Mysterious Mysteries

We manage to collect Marybeth’s mom with no hassle and head back to my house. Everything is quiet, and I gather up the ashes into vases. I have to talk to their families, but not now. Not with demons and devils after us. We fortify the study to protect everyone as best we can as some of the folk with fire spells clean up the back garden.

Someone remembers a box Remy pulled out of Marybeth’s house and we take a look at it. It’s got some serious magic on it, and the inverted Dawnmother rune from Nat’s dream. Nat manages to pick the lock on the box after only one failed attempt. She’s getting really good at that. Then she opens it, and a swirling blackness comes out. A demonic voice comes out and a black beam of energy strikes her in the chest! She staggers, but stays upright. The box is full of ashes. Remy sits down to identify it all. The box itself was covered by Non-Detection. The ashes are magical and can make you disappear and have non-dectection on you, too. They also used to be people… Closing the box will reset the trap, so we get a pouch for the ashes instead.

Everyone gets busy then. I send to Elizabeth again, but she’s busy still, but says she’ll come. Marybeth starts studying her grandfather’s papers again. Gerhardt patches Nat up from the box’s damage. Klyce and Nat then pull Philip into the hall to dig into his brain, most of us follow. Klyce explains what’s going to happen, and the risk. Philip is scared, but he trusts Klyce. When Nat’s done, she says his memories are thin and don’t go back past two and a half years ago. Around tree time. There’s a smooth globe of darkness beneath that. She can’t get through, but it feels like blood and sulfur. We ask about his past, and he has memories of growing up, but they seem a little vague to me.

He goes back into the room with the families while we ponder what this means. Did he get infected during the mind worm episode? Did something hitch a ride in his brain? And what about the cultist ashes from Porter’s room. What are we Doing? Marybeth produces an image of Porter for Nat, and she says he’s the leader of the cult. He’s the one sacrificing people. Oh Dawnmother, what do we do?

We could speak with the church of the Dawnmother. Nat could try a deeper vision of the cult. We could talk to Poissant. We could contact the Magia. What? Remy? Really? Or was that Dalish? We could ask our contacts in Xingtown. We really don’t know where to go, so maybe all of the above.

Our main goal is to get the demon attacks to stop, so I ask Marybeth about the contract. She pulls her Mom out of the study to be present while she explains. The Original family contract was for 1000 souls for a lifetime of riches. But that count has been upped to 200,000 souls recently. Marybeth’s new contract is not for riches, but rather to free her family from the contract and any future contracts.

It’s too late to go back out. So, Nat settles down for a nice tea-induced nap. I update Gerald in a sending, and he offers to help. I don’t reply, I want at least him to stay safe.

When we all wake up the next morning. She tells us what she saw. The New Gnosis skyline, the petals, the Deliberative tower. Something is going to happen soon. Three outcomes produce chaos, one produces unity. Then back to the city. Torch fires lighting up everywhere. If it is not check, it will destroy everything. The stone altar, 13 black robed figures. A rapturous man on the stone. Porter stabbing him and then he dissolves into darkness. She tried to leave the room, to see where it is, but there is only blackness. Brooklyn at the refinery. A new construction of a gradiose building. A small man in simple black clothes, preacing to a crowd. The meek shall be made strong.

We have to leave the house, and I’m scared for my guests. I send to Gerald, asking him to come home and protect them. I also send to my contact who signed me up for Remy’s political faction. He lets me know there is a deliberative scheduled in two weeks. Klyce sits Phil down to tell him we have to leave, and he trusts him to protect the family. Klyce asks Elizabeth to stay, at least for now, and she relents. Gerald takes a while to get home, but I explain the danger when he does and set him up with Orrin and Philip to keep everyone safe.

We head to Brooklyn first, to the church of the Dawnmother. It doesn’t look so good. Royalist graffiti and other things on the outside. The inside is better off, but Father Carmine tells us that Father Kevin left and converted to the new church, the One God over at the Refinery. That church showed up a couple months ago. They are strange, almost cultish. The priests dress in black and preach humility and peace. They stick together and worship nearly constantly. We ask about the cult we are after, even showing him an image of Porter and the inverted symbol. But he has no knowledge of any of that.

We head over to the One God church to look around. They are still laying the foundation. We listen to the preacher for a bit. He’s talking about forgiveness and treating others how you wish to be treated. Being saved if one dedicates oneself. The sky turns dark then. He warns against the Old Gods. He says they cannot be trusted and were forgotten for a reason. He says they strike him down, but have not power here. And lightning does strike then, but not harm him. I am heavily tempted to bring my own lightning down from that storm, just to prove him wrong, but I resist. He’s innocent so far.

The crowd disperses after his miracle and there is talk of a sacrement meeting on Sunday. We wander over to the foundations, looking for a way into the lower levels where the giant worm head should still be secured. But it’s been covered over. It looks like they intend to put a way down, but they aren’t ready for that yet. We head back over to see if we can talk to him, but he’s surrounded by followers. He breaks from them and comes to us. Remy asks him about the One God. He introduces himself as Arch Deacon Lewis Woods. I’m not really listening to his answers, but he says he was visited by this God. Not in a vision or anything, but more of a feeling. Four month ago. Since no one was using the building and the mages had cleared out, he decided to build it up for his God. He doesn’t mind the worm in the basement, it seems trapped enough. Then there’s a rambling on about the old gods falling to reason and logic and then his One God came to replace those. The One God is eternal. Then he catches my attention again, saying that Mages are not welcome in his church. The Old Gods are responsible for magic, and therefore mages are an abomination before his God. I try to argue a bit, but he says magic was a test, and mages failed to resist the temptation. We try to ask about the cult bringing chaos, but he doesn’t know anything about that, and doesn’t care.

Frustrated with Brooklyn, we head out to the Petals to check on the Deliberative in case the something happening isn’t going to wait the two weeks for the meeting. Once in the Tower of Justice, we head up to the top, to the Deliberative chambers. When we arrive, we are not alone. There is an older man with a military air, and a younger, pale woman dressed in leathers. Remy approaches and introduces himself. The man introduces them in return. Other Pendleton and Satiel. Remy claims we’re just out looking around. They say they’ve come because of the recent news about the meeting to come. They are discussing the coming Prime nominations. Many say Diedre, Wiest’s daughter, should take his place as Prime Evoker. He, himself, is more on the Conjuration side, not wanting to be put up for Evoker.

She’s become unstable since her father’s death and is on a rampage to hunt down those responsible. Remy asks if there’s been any actual evidence that the Black Knight is responsible. Hard to get in Atheria’s case, his mansion collapsed with him inside it. But Jor was found beheaded, and the knight was seen in the area. Wiest was stabbed through the heart with a large sword, so it seems plausible. He’s afraid that she won’t be able to focus enough to be a Prime.

He wants Satiel to put herself forward, but he doesn’t stay to chat with us. She’s unalligned and previously apprenticed to Rictus. Remy asks about the mage-slayer, but she’s never heard of him. Nat asks about being able to speak with those who died. She’s a little cagey, but then offers to trade spells with us. We offer her Dawn and Sunbeam, and she includes the ink and paper we need to scribe Speak with Dead in on the deal. While Nat copies the spell, she tells us that Diedre is enraged and lose any sense of proportionality or control. We tell her we’ve been tasked with investigating the Black Knight as well, and she suggests we go look at the scene in Wiest’s mansion.

Once she’s gone, we have another arguement about contacting the Black Knight. We decide to first check out the mansion and then go talk to Poissant. The mansion, it turns out, is here in the petals, flown here by Wiest himself.

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.

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.