Demons Come Home to Roost

We set up a private sanctum in my room, blocking the doors and windows with furniture. Taking watches and resting, to heal and recover. The time passes quietly. I leave a note for Gerald to go the school and stay there, it isn’t safe here anymore. When Marybeth wakes up, she remembers she was supposed to contact her handler, but had just been too exhausted. Nat offers to go with her, to tag along in her dreams. Marybeth tries to resist, but we insist. Nat makes some tea, and they both go back to sleep.

Nat wakes up vomitting. We really need to get her better herbs. She couldn’t follow Marybeth, but she did learn a lot about the monsters we’ve been fighting. Back before the breaking, the fae world and ours were nearly on top of each other, but now they orbit a void. Souls travel this void from one world to the other. At the breaking, some fae were trapped here in our world. They called out for help, for centuries they called to their people. Eventually, they were answered, by the demons in the void. These demons are siphoning the souls for power as they travel between worlds through the void. They come from somewhere further out, but the void gave them a new home, and they have been growing in power ever since.

Marybeth wakes up then. She says that Grandfather is taking advantage of loopholes in the contract. He has put it back in arbitration, to get himself in charge again. He is threatening to summon a greater evil upon the world if they don’t do what he wants. She confirmed that the curse is on her entire bloodline, and he was brought back with all her power, and his own contacts. He has convinced a chaotic subfaction to follow him. They are trying to bring her back to their home to remove the contract from her. If he gets it back, he can wreak more havoc on the world. She had been offering them the souls of those we killed, while her Grandfather had been killing innocents. We have to stop him from summoning this greater evil, and get her back to their home to defend herself. We insist on going with her, but she is afraid of us understanding the whole of it. So, we have Nat fill her in on what she’s already told us.

We’re all in. How do we find Grandfather? He must need mana. Where would he get it? The school? A refinery? A storage facility? He might masquerade as Marybeth in any of those places. Could Nat scry on him, just to see? Orrin cannot sense the other Marybeth. What about the bog witch? Then the conversation devolves into an argument about how he got into the Library. It doesn’t matter! He did it!

Nat tries to scry, but gets nothing. Dalish receives a summons from Rictus. Ugh! Where else might Grandfather be? What about that blood cult? There might be power there for him? Might as well check, it’s in this area of town. So, we head over there first.

It is still closed. Nat picks the lock to get us inside. It has been cleaned and repaired, but not very well. No one has been here in a very long time. There is nothing to find, so we head on to the school. I give Dalish back his phylactery since Rictus will want to see it. We make a plan of how to explain our presence to the groundskeeper to get me on campus, which I prompty forget when faced with him and the servires. I tell him we’re investigating a threat to the school and the city at large. I promise to behave, like I did the last time, and he gives me another day pass in.

Remy asks if Marybeth has been around since last time, but he says no. Remy asks about the fountain, but it isn’t running, the mana is kept more securly now. Marybeth asks him to banish her temporarily once we leave today, and he agrees. Dalish heads to meet Rictus and the rest of us head to look around the school. Everything seems pretty normal and quiet. Eventually, we head up to see Raltus. He tells us that things are just ask quiet as it seems. James is his only regular visitor. Remy consults with him on medical practices. Nat leaves Aleria a note, and when Dalish rejoins us, we head out.

Dalish tells us that the sacks have been destroyed, hundreds of them. And we’ve been tasked with finding and killing the black knight. This runs into a conversation of the morality of such an order. Are we actually going to kill him? Klyce, who previously had been all about following orders, but against killing, is back on his no death kick. Marybeth agrees. Dalish points out we’re still military, and these are direct orders. Remy wants to talk to him, understand what he is doing. Maybe we can capture him instead.

As we approach Marybeth’s old house, she turns into her accountant and begins to give us a tour as through we are going to buy the place. We head around the back and Nat once again lets us inside. The house is gutted and empty. Marybeth leads us to her Grandfather’s office and we begin a search in earnest, spreading out from there. Nat finds a compartment in the fireplace mantel, containing a series of papers in a strange language. Marybeth has a quick arguement and snatches them away, reading feverishly. The original contract, it seems. Remy finds a small iron box in another room with a strange symbol on it. We decide to take it back to my place to try and disarm it and head out.

The front gate is hanging open. Oh… no… I stop everyone and peak around the grounds. No one. We carefully head up to the house. The front door is wide open. Quietly, carefully, we creep inside. There are sounds from the dining hall. I gather everyone around the door. Ready? They all nod and I throw the door open.

There are two pig and four toad demons sitting at my dining table, feasting. Feasting on my servants! They’re talking to me, but I hear only thunder. I call forth the storm, screaming at them to get out of my house as I send lightning into the one who is speaking. Three of them leave immediately. The other, Thanks Me For My Hospitality!!! And before I can send another lightning bolt at him, he takes the remaining toads and leaves as well.

People are talking to me. I still hear thunder and wind. I let the spell drop. Yes. Yes, they all have family. Oh gods! Oh Dawnmother! Nononono. This isn’t happening. Why? We have to gather them up. I stride in and start gathering the parts, trying to match bodies. Gerhardt! Dalish! Help me! We have to tell their families. We have to give them proper burials. How? Where? What funeral parlor would their families use? How do I find them? I have to pay for it, I have to take care of their families. Klyce is talking at me again. We can’t give them back like this. We have to cremate them. Nat? Nat please help? We wrap the pieces and take them outside. The garden, they all loved the garden. I used to play here with them. Nat lines them up, and says the words and prayers. I try to pray to the Dawnmother, I don’t know what I say. Guide their fate or something ridiculous. Their fate is sealed. We start the fires. Nat asks about the neighbors, but I don’t care.

Then Klyce is yelling. Something is wrong at his house. He turns into an eagle and flies away with someone on his back. I max out my fly spell to get everyone still standing around and we fly after him. We arrive shortly after him. His living room is covered in gore and demon parts. Philip is sitting dazed with a knife in his hand and blood all over him. Klyce yells down for someone to come up to his sister Patty. I stop Dalish and go up myself. I just can’t clean up anymore blood today. Klyce asks me to send to Elizabeth to tell her to come home. I do and she’s busy but alive.

When they ask me to bring her down, everything is clean again. Klyce is explaining that there was an attack and Philip defended the family, but they are no longer safe here. Our enemies are attacking our loved ones. The shop will have to close for a few days while we sort everything out. Klyce asks if they can all come back to my place. Of course, but that doesn’t seem safe either, right now. We’ll all be there, we’ll keep them safe. He asks everyone else about their families. Marybeth says we have to go get her mom. No one else has family they care about in town. Klyce’s mom resists, but he eventually convinces her. As we head out, I send to Elizabeth again, telling her she’s in danger and to meet us at my address. We head to where Marybeth’s mom is staying to round her up, and I wonder if anyone has called the fire squad on the black smoke from my garden.

Plantation Attack

Ever paranoid, the boys announce a false plan to the troops, in case the house mages are listening. It involves a suicidal charge up the middle toward the canons, and the soldiers pincering in from the sides. Using fog clouds for cover, at dawn. Once they’re done pontificating for no one’s benefit, we retire for the night and Nat pulls us all into her head.

Klyce wants to go tonight. He wants Dalish, me, and himself to drop down onto the roof for an alpha strike inside the house. The rest should come in through tunnels like our old Sanctum games, and take out the canons and guys with the big guns. Dalish might zombie up some of their soldiers to help. The troops will hang back and do as little as possible from the treeline. Klyce will head inside while Dalish and I help clean up the yard. Then we’ll all meet inside to take down the mage(s)?

We get some rest, though only a couple manage to recover spells by not taking watches. Nat sends in her invisible eye during our watch, but an invisible lady pops out and dispells it. Still before dawn, we start the men marching, and quietly fill them in on their part of staying in the trees as much as possible. We’ll signal if we need them to come in.

Dalish, Klyce, and I part from the group as we get near and fly in an arc way above the house. The diggers get digging and start heading in. Once they are in place, we fly down and then drop onto the roof. Nat says that most of the troops are an illusion, and they set about putting them to sleep. Klyce decides they don’t need our help, and opens a hole in the roof.

We slip inside, and find no one on the top floor. By the time we get downstairs, the others are entering through the front. We start checking the parlor, and a mage pops out of invisibility and paralyzes a bunch of us. Klyce pins him to a wall after getting sliced up pretty badly. Remy shoots him, but he manages to Banish Gerhardt. Then Klyce turns into an octopus, which doesn’t seem to hamper him all that much. This guy starts calling in fireballs and I fall unconscious. By the time I wake up, he’s down.

Nat says she can feel three people within thirty feet of us, and Klyce starts ripping up the floor. Marybeth drops down into the hole, while I look out the door to find two mages in the hallway. I toss a teacup at one of them while shouting for the group, but one sends flying snakes into the room, while the other walls us in with stone. We manage to sleep or kill the snakes, and then I dimension door Dalish and my self into the hallway. Remy had managed to jump through the door before the stone went up, but now he’s lying bleeding on the floor. Klyce opens a hole in the stone and grabs the mage with the gun. The other mage dimension doors himself away. Dalish nearly kills himself transferring life to Remy to bring him back. Marybeth manages to kill the woman under the floor. We take a breath to gather the dead and our men into the courtyard.

Fights, Justice, and Earth Magic

I wake up for half a second in Klyce’s arms, but a sharp stab in my back brings the darkness again. The next thing I know, a potion is being poured down my throat and we’re surrounded by dead ninjas. Maribeth is flickering in and out of reality, and the girl from the recorded images is standing nearby. We can also hear the sound of rushing water. I curl up in a ball, no more water, no more sharks, but Klyce shakes me and grabs my arm as the water rushes in. Half-blind in the rushing water and darkness, we do the only reasonable thing, and allow blind Nat to lead us out.

Once we get out in the bay and then back to shore. The girl’s brother arrives and the others thank him for helping in the fight. There’s a quick discussion about what will happen to Alice and Klein for their crimes, and he agrees to let us keep them. Xin Yue then surprises us all by saying she wants to stay here. She wants to help me with my magic. Ichi says he has to return home, and we promise to keep her safe. He is reluctant, but allows her to stay, and disappears off into the night.

We all head home, and Remy explains what happened with him and Ichi and Alice and Maribeth. He says they told Xin Yue all about me. We tell him that the invisible servants are the ones that messed up our house, so he calls Barry over. Barry tells us there is no way to override the guest protocols, and anyone we let in has the right to order the servants around. A problem for another time.

Klyce calls a group meeting and says we have some things to dicuss.

1) We have to take Alice to the authorities. We have to explain all about the ninjas and the kidnapping and the dominating, but somehow, we have to keep Xin Yue out of it. We have to emphasize that her experiments were a failure, so they don’t try again. And we have to tell them that the girl went home.

2) Hardin Klein? Dalish is all up in arms over being dominated by him, and he was responsible for the group that tortured Xin Yue. We talk Dalish down, he was in a bad place, and he didn’t actually make Dalish do anything he wasn’t already doing (tell the truth), and he didn’t actually know what the others were doing in the basement. He needs to take responsibility, but we don’t want to get him exeuted.

3) Xin Yue can stay with us. She says she’ll eventually find a place in Xingtown, but will stay at our apartment for now.

4) Then we talk about the killing. Klyce is Pissed at Dalish for killing people with his magic when Klyce had them under control. Remy and Dalish insist that they will kill people who are trying to kill them. Klyce asserts that people trying to kill him are not a threat to the rest of us, and not really a threat to him. We have to be better than they are.

Remy agrees that we won’t kill people if we have a choice. Dalish says he needs different spells, because most of his are lethal. He also insists that going this route will get at least one of us killed. We all agree not to kill anyone unless absolutely necessary.

Remy then brings up the fae. Klyce isn’t so worried about the monsters, likens them to beasts. We also wonder if we’re actually killing them, or just sending them back where they came from. More investigation is needed.

5) What about the spellbooks we have found? With no one alive to claim them, we decide to keep them.

6) The flask. Oh, man. This one was a crazy arguement. Klyce did not believe we should keep it, it’s too powerful and dangerous. Remy wants to keep it and use it to trap monsters attacking us, but says it can only hold one being. He’s not sure how Alice put multiple inside. I wonder what good a flask full of monster is, once you put a monster in, you can’t use the flask anymore unless you let the monster out again. Then you still have to deal with the monster. Klyce says our bosses may ask for the flask and it’ll be out of our hands anyway. Maribeth is adamently against using it to trap anyone, ever. Remy doesn’t trust the other mages with its power. Klyce puts our options to a vote.

We vote that we will give it if requested.

We vote to give it to them even if they don’t ask for it. Remy still doesn’t agree, and it feels like the Dawnmother all over again.

We agree that we will take a day and study the flask first, to see if there is any way to un-make it, so that no one gets it.

Then we go to bed. After a day of trying, we are not closer to destroying it, so we prepare our report for the next morning.

In the morning, we ask Xin Yue about the flask and she says it is evil and older than her people. They symbols on it older than their language. We gather up Alice and Klein and head to the hall of Justice. Along the way, Remy suggests giving the flask to Aleria. This seems a good compromise. At reception, we ask after her, but are told she’s generally not in her office here. Nat asks if she left a note, but there is nothing.

We go find Brock, who directs us to Rictus’ office. It’s pretty awful, starting with creepy armor and not ending with a bone and skull desk, and an organ playing softly in the corner. We turn in our report and present Alice and Klein. Rictus reads our report and then glides over to Alice. He pulls her spirit out of her body to ask if we are telling the truth, and she says yes. He drops her to the ground. Then he asks Klein his roll in all of this. He explains his unwitting part and is also dropped to the floor.

He asks if there is anything else, and when we say no, he tells us to archive the evidence. Maribeth asks to speak to him and everything goes dark. When the cloying darkness receeds, they are standing together. He says he has decided Alice should be executed for her crimes. Maribeth immediately calls forth a pillar of flame to consume her body and her life, while the rest of us stare, slack-jawed. He dismisses us and we hurry away. The boys have a quick go about Maribeth fullfilling a lawful execution, but my mind is buzzing too loud to listen.

We head to the archive with our evidence, and manage to arcane lock and veil the magic aura of the flask before turning it in. Hopefully it will just be filled away and never used again. Nat, Maribeth, and I head to the Dawnmother’s temple for some fresh air, and cleansing of spirit after all that horribleness.

We get some time off after that. I spend a good deal of it working with Xin Yue. She teaches me some of her language, and about her magic. She pulls her power from the earth, without raping it of mana like our wizards. (Her words.) She says she can teach me, but it will come at a price. Her price is that she can only eat meat. I agree, and learn that my price will be never cutting hair from my body. I’ll have to be careful around the crazy fireballs, I guess, but this new way gives me an extra bit of a boost to my magic.

Remy snags me one day to go try and talk to the fae in the woods at school. I get met by servires who say the woods is closed. I try to insist that I have governmental authority, but they insist it doesn’t matter. The woods are closed, they say, and offer to get the quartermaster. I agree, and when two go off to do that, I Dust Devil the remainder and take off at a dead run into the woods after Remy, who had snuck by their notice.

We get all the way to the pool where we met the tree-lady before, but the tree is a stump, and there is a creeping rot in the woods. Remy says there was magic here – necromatic and transmutive, but he can’t pin it down. I push on to the hut of the old woman, but it is also gone. I try to meditate on my connection to these creatures, but nothing. Remy asks if he should use the conjure spell, and I agree.

A beautiful woman carved from wood appears before us. I greet her and she bows her head to me. She sees Remy and begins to dance, though there is no music. I encourage Remy to join her, if he wants to make friends. It takes him a minute, but he gets the hang of the dance on his second try. He asks if she can understand him, and she reponds in English.

I like you, Remy. You get me out of here? It is bad here.

He stumbles a bit, and I encourage her that we’re there to help. He tells her that she needs to look a bit less conspicuous, and she transforms into a staff.

On our way out, the quartermaster meets us at the forest edge and declares us banned from the school grounds. Ugh! Like I want to go to that school! But we’ll have to go back eventually, maybe Dalish can talk to Rictus for us. Once we pass the gates, we can feel our way locked behind us. The lady transforms back into herself. Remy says she needs to look more like us, like me, so she transforms into a naked woman. He blushes to brightly! I convince her to create clothes as well, and we had home. Remy is nervous, but I tell him I’ll back him.

We introduce her around to the group. She recognizes what blinded Nat. Remy explains why he summoned her, and that she might be able to give us answers. He asks what she needs and she eyes him up and down. He seems confused. Has he forgotten James already? I explain to her that he’s a bit slow on the uptake, but she can teach him. She drags him off to his room and we don’t see much of him for a long while.

Ninjas, Betrayal, and Captives

The screaming start immediately, and I am not the only one. Something has stabbed me in the side! I reach out to Alice to cast on her and myself, then fly up and the darkness receeds below me. There are two bubbles of darkness in the warehouse, and everyone stumbles back out into the lighted area. Projectiles come flying out of the darkness, embedding themselves in my flesh and I fly straight back out of the building entirely.

Most of the others join me, but not for long. Remy goes charging back in to save Alice and Francine. Gerhardt sends a message to Maribeth (and Klyce) that we’ve been attacked. Then everyone is back inside, except for me, flying above the street and bleeding all over dirt below.

It isn’t long before I see Klyce and Maribeth approaching on ghostly steeds. I waves and fly up and down until they see me. I explain that everything went dark inside and then someone started stabbing us, and they head right on inside. They were with Poissant and told him before then rushed to us, so I continue staying outside, still bleeding, to wait for him.

It isn’t long, though, before the darkness is gone. I carefully re-enter the building, but the fight is over, and somehow Nat is inside. Alice is still there, but Francine has been killed, and one of the attackers has been decapitated. The others are saying something to Gerhardt about a dog? Remy takes a look at the dead man and finds scarred flesh on his back and hands.

Klyce tells Gerhardt that they need to talk about killing and then Remy gets into it with him. Klyce Will Not condone murder, even in self-defence, and Remy feels it’s justified to kill someone trying to kill you. Things get heated until Remy storms out. Klyce asks if any of the rest of us want to object to a no killing people rule, and we all demure.

It’s at this point that Klein finally arrives. We turn on him about everything that’s been going on, and all his staff who have been murdered. He goes on about how he went to Xing and studied their legends of an immortal emperor and the Woojen. (I really should ask someone how to spell that…) They were able to tap into raw mana without refining or consuming it. Klein found (Stole!) some relics that hinted at a path forward that we might take. When I ask about the thefts, he says there weren’t any Woojen left, as though that excuses it.

As he went on, Klyce asked if maybe they were like me. I don’t know, maybe, but it sounds like they knew what they were doing, maybe did it intentionally?

Klein offers to show us the relics. He claims that he doesn’t know what the killers want. Said he didn’t even know his people were being targeted. We tell him that we’re taking him out of here, and to gather his things and the relics, it’s not safe any more. They know where he is. He grabs a bunch of soil and rock samples, a staff covered in rules with a jade crystal on top, and some figurines. He has a small shrine, too, but it’s a bit much to be carrying across the city. Dalish sits for a few minutes and casts some magic on the staff. He says it’s a Staff of Withering, which sounds pretty horrible to me. We ask about the blood and meat and he says his rituals require it, but claims it isn’t blood magic.

We take him back over to our apartment, hoping that no one will be able to get in the magically sealed door. We set him up in the alchemy lab and he starts lecturing us, just like Malden used to. Why do we have to refine mana? Then launches into this crazy theory that the earth is a sphere of mana contained only by thin layers of rock and dirt. He says it’s at least thirty percent mana, but that it is kept in check and underground by the will of the planet! He claims that refining it breaks that bond to the world, and makes it usable by people. I mistakenly tell him I don’t need refined mana, can’t use it, and he gets Super interested. The rest have my back though. Nobody’s going to make Me a lab experiment.

We change the subject, back to our investigation. Did Greg tell him that he was going public with his complaints about the rituals? Klein has no idea what we’re talking about. Says everyone was happy to be working on the project. We ask what Else was going on at his lab, but he insists there was nothing. We tell him what the letter says, but he has no idea what would have been so upsetting and cost human diginity.

We all decide to go back to the lab to check it out. Maribeth doesn’t want to leave him alone, so she stays while the rest of us head out. Klyce and Dalish head to speak to LuBai, while Gerhardt, Nat and I go back to the lab. Remy still hasn’t come home. We find Poissant still at the lab, and start searching more carefully. Nat finds a secret door that has an arcane lock on it. She can’t pick the lock and Gerhardt and I can’t break down the door. Gerhardt sends a message to Klyce and he comes in swinging, knocking the door right off the hinges.

There are stairs down to another lab here. There are more samples like upstairs, but also a magical circle, and various unfriendly looking prods and probes. There are also strange glass circles pointed at the circle. When Dalish looks through one at Nat, he can see her skeletons and motes of mana floating around inside her. I step in front and Dalish says he can’t even see my bones, I’m just made up of mana!

The equipment down here looks a bit newer than upstairs. There are also empty filters and mana jugs. We find another lens that seems to slow down time in front of it and records what it sees. We fiddle with it until we can back up and see what it has recorded recently.

Greg comes down the stairs, picks up an iron flask, and a girl pops out. A Xingese girl about my age with glassy eyes. He tells her to sit down and then cooks and feeds her meat. Then he just puts her back inside the flask. What in the World??? We go back further and further. There are a lot of recordings of feeding this girl, always meat and only meat. A few recordings show her casting spells, the forms are strange but the results look normal. They run probes over her and even stick one in her once. There is one recording that shows the mana glass, and she’s just like me, full to the brim with mana. The flask isn’t down here, and it wasn’t with the stuff we took, either. The three dead men and Alice are the only ones on the recordings. Klein never comes down.

Alice. Klein. Maribeth!

We race home. Klein is unconscious on the floor. One of the rooms is painted in blood. Alice and Maribeth are both gone! I run around the mansion, calling for her. She Has to be here! She Has to!

I vaguely hear Gerhardt waking up Klein and demanding to know what happened. The ninjas came. Into our House!

Dalish tells him what we found, but he doesn’t believe us. He casts a spell on Dalish, but Dalish tells him the story again. Klein collapses on the floor again. Gerhardt tries to message Maribeth, but nothing happens. We move the unconscious Klein into the living room and try to decide what to do next.