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.

Family Reunions

I headed out back with Klyce and Orrin, and watched him make quick work of the burial. Then I asked about my brother. He tells me that he let the succubus take him, and they’ll be back by tomorrow, after Phil is gone. He really believes she’ll do it, and that she loves him. UGH! They’ve only known each other for a couple of Days! He does agree we can hunt her down if they don’t show up.

Then the conversation turns to demons and the Machines, as Klyce wonders about feeding them into it for Mana. He’d rather that then all the human suffering of the mines, or the fae suffering in the current machines. I’d rather it just be undead in the mines and not have to deal with demons anymore. But that’s all long term, how are we getting Mana for the group now? 

He says he’s going to be talking to the Magia soon. I ask him to be careful, but he isn’t worried about them anymore. Not after everything we’ve gone through. I mention his family could be in danger, and the look in his eyes, as he said he would take them All Down… I tell him I’d help, my family’s all gone. He reminds me that I still have Gerald, and he’ll be back tomorrow. Then… Klyce gave me a hug… and went to take his family home. I wish he’d been my big brother instead of Gerald.

I stay outside for a long time after that. Looking at the graves of all the household staff. The people who had been my real family, when my parents and brother had been cruel to me. These people who had cared for me my whole life. Gone in one afternoon, to Demons! I still had to tell their families. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that. It’s all my fault they’re dead. I shouldn’t have brought this trouble home. I sit there, and I cry, finally, for all of them.

The sky is starting to get dark by the time I look up. Nat is laying on Orrin’s grave and Dalish is floating above it. I… I can’t deal with that, too. I head back inside, and find Maribeth and Remy drinking in the lounge. I stop to tell them that they and their families are welcome to stay here as long as they need. She asks what happened, and Remy and I tell her the story of the fleshy mansion and the ritual of Hell. I ask about how it affected Grandfather, and she said he was awful the whole time, but we did make him sweat so much she had to prove she was really there.

I head up to bed, and send to my brother. Tell me you’re alive. I expect to see you tomorrow. He replies that he’s alright, and with Crystal, and he will see us tomorrow. Ugh!!!

In the morning, Remy goes to fetch fresh food, Klyce brings over baked goods, and even Philomena comes to breakfast, though she doesn’t eat. I fetch Nat and Dalish from the grave, and we have a meal. They immediately go into a debate over spell scribing and mana, so I just enjoy the fresh bread. Ethereion’s Machine comes up, and then the voice’s desire for a body. We really shouldn’t let a spell free to roam, but they discuss it for awhile.

Then it turns into a discussion of mana versus genocide. Porter chimes in that demon machines would be far more difficult and dangerous, with less return. Plus, summoning demons usually requires murder in the first place. Klyce wonders about mechanical solutions to mana mining, but mana would rust out machines faster than it does people. Julian offers to get them a good deal from his father, and I tease him a little about the theft ring from school. A suggestion is made to check with Rictus, but Dalish doesn’t think we have enough new evidence for more mana.

What else is on our plate? The Church of the One God seems super sketchy, and we should probably do something there, but what? Nat wants to start by countering their anti-mage campaign with our own soup kitchens. Klyce suggests we use the Dawnmother’s church, since it is close to the One God church. We have the Deliberative coming up, where we have to vote on new primes and campaign against the Machines. We still have the Black Knight on the loose, not to mention Hank and friends who we have to meet up with again “when the time is right.” Nat wants to buy up some property somewhere, and Dalish has to write a report on the planes for the Deliberative.

Philomena then asks if we have plans for Remy’s Dad and Philomena’s Mom. They’re okay here temporarily, but there was a big financial hullabaloo, and we’re not exactly safe to be around in times of upheaval. Remy says he wants to send his Dad to join up with the rest of their Royalist family, just teleport him away south. But that’s tricky, so he suggests they both go live with the Rathbone family for a while, to get away from the city politics. I can take them in the afternoon, and we can get some raw mana for Gerhardt to refine while we’re there. Dalish and Gerhardt are going to set up an alchemy lab in my house for that.

Porter says he has to hash things out with Rictus, and then take care of things in the south. He allows that we can contact him through Dreams, but not with anything traceable. Klyce suggests they go check on his hideout first, make sure everything useful is cleared out of there before anyone else finds it. He agrees, and he, Klyce, and Philomena plan to do that in the afternoon, after Klyce fabricates me a new wall where the demons exploded part of my house and starts cooking up stew for the soup kitchen.

So, we break for the morning. Dalish goes shopping for scribing and alchemy lab materials. Remy goes to Etherion’s to get the last of the mana from his Machine. Maribeth, her mom, Nat, and I head down to the Dawnmother’s church. Maribeth takes the chance to talk to her mom about heading up to Bangoria in the afternoon, and she seems agreeable, though sad that she will be away from her children.

We arrive at the chuch in time for morning services, and it’s nice and relaxing to sit in worship. I’ve said my prayers, but hurriedly of late. After service, I have a chat about our soup kitchen idea. He’s happy to help easily listing off all the contacts and resources we’ll need. I let him know that Klyce will be helping on the food side of things. He says what the people really need is economic activity. Since the Petals were completed, a lot of mage business has left Brooklyn, and they are all hurting. I check my purse, and hand him all my money, about 500 gold, to get started with whatever he thinks is needed for the soup kitchen. Hire people to clean up the church, build an extension, whatever he thinks best. Nat adds on another 100g as well, leaving him astounded and eager to get to work.

Gathering back up for lunch after a productive morning, Remy explains to us that taking all the mana from Etherion’s place would collapse the mansion, killing the voice. That might not be a bad idea, and Porter and Klyce both agree. We might want to at least bring Rictus in on the decision, this is above our pay grade. Dalish ponders giving the voice a body still, but will talk to Rictus this evening about it. He was able to get 40 spell levels worth of materials, and discussion quickly falls into who gets what supplies.

Then the door opens, and Gerald arrives with Crystal. My heart is pounding in my ears, I’m so mad at him. I barely hear when he tells me they’re in love, and he’s sorry. She says she was just trying not to die, and that she was summoned here against here will. But she likes it here a lot better than Hell. They’ve even brought a picnic basket of food. I snipe a bit more about the murder and death, but we all head out to the front veranda for lunch. Klyce suggests they stay here for now, and Crystal asks me if that’s okay. I tell her sure, I have friends that can banish her if she doesn’t behave. Dalish takes this awkward silence and starts grilling her on Demon society and the history of the Towers. I just glare at my idiot brother for a bit, and then tune out, concentrating on images of the Rathbone residence for my spell this afternoon.

Mysterious Mysteries

We manage to collect Marybeth’s mom with no hassle and head back to my house. Everything is quiet, and I gather up the ashes into vases. I have to talk to their families, but not now. Not with demons and devils after us. We fortify the study to protect everyone as best we can as some of the folk with fire spells clean up the back garden.

Someone remembers a box Remy pulled out of Marybeth’s house and we take a look at it. It’s got some serious magic on it, and the inverted Dawnmother rune from Nat’s dream. Nat manages to pick the lock on the box after only one failed attempt. She’s getting really good at that. Then she opens it, and a swirling blackness comes out. A demonic voice comes out and a black beam of energy strikes her in the chest! She staggers, but stays upright. The box is full of ashes. Remy sits down to identify it all. The box itself was covered by Non-Detection. The ashes are magical and can make you disappear and have non-dectection on you, too. They also used to be people… Closing the box will reset the trap, so we get a pouch for the ashes instead.

Everyone gets busy then. I send to Elizabeth again, but she’s busy still, but says she’ll come. Marybeth starts studying her grandfather’s papers again. Gerhardt patches Nat up from the box’s damage. Klyce and Nat then pull Philip into the hall to dig into his brain, most of us follow. Klyce explains what’s going to happen, and the risk. Philip is scared, but he trusts Klyce. When Nat’s done, she says his memories are thin and don’t go back past two and a half years ago. Around tree time. There’s a smooth globe of darkness beneath that. She can’t get through, but it feels like blood and sulfur. We ask about his past, and he has memories of growing up, but they seem a little vague to me.

He goes back into the room with the families while we ponder what this means. Did he get infected during the mind worm episode? Did something hitch a ride in his brain? And what about the cultist ashes from Porter’s room. What are we Doing? Marybeth produces an image of Porter for Nat, and she says he’s the leader of the cult. He’s the one sacrificing people. Oh Dawnmother, what do we do?

We could speak with the church of the Dawnmother. Nat could try a deeper vision of the cult. We could talk to Poissant. We could contact the Magia. What? Remy? Really? Or was that Dalish? We could ask our contacts in Xingtown. We really don’t know where to go, so maybe all of the above.

Our main goal is to get the demon attacks to stop, so I ask Marybeth about the contract. She pulls her Mom out of the study to be present while she explains. The Original family contract was for 1000 souls for a lifetime of riches. But that count has been upped to 200,000 souls recently. Marybeth’s new contract is not for riches, but rather to free her family from the contract and any future contracts.

It’s too late to go back out. So, Nat settles down for a nice tea-induced nap. I update Gerald in a sending, and he offers to help. I don’t reply, I want at least him to stay safe.

When we all wake up the next morning. She tells us what she saw. The New Gnosis skyline, the petals, the Deliberative tower. Something is going to happen soon. Three outcomes produce chaos, one produces unity. Then back to the city. Torch fires lighting up everywhere. If it is not check, it will destroy everything. The stone altar, 13 black robed figures. A rapturous man on the stone. Porter stabbing him and then he dissolves into darkness. She tried to leave the room, to see where it is, but there is only blackness. Brooklyn at the refinery. A new construction of a gradiose building. A small man in simple black clothes, preacing to a crowd. The meek shall be made strong.

We have to leave the house, and I’m scared for my guests. I send to Gerald, asking him to come home and protect them. I also send to my contact who signed me up for Remy’s political faction. He lets me know there is a deliberative scheduled in two weeks. Klyce sits Phil down to tell him we have to leave, and he trusts him to protect the family. Klyce asks Elizabeth to stay, at least for now, and she relents. Gerald takes a while to get home, but I explain the danger when he does and set him up with Orrin and Philip to keep everyone safe.

We head to Brooklyn first, to the church of the Dawnmother. It doesn’t look so good. Royalist graffiti and other things on the outside. The inside is better off, but Father Carmine tells us that Father Kevin left and converted to the new church, the One God over at the Refinery. That church showed up a couple months ago. They are strange, almost cultish. The priests dress in black and preach humility and peace. They stick together and worship nearly constantly. We ask about the cult we are after, even showing him an image of Porter and the inverted symbol. But he has no knowledge of any of that.

We head over to the One God church to look around. They are still laying the foundation. We listen to the preacher for a bit. He’s talking about forgiveness and treating others how you wish to be treated. Being saved if one dedicates oneself. The sky turns dark then. He warns against the Old Gods. He says they cannot be trusted and were forgotten for a reason. He says they strike him down, but have not power here. And lightning does strike then, but not harm him. I am heavily tempted to bring my own lightning down from that storm, just to prove him wrong, but I resist. He’s innocent so far.

The crowd disperses after his miracle and there is talk of a sacrement meeting on Sunday. We wander over to the foundations, looking for a way into the lower levels where the giant worm head should still be secured. But it’s been covered over. It looks like they intend to put a way down, but they aren’t ready for that yet. We head back over to see if we can talk to him, but he’s surrounded by followers. He breaks from them and comes to us. Remy asks him about the One God. He introduces himself as Arch Deacon Lewis Woods. I’m not really listening to his answers, but he says he was visited by this God. Not in a vision or anything, but more of a feeling. Four month ago. Since no one was using the building and the mages had cleared out, he decided to build it up for his God. He doesn’t mind the worm in the basement, it seems trapped enough. Then there’s a rambling on about the old gods falling to reason and logic and then his One God came to replace those. The One God is eternal. Then he catches my attention again, saying that Mages are not welcome in his church. The Old Gods are responsible for magic, and therefore mages are an abomination before his God. I try to argue a bit, but he says magic was a test, and mages failed to resist the temptation. We try to ask about the cult bringing chaos, but he doesn’t know anything about that, and doesn’t care.

Frustrated with Brooklyn, we head out to the Petals to check on the Deliberative in case the something happening isn’t going to wait the two weeks for the meeting. Once in the Tower of Justice, we head up to the top, to the Deliberative chambers. When we arrive, we are not alone. There is an older man with a military air, and a younger, pale woman dressed in leathers. Remy approaches and introduces himself. The man introduces them in return. Other Pendleton and Satiel. Remy claims we’re just out looking around. They say they’ve come because of the recent news about the meeting to come. They are discussing the coming Prime nominations. Many say Diedre, Wiest’s daughter, should take his place as Prime Evoker. He, himself, is more on the Conjuration side, not wanting to be put up for Evoker.

She’s become unstable since her father’s death and is on a rampage to hunt down those responsible. Remy asks if there’s been any actual evidence that the Black Knight is responsible. Hard to get in Atheria’s case, his mansion collapsed with him inside it. But Jor was found beheaded, and the knight was seen in the area. Wiest was stabbed through the heart with a large sword, so it seems plausible. He’s afraid that she won’t be able to focus enough to be a Prime.

He wants Satiel to put herself forward, but he doesn’t stay to chat with us. She’s unalligned and previously apprenticed to Rictus. Remy asks about the mage-slayer, but she’s never heard of him. Nat asks about being able to speak with those who died. She’s a little cagey, but then offers to trade spells with us. We offer her Dawn and Sunbeam, and she includes the ink and paper we need to scribe Speak with Dead in on the deal. While Nat copies the spell, she tells us that Diedre is enraged and lose any sense of proportionality or control. We tell her we’ve been tasked with investigating the Black Knight as well, and she suggests we go look at the scene in Wiest’s mansion.

Once she’s gone, we have another arguement about contacting the Black Knight. We decide to first check out the mansion and then go talk to Poissant. The mansion, it turns out, is here in the petals, flown here by Wiest himself.