One more tree to go. I’m running near empty. Klyce looks deathly pale, but he’s still going. Dalish tries to heal the bullet out of him with no luck. We don’t have enough mana left to Circle and Banish at the last tree. Does Remy have worm in his ear? Oh, Dawnmother, what are we going to do???
We have to find the tree. We have to get up above ground and search quickly. We head back up to the rooftops. Natty casts a locate and we search the areas we haven’t been, yet. Nothing. She gets no indication of a tree. We did note three crowded areas. Two apartment buildings and an old Royalist library. Each one has hundreads of people outside, all of them with a weapon at their own head or throat. Oh gods, how many worms are there? Is it really just one last tree? So many people outside, but no movement in or out now.
There’s a lot of arguing about which makes the most sense. Which is most likely a trap. How we’re even going to get inside any of them. We end up sending Heyhey up to circle above the smaller apartment building and Ceres down into the sewer below it. Natty says the roof is the same as the ground. Ceres reports an assassin in the sewers, and we decide that’s our best option.
We head down and somehow manage to make quick work of the assassin. It was the one who ran from us the night before. We get near the building and send Ceres up a waste pipe to look around for the tree. He sees a collapse first floor and cleared away foundations. He also see Aranea, who buries him in earth and kills him.
There’s a quick arguement about chasing her down, but we don’t have time for that. We head for the library, through the sewers. Nat finds us a secret entrance in, and after another secret door, we find ourselves in the basement archives. We search around by find nothing. Upstairs, we find a pit dug deep into the gallery floor, filled with earth, but no tree. As we are considering this, a fireball lands on our heads.
We start fighting with two mages on the edge of the gallery, but they seem frightened. Klyce eventually indimidates them into stopping by saying we’re not wormed and we’re here to stop the worms. Steven and Berald, they tell us, had worms, but after a really painful episode, the worms were gone and they had control again. We ask what they know, but it isn’t much. They were from the hotel tree, and when they checked in with Pyrus, he said they should stay here and guard the hole. Nat says they haven’t got worms, but that Remy does have. When she tries to probe deeper, she passes out.
When we manage to revive her, she says she saw a land cloaked in eternal winter and a tree covered in snow. Well, it’s summer here, so that tells us nothing useful. We leave the two de-wormed mages behind and head for the other apartment building. Time is running short. Gerhardt sends his snake up the drain this tiem, but once again there’s no tree.
Frustrated, we decide it’s a shell game. The tree has to be in one of these buildings, it’s just hiding where we haven’t looked. We head up and find everyone dead. Oh Dawnmother! Oh No! we push on into the buliding and search the pit more thoroughly. Nothing. We head upstairs. We find more nothing until we get to the fourth floor. There we run smack into Aranea.
Remy stops her and asks what’s going on. She grabs him and sticks her ‘tongue’ down his ear, pulling out his worm on a tiny sliver of a spear. Once it’s dead, she’s willing to talk to us again. She hasn’t found the tree either. Nothing in the walls or the roof, Remy and Klyce break open a wall just to be sure. She tells us the snowy landscape is where the worms originated, back in the fae world.
We head back to the first apartment complex, where everyone is also dead, and search. Still no tree, so we run back to the library and those two de-wormed mages. Remy and Dalish slide down into the pit and uncover the illusion hiding yet another tunnel. We all go down, convincing the two other two to come with us. When we get to the end of the tunnel, fireballs erupt again, and I fall.
By the time I wake up again, the tree is gone and the enemies are dead. We head up and out of the library to streets filled with death. We search around the bodies and the streets as we walk back towards the barrier. I reach up to gingerly touch my burned hair and feel it crumble away, I can tell the earth magic’s granted bounty has faded, as well. I grit my teeth in frustration. This has all gone wrong, so wrong. But somehow, we’ve all survived.
Gerhardt sends a message to the Major to tell him we have succeeded. And then he collapses. When he wakes up again, he says they pulled him into a spell to report. Rictus will clear the dead, and the barrier will come down. As we reach the edge, it does just that. Nat goes off with a medic to see about her thumb. Klyce is taken to hospital and I head straight for the church of the Dawnmother. I do Not want to see what Rictus does with the dead. A few days later, when we debrief, they tell us that 51,208 people died, much better, they say, than if they had unleashed the battlemages on the entire burrough. I spend quite a lot of time with Fathers Kevin and Carmine over the next while, and when I’m not with them, I’m with Xin Yue, trying to renew my pact with the earth.