Gods and Beholders

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.

Finding James

The night finished up with everyone attempting their overcharge homework. Well, almost everyone. A couple of the boys go down to Lost and Found to learn the Locate spell Dalish had picked up, but I just go to bed so I can get up early the next morning to look for Daffodils around campus.

Classes, so exciting on the first day, have somehow become routine in just a few days. Everyone but me gets to practice taking control of Mana in Fundaments class while I take notes to see how to distract a Wizard trying to do so. Math is something I can at least learn and understand.

At lunch, we discuss James some more and decide to go looking for Daffodils in the forest. Dalish finds a dead one before we have to hurry back for afternoon classes. History continues to be strange, and I just keep my head down. In P.E. we take a break from the Game, and do the obstacle course and then run laps. I actually come in 2nd of our class at 13 minutes 30 seconds – only Klyce beats me, and not by much.

We’ve got some time before dinner, so the guys start overcharging to cast Locate Object on the notebook Dalish gave to James. They fall unconscious a lot, but keep at it, heading out to the Fountain whenever they wake up. Seems Remy and Dalish can’t cast this type of spell. But Gerhardt and Nat lead us out into the courtyard and say it’s down below us. So, Nat runs back to his room for a shovel and we start digging until the Serviers show up and scold us for digging up the courtyard.

Nat manages to get them talking. They say it smells of Daffodils, but it goes deep, too deep for boys and girls. (Why are they SO Creepy???) They mention the Undercroft and Catacombs are off-limits to underclassmen. And then get stuck on that and won’t tell us more.

So we head off to the library to look for maps and histories of this place. The only maps we find don’t have the underground areas, and the only history we find was that this used to be tenements. Nat tries an overcharge on other missing items, and it still points to the same spot. So we start searching around and MaryBeth and I find a secret door in the Library that goes downstairs.

We all head down together. Nat and Dalish hear Serviers whispering ahead. They’re talking about James, they’ve actually been sent to find him. (Oh, Good, can we go now? No? Alright.) They’re coming our way so we have to hide. Somehow they don’t see us and we keep going.

There is tapping on the pipes, so MaryBeth taps back (hoping it’s James?). I start hearing voices talking about fun. Then mist creatures jump out and attack us. I shout at them that this is Not Fun, but they don’t listen. We disperse two and one runs, but the last to disperse calls for help. So we run, and Nat tries another Locate Object to guide us. More mist monsters come running after us, so we hide again. (MaryBeth is really good at illusions.) Two stay to investigate the area we’re hiding in, so we have to smash them and dive down a small tunnel Nat found.

Eventually we get to the end of the tunnel, and I hear something ahead. He’s talking about blood and shiny things and being trapped. When we finally make it out of the tunnel, we find a room full of huge piles of stuff. This guy must have been stealing stuff for a Very Long Time. We sneak forward together, and find James in the center of a Ritual Circle with a small purple-grey, slimy creature.

We attack. I push James out of the circle while Nat tries to mess up the symbols. The weird creature disappears. MaryBeth and I try to take care of James while everyone else pairs off to search the piles for the creature or another way out so we don’t have to go back through the mist monsters. There’s a lot of sticky goo and slippery spots around the room and the slimy creature keeps popping out of the piles and attacking us. Until Klyce manages to grab him and they all bombard him with spells. He melts away and the Ritual Circle fades.

What Was That? What are we doing? We’re just kids, why are we fighting strange monsters in the sewers? This is not at All what I thought magic school would be like! Did we just Kill something??? Lots of somethings?? We’re killing things now??? What IS this Place? And why am I now an even bigger freak because I could understand them all? How do I understand them??

Breathe, Tristia, we still have to get out of here.

James is Missing

At dinner, Dalish notices that his shadow, James isn’t there anymore. That’s weird, he’s Always around Dalish. So, we decide to go look for him. He isn’t in the dorm, or anywhere between class and the dining hall. We head out to the lake where he and Dalish had been studying the night before, but no one is there.

I suggest we go ask a teacher, and we find a staircase by the dining hall that has a sign for the Teacher’s Lounge. We all head up, and Professor Malden answers the door. He says that students often get overwhelmed here, and that the staff doesn’t go looking for two or three days! But if we’re worried we should go check the Lost and Found.

Our class never did get a tour of the grounds, so we don’t know where that is. Nat, MaryBeth, Remmy, and I decide that we should go try and get lost, so we can be found. This is a weird school, maybe it will work, or maybe James got lost and we’ll find him. Dalish and Gerhardt decide to look around the buildings for a sign that says Lost and Found, how boring.

We go walk deep into the woods for awhile. MaryBeth is worried about being late to Astronomy class, so we turn back around. Nat says he knows the way, so we all follow him. Before we make it out though, Remmy starts seeing things, shadows or fairies or something. Who believes in Fairies? Nat, apparently.

The groundskeeper finds us though, before Remmy can start chasing things that don’t exist. I guess we’re not allowed to be out on the grounds after dark, so he takes us all back towards dorms. Dalish and Gerhardt tell us they found the Lost and Found, and a lot of things have gone missing, and they might have found a spell that could help. The others all have class, so I study a bit and go to bed.

Fundaments of Magic class is late again. This time Professor Malden brings in a cart and several jugs of mana. Mana, he tells us, is the essential material needed to cast Magic, but I don’t need it. He calls me to the front of the class and tells me to drink one of the jugs. This seems wasteful to me, but I do it anyway. My classmates’ eyes all bug out watching me. Then Professor Malden tells them how dangerous I am and that I’m in danger, too. Wait, what??

People I don’t even know, people I’ve never me, he says, will come after me. Will want to take me and study me. They’ll want to know what makes my magic work, and they might even want to Use me! Nonono, I just… I just wanted to do magic. Back at my seat, I notice he’s talking again.

Mana puts a limiter on Magicians. You have to think carefully about how you use it. Then he talks about possessing the mana. How a lot of people drink it, but that isn’t necessary. Ownership is all they need.

He calls Remmy and Dalish to the front and tells them to take ownership of, without touching, the mana. Dalish manages it pretty easily, but Remmy gets frustrated and sets it all on Fire! Dalish wills the fire to go out, and it does! How am I the dangerous one? Mana is volatile, Malden warns us, and doesn’t like being disrupted.

MaryBeth asks about using emotions, rather than Will to control mana. Or using mana as a weapon. Professor Malden says both of these are possible, but inefficient. He demonstrates manipulating the mana itself, turning it into a gas, a solid, and a liquid.

He has everyone else work on taking ownership of the mana until they are all out of spells. Then he talks about Overcharging, which is, I guess, what everyone thought he was having me do at the start of class. Taking in too much mana. This is dangerous, too, and makes you pass out after a minute, if not immediately. This is their homework, Overcharge, without killing themselves, to see how well they can handle it. I’m supposed to see how much magic I can do in a day, test my limits.

The rest of classes go as expected, but James never does turn up. Klyce banters with the professor in History. MaryBeth has strange questions about efficiency of magic and mana, so I send her to Professor Mast. Then I finally get to go to P.E. but I don’t get to see Oliver. We make a plan about digging foxholes to protect against ranged magic, but when I run out to grab the ball, I get knocked down immediately and am unconscious for the rest of class.

Afterwards, we go looking for James again. I go to the Philosophy classroom and ask everyone coming out if they’ve seen James since class ended yesterday, but no one has. MaryBeth, Klyce and I go talk to the stablehands. Well, Klyce talks to them mostly, and they suggest the kitchens. So we go find the Kitchens. The weird servitors here aren’t Quite as freaky as the ones in the stables. They say food has gone missing, and there are strange smells of Daffodils and Slime.

We gather up again and go talk to Triplehorn, the Transmutation professor. Dalish tried to do Locate Object, but it didn’t work for him. Triplehorn wants to help us, but the Dean says he’s not allowed for a couple more days. Then he tells us you Can memorize spells you aren’t strong enough to cast, but that very few wizards can manage Divination spells. So, we go off to Dinner to plan what to do next.

Day Two at Magic School

Today was the first day of classes! MaryBeth and I had breakfast together and then went to Fundaments of Magic with our Class. Professor Malden was late, but he doesn’t seem to walk very well, it looks like his magic backfired on him at some point.

What is Magic? he asked us, and apparently the answer is Cheating. Magic breaks the rules of our world. Well, my parents would sure like that answer, they definitely think I am always breaking the rules.

Then we learn about “schools” of magic, like different ways to use it. Which is the most dangerous, he wants to know, and we all set to writing essays, and then reading them aloud. Mortified by the time it gets to my turn. Everyone else wrote such good essays, and I think I’m probably wrong. But Necromancy is so Icky! The debates rage on for a while, and I get mocked for thinking there are still gods in the world. Enchantment is the final answer, bewitching People is the Most Bad.

Nat came talk to MaryBeth and me at Lunch because we were so anti-Necromancy. He avoids my questions about how he gets Bodies for awhile until MaryBeth mentions that sometimes people volunteer to donate their bodies to Science. He says that’s where his family gets them, too, but I’m not so sure. If that was true, why didn’t he just Say that the first five times I asked. I’ll have to keep an eye on him.

The rest of my classes are pretty quiet and boring. Math is math. History was a little odd, but victors write the history and all that. Philosophy is more like Fundaments, questioning and thinking about thinking. I don’t see Oliver at All! But at dinner, MaryBeth is so excited about the game they played in P.E., and Klyce is actually Friendly for once, so Dalish, Gerhardt, and I all decide to switch our fourth period. Besides, Oliver is in that class!

Day One at the Mysterium Academie

Dear Diary,

First day of Magic school, and I’ve already made a friend! Marybeth is so sweet! And tall! Even though she keeps trying to hide behind everyone. I think I’m the shortest one here, but that’s okay, I had the prettiest dress.

Everything is so exciting! The hallways move and flip and sometimes we have to walk on walls.

We got split into A and B class, and I’m SO glad the professor didn’t call on me. We would never have gotten A class if she had.

The stablehands are The Creepiest I’ve Ever Seen! They have Way too many teeth and when they smile… I swear, their heads are just going to split in half! And they don’t give the horses names. But at least they let me ride one. I took Marybeth around the lake, and Dalish and James were there, too. Dalish sure writes a lot.

We picked our classes today. I didn’t know what to do, so I just avoided the magic ones. I think I’m going to fail Fundaments of Magic… I gave Marybeth my Mana thingy, it won’t do me any good. Why am I such a freak? What am I going to do?

Oh! I saw Oliver! He’s in the B class. He’s so cool and cute! I think he even looked at me!

I can’t believe I’m here!

Tristia Ravenhelm