It's been five days since Rowena's capture and Connor and Greyneth have returned to Ramsgate to find that their father is now completely bedridden. Morold has informed Weepinghound Glen of the situation and Lord Ethud Arroway has sent his brother, Greyneth's uncle, Sir Legaenyth to Ramsgate as the Arroway liason. He has brought his wife, the renowned horse breeder Onwyn, and a contingent of ten Arroway footmen as well as his squire Pelfrey. The house is in disarray, reeling from the news of Rowena's disappearance and Lord Arfic's worsening condition. The healer from Ivory Rose Abbey is due to arrive in two days time, but Arfic does not have that long.
It is Saturday, September 23rd and there is a chill in the morning air. Connor and Greyneth sit in on a Markal council meeting to determine the proper course of action with regard to Rowena's abduction. Caliborn wants to take an escort and head to Haven to inform King Porrus Falcairn and enlist his help. Morold wants to call the banners and raise an army (though there is little money for such a sudden muster). These two courses are in keeping with the differing perspective of the twin heirs. With Caliborn wanting to maintain the status quo and Morold wanting to extend the reach and strength of House Markal. Lord Marshall Call, the head of the Markal Army is in agreement with Morold, while Sir Wilem Theodmund, the head of the Gatesworn favors Caliborn's plan. Theodmund suggests another idea. He proposes to send groups of Gatesworn out to pick up Rowena's trail or the woman seen on horseback. This is to be done clandestinely as Markal has no desire that outsiders learn of their predicament. Chancellor Merill Whitsun, Markal's steward, feels more information needs to be gathered and proposes sending ravens to Goshawk Hold, seat of the Ossharps, and Haven first. He also feels that the first order of business is to determine a successor given Arfic's condition.
At the conclusion of the council, it is decided that steps toward all of the options could be undertaken. The brothers take the suggestions to Lord Markal. They must wait as Legaenyth and Onwyn finish a private and personal audience with the failing Lord. Upon hearing Morold's plan, Sir Legaenyth decides to return to Weepinghound Glen and muster his foces for Lord Markal. Lord Arfic Markal disapproves of raising the army when he hears of it, but concedes as he believes he will not live to see out the resolution of the conflict. He asks Caliborn, Morold, and Connor to see him in the morning before they leave. He fears it will be his final farewell to his sons.
In that vein of thought, Arfic bequeaths family artifacts to each son. Greyneth Arroway is given "Arrowpoint", his great-great-great grandfather's longsword. According to legend, this was the sword Arameer carried and fought with during the Squatter Wars over three hundred years ago. This was the last time elves were seen commonly around Weepinghound Glen. They allied with humans to run out the last of the Ogres that had come to push out the Arroways. It was said to have been lost on the battlefield those many years ago. Lord Arfic Markal had recovered it thanks to a peasant plowing reclaimed fields in Markal lands. He had meant to return the sword to Lord Ethud, but knew his friend would see that his son Greyneth wielded the storied blade. (masterwork +1/+1)
Connor receives Hadmont's Guard. This is a light steel shield (master work +2) that was used by Connor's great-great grandfather Hadmont. Fashioned in a shape reminiscent of a ram's head by Stonechild smiths, this shield is so well balanced that it confers the same level of defense of shields much heavier and thicker. Hadmont was never without this shield and it was said that he was able to reload his crossbow and defend Ramsgate without ever dropping his shield. It became famous among the smallfolk when Hadmont's squire had forgotten it during a melee at Haven. He returned to get it and in his rush to return ran across a list. A knight's barded warhorse came thundering down upon the boy, who instinctively pulled up the shield. The boy went flying across the turf, but was found to be uninjured and the shield was unmarked. As Hadmont went on to excel in the melee, this shield became quite famous.
Morold received a priceless ebony quill pen. This pen was used to sign the documents that first gave House Markal its demesne. To Caliborn his father gives his own saddle, a masterwork military saddle that grants its rider +1/+1 on a lance charge and a +10 stay in saddle bonus.
The next morning, Sir Wilem is present to give orders to the five squads of Gatesworn he is sending out to find the Lady Rowena. He first holds a council with the five sergeants and Connor to determine the best way to use them. Morold remains in keep attending to his muster. The five troops are given coded names. Together they shall be referred to as "the Flock", with pasture meaning in the field and in the pen meaning returned without success. Ramsgate is called Cold Metal, Greyneth's group is called Big Metal, as they lead the contingent, the other four groups are Little Metal, Soft Metal, Precious Metal, and Dark Metal. Each group has a different area to search and technique to use to gather information. Big Metal's members include Connor, Greyneth, Grim Smith, Cyric and Flynn, two aspiring Gatesworn.
Just before they leave, Chancellor Merill bursts from the keep yelling at them to wait – he forces them to follow him. The boys realize that they are heading back toward their father's room. When they arrive he is straining and tearing at his clothes. Beneath them they see the same open sores they saw on the bodies in the thorp. He seems to be trying to say something, but no one can make it out. In a gasp he lays back on his bed and dies. Chaos ensues for a short while as Caliborn and Morold begin to argue and Lady Esmay and Lady Onwyn burst into the room and break down in tears. Penrod and Norbert, Arfic's brothers, and their wives follow soon after.
The succession is in question and for the time being, the twins have decided to rule in concert. Caliborn busies himself with the preparations of honoring his father publicly and communicating with Haven if possible. Morold now busies himself with raising an army and appealing to neighbors for support, giving Lord Marshall Call great authority over this task. For the intrepid searchers, the hunt for Rowena and her captors begins…
The journey to find Rowena begins four days later, Wednesday, Sept. 27 at Creekside. Upon arriving in Creekside, the party finds it crawling with dozens of men on horseback and tending their tents. Clearly Arroway and Markal forces hold sway in the riverside clearing. It seems a trail has been found that allows the party to follow the hooded woman's path into the woods. A mile or so in, the trail becomes indistinguisable from the forrest around it. Ten days of the forrest reclaiming the trail have led the party to a standstill. Just as Greyneth discerns that the woman must be heading to a villiage known as Twotrees, an unnaturally huge boar bursts from the undergrowth and attacks the party. In the battle, Flynn becomes terribly wounded, but the knights are able to slay the beast. Its body has the same strange sores found on the bodies in the wolf-ravaged thorp. The knights wearily mount up and try to get their wounded friend to Twotrees where they can continue to persue the woman.
At Twotrees the party learns a few bits of interest. First, they stumble upon a tailor who has been making Ossharp tabards to be sent to the East recently. Odd that Ossharp wouldn't be making its own tabards. On the other hand, they are mobilizing for war and may need increased resources. Also, through cleaver canvassing of the tavern patrons, Connor and Greyneth discover that Rowena had been sheltered in a safehouse here as recently as seven days ago. The whore shows them the safehouse in exchange for joining the party for safe passage until she chooses to leave. At the safehouse the party discovers weapons and supplies, but also bits of a parchment left unburned in the hearth. All that can be made out on the paper is "Sigmund's Fine Northern…" and "ask for" at the bottom. They also find a small chest with three vials of liquid, two dark green and one dark black.
After gathering information, Connor and Greyneth are at a loss for where to look for Rowena. They choose to head north on the hunch that Rowena's captors would have stayed at Provider's Rest, a waystation for travelers run by clerics of the Faith. Upon arriving a day or so later, Greyneth and Connor barely have time to ask questions before they discover that a group of thugs have taken Provider's Rest and are know posing as the clerics. One true cleric is able to warn Connor and Greyneth before he meets a tragic end. In his warning he also shouts, "Save us and find Sigmund, save his nephews!" With this warning the warriors are able to turn out the imposters and rescue the clerics. The leader of the outlaws, despite a healthy headstart, manages to tear off to the North just as the party enters the courtyard to pursue. A bit of sabotage to the gate locks the Markal contingent inside Provider's Rest.
As they gather supplies and work to fix the gate, they question the clerics to determine why the outlaws had come. They subdued rather than killed the clerics, and all they took was one book from the library. Nothing else.