her dreams were dark and terrifying. The next day she asked the Rolborian church to discern the nature of the wooden skull, before travelling back to Thanemouth to see what was to be done. Upon some discussion with Sir Stewart and Primate Benedict, the Primate used a charge scroll of lay to rest to release whatever was trapped in the skull – which had bound itself to Miriam’s shadow. This piece of her was torn away, leaving her alone, weary and sad, touched by the dark powers of necromancy. But with something so precious stolen away, Sir Stewart redoubled his efforts to remove the Shadowmaster’s talons from his people and from his friend.
Tisa Valley Banquet, rescuing Al and Vleybor’s glade – January 2014
The Templar Order hosted a dinner for the adventuring community in celebration of the return of a pilgrim’s hospice to their care. Adventurers from all over the northern counties travelled for the occasion and enjoyed a “pleasant” evening in each other’s company. Without going on and on about the food and the who-did-what, debates, comments and long conversations were shared throughout the evening, which was in truth a pleasant chance to catch up with the members of the TV Branch in their annual Christmas party. However, the next day …
First of all I would like to apologise to the adventure runners on that day – I cannot remember the mission I monstered for! I might have left this update a little too long … but I do remember the valiant rescue of the dwarves from the Bequifisians (I think) and the brave rescue of Ranger Al from his bonds and the Lord of Shadows having some “fun” with the adventurers before toddling off to go mess with an Abraxian and Bequifisian shrine.
However, I do recall the mission I played.
The Vleyborian Glade
An influx of elves out of a local elven community to the nearby town had sparked concerns, particularly when the elves asked for help in defending a holy site of the Lady Vleybor. A group of gallant adventurers (Errant Peter Sabloir-Flessan of the Griffin Order, Lord Benedict DePiercy – Primate of Crowa, Defender Johann Tullson of Vleybor, High Mother Anne and Finwe of Longstor, Lady Miriam Celther of Sidhe, Eloc of Kharach and Cravax of Tralda) set out to see how they could help.
After meeting with a few elven refugees they learnt where they could find the Prince of that wood and went to meet him, where they learned that the glade lay over a prison of a demon known as Blood Moon, that the elves had been tasked with guarding. They had been pushed back by demons who were clearly trying to release this creature and there might be knowledge on how to stop them in the old library of their elders. With advice given on how to enter the wood, the party set off – though not before encountering the Lord of Shadows – a dark enemy stalking the land, sent against them by Tholon. The religious party were no match for him, falling to their knees retching as he glided amongst them with his ghastly retinue. High Mother Anne and Finwe fought back only to be doused in acid and Errant Peter was cut down by the monster as he tried to lead it away from the party. Luckily for them all the party were able to cure their wounds, but it was a frightening thought that this monster had been seen so far north.
They found a Tholonese man in archaic armour who attacked the party, and a blind man who spoke of another who had gone looking for the library. After trying to make sense of his words, Miriam hurried after the party and informed them that they were not alone, not before the Longstorians recoiled at the sickening land under their feet. But they could do nothing without finding the focus, and so they pressed on to find the library.
After fighting off the creatures in the library they found a note on an elven corpse referring to a text, which was no longer amongst the emptied shelves – perhaps already having been fed to the flames burning merrily amongst the shredded books. However, finding a small path out of the library they came upon another body with a torn page, and with a little bit of help they were able to learn of the rite to unleash Blood Moon from his prison – and therefore how to stop the mage who had undoubtedly found the missing text.
The party were threatened by demons and fought their way through to the glade, to find that the threatened holy creature had already been killed – the distraught priestess begging them for their help. Before they went in, Defender Tullson told Miriam that if everything went wrong she had to leave them to go get help – but she disobeyed him when the party were on the floor, working with the Vleyborian priestess to heal the party at the loss of her own arm.
The party were victorious and the holy creature healed with a gift sent by Vleybor to her servants, and the Entrald walked through the party healing wounds. Unknown to Miriam, who had resigned herself to the loss of her arm atop her necromantic woes, her second cousin had asked the creature for its help, and it obliged, returning the arm through its healing graces.
And so, with the glade restored to Vleybor’s keeping and Blood Moon locked away, the land was made safe for a little while longer, whilst the shadows grew longer and the mist filled the spaces between.
Shades in Thanemouth – February 2014
After the appearance of a demon in the Bigg Juggs tavern, Sir Stewart wanted to investigate rumours of the creature’s appearance in Thanemouth and continue the fight against the Shadowmaster and the Shadow Market. Setting out from Thanemouth they were warned against a number of orcs and other foulspawn that had been attacking people from the settlement. They fought against the creatures that came against them, but came upon a Longstorian shrine tended by “The Old One” who expressed her tribe’s anger at the men who came into the woods to kill them. She agreed to help keep the younger orcs from attacking men if the party would be able to deal with a creature out in the woods that stopped her people from hunting – some form of undead or other.
The party reluctantly agreed, but after a run in with one of the “gangs” of Thanemouth, Sir Stewart was even more reluctant to allow Miriam to go and deal with the undead creature. Scarahai harried them, but the tactic of a smaller party hanging back from the main force to act as healers seemed to work and eventually they found the ghost of the Templar. Miriam had already dismissed this soul once, seemingly back to his corpse, and was able to complete the rite as Eloc laid the bones to rest. But, as they recovered a box and sealed bottle, a strange wind blew through the gathering twilight and a dark pool opened before them with two wraiths and a familiar shrouded figure. Lord Vortigen, as he called himself, the Shadowmaster, asked that the adventurers help free him from his prison, which they inadvertently did when Talon shattered an orb he found, powering the portal.
The undead poured out of the portal and Errant Peter stepped into the circle to try and slay the creature that was holding his second cousin’s shadow to ransom, but he was struck and trapped in the realm of Shadows as the portal closed behind him.
Fervent prayers to Tralda saved him and the Lady’s sense of humour showed when the griffin errant was returned with horns and a traldan sense of humour, but armed with more knowledge of the Shadowmaster and his realm – and finding a diary from the time of the Great White Liche’s siege of Thanemouth and Newcroft, Miriam was able to uncover more pieces of the age old puzzle of this creature. All they need now is to free her shadow and put an end to the Shadowmaster’s dominion.
Eborshire banquet, into the mist, and the Vampire Alfonso – March 2014
Lady Miriam and Errant Peter were invited by Miss Mary-Katherine and Miss Barnaby of the Women of Eborshire to a dinner dance held near Kirk Leigh early the next month after Peter’s misadventure in the Shadow realm. An evening of good food, dancing and merry music, adventurers gathered together to enjoy one another’s company before setting out upon two hirings the next day. I express my thanks again to the organisers of this banquet for another fantastic social event at another branch. Thank you Leeds Branch!
One group set off with the Keeper of the Seven Secrets and the High Primate to investigate and free a shrine from the Mist that is slowly invading the country. Aiding the Ravensguard in their defence they pressed on against the demons, undead and other monsters that have stepped out of the mist, defeated the Tholonese Vampire that might have been controlling them and solved the puzzles to undo the protections he had placed upon the besieged shrine. With this new knowledge, the adventurers returned victorious (though I ended up limping back to my car to dose up on painkillers, so I might have missed some of the details).
The Vampire Alfonso
Lady Miriam set out with the group who intended to end a vampire who had been prowling in a corner of Kirk Leigh (yes, the same one Rowan went up against last time she was in Kirk Leigh …). After climbing the hill and fending off a group of serious dodgy blokes (except one who was persistent), they fought off waves of undead before crossing the boundary that the Vampire had erected at the edge of his land.
The party got into a rhythm, fighting off undead and vampiric thralls, tending to the wounded and pushing on until they neared the vampire’s lair where they found the vampire’s main force waiting. Working together the front line and the supporting healers and fighters were able to work their way into the Vampire’s camp, setting about freeing some of the prisoners before the creature turned up. But he did, and armed with a venomed enchanted blade he cut the party to ribbons.
The party’s hope failed and many called to muster a retreat, to come back with more men, but Miriam called them back, put fire in their bellies and commanded them to help her recover the wounded and put the monster to death. Back into the fray they went, fighting over the dying bodies of their comrades as several members of the party went toe to toe with the vampire Lord – reducing him to dust on the wind as the others tried to save their comrade’s lives. Alas, it was not to be – four perished in that place and Eloc laid two to rest before Miss Alium and a member of the Grey Order were carried back to the nearest Sidhean Shrine so their wishes could be heard after death. It was a sad day, their victory marred by the sacrifice of life, but for now Kirk Leigh is safe from the predation of this monster and the common man can breathe a little easier.
The Black Prince’s White Lady – March 2014
Further research, and rituals of locate cast by Primate Benedict had narrowed the location of the Black Prince’s Chronicle in the northern region of the county. Upon hearing of a hiring out of Nelfarig relating to a large influx of undead in the area, Lady Miriam set off with the adventurers to investigate.
There they found a natural occurrence of undead (like the marsh near Auklish) and a Kharachian shrine which claimed to have existed from the time of the Black Prince. One of the priests informed Lady Miriam that there were local rumours of a ghost in the valley, but they had not been able to prove this due to the quantity of undead that “flocked” to her. This warranted investigation, so the party crossed the river, taking with them some gifts from the Kharachian church in the forms of scrolls.
Here they were set upon by elven assassins who claimed to be laying a trap for the Black Prince, their ancestor having killed him in life and now they were going to draw the Black Prince to the valley and bury him until someone could deal with his undead nature. But before Miriam could learn more one of the elves attacked her and the party erupted into chaos.
They pressed on, Miriam convinced that by removing the lure the plot could be foiled, and crossed the bridge into “Lord Etsin’s” lands – Mr Lowe dismissing the wraith sentry to make things easier. Fighting through undead they were interrupted when a fae wolf pup exploded out of the woods and clamped her arms around “Uncle Dalon” – the offspring of Georgina’s daughter Nix and her beloved Sir Nolad – having brought him a scabbard for his “pretty sword”. However, something else was afoot as Miriam noticed one of the fae telling Albrecht that he was running out of time – eventually pulling from him the truth that he was seeking a book on the Black Prince. A minor accident involving an alchemist and some ingredients half eaten by the half-ogre Rocco, and the party continued on their way.
A terrified local militiaman told them his friend had been holding off some monsters so he could escape – but he couldn’t hear him anymore. So the party fought off the undead that were gnawing on the corpse, to find the ghost of the man staring down at his body in horror. He begged for their help, expecting them to be able to heal him, but Miriam was able to calm him and explained that he no longer had a place in this life and that she could send him onto Kharach. Telling Mr Lowe to keep out of it, she set about conducting the ritual and was able to free the soul from the corpse; however they no longer had one of the charged scrolls of lay to rest.
More undead on the prowl, and Mr Lowe dismissed a tormented soul that shocked Miriam to the core at the pain she endured at the destruction of a soul. Sobbing and much aggrieved, she continued on her way towards the keep rising out of the woods.
Here they found a lady in white with her knightly protector – remnants from the time of the Black Prince. She – the Black Prince’s wife – told them that Harold Etsin had been commanded to protect her, her husband’s Chronicler. At last, the book was within their grasp. After some convincing, the knight looked to his Lady to see if she was willing to be sent on to safety, thereby removing the lure for the Black Prince and saving a soul from further torment of the ages. Mr Lowe promised the noblewoman that she would be sent to Kharach’s halls to be reunited with her long dead son, and the group cautiously kept the two undead company as Sir Harold led them to his Lady’s corpse. At times she faltered, but Ember and Miriam tried to soothe her fears with kind words, and Mr Lowe set about the ritual. But, rather than sending on both souls, only the Lady Genevieve left and Sir Harold finally heard the summons of his Lord and Master.
Miriam tried to stop him going, but to no avail, and Mr Lowe picked up the Chronicle from the woman’s corpse for future study. Miriam eventually got to copy this text and the final page, but only after some stern words from the Holy Mother Rose in Mortimer Lowe’s ear.
As they left the valley they came face to face with the Black Prince, who demanded to know where his wife was. Miriam realised what they had done and nearly wept as the Black Prince expressed his displeasure with them. The party tried to fight him and bring him to his eventual end – Miriam even giving him a piece of her mind as he tried to command her as “her Lord”, spitting in his face earning her the keen edge of his blade.
But the Black Prince is no mere undead lord, and more will be revealed as this tale is told, but he left the party to lick their wounds and gather up their courage to limp home, severely rattled and weak from blood loss, but all alive and all deeply concerned as to what this undead has planned next …
Rust monsters and the mine – March 2014
A dwarven mine near Dun Mhurdo, known as the Half Penny claim, had stopped producing gold. Rumours of foulspawn in the area, given the recent upswelling of some wearing a uniform of the white star, lead the adventurers to investigate.
They found and killed many foulspawn, learnt how to deal with the voracious deverges (rust monsters) and made their way to the Half Penny claim where they were told to go away by a mage’s minion. It seemed that the local Ogre-magi was out to raise his ancestors that lay slain in the mine by the dwarves, and the adventurers set out to stop him!
A brief scuffle later, and a delicate encounter with a medusa, and the adventurers came out victorious with a box of loot pried from the stone cold arms of a fleeing dwarven statue.
Miriam’s shadow – March 2014
Lady Miriam, missing her shadow, had furthered her research into the Shadowmaster’s history with help from the Vortigen family chaplain and the Templar Keep. But when a hiring came about a missing Rolborian priestess, she set aside her research and travelled out towards Carlech. A priestess had gone missing from a shrine in a nearby baronetcy, and the party was commanded to go investigate. This place was strange, those of faith were unwelcome, and her last message had been disturbing to say the least.
The party found her fleeing the villagers, who demanded her to be handed over to them. They refused, which sparked a fight, and the priestess led them back towards the village. The village seemed reasonable enough, though a symbol caught Miriam’s attentions. She told them of a message she had received from followers of Fygol, about some monster the villagers had chained up nearby, and asked that they help her destroy it. Taking on this task, the adventurers left the village and headed on through the local farmland.
Horror upon horrors – the villagers were using undead to plough their fields. Miriam expressed her horror to one of the farmers as the other priests set to removing the monstrosities from the land, explaining at great length how the corruption of the undead would eventually get into their food and how could any man with a young family be willing to feed them such vile corrupted filth and expect them to thrive? Some of them eventually came round to her point of view, though before long they found themselves at odds with another group of villagers who accused them of stirring trouble. After a fight broke out the adventurers hurried on, only to meet with the Fygolians who had left the note. Miriam listened to what they had to say before Ash of Stocktown killed them. Turning away from the heretics, Miriam had a vision of herself being eaten and felt a sick feeling in her stomach – her shadow must be nearby!
They hurried up to see a number of undead picking a corpse clean with a shadow begging and pleading with them, but commanding them in turn. Miriam begged the others not to interfere with the shadow, fearful of what might happen if her own shadow was dismissed, and tried to free herself from the bonds placed upon it. Several dismisses later, uncovering a nasty monster dedicated to the Shadowmaster’s whims, Miriam was able to pick up the fragile bundle of her shadow and with the help of the Rolborians and her second cousin’s phoenix feather was reunited with this missing piece.
They pressed on, fighting more locals who did not like their meddling, and a couple of vampires and a death knight who trod on mini-Benedict! But, in the end, the party crested the hill, dismissed the mummy, laid waste to the undead, cleansed the area and captured the Village Mayor who had been doing some very naughty dealings! Curse those pesky adventurers!