Butchers and Blood in South Brooklyn

Klyce, Maribeth, and Dalish round the rest of us up for a trip to South Brooklyn to check out the Butcher shop our murder victim bought all the meat and blood at. Eustace says Tim is his best customer, buys about that much every couple of months for the last year and a half. He says Tim seemed fine last time he saw him, just a couple days ago for that order.

Next we head to the bank on “Tim’s” checks. Remy heads in and asks for the manager. Alice doesn’t work here, but the manager recognizes Artimeous’ name, but tries to push us off to the hall of records. Remy is insistent and eventually gets the manager to tell him how often Artimeous gets paid and for how long, that same year and a half.

We take a break to get some lunch and ask the Xingese waiter if he can knows anyone who can translate the note we found. He offers to take a look, but when we show him, says it is too old and he can’t decipher it. He gives us directions down to nearby dojo and says there’s a man who might be able to help. We ask after Tim, and he says he eats here often, and even brings friends around, and speaks the local language very well.

Tim seems quite the odd man about town here, so after lunch, we split up and canvas the area, looking for anyone else he might have known. We manage to find a grocery store he frequents, furthering our idea that he must have an apartment nearby, but no real leads on where.

Gathering back up at the dojo, we head in to Lu Bai’s Martial Arts. There’s an older man teaching about ten kids our age and he tries to shoo us out. We ask if we could just wait for him, and he reluctantly leaves the kids to come see what we want. We tell him we’ve been pointed his way for translation help, and he says he will in exchange for Klyce’s help in a demonstration. Klyce agrees, and gets thrown to the ground in front of the class.

Sending the kids to spar with each other, he takes us to another room. Remy explains why we have come, and he takes a look. He says the script is in an ancient form, but the characters are unfamiliar to him. He suggests we visit an antique dealer a few blocks away. When Remy asks if he knows anyone who would leave such a note attached to a dagger in a murder victim, he says that the Triad does is not so sloppy to leave writing behind.

We head over to the shop and start browsing the wares. The shopkeep approaches and welcomes us, and Remy explains that Lu Bai send us over for help with some ancient script. She takes the paper and after a moment, walks over to a shiny old bronze statue. She holds the paper up to it, as though to a mirror and begins reading aloud. Only Remy with his spell up can understand her, but soon we all get the gist as a thunderous explosion fills the shop.

What the heck???

She explains that it was a prayer to the Gods of Thunder and Vengeance that the person slain burn in the fires of the thousand hells and woe to those who interfere. Sure…. that makes sense… Who would do something like that? Who could? She says that it could be the Children of Lightning, the woojen or something. I ask if these gods have temples here, but she says no. She doesn’t know Tim, but she could maybe get us books about the Children and their gods in about a week or so. We apologize for the explosion, but while unhappy, she mostly just shoos us out.

Enough excitement for one day, we head home, stopping by the bank for Maribeth. In the morning, Dalish and Gerhardt get up early to hit the room of forms and the Hall of Records while the rest of us sleep in, greet the sunrise, or train. Then, while they’re still filling out forms and finding records, the rest of us head out to Brooklyn again to start checking out apartment buildings for anyone that knew Tim.

Plenty of folk have seen him around, but no one claims to be his neighbor. After a short while, Remy recieves word from Gerhardt that there’s been another murder. This one in South Brooklyn and Inspector Poissant is already there. We head on over and it’s on the outer edge of Xingtown. Poissant tells us that it’s Gregory Killcannon, and he was found in his chair with a knife in his chest. A knife just like Tim’s. No forced entry here, either, the maid just found him when she came to clean. We look around and only come up with some spare mana and a Transmuter’s spellook. Maribeth manages to find some of Tim’s hair in the bathroom and a Journal under Greg’s mattress. The rest of us talk to the neighbors, but they don’t have much to say. Greg kept to himself. Would stay home for days on end, then be gone for days.

We head out to lunch at a different place, and Maribeth fills us in on the journal. Greg was excited about his new job. He said Klein was Brilliant, had vision, passion and a worthwhile goal. There were drawings of the planet with cris-crossing lines, and a section view too, with different layers labeled with heat, pressure and mana concentration. But then something happened, and he started using words like morally unconscionable and no goal is worht the sacrifice of human dignity. That’s about the time he sent word to Tim about going public.

Maybe Klein got mad and killed them both. Who is Klein? Where do they all work? It has to be around here, but we have no leads. We have to go see what Dalish and Gerhardt have dug up and Maribeth needs to go to her bank again, so we all head back to the Petals. There’s some arguing over our next steps. Remy wants to go be bait, but Klyce says the murders have been up close, personal, and in their own homes. Remy asks Dalish to speak to Rictus about the names we’ve gathered that night and we all head to rest. Remy wants to hang out in the hot tub we’ve made in our mansion, but it takes him a minute to figure out why I won’t join him. Boys! I do try to give him a bit of a lesson in fae, but we’re both a bit tired.

In the morning, we gather up while Dalish and Gerhardt go look into more records and figure out where Klein works. Once we get the address, we run nearly all the way there. The door isn’t locked on this old warehouse outside of Xingtown, so we walk on in. The walls are clean white and the floor is tiled. There’s a front desk, but no one is at it. The desk has the usual stuff, but none of it seems to see any use. We head through another door and find a large lab.

Glass topped cages on long tables. A blackboard full of sketches and equations. The illusion of a globe with the same line of mana. Over in the corner is a blond woman, rummaging around. Alice? Yes, hi! Where’s Harden Klein? Well, he just left to go to your office, Malakan died last night. We told him to stay here, but he went home. Alice sends a message to get Klein to come back, and Klyce and Maribeth get Malakan’s address and head out to meet with Poissant. The rest of us ask Alice about what’s going on here, and what specialities everyone has. She called out to someone named Francine to join us, and then the lights went out.

A Deal With a Goddess

Round Ten.

Waking in the dirt again. After we get past Cross, Remy heads off to talk to Carmine. The rest of us head towards the bank to try and find the foreman. We find a promising looking apartment building, but the name plates are all corroded. Dalish manages to Mend them enough for us to see the names. But we don’t actually know her name. So, with Klyce in the lead, we begin searching room by room, until, on the fourth floor, we see a doorway blocked by a bubble. I head down to catch Remy on his way to the bank, and bring him upstairs, because he has the spear that can pop the bubble.

When we get back up, he spears it, and we start to hear a beeping. In through the door, we see another smaller bubble with a robed figure holding a book and a wand. Also, a rather large bomb. Klyce rushes in, grabbing the bomb, and diving out the window. BOOM!

Round Eleven.

We run straight for the apartment, while Remy heads off after Carmine. We have a plan, to try to get the bomb further out the window with magic, if the code from the mine door doesn’t work on it. While we’re doing that, we’re also going to pop the lady’s bubble, so she can help us, now that we found her.

Once Remy makes it back with Carmine, we try it.

Pop. Code. I levitate the bomb. Klyce runs and jumps with it. Remy pops the lady’s bubble. She has time to say… oh… no… BOOM!

The lady in our whitespace vision was missing an arm…

Round Twelve.

Klyce insists that the bomb didn’t kill him, but what does that matter, really, we’re back in the dirt.

Remy says that it didn’t kill him either, and he was able to pour a healing potion down the lady’s throat, and she told him to find her journal before the reset.

Okay, new plan. Maybe the journal is in the vault. Carmine is pretty certain that something in there will fix all of this, so how do we get inside? The manager appears to be the only way in, so Remy will mask up like the sheriff, saying he needs access, and Maribeth will look like Cross. Klyce and I will go try and ask Cass about the big bomb. Dalish and Gerhardt are going to ask around for the foreman’s name, because the name plate says J. Isaacs, but we’re pretty sure that’s the sheriff. We split up and run.

Klyce and I go sit at the tree to wait for Cass, but it turns out she doesn’t know that foreman’s name, they just referred to her by title. Sad to say, Klyce did way better at talking to Cass than I did, I really don’t like dying a dozen times in a day, it makes me cranky.

We all meet back up at the bank, where Remy and Maribeth have managed to get the foreman’s journal from the vault. The journal has the bomb’s code in it, and we discuss going up immediately to turn it off, or heading to the church, now that Carmine will go with us. The church wins out, and Carmine insists we all come along.

The brothers, man and skeleton, pray together and the church rebuilds itself. Dalish says it’s strange magic that does it, not quite like the fae, but not like ours, either. The brothers then pray to the Dawnmother for her light, her guidance, and her help in the path forward. At this, a shimmery haze fills the altar area, and Maribeth rushes into it. What else to do but follow, so we all go into the light.

It seems like the white space between explosions. There is a woman here, made all of light, and I am nearly overwhelmed with the power coming from her. She greets us as mortals, and insists she would not normally meddle, but there is a great trouble, and causality is all out of order.

Dalish asks how we can fix things, and she says it is within her power, but there is a price. She requires worship in return for her help. Remy is having none of this, he doesn’t know who or what she is, but he is not interested in worshipping some strange being of power who is only just now stepping in to help stop only one of the horrors we have lived through. Dalish asks if the worm is the wandering vengance, but she says no, it is our ancient enemy. She assents, it is the fae, and the war has been going on for ages, but will answer no more questions about it.

Klyce, ever reasonable, asks what it is she is willing to do. She says she will remove impediments before us, but we must give her both the spear, and the hourglass that the foreman has used for the time bubbles. Klyce says we have already removed most of the impediments, and we have a plan, and we have the bomb’s code. He asks if she’ll fix this area of town, put it back the way it was, put the people back. She says she will fix the threads of time, reintegrate this part of the city with the whole, but the changes to the people cannot be undone. The foreman, who has died many times, and put all of herself into the protection of this area, will not survive.

This throws Remy into another fit, arguing that she has been instrumental, just like us, in keeping things whole, in saving all these people. The Dawnmother says there is a higher order, and she is only allowed to do so much. Maribeth suggests she only has control over certain aspects of the world, and the Dawnmother agrees.

I cut in, and ask what sort of worship she requires. She asks only that we show appreciation for the sunrise and sunset. Remy refuses. Dalish agrees, asserting that we might as well acknowledge the gods, since she’s right here in front of us. Remy and Dalish argue for a bit, over her intentions, our ability to solve the problem without her, and the possibility that she’s just like Garian, only she succeeded.

Klyce eventually cuts in, asking her if we all have to agree to worship her, or just some of us. She says not all of us. Dalish, Maribeth, and I agree to worship her. I was already going to talk to the priests about her, ever curious about my powers. The dreams mention “her coming, shining as the sun,” so I was already on my path. Klyce agrees to the plan, if not the worship, and Remy simply abstains. The Dawnmother agrees, and reminds us that the hourglass and spear will be collected when we are done.

Outside the mists, the explosion completes.

Round Thirteen.

We get past Cross and head for the foreman, discussing our plans as we run. Maybe the foreman can help with the reactor. That worm is huge, but surely the bomb will kill it. Dalish and Remy have quite the conversation about gods and evil and Rictus. Klyce and I discuss the plan, my magic, and I even tell him what my dreams have said.

We get to the apartment. Remy pops the bubble, and quickly enters the code from the journal to disarm the bomb. Then he pops the foreman’s bubble. She says thank you, it is up to us now, and disintigrates in his arms. Remy grabs the hourglass and it begins speaking to us all. Klyce grabs the bomb, and we begin heading down to the mine.

It says that it is Time given physical form. It says June did a great job holding things together, and is sure we can fix this whole mess. It says that having all of us together changes the math of the situation. It says we an fix all sorts of things. Some of the others go a bit blank, like they’re seeing things that aren’t there, or maybe that used to be there. We start asking it questions, but it doesn’t really know what the big worm is, and it can’t see forward in time to know if our plan will work. It can, however, pause time, which it does for a moment. Remy asks about the war from his extra memories, but the hourglass says that’s too far back to tell us anything. Remy asks about the Dawnmother, but the hourglass can’t see her because we were out of time when we talked to her. The hourglass isn’t alive, but more of an intelligent item, it seems to like that label.

We start to fill it in on our plan to explode the worm with the big bomb. We tell the hourglass that we will then have to give it up to the Dawnmother. We talk about the bubbles and the one holding the worm in. It says that June didn’t create a very good bubble around it because it was done in a hurry. We ask about creating a bubble just around its head, like we through the bomb in, then bubble it so that it cuts it’s head off, and blows it up at the same time. It says this is doable.

Remy asks about going back to save June. It says that it would take him out of time. Remy asks about going back to our first cycle, and saving her there. The hourglass says she was already dead many times over by then. Remy talks about various plans, saying he does’t want to give the hourglass over to the Dawnmother. The hourglass agrees with him, not being interested in being pulled out of time again. The hourglass tries to tempt Klyce, but he wants no part in more strange magic. Remy says he’s going to try and absorb the hourglass somehow, to keep it from the goddess. He thinks she has bad intentions. He asks it if it could lock itself away in time, and while it could, it finds that even more boring. It thinks it could meld with Remy, but it also thinks he might just fall into pieces. They go back and forth a bit, but at least it seems Remy accepts June’s sacrifice.

We head down to the bottom of the mine and prepare. Maribeth sends me a message, saying she plans to put Remy to sleep, and do I side with her. I tell her that I will not attack him, but neither will I let him hurt her in return. Klyce tosses the bomb out over the worm, Remy pops the bubble, and the hourglass seals a new bubble around its head. We feel everything click into place. We hear and feel the rumble of the rest of the body falling deep into the earth. The head floats in the air, a contained explosion inside a bubble.

The Dawnmother appears before us, and says it is time. Remy insists that he did not agree to this plan, to giving her the powerful items. She asks him, Will you make oathbreakers of your friends? His answer to her trails off, as he drops the spear, and starts trying to shove the hourglass into his chest. Dalish rushes forward and touches Remy with cold magic. Maribeth puts Remy to sleep. Dalish hands over the items to the Dawnmother who thanks him and hopes to not see us again. She tells us to proceed out to the edge of the bubble, and she will prepare us an exit. Then she will reknit the area back into time.

Klyce lifts Remy’s body, and we head out. When we leave the bubble, the cannon’s report is still echoing. Nat and the artificer ask if it worked, and we say yes. Turning back, we watch through the hazy bubble as the area clears, and years pass. We watch them build statues of us, with June standing above us all. In five minutes time, the bubble falls. There is a huge wave of cheering from the people inside. They all know what we did to save them, and the rush over to thank us.

Klyce asks the artificer to get someone over here. Maribeth goes to speak to the artist about her grandmother. Cass comes over to Klyce, saying she’s going to turn her life around and join the police force. We wait for Prime Hadrius to arrive, and stop Dalish from causing a panic over the worms. Klyce tells Hadrius that these people need to be given proper legal status, that their current state is not their fault. Maribeth, Dalish, and I go back to the church. Kevin has been given back a proper body, thankfully. The welcome us to come and worship, and talk to us for a while about the Dawnmother.

Back at work the next day, we debrief as a group, and tell them everything that happened. The story, naturally, gets out to the press, and it isn’t long before political parties start approaching us each to join them. I repeatedly remind anyone approaching me that I’m 12, which is much to young to get into politics.

Warped Time

We proceeded to die, a lot. Over and over we played that same hour. We did learn from our mistakes, well, most of them. We didn’t get arrested again. We didn’t get crushed by a falling jail again. We did scare Cass a few more times. We did cause the explosion once or twice. And we didn’t find the Old Lady before she collapsed. But let me walk you through our next ten lives.

Round Two:

Going off what Cass had called us, we convince Officer Cross that we’re goblins, in search of food. He is suspicious, but lets us through. We head towards the center of the bubble, observing all the same things we did the first time around. The refinery isn’t quite at the center, and it is surrounded by very old trees and covered in thick spiderwebs.

Remy takes the guise of the pointy-ear people and wander off to ask questions. When he gets back, we head into webbed tunnels to get inside the refinery. In the main hall, we find overturned vats, broken catwalks. Klyce and Gerhardt hear something so we quietly scatter, but nothing happens. We eventually find an elevator and take it down. We land in a circular chamber with a reinforced steel door and an electric keypad lock. Dalish tries punching in some numbers and it starts beeping, so he cuts some wires. We are conscious of an explosion before everything goes white and the Old Lady frowns at us before we wake up in mossy dirt.

Round Three:

Convince Cross we’re goblins. Head through town. Into the refinery. Down the elevator.

Maribeth take a look at the keypad and notices there are four worn buttons. That’s still a ridiculous amount of combinations. Remy goes back outside to look for Cass. Maribeth takes on the Old Lady’s face and heads out to walk around a bit to see if anyone calls her by a name we can then ask about. No one does. When Remy comes back, he says he met a devil woman who will give him prophecy for blue crystals. She also told him that Cass is the small woman in the jail.

We head off to the jail to see if we can talk to Cass, but by the time we get there, she’s already broken out. We track her to a tree a little ways off, where she is rummaging through a hole a bit up the trunk. Maribeth tries to climb up to talk to her, but she kicks her away and then throws explosives at us. I shout at here it the fae language, and she replies in kind. I’m honestly too shocked to keep the conversation up. Remy casts sleep on her and Klyce climbs up and brings her down. I levitate her a bit as we carry her away from her explosives.

When she wakes up, she shrieks a lot, but we manage to calm her down eventually. Mostly by simply confusing her. We know she still goes in the mine, and ask about the code for the door at the bottom of the elevator ride. She gives it to us. We ask her about why she still goes down there. She insists there’s still enough mana down there to restart the economy, and she and the sherrif are trying to find it.

Then the ground falls again.

Round Four:

Goblins. Mine. Elevator. Door: 7233*. Door opens and we go in.

There are mine arts and rails, and not having a better idea, and being in a rush, we jump in and go for a ride. When we hit the end of the lin, there’s a locker room and another door. The lockers each have a wire leading from them to the door. The lockers are labled: Ermine, Uriel, Vasquez, Oscar, Lowell, Nott, Cassie, Boyland, Kenworth. We stare at them for a few minutes, until Klyce starts poking at the letters. Oh! I write down the first letter of each name and scramble them about a bit. UNLOCK – we open Uriel, Nott, Lowell, Oscar, Cassie, and Kenworth. The door opens.

There are more carts and rails here. And a tiny spider who hops over to a steel bin, and looks back at us. It’s a cute little spider, and Dalish goes to look in the bin. It’s full of meat. Dalish feeds it and it happily hops and climbs up onto his shoulder. Hm… Klyce puts the bin into one of the carts, just in case and we go for another ride.

About half way down, the first tremor hits. A crack opens up and thousands of spiders begin pouring out and giving chase to us. We immediately start throwing meat to them. When the bin is half empty, they’ve been left far behind. Thank goodness.

The end of this line looks like the main refinery room. There’s a large cavern with an arcane machine in the center. It reeks of mana to my sensitive friends. There is also a massive hole in the center of the room, about the size of our Sanctum pitch. There’s another arcane bubble in the hole, and looking inside is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It contains a monstrous maw full of gnashing teeth. And it’s moving the bubble up towards us.

There’s also a third, much smaller bubble on the other side of the room. There appears to be a person inside this one. We poke at it, but it is just as impenetrable as the one outside. Remy asks me to levitate him up to the refinery machine, so I do. He says it has a blockage. Dalish asks me to send him up to cast identify, so I toss him up in the air. He says it’s a mana reactor and it requires a person be attuned to its workings. That person can then turn it on and off and control the flow of mana.

The monster it the pit breaks through its bubble and eat Dalish, and the reactor, and everything explodes. The lady is glad we’re finally making progress.

Round Five:

We run all the way back to the reactor.

Dalish and Remy get into a mine cart and I levitate the whole thing up. They locate the blockage and try to will it away, as though controlling mana, but it’s not quite all mana. They concentrate harder on the part that is mana, and I get so distracted, they fall a bit before I manage to recast the spell and catch them. Something in the pipe gives a little, but they still can’t get at the problem. Klyce offers to bust the pipe, so I bring them down and lift him up. He alters himself and busts through the pipe. There is a small mana explosion. I bring him down quickly, and Remy and Gerhardt rush to stabalize him.

Mana is pouring out of the pipe, but then something else falls. Something long and black falls onto the lower bubble above the gaping maw. How… how do we… I have this idea… I’ve been working on a longer jump spell…. I run, and jump, and Klyce boosts me, and as I’m about to fall, I Thunderstep out to the center. Ohgodohgodohgod! Don’t look. Don’t look! I reach down and pick up a black metal spear with a spade-shaped blade. It looks like it belongs on a clock. I thunder step back twice to get off this horrible monster.

Dalish identifies it as a spear of time manipulation and returning. That sounds fancy. Dalish tries to throw it, but it seems a bit heavy for him. Remy picks it up and throws it right through the small bubble, skewering the man inside. The bubble pops and the man dies, just before the monster breaks free and everything explodes again.

Round Six:

The lady approves of us finding the spear, and when we wake up, Remy still has it. He disguises it to look like a walking stick and we go looking for a clock tower missing a hand. We ask around, but there are no libraries here. The clock on the bank isn’t missing a hand We go to the center of town to see what we can see. The market, bars, police, the mine. Someone mentions the church that Cass blew up, so we head over there.

The front is crumbled, but in the back, there is a desk with a lit candle. A skeleton rests in the far corner with a fancily painted skull. There’s a prayerbook to the Dawnmother of the Eternal Sun. Klyce thought he saw movement, so he lights up the room. We all cast about, but see no one. Dalish starts knocking on walls and Remy blows out the candle. I really want to look at that prayerbook, but everyone is preoccupied with finding secret doors or a skulking figure. Remy goes to check out the skeleton and it starts talking!

His name is Kevin and he’s been here since long before the explosion. He has no idea why they’re blaming it on Cass now, it was so long ago. He was alive before the blast, but then he wasn’t anymore. He says his brother, Carmine, used to work with him, but got tired of everything and left to go try and find a way out with the ‘bandits.’

We explain that we’re from the outside and we’re looking for the refinery foreman. He can’t reckon time very well and doesn’t know how long it’s been, maybe years. He hasn’t seen the foreman in a very long time. I ask about his magic, because it doesn’t seem to be like ours. He says it comes from the goddess in the form of miracles. He believes that if his brother came back they could raise the church and then his goddess would talk to him again.


Round Seven:

New plan. We run down the mine and this time, we pop the bubble more carefully and discover the Sheriff inside. He tries to get Remy to pop the monstrous bubble in the middle. And Remy throws the spear. Boom!

Round Eight:

We run back. The boys cast silence and protection. We pop the bubble and Klyce grabs the sheriff. Some quick threats, and careful placement later, he’s talking. He doesn’t know where the foreman went in the accident. There was an incident with worms. He came down and everything is hazy. His head hurts and he just wants us to end it all. Someone puts him to sleep and we start investigating the room. Poking and turning things until everything explodes again.

Round Nine:

The old lady is no longer standing. She doesn’t look good.

We go running around the edge of the bubble, looking for the bandits. We argue a bit while we run, about who Cass is and if she might know the foreman. Maybe the bandits are the ones who break her out of jail. We should really talk to her again. Remy keeps looking for the bandits, convinced that the church is the key.

The rest of us head back to the jail, then head over to Cass’s tree to intercept her. We manage to keep her calm enough to answer questions. But she hasn’t seen the foreman since the explosion in the mine. She had a house over by the bank. No one called her anything but foreman. I ask about the names on the lockers, but the foreman didn’t have one.

We head over the the bank to look for the foreman’s house, and meet up with Remy coming in with the bandits. They want to rob the bank. We all head inside. They set off explosives near the vault, but when the dust clears, there are a lot of dead people, and not a scratch on the vault. Cross comes charging in as we ditch out, and then everything explodes once more.

Official Mage Detective Squad

Maribeth doesn’t get up the next morning, so I head down to breakfast without her. We’re all intent on getting back to our studies, hoping Philomena doesn’t get pissed off and send us all chasing down murderous fae again for a little while, at least. When a messanger comes in, we all groan softly into our eggs. He hands us all letterss from the Prime Council. stating that there will be a Deliberative in three weeks, and all adult mages, and ourselves, are encouraged to attend. Oh boy, what did we do now? Just stopped a murderous cult and all, surely they’ll want to punish us for that, too.

However, this does give us an excuse to study for three weeks, uninterupted… hopefully. Remy sets off to retrieve Maribeth’s sickle from the police, but when he returns, she has come down to lunch with it in hand. Dalish begins deciphering the spell book he stole, sorting out the spells and noting a lot of research on free-willed undead. Gerhardt, Dalish, and I all work on our alchemy lessons. Turns out potion making is trickier than it looks. In my spare time, I do manage to help Nat get started learning Braille. Remy spends his time working on his blade spell, and Maribeth spends an unnerving amount of time with her sickle.

The three weeks fly by in our rush to learn all the things before they send us off to fight a war none of us are sure is justified. Nevertheless, the Petals are even more beautiful than the last time we visited, despite the explosion last semester, the air is simply teeming with mana. We head right for the the Tower of Justice for the Deliberative.

The Primes sit at the head of the room, on … well, thrones, if I’m honest. So much for getting rid of royalty. Hadrius, Whist, Aleria, Namera, Gerrald, Jor, Rictus, and Etherion all preside high over this gathering of around 150 mages. We are directed to sit in the front row of the bowl-shaped auditorium.

Hadrius begins the gathering, asking Whist to report on the “War of Extermination.” We all exchange glances at this terminology, although none of us are truly surprised. Whist reports that the conflict goes well, with minimal non-mage losses. He states that most tribes have chosen relocation out by the Rockies. A total of 500,000 natives will be relocated at recent count. Much land has been freed up for the prospecting of mana, and the incoming mana is forecasted to quadruple in the next five years. He predicts that the war will wrap up in the next year, so there is no need for further conscription.

Hadrius accepts this report and calls for a motion to clarify the status of students with unfinished schooling. He believes that educational requirements should not be waived, for reasons of societal and mage safety. He proposes that students be recognized as adults, but still be required to complete their studies as time allows. This motion passes, and we all whisper welcomes to adulthood to each other.

Rictus speaks next, asking the group of us to approach. He notes that our group, just now confirmed as adults, have been taking on investigations throughout the city, and that our talents outstrip that of many graduates. He mentions us involving ourselves in classified matters, and our recent clearing of all charges in those matters. He extolls our taking of direct action to safegard the city, and motions that we be recognized and rewarded for our actions. His glare around the room squashes any objections before they can even begin, and he declares the motion has passed. He then moves that we be given official authority to deal with such matters.

The room erupts in objections, similar to ones we have voiced among ourselves. We are just kids. These threats shouldn’t be our responsibility. And there are calls for more information about these classified threats. Rictus, however, stands strong, and refuses to speak about it. I stop listening for awhile, until Remy steps forward.

He says we were children, but the things we have done and the things we have faced have forced us all to grow. Then he goes on a bit about responsibility, ending with his acceptance of the responsibility. Several others nod in agreement. Ugh! Guys! This is our chance to get out of it, but no, everyone wants to be responsible and adult. I just want to be a kid again. Not that that’s really possible, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

The vote passes, barely. Rictus tells us that we will be given offices and a case tomorrow. We sit down again and listen as mages complain about mana supplies and the state of things. The Primes insist that the end of the war will solve these probems. They beg just a little more patience. At some point I hear Rictus say that some day, man could be transcended, and I do Not look up at him.

After the meeting breaks up, the man who showed us to our seats, Brook, takes us down to the 7th floor to a cramped corner office in the Bureau of Investigations. We have desks and empty filing cabinets, and Dalish immediately starts creating paperwork to fill them. Brook tells us that we’ll also be getting accommodations in the next day or so. We let Dalish write for a little while, but then go back to the school to gather our things and sleep one last time there. The rest also fill up their phials with mana, just in case.

When we return to our office, Brook gives us the address to our new accommodations, and each a key. He says there is no compensation for our work, but we will have acess to 500 motes of mana a month. An expense report is required detailing how it is spent. Dalish says he’ll take care of it. We are also given a case file of a strang phenomena in Brooklyn. There is an impermeable, half mile radius dome that showed up over a month ago. In the last few days, something about it has changed. Our immediate attention has been requested. Before we head out, the New Gnosis Chronicle arrives, and we are front page news. Our story, along with our full names. We are declared Heroes of the City. Kings of New Gnosis!

We decide to head to our place to drop of our things before heading out on mission. It is a beautiful skyscraper, with twists as it rising far into the air. There are floating pools and balconies. It’s the most lavish thing I have ever seen. We go inside, but our address is in the basement. What should we expect, right? But the number of addresses in the basement is crazy! When we put our key in one of the basement doors, we step right into a mansion! Some one says something about a guy named Mordenkeinen and that we can design the whole thing exactly how we want. How cool is that! And there are ghostly servants, and all the food we could ever eat! This is the best place ever! We all jabber about everything we want to include for a while. Bedrooms, Library, Labratory, Workout Space, a Lounge. So many cool things we could do with this.

Eventually, we remember we have a job to do, and head out to check out this dome. We see nothing until we’re right up on it. Sure enough, it’s a huge dome, cutting right through buildings and streets, right in the middle of the city. It’s dark gray and glassy, and it looks like the inside is chock full of … things. As we glance around, we notice occasional people walking toward it, but then getting distracted and turning away. Magic is great.

As we walk along the edge, we meet a man with cannon. A huge, bus-sized cannon. He tells us that te dome is over his mana refinery, and he’s the Chief Artificer there, name of Brandon Truxon. He’s been trying to crack his way in and has noticed a white flash every thirty seconds or so for the last two days. He thinks the insides are messing with time because things inside the barrier seemed to grow at a fantastic rate after it went up. He says he’s been measuring the energy coming off it, and at the flashes, there is a low ebb. He thinks that if something traveled fast enough, it could get through at those times. He looks over us all, and says he could shoot us through, if we’re here to fix things. What? Whoa… hang on a minute… um… we just got here. He shoots an empty capsule at the barrier to prove his point, and it disappears. We can’t see it on the other side.

We quickly leave him behind to go have a look all the way around the dome for someone, anyone else who might have information. Around a ways, we find a woman painting the dome on a canvas. She talks about the variations and the standard occilations on a sine wave? I don’t know, but her grandmother is inside, along with hundreds of other people. So she’ll keep studying until she figures it out.

There’s a white-robed newt of a man on the other side, reading a book. He is very rude and refuses to tell us anything, so we end up right back with Brandon. We leave Nat on the outside, in case anything happens, maybe she’ll know, and climb into another capsule. Brandon rigs up some seats and harnesses for us, and soon we explode.

There is nothingness. And then an old woman, holding a wand and a book, who turns to look at us. “Find me.” Then blackness.

We wake, lying face-down in mossy dirt. It’s like a jungle took over the city. The barrier is behind us, and we can see the silhouette of the cannon outside. Everything looks old. A little way away there is large creature wearing a constable uniform. He’s near on eight feet tall, with green skin. And he speaks English. He asks who we are and where we come from. No one is supposed to be able to get in, he tells us. He wants us to come down to the precinct to wait for the chief. Having no idea what else to do, we go. His name is Officer Cross, and that’s the only question he’ll answer.

As we walk, we see other people, some that look like us, but thinner, and with pointy ears. When we get back to the station, there’s a short, stocky women in a cell. Cross tells us to wait, and he’ll go find the chief. There are no other officers here, so we try talking to the woman. She calls us goblins, but then becomes terrified when we say we came through the bubble. The whole building is rundown, and Dalish says everything radiats fae magic. Remy looks around for papers or books, but everything is locked up tight.

We hear gunfire outside and Remy goes to look. He calls Gerhardt to come outside and help, and then runs off. Dalish and Gerhardt go to the fallen man, to drag him inside. Cross catches them and grows angry at them for not staying put. He locks us all in the cell and goes charging off after Remy. There is a huge booming noise and an opening appears in the back wall of the jail. The woman kicks herself a bigger hole and takes off, but the rest of us just wait. Cross eventually bring Remy and another guy back to the jail, they both look a bit worse for wear. Cross heads out to look for the Chief again, and more explosions rock around us as we wait.

A bell chimes the noon hour. The ground begins to rumble. The building begins to crumble. We fall, and are crushed. Then Nothingness. The old woman is there again. “You’ll have to do better than that.”

We wake, face-down in mossy dirt.