The Chioces of Gods and Men

We stare in shock as the bombs fall over the Bronx and the mobs rush across the East River. Wiest appears in the sky, raining her fire that is not fire down upon them. Clouds of luminous gas billows out from the dead. Klyce’s shout for us to DO Something! breaks our spell, and Gerhard takes most of us to Police Plaza. I rise immediately into the sky, bringing up a Storm of Vengeance upon the third line of faithful crossing the river. Gerhard and Maribeth join Wiest above the first and second waves. Dalish starts rallying the troops and giving orders below, sending Remy to the north with an army at his heels to take on the fourth wave. Behind us, Nat and Klyce take care of the airship, sending it into the bay before Klyce turns into Dragon and brings Nat in on red wings to join the fight at the river.

My storm keeps raging, far longer than it should, as I remember what it felt like those years ago in the Wrathbone mine, to Be the Green Witch. When it falters, I take control of the winds, to keep Dalish and Police Plaza safe while he commands the troops. Maribeth turns most of the river into a rocky mirage, slowing the troops, but not stopping them as Gerhard runs out of fire, and Wiest abandons the field of battle. Dalish and I head for the riverbed where he raises thousands of the dead and turns them back on the faithful.

Nat says we have to get to the church, we have to get to the source, so we stop fighting in the river and fly across to Brooklyn. Gathering above the temple, mana is redistributed and we take a breath, but not a break. We cannot wait, people are dying in the streets. Golden gas is coming up from the sewers. Only half of Pendleton’s men made it out of the Bronx.

Gerhard teleports us down to the workroom we all remembered so well from the time bubble. Nat could not see in there, but it was not protected against teleport. We land safely, and see that it has been used as some sort of ritual room. An altar in an alcove to the side, and all the benches and lockers gone. Everything s coated in a sickly pink flesh.

Klyce goes to the iron doors, back in his demon form now, to rip them open. Shadows in the corner ripple, and the Black and Red knights step out, with Aranea. The king has decided the city is worth saving. As we walk, Aranea fixes the weakness Nat’s last wish has caused her, allowing her to again wield her new sword. Klyce tells the Black Knight that he will fix his arm if we all survive, but the knight just shrugs. The tunnel is dark, but the brightness ahead grows quickly as we descend into the chamber with the severed head of the giant worm, still trapped in its bubble.

The flesh here covers every inch of floor, wall, ceiling, and machinery. It is also beginning to cover the time bubble in the center of the pit. There are body parts here, too, but far too many. Arms, legs, eyes, mouths, floating in the fleshy goo. The flight I have gifted everyone is still working, so only the knights dare step in it. The Archdeacon Wood is here, and dares ask if we have reconsidered.

No more than you, Archdeacon, it’s time to end this.

Wood rises up into the air, but Gerhard counters whatever it was he wanted to do. I cast out a chain lightning, but it does not reach him. Remy’s bullets, however, do. Aranea tries a different magic, but it is stopped as well. The Black Knight heads for the pit and the Red Knight rockets up to the machinery to begin burning away the flesh. Dalish calls up an illusory dragon to burn the flesh from the time bubble, and Maribeth follows suit. Nat tries to curse Wood, but it just falls away. Klyce begins chanting to his sword about being vengeance, and this many being most worthy of it and flies right up to Wood and throws him to the ground. Wood begins laughing joyously, that Klyce is giving in to his power here, at the source of his god, but we don’t have time to do anything else. Remy shouts for us all to do the same.

Nat, calling upon his godly power, manages to pull a few spells off of Wood, and I call up some holy lightning. The others begin pulling harder on their power to burn the flesh, and Klyce stays on Wood, dragging him down to the ground again and again, as he calls upon the flesh of the room to punish us all. I see pain in the faces of my friends, and some mana escapes from Nat is a blue puff, but they seem mostly alright, and I didn’t feel a thing.

Remy attempts to wish our that this room work like a machine, draining our divinity back into us. The room warps and the machinery changes and we are suddenly all connected in that agonizing way that only a mana machine can do. Wood is exstatic> “Exactly as you foresaw! Yes!” Klyce grabs him and they disappear down into the pit. The Red Knight ditches the fight and the Black Knight is nowhere to be seen. At Remy’s urging, we all try to take back our power while continuing to burn the flesh as we can. Aranea casts spells to assist us, but the fight is hard, for even unthinking, Garion’s will is strong.

Nat, using her sword as a focus, manages to pull the Dawnmother’s essence out, but Gerhard falls to the ground. Aranea continues to help and heal, but we struggle. Wood reappears at the top just as Dalish reabsorbs the Stoneman’s essence. Nat stabs the flesh one more time, and the flesh goes limp all around us and her soul-eating sword shatters. Wood tries to call up his own wish, but we counter him. Remy floats down to Gerhard and pulls his soul back into him with his own Wish. I toss lightning down at Wood, and Maribeth sends in a mental attack. Klyce stabs him through the heart and incinerates every inch of his body.

As Klyce turns to us, still seething with rage, Remy calls out to him to stay his vengeance. It is clear that it takes a great force of will, but he releases his power and lands among us. The Black Knight reappears, standing directly behind Klyce and sheathes his sword. Remy passes out from the strain of the fight. I send up to Pendleton that the Garion flesh is dead and the Archdeacon is down. He replies that the mist is gone, and the cultists have come to their senses. Dalish commands his zombie horde to stop fighting. The Black Knight bids us rest and then meet him and the King at The Door. I shout Deal! before anyone else can answer, and he and Aranea disappear into the shadows again.

Dalish offers the rest of us help getting our essences back later, but for now it is time to rest. We head back, Nat taking it slow, to heal anyone she can along the way. Dalish has his zombies round up the dead. Klyce tells Philomena the whole story. I simply collapse into bed and sleep, exhausted by the day’s events, but excited to meet the Prince.

In the morning, we gather for breakfast, sitting by Maribeth and both our brothers come home. I scold mine for having left, and he takes it with a smile at his lady. Porter and Julian look haggard, but well enough. Then the sendings start coming in from every corner, with reports and request for information and orders. Klyce wants everyone to get the bodies taken care of, search and rescue to be mobilized, and fresh water brought into the city in as large of quantities as can be mustered. They all need things to do while we finish cleaning up our own mess.

When everyone has eaten, stowed their magical gear, and replied to their sendings, I teleport us up to the throne room of the old palace. The door behind the throne stands open, and while magic is still suppressed beyond it, the feeling is a familiar one by now, and Dalish is able to descend with us this time. The world goes black and white as we climb, and down in the chamber, the King, the Black Knight, and Aranea are waiting. Dalish asks why Rictus’ son is not with them, and the Black Knight says that this does not concern him. The king apologizes for not trusting us and asks if we have any questions.

Dalish asks how he knew about the door. It’s an old family legend, he tells us. His family are descendants of the Green Witch herself, and their blood is needed to open the way. His great grandfather found it was here when he came to this continent, and built their home above and around it. Dalish asks if he knows what it holds. Yes, he and the Clever Prince shared the last seventeen years in the void together. The Prince helped him keep his sanity in nothingness, and he intends to open the door and free him.

Klyce asks if he knows what will happen then. Freedom. Maribeth asks what that means, and if it will do the things we hoped to fix. The king is not sure, but he knows none of that can be done until it is opened. Dalish asks what he intends to do after, and he says that will be in our hands. We all agree the mageocracy was a failure. He is willing to take back leadership if that is the will of the people, but mostly, he just wants to spend time with his son. That is his priority after missing the last seventeen years with him. Remy offers to take him south, but he does not wish to rule them either.

Klyce asks if we are all in agreement. If anyone objects to opening the door. Nat, Maribeth, Dalish and I immediately agree. Remy is his usual annoying pendantic self. Gerhard is reluctant, but will not vote against it. Klyce agrees and we are unanimous. Then six other voices ring out WE OBJECT, and six luminous figures descend into the cave. The Black Knight and the King freeze in time, as the Gods appear before us.

We all stare for a moment as the Gods look down upon us. They look tired, angry, sad, but determined. Remy, always Remy, breaks the silence by asking why. The Eternal Mind answers for them all, he talked more than Remy, but it went something like: Because it will make things so much worse. You have seen suffering and you think that anything must be better than this. That is how we felt, and the end of this road will take you right back to the beginning and the Clever Prince shall walk as a god, and set his vengeance against this plane of existence. And oh he went on and on and on… Something about our mana being the bones of the fae and havoc and chaos.

When he ran out of steam, Dalish asked why they left these bones, the mana, in the earth in the first place, when the separated the worlds.

The Stoneman answered that the bones belong in the earth, and is not for us to remove them. The fae realm was of the earth. Everything continues, they merely fractured it.

The Vengeance cut in then, saying that the Fae wrought horrors upon the earth. He wants to open the door and end the Prince, and the fae, forever!

There is some back and forth then. Remy calling out that vengeance is this god, and not the Prince, he wouldn’t seek vengeance. And The Vengeance calling him a monster. Then Klyce stepping in and saying that Vengeance is just as bad, or worse. That he just wants to destroy everything. The Green Witch enters the fray, with the tale of the frog and the scorpion. The Clever Prince is a scorpion, she says, he can do nothing but strike, poison, and destroy.

Dalish calls out what they have done, that it was wrong, and has wrought destruction in return. Klyce suggests that the fae follow their own rules, and perhaps we could make a deal with the Prince. Remy says the war needed stopping in their time, and they did their best, but men always find new ways to make war, and that the damage they have caused will only quicken our decay as we fight over the mana.

The Stoneman says that removing the mana would rupture the earth. The Tempest says they should have take it all away. The Eternal Mind does not agree, and is concerned that the Tempest does. The Vengeance says that the bones of our enemies belong in the ground. Remy asked if magic existed before the breaking. The Eternal Mind said of course it did, that’s where their power came from, and the fae made it possible. Dalish explains what locking the fae away has caused and the machines that have brought the fae back into our world. The Dawnmother says that the fae cannot be trusted but they must also not be destroyed.

I jump in at this point, having barely recovered from their appearance, but I am frustrated and angry. Your essences coming back into the world have caused this chaos, the deaths of thousands. We have to fix what you have done before more of the world is destroyed. Nat agrees with me, their mistakes caused this, let us open the door and we will deal with the consequences. The Vengeance is eager for this. Klyce steps in, You all failed. You had your chance and you missed. Be done with all of this? Aren’t you lonely and tired? Let it all go. Just let it go, you are only echoes of what you used to be. It is Our World now. You don’t live here, you quit. We’re still here, it’s our decision now.

The Stoneman shows us what had happened in their time. The chaos and destruction caused by the Prince and the fae. When it is over, Dalish nearly laughs. So, he is as big an ass as those we have already fought. The Stoneman relents that he is what he is. The Vengeance puts in another bid to kill him. Maribeth insists that the only way forward is releasing him and restoring the balance. That they had no right to destroy the fae world as they have done.

The Stoneman looks at us all thoughtfully, glancing at Klyce. In your tirade, one thing moved me. I am lonely. We exist from the power we took, born of the earth. It did not stop without us. I have one last wish, to slumber, to return to the earth. He then lays a hand on Dalish, and the last vestiges of his power flowed out and into him. The Stoneman was gone, and the Green Witch wailed in pain.

The Tempest looks at Gerhard. I would almost agree, but you seem to not be having any more fun than me these years. Nat steps in to defend our quiet friend, saying he has his fun in his lab, with his alchemical works.

Klyce steps forward. I doubt this was in your plan, but what is your endgame here? I step up with him, looking at the Green Witch. Your descendent is here, ready to open that door as is his familial duty. Ready to give his blood. It is time. Klyce picks up the line. The world has moved on. Let this be the end of it. You have stuck around long enough. It is over and if you cannot change then there are only scorpions here.

The Tempest, still frowning at Gerhard. I don’t think you are wrong. And gives his last bit of power to Gerhard.

Then Klyce turns to Vengeance. How about you just leave? I want no part of you. The Vengeance replies, You are too week to carry my mantle. Klyce scoffs, That’s some toxic B.S. You never look at your own self. Only everyone else’s sins. How many lives are on your hands? And they fight, and Klyce defeats him handily, but when he takes his essence in, it changes. Even his sword becomes a shining light.

The Dawnmother has been watching quiestly and steps forward, looking hard at me. I set my descendents to watch this door. It is true, that I am tired. If it is truly time, and this is to be the fate of the world. I must not stand in its way. If it is time, then it is time. And she places a hand on Nat’s head and gives herself over.

The Green Witch looks at me, clearly upset that all her friends are leaving her one by one. Even more upset that we are freeing her erstwhile lover. I would look upon his face one last time. And pass along the memories, and the pain, and the joy. Then she melds into me, but I can still feel here, looking out of my eyes. The Eternal Mind looks at us. He wanted to be the last one. He doesn’t even like his chosen. He says Maribeth never even figured out how to use the library properly. He goes on for a little while, and tells her to enjoy watcing everyone around her be stupid. Then he sighs, almost happily. At least now, I don’t know what’s next.

Time resumes, as the King cuts open his hand and anoints the door. Color creeps back into the room, and the door becomes living wood. He turns back to us. It is done, it is upon you to open the door and deal with the consequences. I will see my friend, and then go.

We all step forward, our minds made up, and open the door. Music pours forth as the Clever Price struts free into the chamber, a slow, sweet jazzy number, full of joy and promise. It’s been a long time, friends. Not for us. It’s good to see you again, he says, looking almost through my eyes. I answer for us both, that I’m not sure I can say the same. What would you have of me? Dalish explains what has happened and that we would like him to fix it.

He thinks it was all a great trick, and then that we would need to bring back his father. Klyce says no, that he is the King now, and it is time for him to grow up. He asks for his powers back, that we took from him. We agree, but Remy insists that the games must stop. Klyce says his distructive ways led to this. And Dalish threatens to separate the worlds permanently if he cannot control himself. Alock begins speaking through Remy to explain the damage to the Fea Realm, and the Prince waves a hand, pulling him out and giving him back his own body. The Prince enjoys his games and is sad we don’t want him to play. Klyce points out that it’s a bigger challenge to play games that don’t kill people. The Prince seems to be catching on, that games are more fun if people can keep playing and if they want to play them. He agrees to our deal.

I ask the Green Witch if she is ready to return to him, to watch over him, and she is, returning to be with him forever. The others all give up their godly essences, though Nat is most reluctant. That feels good again. We have made him whole again, and perhaps our influences on his essence will give him something to think on. He promises to make things as they were, and to have fun games. He will see us all again. Remy asks what of the mana, and he says it will just be dirt now. He is late to a party, so he takes Aranea and Alock and disappears back to his world. Remy tries to eradicate the machines with a wish, but they are irrelevant now. The King takes his leave with Sir Hector, and we warn them to be wary of Wiest, for she may still be on the warpath for her father’s death.

There is much to do, and we head out of the old palace to begin the work. To guide, explore, and discover this new world we are creating.

I must find my parents, and then, I must go back to the Fae. There is so much to learn there, and someone has to keep an eye on The Prince.

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.