The Chioces of Gods and Men

We stare in shock as the bombs fall over the Bronx and the mobs rush across the East River. Wiest appears in the sky, raining her fire that is not fire down upon them. Clouds of luminous gas billows out from the dead. Klyce’s shout for us to DO Something! breaks our spell, and Gerhard takes most of us to Police Plaza. I rise immediately into the sky, bringing up a Storm of Vengeance upon the third line of faithful crossing the river. Gerhard and Maribeth join Wiest above the first and second waves. Dalish starts rallying the troops and giving orders below, sending Remy to the north with an army at his heels to take on the fourth wave. Behind us, Nat and Klyce take care of the airship, sending it into the bay before Klyce turns into Dragon and brings Nat in on red wings to join the fight at the river.

My storm keeps raging, far longer than it should, as I remember what it felt like those years ago in the Wrathbone mine, to Be the Green Witch. When it falters, I take control of the winds, to keep Dalish and Police Plaza safe while he commands the troops. Maribeth turns most of the river into a rocky mirage, slowing the troops, but not stopping them as Gerhard runs out of fire, and Wiest abandons the field of battle. Dalish and I head for the riverbed where he raises thousands of the dead and turns them back on the faithful.

Nat says we have to get to the church, we have to get to the source, so we stop fighting in the river and fly across to Brooklyn. Gathering above the temple, mana is redistributed and we take a breath, but not a break. We cannot wait, people are dying in the streets. Golden gas is coming up from the sewers. Only half of Pendleton’s men made it out of the Bronx.

Gerhard teleports us down to the workroom we all remembered so well from the time bubble. Nat could not see in there, but it was not protected against teleport. We land safely, and see that it has been used as some sort of ritual room. An altar in an alcove to the side, and all the benches and lockers gone. Everything s coated in a sickly pink flesh.

Klyce goes to the iron doors, back in his demon form now, to rip them open. Shadows in the corner ripple, and the Black and Red knights step out, with Aranea. The king has decided the city is worth saving. As we walk, Aranea fixes the weakness Nat’s last wish has caused her, allowing her to again wield her new sword. Klyce tells the Black Knight that he will fix his arm if we all survive, but the knight just shrugs. The tunnel is dark, but the brightness ahead grows quickly as we descend into the chamber with the severed head of the giant worm, still trapped in its bubble.

The flesh here covers every inch of floor, wall, ceiling, and machinery. It is also beginning to cover the time bubble in the center of the pit. There are body parts here, too, but far too many. Arms, legs, eyes, mouths, floating in the fleshy goo. The flight I have gifted everyone is still working, so only the knights dare step in it. The Archdeacon Wood is here, and dares ask if we have reconsidered.

No more than you, Archdeacon, it’s time to end this.

Wood rises up into the air, but Gerhard counters whatever it was he wanted to do. I cast out a chain lightning, but it does not reach him. Remy’s bullets, however, do. Aranea tries a different magic, but it is stopped as well. The Black Knight heads for the pit and the Red Knight rockets up to the machinery to begin burning away the flesh. Dalish calls up an illusory dragon to burn the flesh from the time bubble, and Maribeth follows suit. Nat tries to curse Wood, but it just falls away. Klyce begins chanting to his sword about being vengeance, and this many being most worthy of it and flies right up to Wood and throws him to the ground. Wood begins laughing joyously, that Klyce is giving in to his power here, at the source of his god, but we don’t have time to do anything else. Remy shouts for us all to do the same.

Nat, calling upon his godly power, manages to pull a few spells off of Wood, and I call up some holy lightning. The others begin pulling harder on their power to burn the flesh, and Klyce stays on Wood, dragging him down to the ground again and again, as he calls upon the flesh of the room to punish us all. I see pain in the faces of my friends, and some mana escapes from Nat is a blue puff, but they seem mostly alright, and I didn’t feel a thing.

Remy attempts to wish our that this room work like a machine, draining our divinity back into us. The room warps and the machinery changes and we are suddenly all connected in that agonizing way that only a mana machine can do. Wood is exstatic> “Exactly as you foresaw! Yes!” Klyce grabs him and they disappear down into the pit. The Red Knight ditches the fight and the Black Knight is nowhere to be seen. At Remy’s urging, we all try to take back our power while continuing to burn the flesh as we can. Aranea casts spells to assist us, but the fight is hard, for even unthinking, Garion’s will is strong.

Nat, using her sword as a focus, manages to pull the Dawnmother’s essence out, but Gerhard falls to the ground. Aranea continues to help and heal, but we struggle. Wood reappears at the top just as Dalish reabsorbs the Stoneman’s essence. Nat stabs the flesh one more time, and the flesh goes limp all around us and her soul-eating sword shatters. Wood tries to call up his own wish, but we counter him. Remy floats down to Gerhard and pulls his soul back into him with his own Wish. I toss lightning down at Wood, and Maribeth sends in a mental attack. Klyce stabs him through the heart and incinerates every inch of his body.

As Klyce turns to us, still seething with rage, Remy calls out to him to stay his vengeance. It is clear that it takes a great force of will, but he releases his power and lands among us. The Black Knight reappears, standing directly behind Klyce and sheathes his sword. Remy passes out from the strain of the fight. I send up to Pendleton that the Garion flesh is dead and the Archdeacon is down. He replies that the mist is gone, and the cultists have come to their senses. Dalish commands his zombie horde to stop fighting. The Black Knight bids us rest and then meet him and the King at The Door. I shout Deal! before anyone else can answer, and he and Aranea disappear into the shadows again.

Dalish offers the rest of us help getting our essences back later, but for now it is time to rest. We head back, Nat taking it slow, to heal anyone she can along the way. Dalish has his zombies round up the dead. Klyce tells Philomena the whole story. I simply collapse into bed and sleep, exhausted by the day’s events, but excited to meet the Prince.

In the morning, we gather for breakfast, sitting by Maribeth and both our brothers come home. I scold mine for having left, and he takes it with a smile at his lady. Porter and Julian look haggard, but well enough. Then the sendings start coming in from every corner, with reports and request for information and orders. Klyce wants everyone to get the bodies taken care of, search and rescue to be mobilized, and fresh water brought into the city in as large of quantities as can be mustered. They all need things to do while we finish cleaning up our own mess.

When everyone has eaten, stowed their magical gear, and replied to their sendings, I teleport us up to the throne room of the old palace. The door behind the throne stands open, and while magic is still suppressed beyond it, the feeling is a familiar one by now, and Dalish is able to descend with us this time. The world goes black and white as we climb, and down in the chamber, the King, the Black Knight, and Aranea are waiting. Dalish asks why Rictus’ son is not with them, and the Black Knight says that this does not concern him. The king apologizes for not trusting us and asks if we have any questions.

Dalish asks how he knew about the door. It’s an old family legend, he tells us. His family are descendants of the Green Witch herself, and their blood is needed to open the way. His great grandfather found it was here when he came to this continent, and built their home above and around it. Dalish asks if he knows what it holds. Yes, he and the Clever Prince shared the last seventeen years in the void together. The Prince helped him keep his sanity in nothingness, and he intends to open the door and free him.

Klyce asks if he knows what will happen then. Freedom. Maribeth asks what that means, and if it will do the things we hoped to fix. The king is not sure, but he knows none of that can be done until it is opened. Dalish asks what he intends to do after, and he says that will be in our hands. We all agree the mageocracy was a failure. He is willing to take back leadership if that is the will of the people, but mostly, he just wants to spend time with his son. That is his priority after missing the last seventeen years with him. Remy offers to take him south, but he does not wish to rule them either.

Klyce asks if we are all in agreement. If anyone objects to opening the door. Nat, Maribeth, Dalish and I immediately agree. Remy is his usual annoying pendantic self. Gerhard is reluctant, but will not vote against it. Klyce agrees and we are unanimous. Then six other voices ring out WE OBJECT, and six luminous figures descend into the cave. The Black Knight and the King freeze in time, as the Gods appear before us.

We all stare for a moment as the Gods look down upon us. They look tired, angry, sad, but determined. Remy, always Remy, breaks the silence by asking why. The Eternal Mind answers for them all, he talked more than Remy, but it went something like: Because it will make things so much worse. You have seen suffering and you think that anything must be better than this. That is how we felt, and the end of this road will take you right back to the beginning and the Clever Prince shall walk as a god, and set his vengeance against this plane of existence. And oh he went on and on and on… Something about our mana being the bones of the fae and havoc and chaos.

When he ran out of steam, Dalish asked why they left these bones, the mana, in the earth in the first place, when the separated the worlds.

The Stoneman answered that the bones belong in the earth, and is not for us to remove them. The fae realm was of the earth. Everything continues, they merely fractured it.

The Vengeance cut in then, saying that the Fae wrought horrors upon the earth. He wants to open the door and end the Prince, and the fae, forever!

There is some back and forth then. Remy calling out that vengeance is this god, and not the Prince, he wouldn’t seek vengeance. And The Vengeance calling him a monster. Then Klyce stepping in and saying that Vengeance is just as bad, or worse. That he just wants to destroy everything. The Green Witch enters the fray, with the tale of the frog and the scorpion. The Clever Prince is a scorpion, she says, he can do nothing but strike, poison, and destroy.

Dalish calls out what they have done, that it was wrong, and has wrought destruction in return. Klyce suggests that the fae follow their own rules, and perhaps we could make a deal with the Prince. Remy says the war needed stopping in their time, and they did their best, but men always find new ways to make war, and that the damage they have caused will only quicken our decay as we fight over the mana.

The Stoneman says that removing the mana would rupture the earth. The Tempest says they should have take it all away. The Eternal Mind does not agree, and is concerned that the Tempest does. The Vengeance says that the bones of our enemies belong in the ground. Remy asked if magic existed before the breaking. The Eternal Mind said of course it did, that’s where their power came from, and the fae made it possible. Dalish explains what locking the fae away has caused and the machines that have brought the fae back into our world. The Dawnmother says that the fae cannot be trusted but they must also not be destroyed.

I jump in at this point, having barely recovered from their appearance, but I am frustrated and angry. Your essences coming back into the world have caused this chaos, the deaths of thousands. We have to fix what you have done before more of the world is destroyed. Nat agrees with me, their mistakes caused this, let us open the door and we will deal with the consequences. The Vengeance is eager for this. Klyce steps in, You all failed. You had your chance and you missed. Be done with all of this? Aren’t you lonely and tired? Let it all go. Just let it go, you are only echoes of what you used to be. It is Our World now. You don’t live here, you quit. We’re still here, it’s our decision now.

The Stoneman shows us what had happened in their time. The chaos and destruction caused by the Prince and the fae. When it is over, Dalish nearly laughs. So, he is as big an ass as those we have already fought. The Stoneman relents that he is what he is. The Vengeance puts in another bid to kill him. Maribeth insists that the only way forward is releasing him and restoring the balance. That they had no right to destroy the fae world as they have done.

The Stoneman looks at us all thoughtfully, glancing at Klyce. In your tirade, one thing moved me. I am lonely. We exist from the power we took, born of the earth. It did not stop without us. I have one last wish, to slumber, to return to the earth. He then lays a hand on Dalish, and the last vestiges of his power flowed out and into him. The Stoneman was gone, and the Green Witch wailed in pain.

The Tempest looks at Gerhard. I would almost agree, but you seem to not be having any more fun than me these years. Nat steps in to defend our quiet friend, saying he has his fun in his lab, with his alchemical works.

Klyce steps forward. I doubt this was in your plan, but what is your endgame here? I step up with him, looking at the Green Witch. Your descendent is here, ready to open that door as is his familial duty. Ready to give his blood. It is time. Klyce picks up the line. The world has moved on. Let this be the end of it. You have stuck around long enough. It is over and if you cannot change then there are only scorpions here.

The Tempest, still frowning at Gerhard. I don’t think you are wrong. And gives his last bit of power to Gerhard.

Then Klyce turns to Vengeance. How about you just leave? I want no part of you. The Vengeance replies, You are too week to carry my mantle. Klyce scoffs, That’s some toxic B.S. You never look at your own self. Only everyone else’s sins. How many lives are on your hands? And they fight, and Klyce defeats him handily, but when he takes his essence in, it changes. Even his sword becomes a shining light.

The Dawnmother has been watching quiestly and steps forward, looking hard at me. I set my descendents to watch this door. It is true, that I am tired. If it is truly time, and this is to be the fate of the world. I must not stand in its way. If it is time, then it is time. And she places a hand on Nat’s head and gives herself over.

The Green Witch looks at me, clearly upset that all her friends are leaving her one by one. Even more upset that we are freeing her erstwhile lover. I would look upon his face one last time. And pass along the memories, and the pain, and the joy. Then she melds into me, but I can still feel here, looking out of my eyes. The Eternal Mind looks at us. He wanted to be the last one. He doesn’t even like his chosen. He says Maribeth never even figured out how to use the library properly. He goes on for a little while, and tells her to enjoy watcing everyone around her be stupid. Then he sighs, almost happily. At least now, I don’t know what’s next.

Time resumes, as the King cuts open his hand and anoints the door. Color creeps back into the room, and the door becomes living wood. He turns back to us. It is done, it is upon you to open the door and deal with the consequences. I will see my friend, and then go.

We all step forward, our minds made up, and open the door. Music pours forth as the Clever Price struts free into the chamber, a slow, sweet jazzy number, full of joy and promise. It’s been a long time, friends. Not for us. It’s good to see you again, he says, looking almost through my eyes. I answer for us both, that I’m not sure I can say the same. What would you have of me? Dalish explains what has happened and that we would like him to fix it.

He thinks it was all a great trick, and then that we would need to bring back his father. Klyce says no, that he is the King now, and it is time for him to grow up. He asks for his powers back, that we took from him. We agree, but Remy insists that the games must stop. Klyce says his distructive ways led to this. And Dalish threatens to separate the worlds permanently if he cannot control himself. Alock begins speaking through Remy to explain the damage to the Fea Realm, and the Prince waves a hand, pulling him out and giving him back his own body. The Prince enjoys his games and is sad we don’t want him to play. Klyce points out that it’s a bigger challenge to play games that don’t kill people. The Prince seems to be catching on, that games are more fun if people can keep playing and if they want to play them. He agrees to our deal.

I ask the Green Witch if she is ready to return to him, to watch over him, and she is, returning to be with him forever. The others all give up their godly essences, though Nat is most reluctant. That feels good again. We have made him whole again, and perhaps our influences on his essence will give him something to think on. He promises to make things as they were, and to have fun games. He will see us all again. Remy asks what of the mana, and he says it will just be dirt now. He is late to a party, so he takes Aranea and Alock and disappears back to his world. Remy tries to eradicate the machines with a wish, but they are irrelevant now. The King takes his leave with Sir Hector, and we warn them to be wary of Wiest, for she may still be on the warpath for her father’s death.

There is much to do, and we head out of the old palace to begin the work. To guide, explore, and discover this new world we are creating.

I must find my parents, and then, I must go back to the Fae. There is so much to learn there, and someone has to keep an eye on The Prince.

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.

Dark Politics

I don’t know what happened in the fight with the monsters holding the children. One moment I was preparing a chain lightning, and the next, all thought was gone from my head, and I felt awful. Then we were back in the hotel in Buenos Aires with Hank standing over me and the children behind me. We won, I guess, Nat was holding the full mirror, but was being very cagy about using it. Hank and friends said they didn’t want to use the mirror, and had been very worried because we were gone for a month.

A month!!!!! Swearing, I cast sending to my brother, and only manage to calm down enough to ask if he’s okay and what’s going on. He replies that he’s safe, but we shouldn’t come home, things are really bad. Ugh! I take a few breaths and send again but he says he can’t really explain it, and just thinks we should stay away. In consultation with Nat, we decide to Dream to him, so I send one more time and tell him to be asleep by 11. I send to Nat’s dad, but he doesn’t have any information about what happened. They are safe though.

Some of the others go shopping and out to dinner and such things, but I just sit and wait for the night. I know he’s just trying to protect me, but he cant be serious about us not coming back if things are really that bad. Who else is going to fix it? The adults???

The time comes, and Nat puts me under. Gerald is waiting, alone, in his very clean room. I thank him for that and praise his control of his dreams. Then he tells me. The church has risen up in full revolt against the wizards. The populace has risen up in full revolt as well. Everything is chaos. The church is killing mages on sight and offering the populace conversion or death. Oh, and they have airships. Gerald hasn’t left the house in two weeks. More of the Primes were killed, but he doesn’t know which ones. He hasn’t been to the school even. He and Crystal have camoflaged the house to look like it is already burned down. The populace is attacking all the rich houses and people. Okay, well that settles it, we’re coming back in the morning. We’re going to fix this.

I report in at breakfast, and after a bit of babble, and Nat preparing to shield my entire house, we head back and throw up a veil to keep scying eyes at bay. We have a lot of work to do, but first we need information. Maribeth and Remy head off to see the Chief. Gerhardt, Philomena, and Klyce head off to secure their families. Dalish, Nat, and I head to the school.

Not wanting to run into trouble on the streets, we head through the sewers. That’s where we discover the walls have flesh growing on them. It’s not terribly reactive, but Dalish is sure that it is Garion’s flesh. After hearing an airship’s pronouncement of their One True God and sacrament of Flesh, we start to wonder if they are infused with Garion’s power. He wanted to become a god, maybe he did in that explosion, and his flesh is empowering the church.

At the school, the defenses stand, but the gate stands open and unguarded. We head in, carefully, while Nat sends her arcane eye ahead of us. She says the faculty area of the main building is shielded. The auditorium has exploded, and there’s someting weird in the lab building, and one lone servire in the hall of records. Dalish leads us all to Rictus’ lab, through the ruined auditorium. It looks like it had been set for a certimum when it blew. I wonder if it was Wiest. Nat also says there’s movement in the woods.

Down in the lab, everything has been cleared out. Nothing remains, and Dalish really starts to worry about his phalactery. Nat takes a deep look around, and finds a hidden compartment with a Staff of Power. Well, that’s pretty cool, wonder who missed that. Rictus, or someone else?

We head up to the research building, and Nat and Dalish eventually work out that there are hidden doorways to other spaces in many of the labs. So, Dalish sends to James and he agrees to come out. The Faculty have kept all the students outside this world to keep them safe. They’ve started up a machine to supply their mana needs for this. James says he’s willing to help, if we can put a reasonable plan together, but the teachers have mostly kept them in the dark.

We head back to the main building to see who is hanging out in the offices. Naturally, we find Prime Alleria. She is able to tell us that Prime Trask and the Abjuration one, I can’t keep their name in my head, are both killed. Probably the Black Knight. The city is in chaos, but she says we’re on the right paths to fix it. She, as usual, doesn’t offer much more than that, but says we should go back and look at the auditorium’s explosion. When we ask about the forest, she says it’s the groundskeeper and the servires, but she doesn’t know where their loyalties lie.

Nat takes us back there, to see what happened, and even includes us in her spell this time. Rictus is there, on the stage by the certimum bowl, but then he retreats to the balcony to wait. The Black Knight comes marching down the center aisle a time later. Rictus calls out to him, taunting that he shouldn’t have listened to the others, he should have killed him on the same day he killed the king he betrayed and his brother. The knight calls back that the king is not dead, and Rictus knows this. Rictus descends from his position in a creepy dark display and they begin to fight furiously. It is a fairly even match, but just as Rictus is starting to get the upper hand, the doorway explodes and Wiest strides in. Aranea is suddenly there, whispering in her ear that she must not let Rictus take her prize.

She charges forward and joins the fray, now Rictus is on his heels, but he manages to banish her and gets the upper hand in the fight again. The Black Knight looks done for. Until Aranea appears again, whispering in Rictus’ ear, that his son yet lives. We’re all stunned by this, and Rictus is so distracted that he drops his guard, and the Knight cuts his head clean off. Aranea and the Black Knight retreat from the auditorium before Wiest returns from her banishment. But when she does, there is such an explosion of rage that we are not entirely sure she lives.

Well, that was a lot. Nat says it happened just the night before. More swearing ensues as we were In Town last night and could have helped. A son? Rictus had a son? I wonder if his loss sent him down his dark path. What now? Dalish roots around in the ashes and finds part of his skull. It’s not enough for Nat to talk to, but it’s enough to bring him back. NO, Dalish, we aren’t doing that right now. We need to talk to the others.

We head out to the forest, sending ahead to the groundskeeper that we want to talk. He is not in a talkative mood and simply insists that he protects the school grounds, that’s it. So, we head back home to meet with everyone and discuss what we’ve learned.

We win for worst news of the three groups, filling everyone in on all the horrible flesh and death news. Klyce has started a people’s army, organizing the dissparate groups of the Manhatten rebels. His sister has a line in with the Magia to get more organized, and more weapons. The police are holding the southern tip of Manhatten, and Remy hands us all credentials to have free passage down there. They’re willig to help, but they can’t do much against magic and chaos. Dalish is quite insistent that we go to the Petals. His conservative party is very upset with his disappearance, and he really wants to find his phylactery. Klyce wants to meet with the Magia and get everyone on Manhatten pointed in the same direction. So, after we have some lunch, we all head off again.

Maribeth goes with Klyce and the rest of us teleport down to Battery Park to make our way across to the Petals. We’re pretty certain teleporting in won’t work, so we commandeer a small ship to sail across. Between Nat’s seamanship, Dalish’s telekinesis ring, and my control of the wind, we make it about halfway across before an airship spots us.

Bombs begin falling and two small craft fly out and start shooting. We start shooting back, crashing the two small planes quickly, but barely scratching the airship. It sends out ten small craft and starts flying away, but the boys start sending up crushing black holes at it, and I start up with some chain lightening. Nat keeps the planes from shooting us after the first volley, and we manage to take them all down again. The big ship manages to escape, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be flying over the city for a few days at least.

Our ship is badly damaged, but we’re still able to limp the rest of the way to the Petals. Dalish’s party members are there, waiting for us, and escort us to the Tower of Justice for a meeting with their party leaders. Dalish asks for a private meeting first, where he tells them of Rictus’ death the night before, and his son. They are just as surprised as we were. We also talk about the need to stop fighting the populace and unite to take on the Church. They seem in agreement with this, so we head upstairs to convince the rest.

It’s just three people, leaders of their own conservative factions. And one of them immediately declares that he must be the leader if there is to be any unity. Remy says that the leader needs to be on the front lines, and says Dalish should be that leader. Dalish puts in that he just wants to be the Wartime General to lead the forces against the Church. They say that the concern right now is mana, and that must be resolved before all else. That the Petals will run out of mana in four days, and so nothing else can be decided without a solution to their disrupted supply lines. One of the groups wants to turn the machines back on, just four machines and they’d be fine. Another one of the leaders says that they’ve worked out a demon machine if we don’t like the fae machines, but all of this sounds horrible. Dalish, or maybe Remy, I wasn’t really paying attention, suggested relocating the majority of mages out to near one of the refineries so they have all the mana they need, while the rest stay to fight. Using the Petals as a trap for the Church’s airships. If the fighters all pull back here, and we can convince the Church that we’ve run out of mana, perhaps they’ll attack and we can put a massive dent in their airforce. Then, when weakened, can counter attack into Brooklyn and take them down.

There is a lot of arguing about leadership and mana and I just don’t care. Eventually, we bring them back around to where we started, that Dalish should be appointment Wartime General to lead the forces against the Church. The non-fighting mages will pull back south of Jersey City, and the fighting mages will lay in wait here for the Church to swoop in when the defenses fall. They agree that if we can get the people to stop attacking them, they’ll focus just on the priests. They agree to get their factions on board with all of this, but say we have to go talk to everyone else, too.

So, I message Prime Pyrus and he agrees to meet with us in his office. We head down, and into a sauna. He is there in a towel and we explain our plan. He is quickly on board and agrees to a deliberative in the morning to bring our plan to fruition. He says with the Utopians and Conservatives, it shouldn’t be hard to bring everyone else in line. Well, thank the gods we don’t have to go talk to any more politicians. We step outside while he reconfigures his office so we can teleport out of the Petals, and says to message him in the morning so he can do it again to allow us back in. I send a message to Klyce to let him know we’re on our way home. He replies that he has to destroy a bridge, but then he’ll be home.


We get home, and true to his word, Klyce and Maribeth show up shortly after. We report what we’ve managed to accomplish. Klyce says he has organized a meeting this evening to organize Manhatten, and has destroyed the Brooklyn Bridge, to keep the Priests’ ground forces at bay. He wants to pull Manhatten forces together to push the Church out of the Bronx as well, and secure this side of things. There is quite a lot of work to do in the morning, but first we have to convince everyone to join us, and the Church is probably going to show up at a meetig so large. Well, I wish we hadn’t fought an airship already today, but it is what it is. Let’s go.

Into the Darkness

As we land back in Buenos Aires, Klyce transforms into a huge demon and charges Hank, putting him through a wall. Then, through gritted teeth, asks us to get Hank our of here or stop him. Nat traps Klyce in a ball of force and Hank comes back in. Through sheer force of will, Klyce calms himself and explains that having killed Hank in the big fight under the glacier, and then having brough him back, his vengeance is very angry. That Hank being alive is athema to him. Locke grabs Hank and they blink out. Far enough for Klyce to truly relax.

Nat wonders about going into Klyce’s brain to try and solve the problem. Klyce is open to it, since Nat was able to almost find the problem with his new step-dad. Then Dalish asks if Klyce can’t just tell the vengeance No, but it’s not that simple. Klyce says that he IS vengeance, and there’s no putting a stopper in it. The others go off for awhile about out godly connections until Klyce and Philomena head off to find a different hotel.

Then, as folk start going through the loot they found, I send to Hank that he can come back, and he does. The group has picked up a couple swords, a blowgun, a new robe, some fancy armor, a strange candlestick, a satchel of potions, a new necromancy spellbook, and three tomes that they think are really big business. It seems both swords would fit Klyce, but also both seem pretty dangerous. I’m a bit horrible to Remy about their looting while he’s trying to tell us about the worse sword of the two. I was just so angry about them looting while we were trying not to die from all the lava pouring in on us. Maribeth talks me down and offers to get tea with me later so we can chat.

The group decides I should have the weird robe, it can let off a brilliant light three times a day and stun everyone who sees it. That seems weird, but hey, maybe the Dawnmother will like it. Then everyone goes off to their rooms to READ for Three Days!!! We need to be after the last shard, we need to finish this mission and get back home! We’ve been down here so long and the elections are coming, and my brother is living with a demon and my parents are still missing! And they take three days to READ! I know I always want to run away and just not deal with things, but we told the queen we’d rescue the prince, and we told people we would find the Black Knight, and we’re supposed to be helping stop the city from exploding or imploding, I’m not really sure which at this point. Nearly dying twice a week is fun and all, but we have to get home.

We get back together after those three days, after Nat dug around in Klyce’s brain on the third night. Everyone is there, and everyone stares at Klyce when he and Philomena arrive. He is confused by our attention, but seems fine, so we settle in. They say that to books didn’t expend themselves and can be used again right now, if we want. I nearly explode. I am NOT waiting another three days doing Nothing! We have to get the shard and we have to go back. Klyce agrees with me, thank the gods. We give all the pieces to Nat and they snap together into a nearly complete mirror. She says she can feel a directionality, but cannot see a location. The others pull out books and try to sort out her feeling. It looks like Southern Argentna, where there’s a place called the Cave of Hands. It’s an ancient site with stenciled handprints, but one of the illustrations has a stylized purple bird on the edge. It looks like the one from the tablets Philomena found.

We have a locaiton now, and Philomena says she’s going to come with us this time, with no research left to do here. Hank says he thinks this is for us to do. They were only led here to help us get there, so they’ll stay behind. We head out on Dalish’s dead bird, with Klyce flying Philomena beside us. Several people spend our travel time reading those damn books again, but I don’t know how they can read while flying, I can hardly keep my eyes open for the nausea of it all. Somewhere along the way, Klyce gives Maribeth and Remy their youth back, I looked up one morning, pulling my mask aright, and they were young again. Maribeth looks much happier now.

On the evening of the third day, we find the canyon and Nat leads us to the mouth of the cave. There is a huge circle around it of no vegetation, and it is all the way out here where our magic is suppressed. It’s easier now though, we’ve done this so many times already. We head inside and the darkness is oppressive, and magical. Dalish has to cast Daylight on Klyce’s scorpion tail to allow us to see even a little bit. The hands start changing as we get deeper and deeper, into clawed, hideous things.

Our path comes to a dead end at a solid sheer wall. There are two stylized, purple amethyst parrots. I reach out to one and it feels hot. Nat looks around and finds small carvings on the other walls. Describing the people coming here to offer sacrifices. That this is the gateway to the land of the dead. Daish and Maribeth say that could mean the land of shadows, or smokey mirror, where they go to be forgotten. Seems pretty horrible to me. Nat feels a thinness here, and she cuts her hand, praying to the Dancer at the Crossroads. She pulls the mirror out of her pocket, smearing it with blood. There is a deep purple flas and a gateway opens. It feels like death, but we all head through. We’ve all died at least once, maybe this is where we belong.

Stepping through, every bit of moisture feels pulled from our skin and the darkness presses in even harder. We are standing on sand? No, looking down, it is powdered bones, we can see a few full pieces here and there. Dessicated corpses from eons past. Nat leads us onward for a long while. It feels like Old Town used to, up in Bangoria. The shadows stir and rise, and crowd in around us. I shout for everyone to close their eyes and light up the cloak. We need more than me, folks. And I begin praying to the Dawnmother as Dalish and Remy cast more Daylight spells on Klyce to keep the shadows at bay.

Dawnmother guide us. Dawnmother teach us. Dawnmother protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. I live only to serve. My life is yours.

Over an hour later, the shadows finally abate, but what we find is far worse. Three monstrous chained beings of flesh and eyes and mouths, with three young people trapped inside them just barely younger than most of us. That Voice comes again: Great Works require Sacrifice. Do the work and complete the sacrifice.

I thin there were more words, but I stopped listening as Remy translated them out for the rest of the group. Nonononono! We are not killing children! The monsters just stare at us. And the group erupts. No! We can’t kill the kids! Nat wants to go investigate, but Remy stops her. We have to talk this through first. What are we doing? He turns to them and speaks in their language.

Can you understand me?

Yes, mortal.

Why are you here?

To preserve and wait.

Why do you have these children?

To be their continuance and their end.

Where can we find the shard?

It will be revealed when all here are dead.

Who put you to this task?

Those you call gods.

Nat wants to see if the kids are still alive/thinking. She she looks in on them. They are sleeping and having happy, peaceful dreams. She pushes in, looking for how they got here. There were in a forest village with their parents when luminous beings arrived. They spoke for a time and then volunteered to be taken and brought here. The luminous being said a great work was to be done, and innocent young volunteers were needed. They would be lost to their families to protect a dangerous fae artifact. These three came willingly, knowing it would cost their very lives.

We all take a step back. Why are we even doing this? Why is the other group helping us do this? What if we just don’t? We don’t even know why Hank and friends are helping us put the mirror back together. We want to find the Black Knight with it, but why, actually. What are we going to do if we find him? What is all this for? We cannot kill these kids. There has to be another way. We’ve come this far, we have to finish, but we are not going to murder children to do it.

Remy turns back to the monsters.

What happens when they are taken?

They cannot but through death.

What if we kill you?

The children are freed.

Can they survive without you?


Can you be destroyed without killing them?

Yes, if you so choose.

What purpose do you serve?

And to this, they do not reply. Nat tries to detect thoughts of the monsters. They are waiting. To see if we attack or sacrifice the children. They are linked to them, in life and death. If they children are killed, the monsters will die immediately. The children are weak, it would be easy to do. The monsters themselves are quite hardy and will not die easily. They have no weaknesses, many resistances, and are immune to poison.

But this is what we must do, the children must live, even if it means our own sacrifice to save them.


Philomena found information on our next stop while we were out saving Hank and friends. She found tablets with iconography showing the six gods at war with chaos. They gathered together and went to the source of the chaos and returned with a prized possession that looks a lot like the mirror. They used it, broke it, and then sealed it away from man. It depicts each of the places we have been so far, plus the one remaining spot in the desert. It also seems to say that once five of the pieces are together, they will reveal the way to the final piece. The people on the tablets are represented by the different animal images we’ve seen at the various locations.

The others have mostly all just died and come back, so we leave them behind and head for the desert. I send some messages along the way to check in with folk. My brother is safe and says nothing much is going on. Nat’s family is also safe. Unfortunately, Xin Yue isn’t doing as well. She says that the Golden Horde has taken over her entire country and her brother is being held by the Khan of Khans. She says the Golden Horde isn’t done, and is likely to come for us, too.

Flying over the salt flat desert is pretty disconcerting, so I just cover my face and trust Nat to guide us. She directs us to a huge dormant volcano and then to a winding trail up the side. We land at the foot of the path and start walking up. There’s a marker with a lizard on it, and it glows as we pass. These markers continue as we go along the path, so we follow on up, hoping that they will let us in if we light them all up. The ground seems to be vibrating and shifting beneath us. As we make our way further and fruther up, the top of the volcano starts smoking. The volcano is waking up. About halfway up, the magic suppression started again.

It’s sunset by the time we get to the top. A large crater holds six large iguana statues made of amber, and a small 10′ tall pyramid. As we head down into the crater, the statues light up. There’s a loud crack as the ground shifts and begins breaking apart as lava surges up. Most of the group manages a dimension door to get out, but Gerhard and I can’t quite manage. Klyce transforms and lifts us up out of the lava for a moment until I can pull myself together and get us out.

The entire caldera becomes a lake of lava, and the pyramid and statues reappear, appearing to float on the lake. Klyce flies over to the pyramid, and finding it stable, waves the rest of us over. Dalish tries to fly over with Remy, but it’s too hot and they end up d-dooring very quickly. I do the same with Maribeth, Gerhardt brings Nat over.

Inside is unadorned smooth stone and stairs leading down. A familiar voice calls out: “Touch nothing but the crank.”

Remy and I tell the others and we head down the stairs. Into a massive room of treasure. Money, art, magic items. Everyone stays on the path, but as we get further into the chamber, the gold lessens and the items increase. Some of them on plinths tempting us in our minds, offering us their power. Sunblade, Oathbow, Mirror of Lifetrapping, Tomes… But we press on. Across a bridge over a pool of water to a short set of stairs leading up to a landing with a crank, lit with light from above.

Klyce steps forward and activates the crank. Tremors pulse through the structure. The voice calls out again: “You have passed. Now comes your trial.”

Lava starts pouring into the room and we start running. Well, okay, Some of us start running, and some of us start looting the room. Okay, everyone but me starts grabbing items instead of running away from the lava. I yell at them to stop it and just run, but as more and more of them grab things, no one listens anymore. Even Klyce circles back for a book.

By the time we get up the stairs and away from the pouring lava, we’re all a bit singed. The pyramid is stable, but there are massive wings beating the air outside. A massive real-life, red Dragon is flying around out there. I think it was Remy who asked if it had a name, or what it wanted, I’m not sure anymore, because the answer was DEATH.

I manage to peak out of the pyramid to call up a storm, but that was one extremely scary dragon. As usual, a lot of fire, spells, lightning, and bullets fly before we manage to bring it down. Klyce yanks the mirror piece out of its forehead, that ought to have made anyone cranky, before it sinks into the lava. The lava then solidifies over it’s body and the lake and dragon are no more.

The fifth piece acquired, we head down the mountain and back to Buenos Aires.