The Queen and Winter!!!

The queen was amazing! She is so beautiful!! And the court played the best music! She was so cool and smooth! I want to be her when I grow up! Except I don’t, because she’s in charge of so many people and she has to make such complicated deals. Oh! Deals!

My new friends wanted to know where their friend was, so they asked the queen and Jeni Mouse also asked the Queen about not aging, and Fuc asked the Queen about the Wall? I don’t know what that was all about, something about gods and dying.

Then the offers started. Fuc offered five minutes of anger, but the Queen has her knights and doesn’t need such petty anger. He tried to get other people to offer things, but I think they were all scared from the nobles.

Fuc got impatient and offered three favors, from himself. The Queen was looking for a bit more, so Jeni Mouse offered one of them from himself, but that wasn’t it either. There was a bunch of talk of dying then, until the Queen asked for the entire group to owe her the three favors. Fuc gets frustrated with his friends at that point and wandered off to talk to a strong fae. I warn him to be careful, but he waved me away.

The group eventually decided to agree to the three favors, but the Queen still wanted more, or maybe different. She notices some strange ‘passengers’ inside N and Jeni Cat. She offers to take these off their hands. Jeni Cat says no, she already has a plan with someone called Lady G. N is really not sure either, he seems really worried.

While N thinks about it, the Queen approached The Elephant Man. He hadn’t offered anyone anything, yet, but he couldn’t think of what to say. Nevitash tries to counter with another offer of childhood memories, his little sister this time. Jeni Mouse then offered his glass-making skills. The Queen isn’t interested in taking what makes them who they are. N thinks that what her other offer will do, but she insists it would be a good deed for one of her subjects. One of the fey is in N??? What kind? Who is in there???

The Elephant Man finally comes up with something. He says he has no source, and he is willing to follow her. The Queen likes this very much and revises her request to two favors, his Devotion, and N’s nature spirit. N takes off his armor to sit on the ground and have a think. When he opens his eyes again, he agrees! The Queen is very pleased and the deal is struck. She removes N’s nature spirit, and he looks a bit uneasy. Then she gives them a leaf which is a map to Fistandia.

Jeni Mouse then asked about aging. She asks him to come to the Autumn Court every year, and serve her court, make beautiful glass art, and she will keep age from him for a long while. He asks if he can work on other projects while here. She says yes, so long as he destroys nothing of her realm. Jeni Mouse checks with N, who says it sounds fine, and another deal is made, with an acorn to seal the deal.

Then she tells us that Fistandia came here to get an escort to the Winter court. Several went with her, and none of them have been seen since. It was many seasons ago, but the group isn’t sure what that means. Time is different for them. I ask for a promise of protection to go with them, and everyone agrees.

We left fairly quickly then, following the leaf. Walking through Autumn all the way to Winter. Winter is strange and rocky, and we did not go unnoticed. Doon caught us up, and concerned for my safety, decided to come along. He says where we’re going there are no seasons anymore, that the courts have lost control.

It starts getting dangerous and strange. I fall back to the group instead of leading. I was smart, too! Super creepy rotting creatures and one with a bunch of mouths and legs and tentacles jump out of the ground at us. I just hid for the battle, and they killed them all pretty quickly. They’re good protectors!

We head on and the terrain gets weirder. Floating rocks and broken ground. Then Fuc and The Elephant Man fell over. We couldn’t wake them. N got a little weird, too. It took so long for them to wake up again, but Jeni Mouse said they weren’t dead. I start to wonder if there are invisible people around, so I try to think at them. Everything got REALLY LOUD then!!!

When I woke up, we moved on quickly. It starts to smell like metals, and the land is grey. Then we found a pool of reddish orange liquid with a big floating sphere with a bunch of holes, dripping even more liquid. Is that Blood??? Fuc tasted some and started shouting and fighting with nothing, until Jeni Cat made him sleep.

The leaf says this is the place.

Where Mortal Men Do Fear To Tread

It took a little convincing that the fate of the world was on the line, but Julian eventually consents to waking up his father for us. We still have to wait for half an hour to go talk to him, but it is a fruitful discussion. He greets us politely and asks our names, figuring out who we are quite quickly from our past with the Magia. Remy starts explaining all our efforts to protect the city, but Klyce cuts him off to say he has something we need to wake up Porter. For some reason, Klyce has decided it’s a drug. I think it’s something to do with that business in Italy. Turns out we’re both wrong.

Once he finds out that Porter is in trouble, he is much more forthcoming. Klyce asks what he needs from us in exchange. He mentions that his family is in the mana trade and they’ve heard about these Machines… All our hackles raise, but then he goes on to say he wants us to ensure they never go into production, nor ever made legal. We are More than happy to do just that. We don’t have a lot of political power, but what we do, we will bring full force against these Machines. Deal? Deal.

Then we head downstairs and he takes a look at Porter. He pulls a serpent ring off his finger and puts it on Porter’s hand. It shrinks down to fit, and in short order, Porter awakes, albeit still in some pain. Excellent! Now we have to figure out how to find Grandfather. Porter can’t track them wherever they are with the magic he was using for the sacrifices. But maybe we can track their teleports, now that we know which teleports to track. This time, instead of Porter’s people, we can track the demons who attacked my house, and stole my brother.

I ask about my sling, that I stole from Porter’s hideout. Apparently it does extra damage to demons. Remy starts talking about Phil, in vague terms, and I’m surprised at Klyce’s restraint, when he simply says that man is not available for this mission because he says so. Klyce leads us all to the one succubus that teleported away from Phil in the mad chase from my house. We get a direction from there. Then we head back to my house, and up to my brother’s room, and the room where everyone’s staying.

I get that feeling again. I know what I did wrong the first time. I was trying to go two places at once. I can do it now. I ask if everyone is ready, and count heads to make sure I’ve got enough power. Philomena agrees to come with us this time, since we’re down Marybeth and Dalish. Everyone grabs hands, and I teleport us. Into an empty stone room, without mishap.

There’s a hallway behind us with stairs up to the street. Nat finds an instability in the center of the room. Remy looks closely and can just see the entrance to a Magnificent Mansion. Except, this one’s a little different. It seems to not really be here, on our plane, more like it goes into the void a bit. How do we get inside? What happens if we dispell it? It could eject them, or, if there’s another entrance, we would just be barred from getting in, or it could kill them all, my brother included. Remy and Gerhardt look a bit closer at the magic while Klyce skitters off to make sure we’re alone.

Gerhardt decides that if he overcharges, he can get the door open for us. It’ll take a ritual, so while he’s at it, Nat rituals up a telepathic bond, as well. It works! We step through the door into one of the most disgusting places we’ve ever been. It reminds me of the dead king’s body. Only, these fleshy walls have faces moving through them, and they’re all screaming and wailing. There are twenty small demons waiting for us in this foyer of the damned. but they fall quite quickly to the simplest spells and we move on. The next room has a fountain of blood and buffet tables of body parts in various stages of rot. There are stairs going up, doors to either side, and a hallway under the stairs. Remy and Porter run forward super fast to scout, but Porter finds something first.

There’s someone hiding in the study. Klyce skitters forward and can sense three beings in there. Remy comes back down and Gerhardt goes up to look as well. Remy sees one hiding by the liquor cabinet and calls out to him. He threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t show himself, so a slightly larger than the entryway demons comes out to talk. Remy asks where the prisoners are? Down the hall, there’s only one left. Who else in our way? Bull demons, Galabrazu, and a large fear shadow fire demon. A what now? Nevermind, how do we get in without passing all these demons? No way he knows around them. How do we stop the ritual? Kill the two masters. Grandfather must have more puppets or clones. Then it tries to get Remy to take it on as a familiar and Ceres is not amused. What help can you be so we don’t just kill you? Don’t go in the succubus room upstairs, never there. Maybe the demons have weapons you could use against the master? He doesn’t like being stabbed. The shadow, fire, fear monster though, he has no weaknesses. Not even magic. Okay, if we have to leave, what’s the password to get back into this mansion? He tells us, but I wouldn’t even begin to know how to spell the infernal word.

We head down the hallway, wondering if we should have just killed those demons, too, but we need all our magic for what comes next. We make plans about what spells to use, and how to use our Iron Bands on Grandfather’s duplicates. We push through the first set of doors to find an ante chamber full of smoke and darkness at the far end. The Balor peers out at us from the smoke.

Then it grabs Gerhardt with it’s whip and drags him across the room to stab him a couple times. I storm up and spells start flying. It pulls me in next, but manages to somehow not drop me in one round. We mange to keep running away from him, and Gerhardt heals me enough that we put him down without dying ourselves, but as he falls, things go a little sideways. You’re too late! I have slowed you down enough! DIE! Then he explodes and I wake up to Gerhardt treating some pretty nasty burns on my arms.

We head forward again, and open them on the massive fleshy ritual chamber. In the center, Gerald is chained down with a succubus keeping him occupied. Cultists dance around in a circle. Two images of Marybeth, Grandfather’s work, are on the far end of the room, incanting the ritual. And I will fall over again if a soft breeze touches me.

Family History

Our Marybeth casts a message to her Mother, and it looks like a few message are exchanged before she tells us to wait and walks right over. We all stop at across the street from the cafe. Waiting and watching, but we can’t see much and can hear even less. The conversation does not look friendly, however. Then, suddenly, her mother screams and attacks the false Marybeth. “You should have stayed dead when I poisoned you!” We all hurry over as Marybeth pulls her mom away and the other Marybeth leaves. Dalish pays the tab for the unfinished meal, and we escort Marybeth and her mother to a park to talk. We all stay out of this conversation, as well, and shadow them when Marybeth walks her mother home.

When her mother is all safe and sound, we all gather around to find out what happened. It was her grandfather, of course, that weird part of him that came back when she did. We immediately begin offering to kill him, banish him, trap his soul, whatever she might want or need. Then we have a quick conversation about how he knew to be there. Marybeth is worried that he can hear her messages, that he is now tied to her magic, or she to his. Nat offers to try and dig into her head and break the connection, but Marybeth says it’s too dangerous. We go back and forth on this a bit, because we risk our lives for each other all the time. But we decide it might be best to let it rest and go get some lunch.

We all meet up with Klyce at the gate to the school that afternoon. They all head in, I don’t even try, but Remy does, and gets blocked. We can see the groundskeeper and some servires meeting the group and asking their business. Then they come down to the gate to talk to us. Remy explains that we’ve only come to help Klyce’s little sister, Patty. He asks us to promise not to break any rules. Remy says he promises not to unless it is to save a life. I promise not to break any rules on this visit. He gives Remy permission to enter for the foreseeable future, and me permission to enter just today, just for the stated purpose of this visit. Fine with me. Servires fall into step behind us. Not so fine…

We catch up to the others on the way to the infirmary, and find James there, but no Raltus. James greets us friendly enough, but quickly makes excuses to get right out of there. Remy goes over to take a look at Patty. She’s still asleep, and she hasn’t aged a day. Alok says it’s a slumber curse, and she can only be awakened by true love’s kiss. She’s just a little girl! Don’t be so literal. Klyce, do you love your sister? He goes and kisses her cheek, and she wakes up. Confused about where she is and what happened. Klyce whisks her, and us, down to the dining hall for some ice cream to soften the blow of having been asleep for a few years. Remy runs up to leave a note for Raltus as we all head back to the bakery to take Patty home. Their mother is overjoyed to see her little girl again, and Phil is happy to finally meet her. He suggests a celebratory dinner, and Klyce heads out with him to go pick up steaks. Even Elizabeth comes home for dinner and everyone is quite happy to be a family again. Even Klyce seems to be more relaxed now.

Klyce stays with his now complete family, and Dalish to guard the door, while I take everyone else back to my place to sleep. We have a bit of spiced rum, and then the girls all retire to one room while the boys take individual rooms. Boys never have to worry, it’s not fair. Marybeth says she smelled sulfer at Klyce’s and Nat asks her to say something next time, so she can look for extra minds in the area. Marybeth is really worried about her grandfather knowing everything she knows. We try to comfort her. Nat says we’re going to kill him, and that’s all he needs to know. You’re strong, Marybeth, and we’ve got your back. We all settle in to sleep, but Nat says she’s going to stay up for a bit to think.

Next thing I know, there’s screaming and I’m very cold. Jumping out of bed, I see two icy monsters and one big pigish monster. The icy things freeze over the walls and door of my room. They’re really strong and really big. The boys finally pop in to help with the fight, but when Marybeth falls, I pop her and myself right out. There’s a voice in my head then, “There is nowhere you can go. We only want her.” No, you can’t have her, she mine.” “No, she’s not.” They must have killed it shortly after that, because it stopped talking. I didn’t mean to say she’s mine, just… my friend. But it doesn’t matter, they can’t have her. No matter what.

Gerhardt comes out of the room when they finish and the ice all dissapates. He tends to Marybeth’s wounds and wakes her up. I send to Dalish, who doesn’t need to sleep anymore, about what happened. He offers to come over and help. We talk it over a bit, then ask him to come make a hut for us, and when he arrives, we camp out in the living room.

Sailboats and Sicily

We head south, looking for a boar to steal, I mean borrow, no, I mean steal. The villages all have soldiers on the docks or in the bays. No one is getting a boat out of Italy without them noticing. So, we make a plan. Klyce will go out and sabotage a boat while Remy, Chirina, and Dalish prepare a boat for theft. Then they’ll swing close enough to the coast for the rest of us to catch up and get aboard before we sail away.

So, one more day of rest, and at dusk, they all head out. There’s some noise and shouting from the docks, but eventually, a boat comes slowly sailing along. Nat, Gerhardt, and I head out, but I can’t keep up. I have to fly up to get on the boat before it leaves me behind. I give us a favorable wind and we head in the general direction of Siciliy, with HeyHey as our scout.

As we near the coast, there are patrols ahead. We have another big discussion about swimming, pretending to be ghosts, and setting the boat aflame. In the end, most of us just hide in the hold, and Remy, Dalish, and Ceres slide us in between the patrols. There is, however, a cannon on shore that tries to sink us. We help them out by sabotaging our own boat and swim into shore underwater, away from their position.

Nat finds us a cave to sleep in, and we plan our next steps. Dawn has arrived while we sailed, so we need to rest and decide where we’re going. Italy is still bombing, so they haven’t made landfall, yet. We decide to head for Palermo to see what news we can find. The Sicilian rebels are camped all around the city, which is half on fire, and stll being bombarded when we arrive in the evening.

Chirina, of course, will lead us into the city, with stories of refugees and looking for family. When we approach the gates, soldiers come out and insist on taking our weapons if we wish to enter the city. Remy refuses, so we leave him and Aranea outside with any important weapons.

Inside, there aren’t a lot of people left. Most have headed for Syracuse and Messina. The shelling has been going on for weeks, and the entire dockside of town is destroyed. The government has fled the city, leaving only the Magia to care for the people. We discuss talking to them, despire our colorful past.

Chirina leads us to one of their soup kitchens. The tough in charge offers us some food, but says he doesn’t know anything about Americans being around. Chirina asks if there is someone else she could speak with, and the guy nods, then keels over. A thin green mist fills the room, and more fall to the ground, only Nat of our group is actually unconscious. Dalish, Philomena, and I stare around for the source. A voice calls out, “Time for the hunt to end.”

We fight in the fog, our attacker seemingly enjoying himself quite thoroughly, though we do manage to drive him off before he kills anyone. Afterwards, we all lay down to pretend we were knocked out like everyone else, though Chirina and I stay alert in case he comes back. When one of the toughs wakes up, we are all gathered up and carried away as suspects to a dark dungeon of a room.

A while later, it’s hard to tell how long, an older man arrives and speaks to us all in English. Klyce explains our situation simply, and says that the assassin was trying to stop us, and find the couple before we could. The man says he knows of the people we are looking for, that a lot of people are trying to find them. Klyce admits that they are his in-laws, and that a man must do as his wife bids. The man asks who the rest of us are, so we introduce ourselves and mention that Remy is waiting outside of town with our weapons. He says he will fetch him, and leaves us. We all relax and take a proper rest, having no idea the time of day or night in this cell.

When the man returns, he says he knows where the Youngs are, and he has an offer for us, given our history with the Magia. He will take us to them if we agree to not try and pull anything, and if we agree to stay out of Family business back in America. We all agree, so long as they stay out of fey business, we should have no need to tangle with them. He leads us up into a new building and a steward takes us up to the room where the Youngs are staying.

Mr. Young, predictably, is still mad at us for even coming. Mrs. Young is awake though, that’s good news. He wanted to disappear, and let Philomena go home and take over the family business. Of course, he didn’t tell her that. What nonsense! We ask how he’s done with the formula. Mrs. Young needs it every day to be stable. It is still incomplete. We offer to help. We want to heal Mrs. Young and Chirina’s uncle, and get out of Italy. Remy, Dalish, Gerhardt, and Nat dive into the research to see what they can figure out inside a private sanctum spell to keep prying eyes out.

Turns out it’s for a catalyst stone, to help create the potions. It took some 1,000 deaths to make the prototype!!! What would it take to make the real thing? This is ludicris! We can’t finish this, it’s awful! Taking a different tact, Remy asks if they’ll let Aranea look at Mrs. Young, since it was a fae that ruined her, but they will not allow it. Too afraid of what she might do.