Stephen takes us down into his basement, which looks more lived in than the upstairs, and then jumps down an eerily familiar hole. We all follow suit, finding ourselves floating down to an island in a dry lakebed beneath the mansion. It looks nearly identical to the one we visited below Bangoria. Only, this one is a bit busier in the section between the standing stones and the inner circle. It’s all still crumbling, and the statues to the gods are a bit different. When we step through the circle here, nothing happens, to our great relief.
The thrones here are empty, and Stephen tells us they were that way when he found them. We fill him in that there’s one under his old house, too. Moving towards the throne, we find a pit dug in front of the thrones. Ten feet in diameter, and about five feet deep. It’s about the size of the worm tree holes, when they dug them up! Oh Dawnmother!!! What if they have one, what if New Calay is infected? What if they plan to unleash it on our army or New Gnosis?
Stephen hands over a message he found here. It speaks of our army’s approach, and asks the mages here to relocate the “occulus.” Which doesn’t sound like a tree, but what could it refer to? I can feel the pounding of the earth here, and I jump into the hole as Remy takes a look at the magic around this pit. The beating gets louder and stronger as I sit in the pit, trying to reach for it, understand it.
They chatter above me, about the six god statues here. A tall black marble column covered in script of prayers to the Stoneman. An empty ring with faded, delicate tile work of a dancer with a skull for a head, with swords in one hand and scales in the other. A massive stone-carved brazier with stylized sun which says “drive away the night.” A squared off empty plot of tilled, dry, cracked earth. Benches around a massive cylinder carved with shelves, topped with an onyx brain. A broken shrine, with only feet remaining.
They’re nameing the gods and arguing, but I can only hear the pounding heartbeat get louder and louder. The ground starts trembling, rumbling and a monstrous mass of eyeballs bursts out of the pit beside me!
Scrambling back, I try to thunderstep away, but it doesn’t work, the magic doesn’t work! So, I climb up and out and circle away from the thing while it shoots rays from various eyes. Klyce tries to grapple it, but it’s floating, so it doesn’t do much except allow him to keep punching it. Gerhardt is the first to get a spell off, from outside the circle and to the side. Nat falls under a black ray, and Stephen beside her turns to stone. Rays, spells, bullets, and punches fly. Gerhardt finally manages to banish it, but not before Remy, too, turns to stone.
Stunned in the aftermath of the battle, I rush to Nat, but she’s gone, there’s nothing. I pray to the Dawnmother for help, but she does not hear me. Marybeth sobs beside me. Dalish comes over, puts his hands on Nat’s head, to try and bring her back like he brought Remy just a few days ago. It works, but this time, it was too much, and Dalish falls over dead himself. Marybeth’s sobs increase and I pray all the harder.
Beside me, Nat climbs out from under Dalish to find her brother a statue, and her eyes healed! She can see again, and is terribly disoriented by this fact. She starts praying to the Dancer for help, but he can’t save Dalish either. Nat decides she wants to have some tea and visions, to find out what we can do to fix this. We’re too far from the swamp witch, and Durance isn’t likely to give us leave to go back to her anyway. We insist on binding her hands so she can’t mindpalace us when high again, and she has her tea.
Her trance lasts for four hours. Klyce and I get Stephen and Remy back up through the hole in basement floor. Then we wait. But Nat awakes with no more info, except the usual horrible visions of death and destruction. We have a discussion about what to do and who to talk to. Perhaps Durance or one of the other mages can turn Remy back if we take him outside. Nat wonders if Stephen’s books can help fix Dalish and convinces Cerissa to take her to look through them. There is nothing to help the statues, and only spells to create undead creatures, not return life. I send a message to Durance that we’re staying the night here, and we all take rest.
In the morning, leaving Nat and Gerhardt behind with Stephen, because they won’t let us take him out, we head back to camp. Klyce carries Dalish, and I levitate Remy out. Marybeth explains the trip to the basement and below and the eye monstrosity. She explains that Nat and Gerhardt stayed behind to try and find more research into solutions. Klyce explains that we think they might have had a worm tree in the basement, and so the whole world is at threat again.
Lt Durance summarizes our crazy story back to us, to make sure it got it all. Then he tells us to go round up Nat, Gerhardt, and Stephen so we can head to meet up with the rest of the army and get the statues returned to flesh. We argue a little, but cannot disagree that it’s the only way to fix Stephen. So, leaving Remy behind, but taking Dalish with us, we head back to the house.
Nat pulls us all into a mind palace to talk. First item – Dalish. Do we bring him with us in a deep pocket spell, or do we raise him as a powerful undead thing? Arguement ensues, but due to his necromatic leanings, we all agree to let Nat do it. And most of us agree we do not want that should we fall. Second, Klyce asks Cerissa to let us take Stephen, as it’s the only way to fix him. We all swear to protect him with our own lives. She will give us a glyph we can use to get him to safety in an emergency. Third, what about New Calay, the burning, explosions, and the worm tree? Well, if the worm tree is there, it will be us, firebombing the city and rightly so. Everything settled, we pop back out to do some magic.
Nat wants to bring Dalish back as a mummy and asks Cerissa for help. She suggests linked overcharging, and when we all stare dumbly at her, she explains. After disparaging our education. Gerhardt, Cerissa, and Nat join together, sharing their mana and the burden of the overcharge. They wrap Dalish up in strips of cloth and cast their spell. He awakes, though undead, and says he feels better than he has in a long while. He agrees it was the right decision. We give him some mana, but he can’t use it. Marybeth gives him some of the mana from her weird wineskin, and that he Can use. Interesting.
Levitating Stephen, we head back to camp to explain to Durance what we’ve done this time. He is not terribly excited about it and tells Nat that she is now responsible for him and his behavior. Camp packs up and we march for the rest of the day before setting camp.
In the morning, a perfectly living Dalish walks right up into camp, where we are having breakfast with our mummy Dalish.