Maribeth doesn’t get up the next morning, so I head down to breakfast without her. We’re all intent on getting back to our studies, hoping Philomena doesn’t get pissed off and send us all chasing down murderous fae again for a little while, at least. When a messanger comes in, we all groan softly into our eggs. He hands us all letterss from the Prime Council. stating that there will be a Deliberative in three weeks, and all adult mages, and ourselves, are encouraged to attend. Oh boy, what did we do now? Just stopped a murderous cult and all, surely they’ll want to punish us for that, too.
However, this does give us an excuse to study for three weeks, uninterupted… hopefully. Remy sets off to retrieve Maribeth’s sickle from the police, but when he returns, she has come down to lunch with it in hand. Dalish begins deciphering the spell book he stole, sorting out the spells and noting a lot of research on free-willed undead. Gerhardt, Dalish, and I all work on our alchemy lessons. Turns out potion making is trickier than it looks. In my spare time, I do manage to help Nat get started learning Braille. Remy spends his time working on his blade spell, and Maribeth spends an unnerving amount of time with her sickle.
The three weeks fly by in our rush to learn all the things before they send us off to fight a war none of us are sure is justified. Nevertheless, the Petals are even more beautiful than the last time we visited, despite the explosion last semester, the air is simply teeming with mana. We head right for the the Tower of Justice for the Deliberative.
The Primes sit at the head of the room, on … well, thrones, if I’m honest. So much for getting rid of royalty. Hadrius, Whist, Aleria, Namera, Gerrald, Jor, Rictus, and Etherion all preside high over this gathering of around 150 mages. We are directed to sit in the front row of the bowl-shaped auditorium.
Hadrius begins the gathering, asking Whist to report on the “War of Extermination.” We all exchange glances at this terminology, although none of us are truly surprised. Whist reports that the conflict goes well, with minimal non-mage losses. He states that most tribes have chosen relocation out by the Rockies. A total of 500,000 natives will be relocated at recent count. Much land has been freed up for the prospecting of mana, and the incoming mana is forecasted to quadruple in the next five years. He predicts that the war will wrap up in the next year, so there is no need for further conscription.
Hadrius accepts this report and calls for a motion to clarify the status of students with unfinished schooling. He believes that educational requirements should not be waived, for reasons of societal and mage safety. He proposes that students be recognized as adults, but still be required to complete their studies as time allows. This motion passes, and we all whisper welcomes to adulthood to each other.
Rictus speaks next, asking the group of us to approach. He notes that our group, just now confirmed as adults, have been taking on investigations throughout the city, and that our talents outstrip that of many graduates. He mentions us involving ourselves in classified matters, and our recent clearing of all charges in those matters. He extolls our taking of direct action to safegard the city, and motions that we be recognized and rewarded for our actions. His glare around the room squashes any objections before they can even begin, and he declares the motion has passed. He then moves that we be given official authority to deal with such matters.
The room erupts in objections, similar to ones we have voiced among ourselves. We are just kids. These threats shouldn’t be our responsibility. And there are calls for more information about these classified threats. Rictus, however, stands strong, and refuses to speak about it. I stop listening for awhile, until Remy steps forward.
He says we were children, but the things we have done and the things we have faced have forced us all to grow. Then he goes on a bit about responsibility, ending with his acceptance of the responsibility. Several others nod in agreement. Ugh! Guys! This is our chance to get out of it, but no, everyone wants to be responsible and adult. I just want to be a kid again. Not that that’s really possible, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
The vote passes, barely. Rictus tells us that we will be given offices and a case tomorrow. We sit down again and listen as mages complain about mana supplies and the state of things. The Primes insist that the end of the war will solve these probems. They beg just a little more patience. At some point I hear Rictus say that some day, man could be transcended, and I do Not look up at him.
After the meeting breaks up, the man who showed us to our seats, Brook, takes us down to the 7th floor to a cramped corner office in the Bureau of Investigations. We have desks and empty filing cabinets, and Dalish immediately starts creating paperwork to fill them. Brook tells us that we’ll also be getting accommodations in the next day or so. We let Dalish write for a little while, but then go back to the school to gather our things and sleep one last time there. The rest also fill up their phials with mana, just in case.
When we return to our office, Brook gives us the address to our new accommodations, and each a key. He says there is no compensation for our work, but we will have acess to 500 motes of mana a month. An expense report is required detailing how it is spent. Dalish says he’ll take care of it. We are also given a case file of a strang phenomena in Brooklyn. There is an impermeable, half mile radius dome that showed up over a month ago. In the last few days, something about it has changed. Our immediate attention has been requested. Before we head out, the New Gnosis Chronicle arrives, and we are front page news. Our story, along with our full names. We are declared Heroes of the City. Kings of New Gnosis!
We decide to head to our place to drop of our things before heading out on mission. It is a beautiful skyscraper, with twists as it rising far into the air. There are floating pools and balconies. It’s the most lavish thing I have ever seen. We go inside, but our address is in the basement. What should we expect, right? But the number of addresses in the basement is crazy! When we put our key in one of the basement doors, we step right into a mansion! Some one says something about a guy named Mordenkeinen and that we can design the whole thing exactly how we want. How cool is that! And there are ghostly servants, and all the food we could ever eat! This is the best place ever! We all jabber about everything we want to include for a while. Bedrooms, Library, Labratory, Workout Space, a Lounge. So many cool things we could do with this.
Eventually, we remember we have a job to do, and head out to check out this dome. We see nothing until we’re right up on it. Sure enough, it’s a huge dome, cutting right through buildings and streets, right in the middle of the city. It’s dark gray and glassy, and it looks like the inside is chock full of … things. As we glance around, we notice occasional people walking toward it, but then getting distracted and turning away. Magic is great.
As we walk along the edge, we meet a man with cannon. A huge, bus-sized cannon. He tells us that te dome is over his mana refinery, and he’s the Chief Artificer there, name of Brandon Truxon. He’s been trying to crack his way in and has noticed a white flash every thirty seconds or so for the last two days. He thinks the insides are messing with time because things inside the barrier seemed to grow at a fantastic rate after it went up. He says he’s been measuring the energy coming off it, and at the flashes, there is a low ebb. He thinks that if something traveled fast enough, it could get through at those times. He looks over us all, and says he could shoot us through, if we’re here to fix things. What? Whoa… hang on a minute… um… we just got here. He shoots an empty capsule at the barrier to prove his point, and it disappears. We can’t see it on the other side.
We quickly leave him behind to go have a look all the way around the dome for someone, anyone else who might have information. Around a ways, we find a woman painting the dome on a canvas. She talks about the variations and the standard occilations on a sine wave? I don’t know, but her grandmother is inside, along with hundreds of other people. So she’ll keep studying until she figures it out.
There’s a white-robed newt of a man on the other side, reading a book. He is very rude and refuses to tell us anything, so we end up right back with Brandon. We leave Nat on the outside, in case anything happens, maybe she’ll know, and climb into another capsule. Brandon rigs up some seats and harnesses for us, and soon we explode.
There is nothingness. And then an old woman, holding a wand and a book, who turns to look at us. “Find me.” Then blackness.
We wake, lying face-down in mossy dirt. It’s like a jungle took over the city. The barrier is behind us, and we can see the silhouette of the cannon outside. Everything looks old. A little way away there is large creature wearing a constable uniform. He’s near on eight feet tall, with green skin. And he speaks English. He asks who we are and where we come from. No one is supposed to be able to get in, he tells us. He wants us to come down to the precinct to wait for the chief. Having no idea what else to do, we go. His name is Officer Cross, and that’s the only question he’ll answer.
As we walk, we see other people, some that look like us, but thinner, and with pointy ears. When we get back to the station, there’s a short, stocky women in a cell. Cross tells us to wait, and he’ll go find the chief. There are no other officers here, so we try talking to the woman. She calls us goblins, but then becomes terrified when we say we came through the bubble. The whole building is rundown, and Dalish says everything radiats fae magic. Remy looks around for papers or books, but everything is locked up tight.
We hear gunfire outside and Remy goes to look. He calls Gerhardt to come outside and help, and then runs off. Dalish and Gerhardt go to the fallen man, to drag him inside. Cross catches them and grows angry at them for not staying put. He locks us all in the cell and goes charging off after Remy. There is a huge booming noise and an opening appears in the back wall of the jail. The woman kicks herself a bigger hole and takes off, but the rest of us just wait. Cross eventually bring Remy and another guy back to the jail, they both look a bit worse for wear. Cross heads out to look for the Chief again, and more explosions rock around us as we wait.
A bell chimes the noon hour. The ground begins to rumble. The building begins to crumble. We fall, and are crushed. Then Nothingness. The old woman is there again. “You’ll have to do better than that.”
We wake, face-down in mossy dirt.