Undermountain Diplomacy

Page says the next thing is down with a dragon below the city, or maybe below outside the city, it’s really hard to know. There’s that big mountain, and the dragon went under it, I guess. She finds a ranger person who knows about the mountain and agrees to take us out to look for a dragon hole. Seems like it would need to be a big hole to fit a dragon. Red thinks we should talk to more people, but it’s been years, and Page just wants to GO! So we do.

We are wandering around inside the mountain for three days before we find a fissure that new friend says show signs of a dragon. Red keeps muttering about the horde being worth it, and everyone else seems real excited about a dragon fight. Only dragon I know is friend.

It gets real hot down this fissure, and by the time we get to the bottom, there’s tons of magma all around. The air is thick and disgusting, too. We have to be careful, there’s got to be lots of fire creatures down here. Like those ones Red and I saw when we scouted out the Flint gang.

Oh, it’s worse. There’s fire giants down here, hammering away and walking around. We have to be really quiet and sneaky. And worse still. A room with fire genies and elementals. They looked like they were praying when we came it, but they saw us quick enough. Red talked with them, and we gave them some rubies. They let us pass, but said all the rubies in the dragon’s horde would belong to them. Its name is apparently Sifit, the Firestarter. They tell us which turns to make, but not what is between us and it.

Almost immediately, we run into more fire giants. Only these three aren’t moving. It’s like a big fire giant bedroom, and one of them is blocking the big exit door. We can’t fight these guys if we also want to fight the dragon. Have to sneak as far as we can and then make a run for it. We slip in and down near the big bulwark of a giant. Red drops some darkness, and we all link up and run between his legs. The Big Guy is… well, too big, and bounces off him. Red has to go back and dimension door him through. Then we run, and run, and run. Until we get to a room full of kobolds. Then we drink our fire resistance potions and jump down a big hole. It’s really deep, but Red and Nevi featherfall us at the very end so we don’t all die.

The bottom is full of magma and treasure, and Sifit. Sifit says he smells thieves and wants a taste of us. Hope we survive!

Devils in the Library

Breakfast is very chaotic. Marybeth says our attackers should not have been working together like they were. They’re from different factions. Warring factions, even. She hasn’t ever found information about them in the library, but has learned from her contacts. When Klyce joins us, Nat asks about using her dreams to could guide us. The Knights and Aranea attacking the clones? Or, could the cult of the not-Dawnmother have something to do with Marybeth’s Grandfather. What about the Library dream, is there something there we need to find. Is it Grandfather who burns the book, or Marybeth.

Remy interrupts, asking Dalish about getting us more mana and spell scribing materials, so Dalish and Gerhardt head off to see what they can get.

Then we devolve into discussion of our military service, the government, and what if they split us up again. But Nat pulls us back on course with her Library dream. It could be that we have to go in and stop Grandfather, or it could be that we need to go burn a book before he can get to it. We have to find him, could we scry on him without just finding Marybeth? Can we somehow break the bond between them? Marybeth wants to think about it, she’s worried about us getting hurt trying to save her.

Dalish and Gerhardt return with 20 motes of mana, but no more scribing materials. This kicks off a discussion about resources. Wizarding, as always, seems a very strange thing to deal with. Glad I don’t have to do all that.

Marybeth pulls us back to the library. She wonders if she can find a future book about how we solved this problem of her Grandfather. We have to stick together, so we decide to all go to the library. I try to convince everyone to stick together and pick one goal, but they just won’t listen. Marybeth, Remy, Gerhardt and I head off to look for the future answer. Nat, Klyce, and Dalish head off to try and specifically find the burning book from Nat’s vision. We all write in the books, and head off in two opposite directions.

We walk for a long time, and eventually come upon a tower. The pull leads us up quite a few levels, but what we find there is only soot and ash. Everything on this level has been burnt. Written in the ash are two words: Too Slow.

Then a loud shrieking noise rips through the air. I pull away from the group, looking for where the attack is coming from. Remy pulls up light to see better. Marybeth and Gerhardt prepare for an attack. Suddenly, there is movement at the windows around the tower, and purple spines come shooting in at all of us. From the stairs come two large creatures who immediately attack. Remy dimension doors away with Marybeth, and they turn on Gerhardt and me. I fall under their blows, but Gerhardt revives me inside a wall of force. The creatures are gone, and I grab his hand and dimension door us all the way back to the Library entrance in one jump.

The others aren’t there. I send to them, but somehow they’re still in the tower. Gerhardt and I wait, but I’m barely alive, we can’t go back. We dont wait long, what if the things come after us? Gerhardt and I leave the library, there’s nothing we can do to get back to them in time.

A short time later, the rest of them pile out of the Library, bleeding, but alive. Gerhardt sets to work, patching up wounds, while Remy explains that they wanted to make a deal with him. They were only after Marybeth. They didn’t seem to care if they died, as though they would just come back again. We try to ask Marybeth, but she says she can’t talk about them. Klyce asks if she could talk about a hypothetical contract, instead of her own, but she won’t. Nat says her other planar contact always tries to make deal with her, too. Marybeth says this is different because the contract was made by her Grandfather, long before she was born. Remy explains that they offered to let him take the debt of 200,000 souls, but he refused. Klyce asks if Marybeth can set up a meeting, and Remy suggests bringing a lawyer along. They’ve got to be violating terms of the contract, surely we can get them to stop?

Marybeth says she has a handler, and spoke to them the night before. Soemething is happening, some sort of revolt or civil war. There is chaos wherever they are, more than usual. We ask if she can talk to them again, we have to figure this out. Maybe we can help settle things? She says she will try.

New Friends in Italy

We arrive in Ostia only two days ahead of schedule, but better than not. The captain gets us past the dockmaster and we head into town. Remy tries asking after a nice in using French, but gets sent to a seedy area. We head back and I ask in Spanish, and we get directed to a nice little inn where we secure three rooms for two nights. I send to Philomena to tell her we’ve arrived, but get nothing back. I send to Maribeth as well, and still get nothing.

In the morning, we have a nice breakfast and then head out to buys supplies at the market. Proper clothes for Dalish and some bags and food. Remy has gotten a couple suggestions from our innkeeper, but neither one pans out as having been visited by Philomena. So, we head into Rome proper. Gerhardt casts a spell on me so I can speak Italian for a little while, and we eventually find a nice leather shop where she visited a few weeks ago. Looking around that area, we also find a wine merchant she bought four bottles from. Gerhardt has to keep casting tongues on me, as we search all the fancy inns in the area, but no dice. At the last one, I inquire about a tour guide, and they send for Jean Carle. We get rooms for the night so he can take us around in the morning.

That night’s sending to Maribeth gets a reply saying we are all in a Lot of Trouble, like we didn’t already know that when Dalish showed up. Nevermind, though, at least Maribeth is okay enough to reply this time.

Jean takes us on a tour of Rome as we explain about our missing friend who was supposed to meet us. We visit a lot of fancy places and cool old architecture. We get a few blips of having seen her a few weeks ago, but nothing recent. Jean tells us that the countryside has gone mad over Wizards. He says they’re turning them into slaves out there. Not that Rome would ever do such a thing, but the Kingdom of Sardinia is another matter. When I ask him where a family might take an ill relative for healing, he mentions some hot springs to the northeast, but it’s across the border into the kingdom. He says there are also a few noble manors just outside the city they might have stayed at. When we try to pay him at the end of the day, he demures. Seems a bit suspiscious to me, but maybe it’s part of our room rate.

Back at the inn, we decide to visit the springs the next day. Remember, no magic and no killing. I try another sending, but get nothing. Nat scries on Philomena’s dad, and this one goes through. She sees a dark room with candles, but no windows. Her mom is lying unconscious on a bed with her dad sitting next to her. He is dripping a teal liquid into her mouth, but there’s no reaction. When Nat tells me this, I immediately send to him, asking where they are so we can find Philomena and rescue them. He gets angry and says we should just leave, find her and get out of Italy. We go back and forth a few times because we can’t find her if we don’t know where they are, but he’s just as obnoxious and stubborn as his daughter.

Late that night, Dalish comes knocking on our door. Seems the boys all got stabbed at. Aranea killed the one who attacked Remy and Klyce knocked the other one out. That one is carrying a note with our address on it, and one other. He’s also carrying some poison, which Remy takes. We wake him up and I have a conversation while Klyce menaces him. Derudio hired them to watch for people asking about Philomena, and then kill a few of any such group and get information from the rest. He’s supposed to leave a note to say he has information in the trash by a particular fountain. His contact will then meet him and pay him 1500g for good info. Perfect, now we have a lead. We send this idiot away with his life after he pens us a note, dispose of the other body, and set a plan to use this as a trap and to check out the other address.

Next morning, with Remy disguised at the cutthroat, we go drop the note in the right place, then head to check the other address before the meeting time. The innkeeper is in quite a state. He is so pissed at Philomena, who has threatened him if he touches her things, but hasn’t been back in three weeks. We pay him 40g and promise to remove her things. Heading up to the room, we find it ransacked, and occupied. A young woman named Karina Giovanni is searching the room for information she says Philomena stole, that could save her ill uncle.

We give the room a look and notice it’s been searched several times before. Nat finds a hidden safe and a burnt bit of map. Karena opens the safe and inside we find a bag and a letter to Klyce. She says sending isn’t secure, and isn’t sure where to go. She’s going after the people who are after her, hoping to get more information. She requests we find her quickly, since we won’t turn back. It seems to have been written around the same time as the various merchants last saw her. Karena says she knows a shop where the paper might have been purchased.

We head to her house, so she can make arrangements for her uncle and we can leave Philomena’s baggage. During the walk, she tells us that Philomena and her family seemed to have been friends with Duridio and had stayed with him. But for some reason, stole his research and left. Remy warns her that hanging out with the likes of us could be dangerous, but she’s nervously determined, so we introduce ourselves around.

Over at the paper shop, we find that Philomena did stop here for paper and a few maps. She seems to have pissed off every merchant she spoke to. He finds her receipts and says she got a Northern Italy map and a Southern Italy map. Great… But at least we know the burned map matched the one she got here. Suddenly a bottle bursts through the window, explodes and tosses fire all over the room. Nat starts tossing magic at the guy who threw it, while Dalish tries to douse it with a rug. I work simple magics to contain the blaze while the others get water and sand to douse put it out. The shopkeeper, grateful the whole building didnt go up in flames, gives us the two maps of Italy before we head back out.

Fire and Magia

We all head to the unlabeled building, to see what we can find out. Inside is an ornate lobby, and steps up to several doors. The boys check out the sides, and find other doors that lead to spiral staircases. Heading up one side, we find another hallway and small lounge. The hallway has several red curtained alcoves, and when we investigate, we discover that we’re in a large theatre. This top level has private boxes behind the curtains.

Looking down, we notice that the stage has a large chalk circle and an
large empty metal basin. Remy takes a look and says it is for wizard duels. The boys look around the other booths as I head down to the stage for a closer look. The chalk circle is really runes, and Dalish says they’re for binding, containing, uniting.

Backstage is pretty standard theatre stuff. Nat and Dalish find stairs down to changing rooms and prep areas for the stage. I head up to the main balcony while they look downstairs. When Nat leaves the stage we all hear a voice. “Hello. Make me laugh.”

The boys take turns telling jokes and getting boo-ed off the stage. The stage doesn’t respond to me, no surprise, so I head downstairs and use the make-up to leave silly messages on the mirrors. By the time I make it back upstairs, Nat has gotten a new spell. Something about Hideous Laughter. The rest of them give up.

As we start to head out, Professor Weest and the Groundskeeper come inside. They say they have to get ready for tonight. The boys all have questions about how they get all that mana here, and they remind us about our lesson in mana physics. Then they tell us we are allowed, but should not come to the duel tonight.

We hurry back to dinner and I warn Maribeth that adult wizards are coming to campus tonight. Remy and Gerhardt decide to go to the duel.

Nat and I head outside of campus to look around again. Dalish heads up to the observatory. Nat and I check the area we think they send the mana over the wall to, it’s full of run-down and abandoned buildings. The opposite side is populated and full of people. There doesn’t seem to be an area where mana could fly over unseen, so we head back around.

Nat and I find a nice tall building where we can watch unseen. It’s not a great building, but it should be safe. I climb up to the 3rd floor pretty easily, but Nat falls a few times. We find a front window to watch the wall. Klyce shows up around midnight, and I send him a message to tell him where we are. He acknowledges and stays at street level.

Eventually, three men walk by and slip into a building just a few doors down. I let Klyce know and he heads over to investigate. Unfortunately, something catches his foot and he falls noisily to the ground right in front of their hiding place. A man comes out and Klyce pretends to be crazy, rolling around in garbage. The man yells at him and pulls out a gun! Klyce charges him and gets shot! Oh NO! I have to help! I have to… throw a rock… I…

Another shot, and a fog bank appears. There is shouting and running, but we stay put. I stare at… BOOM!!! Nat is shouting at me, there’s fire, we have to go. Nat tells me to jump out the window, with a small push, I do. He follows and we float down to the ground like a dream. Am I flying? Am I dead? Why is everything on fire? What happened?

Nat pulls me away and we go to the school gate. There’s blood here. Klyce. Klyce was bleeding. Klyce got shot, but he made it back inside. He’ll be alright. Nat rings the bell next to the gate and a servire arrives.

“No. Nope. I don’t want in that bad.” I tell Nat and turn to walk away.

“Sorry, wrong door.” Nat tells the creepy little thing and follows me.

I take Nat back to my home and up to the loft in the stable again. The stableboy is sleeping and doesn’t notice us. Nat shares a secret before we both go to sleep.

The next morning we head back to school. Finding Dalish, Remy, and Gerhardt, we tell them what happened. Nat says one of the men had an M tattoo. The fire spread wide on that side of the school, and 50 people died! The news thanks the professors and the fire brigade for stopping it from going even further. They don’t know what caused it yet. The boys go looking for news of the M, and I go up to the dorm to study.

Maribeth actually comes over and sits with me in the common room. I message her about last night. The fire and the dead. Maybe they’ll stop now. We sit and study together for the rest of the day.

At breakfast, Monday morning, Dalish and Klyce tell everyone about the Maggia – a crime syndicate. We all decide to stop investigating. This is way more than we should be dealing with. We have to protect our families. But if Malden asks for help, inside the school, some of us still might. Maybe.