The screaming start immediately, and I am not the only one. Something has stabbed me in the side! I reach out to Alice to cast on her and myself, then fly up and the darkness receeds below me. There are two bubbles of darkness in the warehouse, and everyone stumbles back out into the lighted area. Projectiles come flying out of the darkness, embedding themselves in my flesh and I fly straight back out of the building entirely.
Most of the others join me, but not for long. Remy goes charging back in to save Alice and Francine. Gerhardt sends a message to Maribeth (and Klyce) that we’ve been attacked. Then everyone is back inside, except for me, flying above the street and bleeding all over dirt below.
It isn’t long before I see Klyce and Maribeth approaching on ghostly steeds. I waves and fly up and down until they see me. I explain that everything went dark inside and then someone started stabbing us, and they head right on inside. They were with Poissant and told him before then rushed to us, so I continue staying outside, still bleeding, to wait for him.
It isn’t long, though, before the darkness is gone. I carefully re-enter the building, but the fight is over, and somehow Nat is inside. Alice is still there, but Francine has been killed, and one of the attackers has been decapitated. The others are saying something to Gerhardt about a dog? Remy takes a look at the dead man and finds scarred flesh on his back and hands.
Klyce tells Gerhardt that they need to talk about killing and then Remy gets into it with him. Klyce Will Not condone murder, even in self-defence, and Remy feels it’s justified to kill someone trying to kill you. Things get heated until Remy storms out. Klyce asks if any of the rest of us want to object to a no killing people rule, and we all demure.
It’s at this point that Klein finally arrives. We turn on him about everything that’s been going on, and all his staff who have been murdered. He goes on about how he went to Xing and studied their legends of an immortal emperor and the Woojen. (I really should ask someone how to spell that…) They were able to tap into raw mana without refining or consuming it. Klein found (Stole!) some relics that hinted at a path forward that we might take. When I ask about the thefts, he says there weren’t any Woojen left, as though that excuses it.
As he went on, Klyce asked if maybe they were like me. I don’t know, maybe, but it sounds like they knew what they were doing, maybe did it intentionally?
Klein offers to show us the relics. He claims that he doesn’t know what the killers want. Said he didn’t even know his people were being targeted. We tell him that we’re taking him out of here, and to gather his things and the relics, it’s not safe any more. They know where he is. He grabs a bunch of soil and rock samples, a staff covered in rules with a jade crystal on top, and some figurines. He has a small shrine, too, but it’s a bit much to be carrying across the city. Dalish sits for a few minutes and casts some magic on the staff. He says it’s a Staff of Withering, which sounds pretty horrible to me. We ask about the blood and meat and he says his rituals require it, but claims it isn’t blood magic.
We take him back over to our apartment, hoping that no one will be able to get in the magically sealed door. We set him up in the alchemy lab and he starts lecturing us, just like Malden used to. Why do we have to refine mana? Then launches into this crazy theory that the earth is a sphere of mana contained only by thin layers of rock and dirt. He says it’s at least thirty percent mana, but that it is kept in check and underground by the will of the planet! He claims that refining it breaks that bond to the world, and makes it usable by people. I mistakenly tell him I don’t need refined mana, can’t use it, and he gets Super interested. The rest have my back though. Nobody’s going to make Me a lab experiment.
We change the subject, back to our investigation. Did Greg tell him that he was going public with his complaints about the rituals? Klein has no idea what we’re talking about. Says everyone was happy to be working on the project. We ask what Else was going on at his lab, but he insists there was nothing. We tell him what the letter says, but he has no idea what would have been so upsetting and cost human diginity.
We all decide to go back to the lab to check it out. Maribeth doesn’t want to leave him alone, so she stays while the rest of us head out. Klyce and Dalish head to speak to LuBai, while Gerhardt, Nat and I go back to the lab. Remy still hasn’t come home. We find Poissant still at the lab, and start searching more carefully. Nat finds a secret door that has an arcane lock on it. She can’t pick the lock and Gerhardt and I can’t break down the door. Gerhardt sends a message to Klyce and he comes in swinging, knocking the door right off the hinges.
There are stairs down to another lab here. There are more samples like upstairs, but also a magical circle, and various unfriendly looking prods and probes. There are also strange glass circles pointed at the circle. When Dalish looks through one at Nat, he can see her skeletons and motes of mana floating around inside her. I step in front and Dalish says he can’t even see my bones, I’m just made up of mana!
The equipment down here looks a bit newer than upstairs. There are also empty filters and mana jugs. We find another lens that seems to slow down time in front of it and records what it sees. We fiddle with it until we can back up and see what it has recorded recently.
Greg comes down the stairs, picks up an iron flask, and a girl pops out. A Xingese girl about my age with glassy eyes. He tells her to sit down and then cooks and feeds her meat. Then he just puts her back inside the flask. What in the World??? We go back further and further. There are a lot of recordings of feeding this girl, always meat and only meat. A few recordings show her casting spells, the forms are strange but the results look normal. They run probes over her and even stick one in her once. There is one recording that shows the mana glass, and she’s just like me, full to the brim with mana. The flask isn’t down here, and it wasn’t with the stuff we took, either. The three dead men and Alice are the only ones on the recordings. Klein never comes down.
Alice. Klein. Maribeth!
We race home. Klein is unconscious on the floor. One of the rooms is painted in blood. Alice and Maribeth are both gone! I run around the mansion, calling for her. She Has to be here! She Has to!
I vaguely hear Gerhardt waking up Klein and demanding to know what happened. The ninjas came. Into our House!
Dalish tells him what we found, but he doesn’t believe us. He casts a spell on Dalish, but Dalish tells him the story again. Klein collapses on the floor again. Gerhardt tries to message Maribeth, but nothing happens. We move the unconscious Klein into the living room and try to decide what to do next.