We sink into the mire of military service. Ten hours of marching a day, under spells that make us go further than we should and longer than we ought. We are instructed to use as much mana as possible to stress test the device. Our first goal is Gainswood, and then on to the south. Dalish takes a turn on the machine, while Remy heads off to find Aranea.
When Remy gets back, he gathers us all up to talk. We have to destroy the machine, he insists. We have to do it in a way that doesn’t seem like sabotage, so they think the design is faulty. We discuss various transmutation options with Klyce. Using various spells to mask what he’s doing, so he can weaken the machine and then we can quickly destroy it. We decide to start in the morning.
Nat looks into our futures the next morning, just to see. She stop the plan in its tracks. Our plan is a Bad Idea. Simply blowing it up with fireballs, as suspected, is also a Bad Idea. Remy decides to try and have a chat with Lt. Colonel Durance. I really don’t understand why he thinks this will work, but it’s Remy. He goes to try.
He returns and gives the expected answer — do your job, and also, Durance has been spying on us, and heard the entire conversation last night. We’ll have to be more careful. Then it devolves into a political discussion about systems of oppression, and one being just like the others. Someone suggests turning everyone into mages, for equality and Dalish pipes up. He says he’s been feeding bits of flesh that used to be Garion to people and it gives them magic for a short while. What the hell, Dalish??? I don’t want to hear any more about this, and engage Nat in conversation about where her Grandmother’s caravan travels, and if Canada is nice this time of year. She brings up the darkness and the six stars, and we try to remember the names of all six gods from the cave so many months ago.
Nat decides to scry on her brother, but similar to my messaging, nothing goes through. She tries her parents, but quickly drops the spell, and doesn’t try anymore for a while. Then she tries a new spell, pulling us all inside her head for a chat. It’s super strange. Remy and Klyce do not have good time, but it could be useful later. Nat and Marybeth decide to dream together, so I sit up and keep watch for them. Marybeth does not seem to be having good dreams, but at least no one goes wandering off, and they both wake up in the morning.
Once we’ve been traveling for a while. Durance lets us know that the Mage Corp will be splitting off from the main force, and splitting up. He and the other three will be going after one target while the rest of us go aver Gainswood Plantation. Our orders are to assess their strength and determine if there are any mages. If there are, execute them. If there aren’t, just leave the troops and civilians alone. We are mage hunting, nothing more. In two weeks, we will meet up on the other side. The Majors will be in charge, and are expected to handle any disputes like well-reasoned adults. The mana tanker will be traveling with the main force while we’re on assignment. We will have forty soldiers in our detachment. We are to keep them safe.
We gather up and head out. Sargeant Clem is in charge of our soliders, and he seems reasonable enough. We march through hot, sticky, wet swamplands. It is awful, but I do my best to keep the wind moving for us. The first night, while on my watch, I hear things all around us. I shout for everyone to get up as zombies charge in. We keep them men out of the fight, the zombies are focused on us, and we don’t fancy getting shot, or losing any of the men. Marybeth falls in the fight, and before we can help her, darkness gathers round.
“Who dis who has trespassed in my swamp”? the darkness asks.