Negotiation, The Butcher, and Unholy Mana

Klyce leads us north to a burnt out pub, picking up three small groups along the way, swelling our number to near forty. It’s a miracle we don’t get attacked just from that, but we make it to the meeting where another sixty are waiting to hear him speak. Klyce greets one of the men, who then introduces him and tells everyone to listen up. Nat goes on scouting duty with HeyHey and her eye.

Klyce thanks them all for showing up. He explains that he didn’t grow up with magic, and he rather dislikes it. He acknowledges the horribly short stick the mages have handed them, and he has no problem with their grievances. However, these small bands of roving violence aren’t going to accomplish anything against the real threat – the Cultists from Brooklyn. He tells them we are going to take Manhattan back, and we’re going to get organized and do it together. He does not claim leadership, but rather says Costa will take the lead. They all know him, and he has the arms and knowhow to lead. He tells them we need to gather everyone up and come south to meet up with him and get started. Then, he goes on to say that unless someone is a cultist, they are not our enemy. We will be working with the police, and Costa’s folk, and the mages. The people have the most to lose, and we either fight together, or we die alone. We have to get organized, and armed, and we’ll get the mages off their backs. We will take Manhattan, and then the Bronx. Then we will go to war. He tells them that we have fought worse than they could ever bring to bear and we will win.

As his voice trails off, we hear the march of booted feet. They all freak out, but Klyce shouts them down. Nobody is running, not today. Heyhey lets Nat know there are 120 folk on the move, with eight priests up front. Klyce cuts in again, “I told you were are winning, now we’re going to show you how.”

Then he starts ordering everyone with long guns up to fire escapes and rooftops. He puts pistols behind us to be a second line. We prepare to scatter and strike. As they come closer, Nat sends out a psychic scream, but the cultist shrug it off. The people right behind them aren’t so lucky. In response, the priest rush up to use, grappling everyone except for Remy. Man, they are even faster than we expected. Maribeth manages a misty step away, getting punched again while she tried it, but managing anyway. Then she calls up an illusory dragon to start harrying their forces. I thunderstep away, grabbing Nat to come with me to the roof of the pub, barely surviving the punch and heal us both up tiny bit. Remy starts shooting and running. Gerhardt manages to dimension door out of their grasp, as well. Dalish flies out of their grasp, too. Only Klyce remains, stabbing them as hard and fast as only he can.

The battle is rough, but the do not chase us to the roof. Maribeth’s dragons, and our men with guns, and a zombie that Dalish raises at one point, take down the faithful to a man. At one point, Nat transforms and joins Klyce on the ground, stealing a soul or two with her new sword, crackling with dark energy. I bring one down with my lightning from above. Remy gets taken down by one, and is dragged away. But I toss a lightning bolt that way, and he wakes up, escaping quickly. Unfortunately, that one then runs off down the street, almost faster than we can see, and we certainly can’t follow, so we let him go. Gerhard has globe of forced one of the zealots, and we take the rest down. But not before the last one tosses out an interesting threat: “Our numbers are many, you will be overwhelmed or the butcher will have you.”

When the battle is done, Klyce asks that we round up the bodies to take for later mine labor. Dalish sends his zombie to do just that. We gather around the trapped priest. The globe is one thing they cannot dispel. Remy says that he is no longer completely human, that he has something of the divine within him. Nat says his thoughts are wholy focused on praying to his One True God. We set ourselves, Gerhardt drops the globe and we knock him out, dimensional shackle him, and bind him in our bonds from Italy.

Then we gather up our crowd again, and Klyce reassures them that this is how we win. He asks that they tell everyone they know, and gather together at our rally points. We have a fight to win. They all head off. We decide to take the prisoner to the Mage’s research division, but first Dalish has trapped a soul of one of them, and we can ask it questions.

He ask about the forces the cultists have, and the soul says they have thousands of faithful and hundreds of priest, and their prophet is unstoppable. He asks about the standard crew of an airship, and the soul says 24 fighter pilots, 40 crew, and 10 priests. Then asks how they make new priests, and he says the prophet makes new priests. Klyce gets angry at this answer and we have to waste a second question asking for more details. I get angry that we’re doing that and there’s a small argument and they do it anyway. Ugh! It doesn’t matter, we just need to kil him! The soul the tells us that they partake of the holy sacrament of the One God’s flesh and blood (ewww, gross, that flesh in the sewer???), the prophet blesses them, and it takes root within their bodies and they are made whole. The ritual takes minutes, the sacrament only moments.

Then he uses the soul to look within the cathedral. It is massive and heavily ornate with loads of stained glass and fancy decor. There are hundreds of people in the pews, praying to their god, priests and followers alike. He does not see Phil anywhere in the sanctuary, so that is our next question. Tell us all about the Butcher. The soul tells us that he is a recent convert, and a favorite of the prophet. His killing abilities are unparralleled. Dalish thanks the soul and sets it free.

They send to Pyrus, to let him know we have a prisoner to turn over, and he gladly opens the teleportation room for them. Dalish, Remy, and Nat go, and plan to spend the night so they can attend the deliberative in the morning without wasting another spell. Apparently, we are the first to succeed in taking a priest alive. The rest of us take the bodies down to the slaughterhouses to store them until such a time as they are needed. We head back to the school then, to get the younger students out to Bangoria, and get the volunteers on their way. We meet up with the faculty, and organize them into teams. Klyce explains what they will be doing to help. Half the group will be working on making munitions with Costa, the other half will be assisting the police in defending the southern tip of the island. Looking for threats and helping Poissant direct his forces on where to go. They will not be reporting to the Chief, just assisting him. We gather them all up and head south to make introductions.

Klyce checks in with Costa and Elizabeth, explaining our fight and the fighting style of the Priests. He suggests they work on a glue bomb of some sort to slow down their movements. Then we head over to Poissant to repeat this report. He tells us that, with the bridge out, they’ve been dropping teams from airships. Klyce wants their locations so we can send teams to take them out. Then we head home to rest.

Maribeth casts Dream on Klyce to spek with Phil, and then herself to speak with Porter. In the morning, I ask Klyce what he wants my brother to do, but he just want him to stay here and hold the house. Maribeth says Porter and his squad are coming back. Klyce explains that in his dream, Phil was indeed forcefully converted to the one god, and will be coming for us, and wants us to kill him. He is no longer in control of his actions. Klyce wants to try and take the vengeance out of him. He says we should just run when Phil shows up. I tell him I’m not okay with that, what if he’s not alone. Klyce relents and says we can peal off any support, but he does Not want any of us engaging with him. Leave him to Klyce alone. That, we can agree on.

We head north, to work the edge of the Bronx. As we walk, I send to Brother Kevin, but it does not connect. Then I send to Brother Carmine. He says he wishes he could bring me over to the church, to help me be whole, but that I am tainted by the magic. Dammit. I then send to Old Brack, asking him to meet us, and he agrees. Klyce gathers up folks as we walk, sending them all south to join our growing army. We reach our meeting point and only wait a couple minutes for Brack to appear.

He has seen the flesh in the sewers, and says it started in Brooklyn, but has been spreading quite badly up here. He says people have been pushed out of their houses and taken in the night, and he has just been helping folk run and hide as best he can. Klyce explains our organizing of folk and asks him to get the word out. We are working on gathering up the mages, and arming the people, if he can get them all moving south. We ask about Pendleton, and he says he’s seen wizards to the east. Klyce reiterates that he needs to get the people moving south so we can try and slow down the church’s efforts. We separate, heading east.

It takes some time, and conversations with other wizards before we find the fortress Pendleton has created and holed up in for the moment. This time we manage to stay away from all the people and the fighting. He greets us cordially, and Klyce explains our efforts, but he only really starts paying attention when Klyce mentions that we killed seven the night before, and turned one over for research. Then Klyce explains our Petals plan, but Pendleton is skeptical, the church wants People, not land, and not even really the mages. He says they aren’t hunting them so much as killing them if they get in the way. Klyce asks if he can simply cover the egress of the people out of the Bronx, and after a bit of strategy talk, they agree on a plan. Klyce explains the chemical weapons Costa has been working on, and he sets his transmuter on creating some right away.

We also inform him that Rictus is dead when he asks, and he is disappointed, this is what Rictus was for, this kind of fighting. We ask if he knew of his son, but he did not. His wife, he says, died shortly after the revolt, trampled to death by a wagon and horses. Klyce tells him that his son is out there, and also that the King is alive. He shushes us, saying the idea is still strong in the people to return to Royalist society. The king was a good ruler to them, only being controlling of the mages. Then they talk a bit more strategy and we head out. On the way out, we hear him give the order to pack up the machine, and it takes all that I am to not go charging back in there in a fury.

We start heading home to meet up with the others, and Gerald sends to me that Archdeacon Wood is there to speak with us. I tell him not to upset him, and not to go anywhere with him, and we’ll be home soon. We take our time, though. Klyce still wants to gather as many people as possible, and he wants to make the prophet wait. We get back and the deliberative team is already home, they are a little miffed we didn’t warn them, but I didn’t want to waste the spell.

The prophet says he is there “to convince us to see reason and to get Klyce to come with him.” Absolutely not! Reason? You murder people in the streets and enslave the rest! He says that magic is a wound upon the soul of humanity and it must be wiped out. Klyce coming and joining them would make their god thing complete. We then argue about his god thing, that Garion was a horrible man, and not holy. He says that the man is gone, the flesh is unthinking, but it is a divine, unifying power. He says that mage’s magic has no place in the world he wishes to create, that the old gods no longer matter, and he can fix the world if only Klyce would allow his essence to join with the one god. There is a lot of arguing then, about slavery, and erasing magic through the sacrement. I argue that magic is not the problem, people will always be horrible. He thinks that magic is a broader scope of terrible than anything man can create on their own, and therefore must be removed. Remy tosses out that he thinks it might just awaken Garion again if he gets the last piece, and they argue about that for a while. Returning to slavery versus Unity for a few verses and the evils that magic has wrought in our lives. Klyce cuts through all the babble. It’s not going to happen, and asks why he’s really here. He says he really did want to convince us, but Klyce says no, he might as well go home. Or come back in force and we will destroy them. And offers to race him to the grave. The prophet fades out of the room, and Phil breaks through the wall, immediately charging Klyce and taking him down before any of us can react.

Thus ensues a terrible battle of wills. Every time Klyce goes down, we heal him back up, and every time he rises, Phil puts him back down. Klyce asks us to help Phil show mercy, so most everyone begs him to remember his family, to remember his wife and his new daughters who need him. I am too overwhelmed by this scene in my own living room and cannot speak, I can only heal Klyce over and over again. Maribeth takes it to a whole different level with her illusions, and I’m sobbing before a few rounds even go by. She puts up an illusion of the bakery over the whole scene while Remy has Phil out of reality for a moment, with everyone cooking together. The next time it comes around to her, she shifts the illusion to Philomena telling Klyce’s crying mom that it was Phil who did it. The third scene she shows, is Klyce’s mom leaving a tearful note, and killing herself, and little Patti finding the body. Meanwhile, Klyce is telling Phil that he loves him, that even if he kills him, he will not stop loving him, that he remade himself once he can do it again. Maribeth then puts up an illusion of Phil in an infirmary, with his family around him, Patti curled up on the bed with him, and giving him a bracelet she and Lizzie made, and the bracelet is made real on his wrist. Klyce begins begging him for mercy on his knees, no longer rising to stand as Phil continues to beat him down, and we keep healing him back up. We can see that he is struggling, but he is still not winning. Dalish pulls out a Wish, that he win his struggle. And he does, he relents for just one moment, and in that moment, Klyce is able to pull the vengeance out of him, and he collapses into Klyce’s arms. Nat, seeing this happen through her own spell, then wishes for the divine corruption to also leave his body, and it does.

Phil, lying in Klyce’s arms, ages rapidly. Klyce welcomes him back an calls him Dad. Phil thanks him. Klyce asks him not to die just yet, he can help fix this in the morning. I drop to my knees, still sobbing and begin praying to both the Dawnmother and the Green Witch to fix what they have broken. At Remy’s suggestion, everyone else joins me, praying to their own gods. We receive an answer, they will not or cannot meddle in the affairs of the Vengeance. But we pray and heal and tend to him anyway. For the rest of the day and night. Remy disappears at one point and returns with a potion that takes a few years back, and in the morning, Klyce takes back a few more, leaving him far healthier, if still quite old. After some more goodbyes, I take him up to reunite with his family, and they mob him with hugs and tears. Remy wanders off to give his father news of the city, and then we update Stephen, grab a bit more unrefined mana and head back home.

Maribeth has been busy, and now has a second copy of herself, and Gerhardt has procured Dalish’s phylactery, though he got marked and immolated himself to do it. Dalish, Maribeth, and Nat sit down to do research, to find the son of both Rictus and the King. The rest of us head out. We drop Gerhard and Remy with Costa to do some weapons fabrication. Then Klyce and I head to Poissant. He still hasn’t slept, and lets us know that the Church is getting ready for something. They are massing forces on the shores of Brooklyn, and have been since before dawn. He says the wizards have been quite useful in finding the sleeper cells, and he’s passed that information on. No one has seen the airships today, but the cloud cover is quite low. Klyce turns into an eagle and flies up immediately at this word and when he returns, he reports that they are hiding in the clouds. I send to Pyrus to inform him that the attack is happening imminently. He says they haven’t finished the evacuation. I sent to Pendleton, who says he’s bogged down but he’ll try to send a few and asks about Pyrus. I tell him Pyrus is not helping, and he sounds like he is going to fix that.

Klyce and I head a bit north and he tries to take control of the clouds, but they are already doing that. We meet up with Dalish and Nat back and Police Plaze, as they have finished their unfruitful research, and Klyce asks to use the mirror. He wants to find the Black Knight and get him on our side for this fight. Whatever his beef with the mages, fighting the church has to take precedence. Nat looks into it and sees him walking in an alley of Manhattan. With Aranea and James trailing along behind him. He is excited and out of breath, asking when he’s going to get to see his father. The knight says soon. Nat looks around and notices they are just a few blocks to the south towards the park. She drops the scry and sends to James, asking him to stop and wait for a minute. James replies saying the knight says he can’t trust anyone. Klyce turns into a giant eagle, grabs up Nat and Me and flies south. Dalish flies with us, sending to Remy to let them know.

We arrive at opposite ends of the alley they are all in, hands up, entreating for a conversation. Klyce says we just want his help, the church is about to strike, killing or enslaving the king’s people. If he wants his nation back, we have to save it first. The knight admits that taking the nation back is part of the plan, but won’t talk about anything further. Okay, but look we’re friends, and Family in Remy’s case, we can’t make you trust us, but we still need your help. The knight says if we want his trust, then let him walk away and reunite the king with his son. We agree, but ask if he’ll come back. He says that is up to the king, so we formally ask to speak with the king and he says we must fix what we have done, but he will pass the message on. He calls Red and Aranea out from the shadows and they leave through a portal she creates. We head back to the plaza.

Not long after this, Pyrus messages me asking for a place to send a force of mages, and 120 arrive from the Petals for the fight. We explain how the fight with the priests went and Klyce sends them out to their positions. Maribeth arrives, telling us all about Rictus’ real name, and family, saying she thinks that his son became the Red Knight. We tell her about James, since she couldn’t find him in the records. So, now we know.

Then the group starts discussing taking out one of the airships before the battle begins. The forces amassing in Brooklyn don’t have boats, but we can’t do much about them right now. If we can get up to ship and take it out before they are ready, maybe we can at least figure out how to take them down. Klyce hands Remy three bombs and then eagles up and takes him into the clouds to find a target. They come back down after only a few minutes. There is a ship directly above Police One. I give everyone flight and we head up together. No one is visible from the outside. We put Gerhardt below the ship, to keep them from dropping bombs if the bay doors begin to open. The rest of us head up top, and Nat sends her eye in to see what is going on. There are no planes inside, no crew, no pilots. She does see about twenty Priests inside, and down in the gondola, three stand at the controls. The entire gondola is filled with bombs, and glowing golden canisters. The priests here have controls that could detatch the entire gondola from the balloon, so we send Dalish down to support Gerhard, in case they need to catch the entire structure. The canisters are filled with altered mana, infused wth the garion goo.

Maribeth and her duplicate cast invisibility on us all and we sneak in, we have to take out those priests and keep that from dropping on our forces. Remy decides to haste himself and Klyce before we start the fight, but this alerts the priests to our presence. Fortunately, it isn’t enough to save them. We put them all down and before they can even counter attack or alert the rest of the crew. We call Gerhardt and Dalish to join us and the pop right in beside us. We seal the hatches, set our bombs, and head out over the water. Nat studies the corrupted mana, tellig us that it would kill any mage and would either kill or convert the regular populace. Dalish sends to Pendleton, telling him to get his mages out of there. Then we send to Poissant and Costa with the same message, get the mages out and everyone else in shelter, underground if possible.

As we get out over the bay, and the clocks in town strike noon, the cloud cover vanishes, trumpets blare and light shines down on the city. The Hudson parts and the masse of faithful begin charging the city. The other nine airships are not over Manhattan, but are, rather, carpet bombing the Bronx. And we can only watch for a frozen moment, before kicking into action.

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