Curse of the Crimson Throne

Blackjack's Return!

Execution, Investigation, Harrowing

BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG!

Odric’s door shuddered with the impatient knocking. He rolled over, bed ropes creaking and cracked an eye, gauging the time by the dim light outside his window to be about an hour before dawn.

The knocking continued getting louder. Joining in the cacophony, some of Odric’s neighbors began shouting and complaining. Before the watch was summoned, Odric staggered out of bed, sleep clouding his eyes. He grabbed the closest weapon at hand, The Eage off of the mantle and stumbled blindly for the door in his nightshirt and nothing else.

“Hold on, I’m coming” he mumbled. With The Eagle raised to strike, but hidden behind the barely opened door. “Yes?”

The impatient messenger was sharply dressed and appeared to be a member of the Field Marshal’s hand picked runners. Odric lowered The Eagle slightly as the man handed Odric a note, “compliments of the Field Marshal sir. I will await your reply sir.”

Odric quickly scanned the missive: “It’s an emergency. I need you, and Korvosa is depending on you." -Cressida.

He nodded curtly to the man, all sleepiness gone in a moment. “I will be there forthwith” Odric stated matter-of-factly, and closed the door.

The massive fighter quickly donned his clothes, padding and his new suit of Chainmail. He cinched down his belt, replaced The Eagle on the mantle and slid his new falchion into place at his side. Odric splashed water on his face, looked at himself in the poor mirror of polished steel and headed for the door. On his way by the sideboard he grabbed a piece of fruit and an old roll for breakfast.

Once on West High Street, Odric could hear the city awakening as merchants wheeled their carts into place and farmers streamed in from the recently-opened gates with the day’s fresh meat and produce. The air of excitement was a bit out of the ordinary today as he emerged into Eodred’s Walk, Odric recalled the execution was scheduled for this very night. He quickened his pace.

After a short jog around some men setting up a large concession tent amidst boisterous argument in a strange tongue, Odric beheld the Citadel, black against the lightening predawn sky.

Once within the curtain wall, Odric spotted Sandor, Grym and Morkeleb talking quietly near an iron and beam portcullis. He joined them to see they had similar notes from the Field Marshal. Guessing they would meet their other friends within, the group entered the Citadel proper and headed towards Kroft’s offices. Gaius leaned casually against the doorway to Kroft’s offices, nodded to the group and followed them in.

A manservant brought coffee for the group while they awaited Ferox, who’s home is furthest from the citadel. Once he arrived, the group entered the Field Marshal’s spartan but tasteful office to find her pacing.

She began abruptly, “My friends, this is the day I’ve been dreading. Something doesn’t sit right with this, and the way things have been going in Korvosa, I’m worried that another riot will break out. The queen has turned this into some kind of social affair. Would that the woman who passes the sentence swing the axe. Instead it’s going to be a who’s who of the upper class. I want you there today, please. I’m not asking you to do anything other than keep the peace if something horrible happens. You’ve got about 12 hours. I implore you not to interfere, just protect our city."

Ever practical, Morkeleb asked, “Are we to understand that Trinia is the one sentenced—despite her innocence? And are we to infer, therefore, that the Queen is either trying to make the girl a scapegoat because the real killer hasn’t been found, or is perhaps not under her full faculties?” He continued, “If you don’t want us to intervene, why are we to be there—just crowd control?”

Grym and Odric looked to each other and nodded almost imperceptibly. While he stroked Bucho’s blocky head the ranger assured her that the group will be ready. Odric asked, “What are the rules of engagement?” his mind is running over possibilities and contingencies. He is worried that with vague or unclear instructions, disaster could come from a misunderstanding as much as from some malicious activity.

“Gentlemen, I don’t have rules of engagement for this. It’s nothing I’ve ever dealt with before. I need you because I trust your judgment. Read the situation and protect Korvosa. It’s all I can ask. Sadly, I don’t have any reward I can offer you.” Kroft returned to her desk and began looking over some maps she had splayed out across the scarred surface.

Ferox assured her, “Field Marshall, rest assured that we’ll do all that we can to maintain the peace. How are we to attend the Queen‘s event? We are not among the city’s social elite. Will we be allowed admittance to the event?”
The Field Marshal looked up to the Inquisitor, her appreciation at his promised assistance plain on her care-worn face. “I’ve arranged to get you all invited. You’ve become folk heroes now, and that’s enough for the aristocracy. I wanted ”/campaigns/sfoundercotct/characters/vencarlo-orisini" class=“wiki-content-link”>Vencarlo to go in the same capacity, but he’s taking a stand about not being there."

Gaius smiled sweetly and a little sadly. But nodded in agreement with The Marshal and with the others. He lingered, as to be the last one to leave, holding the door for his companions. Just as Morkeleb passed through the door, Gaius looked the enchanter in the eyes and whispered, “I won’t be a moment. See you tonight at the execution.” Gaius then shut the door, leaving him alone with Field Marshal Cressida.

While appearing to idly look around the office, Gaius spoke and observed Cressida, taking careful note of details in her office and her choice of decor. His demeanor was friendly and genuinely curious. He said, “You’ve borne many burdens over the last several weeks, Field Marshal. You’ve performed admirably and with honor. You are an intriguing woman, Lady. How are you holding up?”

Cressida’s office featured many antiques of martial days past, ancient shields and helms, old maps, and the like. She seemed tired and stressed, though she gave Gaius a weak smile. "I’ve been better my friend, I won’t lie. I want this day to be done. Once this chapter is closed we’ll be back to normal I suspect… If you can quell any riots. When all is said and done I’ve got a contraband bottle of rum from the Shackles, the seven of us will split it.”

“Rum for seven is good. Dinner for two is better,” Gaius says, his voice is warm and inviting but his expression is focused and intense.

“My professional friend, I’m not normally one for dalliance. But I’ll make a pact with you. Make through tonight without the city devolving into chaos, and we’ll share breakfast.” The rogue is clearly pleased with the prospect, for upon taking his leave and exiting the Citadel he bellows “For law and order! Have at thee!” earning him some odd looks from those citizens on the broad avenue who heard him.

Grym caught up with Gaius in Eodred’s Walk. Grym was a little nervous about being around such high society people tonight. He was a street rat for so many years… 
Grym asked Gaius of a tailor or shop he could recommend. The ranger was looking for clothes that could fit in amongst high class, yet still be fit for fencing, adventuring, and stealth. He also assured Gaius he does not want to look “sluttastic”. 

Gaius assured Thorgrym that this would definitely not be an occasion for sluttastic. He lead Grym to a surprisingly staid tailor named Marcus in Old Korvosa. This shop was for men. Simple designs, high quality, and neutral colors were featured.
Grym raised his eyebrows when he sees the simple shop, seemingly incongruous with the rogue who favored yellow and black. Gaius looked at Thorgrym and smirked.
A bit drab, I know. Marcus is an old contact and I knew this would be right up your alley. Besides, he’ll have something for me in the back.
Marcus takes good care of the pair.
Grym then went home and polished his new magical studded leather armor up as best he can. His boots, blades, and leather belt got the same treatment. Last but not least he went to an up scale leather worker and purchases a nice leather collar with well polished brass fittings for Bucho.
If he is well dressed and can at least look the part of a noble swordsman, that will be half the battle to acting the part. His heart is noble if not his birth and blood. It should be enough.

The others shopped, prepared or spent their time in a variety of ways, until the appointed hour.

The execution was not an affair to be missed. The toast of Korvosa was in attendance in garish gowns, fine capes, and enough jewels to blind a common man. The overall feel of the event was that of a grand ball or party, not an assassin’s public execution. The group had time to hobnob with the elite of Korvosa. One notable personage not in attendance was Vencarlo Orisini, although given his outspoken disdain for the queen, this doesn’t surprise any of the adventurers.
Queen Ileosa emerged amid a great flourish and pomp as heralds announced her arrival with a fanfare of music and drums. This queen was not the subdued mourner who met the group when returning the broach —Queen Ileosa has fully accepted the mantle of sole monarch now, and carried herself with poise, style, and grace. She wore a green and white silk dress worth thousands of gold coins, and was attended by a small army of servants – The Grey Maidens. Chief among these was Sabina, her expression neutral but ever watchful for possible problems in the crowd. Ileosa took her seat in a high throne-like chair at one end of the public courtyard, while the headman’s block stood ominously at the other. The executioner was a towering, muscular man wearing an executioner’s helm and idly holding an immense axe—he remained motionless until his services were called upon
Gaius hummed Korvosa’s national anthem while he loaded a poisoned bolt into his hand crossbow and set it up for a smooth and easy draw. He paused in his humming, to address the others. “You know something? I’ve half a mind to shoot the executioner and start a riot to screen a hasty retreat, bard in hand. I won’t, mind you. I’m not ready for a blaze of stupidity like that and besides, I have breakfast plans.”
The rogue, dressed as a minor noble swordsman in yellow silk and black leather, laughed bitterly but then quickly resumed a serene demeanor. At times, Gaius can seem quite mad.
“But make no mistake…” the rogue continued, “Something about this stinks to The Nine Hells. I don’t like uncertainty! I don’t like not knowing!”
His attention returns to the ax about to fall, and takes his holy symbol from beneath his shirt, displaying it.
“Though if there is vengence to be had for this… I can see to that. Oh, yes. I can see to that.”
Gaius resumed humming the national anthem.
Morkeleb was as stoic as usual, simply taking stock of the situation. “Gaius, I cannot disagree with you. This does all seem wrong. However, our task is not to cause trouble, but to rebuff it. I find it unfortunate and a little sad that we captured her, and now she is being executed—but I have no time for, or interest in, politics. Triana’s death is on the Queen’s head, and she must be the one who sleeps tonight, or not, because of it.”
Gaius said, “Morkeleb, Trinia’s death isn’t my concern. It’s not knowing what’s really going on here. My concern is where that ax falls next.”

Ferox added, “I agree. I don’t like that Cressida wasn’t given the time to determine Trinia’s guilt or not. There isn’t much to be done for Trinia now, but we can certainly try to continue our own investigation into the matter later.”
Ferox said a quick prayer to Abadar for guidance and began scanning the crowd and the perimeter for anything out of the ordinary.
As the execution drew near, Grym see that his training partner, Sargeant Grau was on duty. He takes a moment to talk to you quietly. “My friend, this is a dark day, but do not stick your neck out. I beg you. Please watch your friend Odric, for I fear his sense of heroism may lead to something rash. There will be another day for justice if this is not it…” With that he hastened back to his detail.
Odric offeed samples of his beer to the crowd with a jovial tone, but edged closer and closer to the headsman. He maneuvered himself to the front or as close as he could get to the executioner.

Seeing Odric’s jostling form adging closer and closer to the headsman, Morkeleb casts ‘Message’ to whisper in the warrior’s ear, “Remember your charge. You are here to stop trouble, not cause it. Trinia’s fate is out of your hands.”
Grym heeded Sergeant Grau’s words and pressed to get closer to Odric. He asked for a sample of the “Stout” to cover his movements. 
The ranger took a drink to steel his nerves. The flavor is strong and the alcoholic content seems strong as well to the ranger. A mug and no more if he wants keep his mind sharp tonight. Grym’s heart cried a little as he sensed an innocent person about to die for crimes Grym doesn’t believe she committed. 
Without trying to do so, Thorgrym’s mind’s eye starts measuring the steps. A few swift moves and small jump to the stage. It would be easy to land a telling “stop cut” to the wrist of the executioner wielding such a heavy ax. He lacked Odric’s massive strength, but half-elven girl was slight of build. Grym figured even if she couldn’t move he could have her over his shoulder and be off. Especially with his well-trained Bucho covering his escape with jaws snarling… 
…And that is where his daydream ended. Surely brave Bucho would fall to the sword and spear of the Grey Maidens. Grym would be sacrificing his trusted comrade and breaking his word of honor to Cressida. The ranger never wanted to break his word to anyone, be they an honorless rogue or not. Yet the Field Marshall seemed to be better then most. Grym’s word was his bond, he couldn’t break it. Yet, his heart ached for this single person to be scapegoated.
Is one unjust death worth peace and possible hundreds more dead or raped out in the streets? The ranger’s head ached with his heart. He liked a simple task of tracking down a known criminal or raiding the warrens of an evil necromancer. He preferred to leave the skull sweat to the likes of Morkeleb and the others. 
Quietly and barely audible he prayed, “Sarenrae, I seldom pray to you. I have no tongue for it. Yet, I honor you and try to follow your way. I know you know what is best for me. Give me guidance if I’m to act. If I’m to watch her die, give me the strength to stand and give her the strength to endure it and hopefully her soul will go somewhere good on the other side…”
The brindle dog sitting at the ranger’s feet whined a little, his tiny brain sensing some of the anguish and turmoil in his master.
As sunset drew near, the expectant excitement in the crowd built. When the ominous beating of a single large drum began, the assembled gawkers fell silent. The drum set the pace for Trinia’s procession to the headsman’s block. As they reached the headsman’s block, one of the guards removed Trinia’s shackles and the hood, revealing a very frightened woman who nonetheless bravely held back her tears, if only barely. Trinia was led up onto the platform, her arms bound behind her back by a leather cord, and she was forced to kneel over the wooden block before the headsman as Queen Ileosa stood and addressed the crowd.
“Fellow Korvosans! You have suffered greatly these past few weeks. Homes have burned, family members have died, fortunes have been lost. I feel your suffering, for not only have I lost a beloved husband, but with each riot, each burning home, each act of anarchy, my heart bleeds a little more. This has been a trying time for us, yet the torment is at an end. Before you is the face of your anguish and pain. Do not be deceived by this murderer’s timid nature—she is a black-hearted assassin, a seductress and sinner, a viper amidst us all. I offer you all her death as a salve against the hatred and hurt you have suffered. Her death will not rebuild Korvosa, nor will it bring back the king, yet tomorrow will be a new dawn—a dawn over a city ready to rise from the edge of anarchy to become stronger than ever before! And so, without further delay, let us usher in this new dawn with justice! OFF WITH HER HEAD!”

A moment before the queen issued the command, Grym noticed Grau duck away suspiciously. Less than a second later on the other side of the courtyard, As the headsman hefted his axe, the already silent crowd froze in anticipation.

Yet just before he swung, the headsman gave a strange little grunt and staggered. His raised axe faltered as he reached with one hand to the small of his back and then brings it to his face, the fingers dripping with blood. An instant later, he cried out in pain and dropped the axe as a dagger embeds itself in the back of his other hand. The axe sank itself into the block inches from Trinia’s head, and the headsman doubled over in pain, revealing a second dagger that was already embedded in the small of his back.

It happens in the blink of an eye as each hero contemplated his duty. Trinia rose to her knees, glancing up at the executioner in shock as a scream echoed through the crowded courtyard: “By the gods! It’s Blackjack!”

An instant later, a man dressed in a hooded cloak and leather armor sprung onto the executioner’s block. He wielded a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other. Blackjack cut the bonds on Trinia’s wrists and then threw the dagger down to pin the executioner’s left foot to the wood below. He quickly helped Trinia to her feet and then briefly turns to address the shocked crowd. “Yes indeed, my queen! Let us usher in justice, but let that be justice for Korvosa, not this shambles you petulantly call a monarchy! Long live Korvosa! Down with the Queen!”

Blackjack’s words spread like fire, causing the crowd to erupt into a frenzy of activity. Some demanded that he release the assassin while others called for the queen to step down from the Crimson Throne. Queen Ileosa stands stunned for a few moments, whispered something to Sabina, and then quickly turns to flee into Castle Korvosa, Sabina and a dozen guards behind her to cover her retreat. The remaining guards in the courtyard moved to apprehend Blackjack, but the gathered nobles, thirsty for blood, make it difficult to move. At the same time, the executioner recovered from his wounds and lifted his axe once again over Blackjack, who seems to have momentarily forgotten the man in his apparent delight at having forced the queen to flee.

Odric moved in an instant to stand by Blackjack. He allowed the keg to crash to the ground with a splintering crunch. The flagstones were awash in dark, bitter beer with foam cresting the waves of alcohol. Odric assumed a drunken attitude, he has had long years to practice so his gambit ought to look believable. Given the chaos in the square, perhaps no one will scrutinize Odric’s sobriety.
With a staggering lunge, he wraps his large arms around the executioner in a effort to “save” him by binding his wounds. The plan is to hinder his attack against Blackjack.
“Headshmann! Yer Beedin’! Ehrmegerd! Let me shave you!!” Odric fumbles with a bandage as he grapples the headsman. Blackjack turned to the mighty Odric and whispered a quick thanks with a wink of the eye before downing a potion.

Taking advantage of the message spell, Sandor said, “By Torag just what we needed somtin to help Trinia live. Lets help Blackjack. block the guards and distract the headsman!”
He looked around to see if any of the guards had started to move towards Blackjack and Trinia yet. The scarred dwarf yelled at the top of his lungs in the direction of Blackjack, “OY!!! LOOK AT THAT!! That lads a tough one 3 daggers pierce his body n he still tryin ta kill the girl”

Grym instantly recognized Odric’s ploy and hesitated a moment thinking of how he can also “help”. The ranger cried out, “Lets get that vigilante!” And then he promptly tripped going up the steps of the executioner’s block, doing his best to get in the way of the guards rushing forward.
Blackjack turned to Trinia and scooped her up with unnatural strength. In a single bound he took the courtyard wall. With a flourish he saluted the crowd, eyeing of the six heroes each specifically in turn. “FOR KORVOSA!”
Immediately the crowd cheered and booed at the same time. It turned into Pandemonium. The guard rushes to Odric, not to subdue, but to help him up. Mutterings about the return of Blackjack spread amidst the chaos. Before long the elite scatter, the wings of gossip taking flight. The six are forgotten in the chaos.
Grau returned in the moments of Blackjack’s escape. “My friends, we must get back to the Field Marshall. We’ll palaver at the Citadel. Come, let us fly.”
Odric ensures that he falls face first into the puddle of The Stout in order to get the smell of alcohol on him. He stumbles in whatever direction Grau has indicated.
Upon arrival, Grau ushers the six to the Citadel. The gossip spread faster than fire. By the time they arrived, word had spread. The Field Marshal was in her office sitting at her desk, staring off into space. Vencarlo was there too, looking out the window.
Cressida said, “I did not see this coming my friends. Blackjack is something we talked about as kids, pretending to be the dashing hero. That he’s really here is…vexing. On the one hand, he’s a hero to the people, a hero they desperately need right now. I think the reason why the city hasn’t erupted into flame is that this latest scene is his doing. On the other hand, he’s technically an outlaw. Odric, please close the door…. Officially Blackjack is now public enemy number one. That being said, my main concern is the protection of the city. My resources will focus on heinous and large scale crimes. If we get Blackjack, we’ll deal with it then.”
Vencarlo interjected, “My biggest fear is the Queen. While I am an outspoken critic of hers, Blackjack’s move may force her hand. Who knows how she’ll handle this. Let’s keep our heads down, and our blades ready. Don’t rock the boat for a while. Korvosa may as easily calm down or burn into the night. Let’s not push the issue just yet…”
Cressida, “Gaius, let’s not wait for breakfast, and share a drink now. Unfortunately for you, I’m inviting all your friends too.”
Gaius responds playfully, motioning with his finger in a fencer’s salute, “Then you escape on a technicality. Another time, Field Marshall Kroft. I don’t surrender easily.”
“Field Marshall, what specifically do you fear regarding the queen? What actions might this Blackjack’s appearance elicit from her? Martial law?” Asked Morkeleb.

Kroft replied, Cressida, "Martial Law is exactly what I fear. While it appears no riots are forthcoming now. I worry that if we push her, she’ll go overboard and declare martial law. This is why I suggest we lay low for the time and take a ‘look and see’ approach.”

Gaius said, “No, I disagree. Her Majesty has been embarrassed in front of Korvosa’s elite. Her authority and ability to enforce The Rule of Law questioned. We cannot go to ground, for Her Majesty will leave no ground. She can’t afford to. And besides, the longer we delay, the harder it will be to find clues. We have two mysteries, ‘Who is Blackjack?’, and more importantly, ‘Who killed King Eodred’. I daresay the second will intersect with the first at some point. We need to solve the original crime, the King’s murder.”
Gaius stood up and paced for a moment, then turned to Field Marshall Kroft. “We need everything you have on Trinia and Eodred’s murder, anything you may have held back. And we need to find Verik Vankaskerson.”
Cressida said, “I haven’t held anything back, but I have a room full of unsolved crime. None of it seems to be related to the assassination, but you never know.”

Sandor has been stewing on what has happened. He listened intently to what was said, inhaled sharply a few times like he ready to speak, then gives a low grumble and left everyone to the conversation.
He fixed the Field Marshal with an intense stare as if trying to read her expressions then inhaled sharply, but this time blurted, “Ohh a pox on this ‘ere blasted situation. I would think that the city dwellers here are used to Royalty dying. If’n I remember my history correctly not many if any sitters on that throne have died of old age.”
He looked slightly embarrassed when he realized that he said that out loud. But when he did refocus he decided to jump in with both feet. “Well Field Marshal I hope I’ve heard correctly when ya said the Official Position on Blackjack is he is Most Wanted number one. Unoffically I hopes ya that he is Hero number 1.” He took his half mask off, gave his scars a trace drawing attention to them, “now I didn’t lose my head like Trinia would have, but I have a little understanding how people with station and money take care of their problems or cover up their embarrassing actions.”
He looks each of his friends in the eyes especially, Vencarlo and Cressida to check for the implied statement. “My friends we all know in our guts that Trinia didn’t kill the King. So I agree with solving that is a priority. I for one think that there are some puppet strings being pulled by some unknown party as of yet. Stuff isn’t adding up gents ohh and Lady. I think one of the first major clues we have of this is that dagger that was found.. which turned into a demon and tried to kill us. Then we foil a plot of a fallen Paladin trying to rob the bank of Abadar. Now I am sure the bank gets many attempts, but not many from that sect. That gives us a spy for intel, money for financing, riots and distractions to keep the guard/ law distracted”
He got a far away look pausing and doesn’t realize it. Odric fluffed and adjusted his tunic as the dwarf passed by. The scent of “The Stout” breaks his concentration he then realized that everyone was looking at him. “Ohh I am sorry I havn’t gotten any further than that, but then again I’m just a dwarf who doesn’t belong dealing with these grand matters. Which is why being in front of a forge is relaxing and peaceful.”
After talking so much he felt parched. Sandor looked around for a flagon of ale, seeing none he took the dashing cape that Odric was wearing while rolling around in his brew. He took the cloth and wrung it out into the tankard that was attached to his belt and took a long swallow. Oblivious to the stares that he garnered, he looked up at Odric with a huge smile. “Lad this is it! ya need to add a final filtration step to ya brew.”
In the days that followed, the men set out to investigate the mayhem and misdeeds of the recent past. Gaius lead the investigation, with Odric providing a bit of muscle and intimidation where required. Thorgrym offered his assistance in the time when he wasn’t actively training Bucho. Sandor worked tirelessly to separate liars from genuine tipsters using his gruff dwarven tactics of shouting and stomping to great effect.

The party spent the next five weeks following leads, ruling out speculative theories, and chasing down hunches. The progress was slow. Witnesses were unreliable at best, and found dead at worst. As tempers flared and frustrations are at their highest, the group found themselves meeting at Sandor’s on an evening to regroup and refocus.
After a particularly filling dinner, Odric began passing around his latest brew, a rather nutty brown ale with a hint of a chocolate aftertaste. It felt good to relax and rest. The city hadn’t burned to the ground. Sightings of Blackjack continued, but only third-hand. The Queen hadn’t made any large policy changes, and the public was accustomed to a change in monarch from time to time.
It was then that Zellara‘s Harrow deck awakened. The slain harrower’s spirit appeared calm and at peace. She took a seat at the table and the men thought “was that seat even here before?”
Zellara said, "Fate is muddy, and your progress has been slow. It is time again to read the cards. Sit my friends, open your minds and prepare.”
At the stage of the Choosing, each received a card of the Harrow:
Morkeleb. . .The Mountain Man – A Brobdingnagian challenge, a giant in either muscle or authority.
Sandor. . .The Desert -
In environment so bleak that only mutual aid leads to survival.
Gaius. . .The Wax Works -
A sign of helplessness, physical failure, and entropy.
Grym. . .The Tangled Briar -
The deeds of the past come to change the present.
Ferox. . .The Sickness -
Represents both a physical affliction and a corruption of the soul.
Odric. . .The Survivor -
Someone whom has conquered a dark past and lifted through an ordeal.
“The Harrowing”
Displayed before her were 9 cards:
The Foreign Trader – The Queen Mother – The Eclipse
The Beating – The Unicorn – The Marriage
The Tyrant – The Wax Works – The Avalanche
“First we examine the past. The Tyrant! The Tyrant is aligned. The Tyrant in the past is a ruler who rules for the good of the self, and not the good of the governed.”
“It is blocked in by the Beating, which tells us that a wicked deal was struck. The self is given over to an outside power. While the new Queen is the most obvious choice, the Tyrant may be a power yet to be seen in our city. Let us turn to the present. We see first the Queen Mother, knowledge and effort personified. It is through knowledge that effort finds it’s path. This shows the present, and in this position, you now find yourselves. Seek and be a part of the city. Arm yourself with knowledge, for in the position of the Dark Present we see the Wax Works, once drawn already and here again. The failure of the body is taking place even now. Somewhere in spirit or on the map. The Harrowing is anchored by the Unicorn. the Unicorn represents the desired fruit made available, but only through the Knowledge gained above through the corporal failure below. And now we turn to the Future, the murkiest and most frightening. For while questions may feel like a burden, the answers are a prison for one’s self. The Eclipse! The Eclipse normally portents self doubt and loss of purpose, but we see that unlike the Tyrant in the past this card is perfectly misaligned. Here it represents the curtain pulled away, an ability or destiny not yet revealed. This is a positive sign, and one that we shall be unable to see until it is upon us. But it is guarded by the card of The Marriage. The marriage of the salamander and the water weird shows that the sum is greater than it’s parts in this unseen new destiny. A cloudy future indeed. But this is your Harrowing, and in time all will be revealed…”

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shihanmarsh Odric_the_Stout

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