6th Rebirth, 56 FE
After knocking the gates, several minutes pass where nothing happens, but then suddenly the gate opens up before the PCs. No one is there to operate the gates. They go through the gatehouse and enter the courtyard. Here, they notice several large suits of armour standing around, almost as tall as GuUshal. They can make out the lights at the main keep and at the stables, and Vashti notices some cats running across the courtyard towards the stables.
At the stables stands an unarmed suit of armour, seemingly filling the role as stable boy. Inside, there are four horses (a warhorse, a race horse, and two saddle horses), two cats, a mouse, a kitten, and four sparrows. All the animals, save for the birds, are wooden, but carved to look very lifelike. Vashti is completely baffled at these seemingly pseudo-animals, specifically the cats that are not cats, and Leila tries to befriend the kitten. Vashti tries to talk to the stable boy armour, but it is utterly unresponsive. She opens up the visor and peeks inside, and concludes that it is empty. Shortly after, they make their way to the main keep.
GuUshal quickly ascertains the surroundings and concludes that there are no side doors within eyesight. They knock the doors, and they swing open (after a short delay). Here, as well, there is no one present to actually operate the doors. They step inside the entrance hall, and notice the many suits of armour lining the walls, the two at the bottom of the grand staircase, and the “knight” at the top. GuUshal and Leila are awed by the massive cast iron chandelier suspended by chains from the ceiling – with no way of accessing or lowering it!
A sudden sound from the chandelier startles Leila, and a quick glance reveals something small flitting around in it. They make their way towards the grand staircase, and the knight armour descends towards them. It beckons them to follow, and shows them the way to the servants dining hall. Here, they are treated to a freshly made solid meal; a roast and some freshly baked bread. Shivv’Sha is served her own platter of meat. All the while, silent suits of armour are standing around, with a few entering and leaving the room going about their business.
After the meal, the knight armour shows them to an apartment on the first floor in the South wing. They are assigned two servant armours, who stand ready outside the door. The apartment is a cosy little suite with four bedrooms, a sitting room, and a separate entrance room. In the sitting room, there is a fireplace in which a fire is burning, comfortable seating, and a wine rack. The bedrooms are all equipped with beds, a chest, a cupboard, a bookcase with books, a small table with two chairs, and a bedside table with an Anldoer Devotee’s Pocket Book. Leila decides on a bedroom containing a poetry book. She puts the Anldoer book into the bookcase.
GuUshal and Vashti pick random separate rooms, and they all lay their wet things out to dry. Leila asks one of the servants whether they can acquire night gowns, and soon after, they are delivered. Vashti makes sure to be shown the way to the toilets, and then GuUshal and Vashti go to sleep. Leila sits up at the fire drying her hair, but falls asleep sitting.
During the night, they all have disturbed dreams. Vashti dreams of walking down an endlessly long corridor lined with doors and suits of armour on both sides. Leila dreams of climbing the walls of the entrance hall and onto the chandelier, but a chain breaks under her weight, and she takes a deep fall. She wakes up on the floor of the sitting room. GuUshal dreams that Vashti and Leila are abducted right next to him, while he is quickly surrounded by battle ready suits of armour, mercilessly attacking him until he wakes up drenched in sweat and with sore upper arms. GuUshal goes back to sleep right away. Leila, being uneasy and disturbed, decides to ask for some warm milk, and is thus shown to the kitchen by a servant. Here, she is given warm milk, a biscuit, and book to read. It is a centuries old childrens book titled The Story of the Seven Oaks, wonderfully illustrated, but somewhat difficult to read. She reads aloud to ease the reading, and the armours gather around, listening intently, looking relaxed and at ease. After a while, Leila returns to the suite, and goes to bed.
7th Rebirth, 56 FE
They all wake up well rested. A knock on the door is followed by a kitchen armour serving breakfast; freshly baked bread, a hunk of cheese, and hot water and tea to go along. After breakfast, GuUshal asks for a tub, which is brought up to his room, where he bathes. The girls are meanwhile shown to the bathhouse, located on the top floor. Here, Leila is exalted by the grand selection of soaps and scented oils, while Vashti is somewhat overwhelmed. Vashti is quickly done with her bath, and Leila combs her hair. GuUshal, meanwhile, examines the wine rack closely, and finds a bottle of rare and extremely valuable wine (it is a bottle like the one uncle GutHaor acquired in his youth from a trader whose life he saved, the trader originating from somewhere way down South. Not many years ago, uncle GutHaor was killed for the bottle of wine). Vashti comes back and finds a gruesome old history book. Leila takes her time with her hair, and when she’s finally done, she is shown back to the apartment.
On the balcony, she meets a robed and hooded figure. She awaits its approach expectantly, while opening the apartment door. GuUshal, noticing the door opening, grabs a mug from the table, ready to throw it. The figure gestures for Leila to enter the apartment and follows her inside. The doors close on their own, and the figure welcomes the guests and presents itself as Saldar.