I teleport up to Bangoria with Nat, Maribeth and her mom, and Remy and his dad. I bring us to edge of town so we can have a nice walk up to the castle. Give everyone a few minutes to settle into the new area, especially the ones who’ve never been here. Nat sends for her parents and we go small receiving hall to wait. Her parents greet us warmly, if slightly confused by our sudden return. Nat explains our presence, and our need for sanctuary for our friends’ parents and they are happy to oblidge. I’m sure the townsfolk will be all the talk about Remy’s dad coming to visit, but I don’t remind Nat. Mr. Rathbone is excited to take Mr. Renaud hunting the next morning. Natty gives everyone a tour of the castle, and I’m reminded of when it was Vlad’s castle instead. I still wonder if my boon was used up by all the things we stole before he took it back home.

When the tour is done, we sit down to a nice dinner with the whole family. There is pleasant chat, and I remind Nat to ask about Mana. Mr Rathbone says it should be alright, but we’ll have to ask Great Grandfather to make sure we don’t take too much. Remy stays with his dad as Nat, Maribeth, and I go down to talk to the old skull. A lot of the zombies now were prisoners we fought last time we were here. He says the mine is back to full production and we’re welcome to take what we want, but no more than 500 kilograms of the stuff. We do some quick math and decide that 200 kilograms should be enough. Remy and I will have to flip for who transports the mana and who transports the group in the morning.

So, we head up to bed, sharing a room with Maribeth’s mom for one last night. After a nice breakfast, sans the older men, we make our goodbyes. Remy agrees to transport the mana, and I take the group home in time for breakfast at my house to just be finishing. Everyone is gathered up to discuss what comes next We have a lot to do over the next week or so.

Work on the Soup Kitchen/anti-mage rhetoric. Transmuting mana. Figuring out what we’re going to say at the deliberative. Coordinating with our various political parties. Scribing Spells. Checking out the One God church. And I have to speak to the families of my dead household staff.

We have to get the mages to see that the anti-mage sentiment is only going to get worse if they don’t reinvest back into the city instead of hording wealth in the petals. Places like the One God Church are only going to get bigger and worse.

Who is up for the Prime seats? Anyone beside the two people we met and our professor? Do we even know anything about any of them?

Nat ponders contacting another plane to ask questions. But she doesn’t even know who will answer, and that just seems super dangerous right now.

Maribeth suggests we head into her library and do some research.

Maybe I should check in with our friends around the world and see if everyone is still safe: Italy, Asia, and South America.

So much to do, where to start?

Everyone decides to take a day. They are just going to sit and scribe their new spells. I take this chance to grab Gerald to go deliver ashes, and money, to the families of the deceased. Crystal tries to go with us “to help,” but I insist she stay out of it since her people caused this problem in the first place.

Back together again the next day, we go over what we know about the Deliberative coming up. The Prime candidates. Professor Wiest is hot tempered and seems to be the likely successor to her father. Satiel was an apprentice of Rictus, and a powerful evoker. Neither one of them has officially declared for the post. There are no clear candidates for the Prime Conjurer, but Pendleton of the Conservative party is well regarded,. Namira is another possibiity, she was also an apprentice of Rictus, and I’m not super happy with where that is all going. The Deliberative itself is likely to cover budgetary concerns, Dalish’s report on the planes, the elections, and new laws to increase prisoners for the mines here and out west.

We have to figure out a better way to mine. We test Crystal, but she has no adverse effects to being exposed to mana. So, demons, maybe, but that’s resource and blood sacrifice intensive. Undead like Nat’s mine are just too hard to control in that quantity for most people. Constructs don’t survive the mana, either.

Then Remy runs off on a tangent about mana allergies, and why people didn’t have this problem in the before times. And it goes all overy the place, including Philomena poppig in to suggest that mana wasn’t a physical resource before the realms were split. Klyce got over his allergy by learning to convert the mana, basically a self-taught mage. There’s a lot of arguing and sniping for a while and Klyce says he isn’t going to let them take me or him into a research facility again. Philomena tries to settle everything down by suggesting Remy get Dalish and Gerhardt to help him research solutions. Dalish pipes up about fixing it by unbreaking the world, and then the door comes up and the arguments start again. Until someone remembers the library.

Maribeth reminds us all that we have to give a story to get the information we seek. She also reminds us that information about the breaking is behind the tentacle monsters, and they were not happy to see them last time. I try to get everyone to agree on a question before we go, but it seems like Remy has his own ideas, as usual. There’s a bit more sniping, until Maribeth opens the doorway.

We all write in our books and think of our questions. I write abou the lives of the household staff that have finally been fully laid to rest, and ask about the day the King fell. Most of us head off together, but Remy goes the opposite way. We eventually enter a tower full of histories and biographies, and up to a floor where we split into two groups. Klyce finds pulp novels from ten years ago about the two knights. The rest of us are drawn to a set of history books. The first is the History of the Royal Family. There is a claim here that they are descendants of the Green Witch herself. The second is The Life of King Barran. He had no heir, no wife, and was an only child. It gives detail on the politics of the time of the overthrow. Royal control over the mana supply was a large factor. He sent far fewer people to the mies, so there was always a shortage. There isn’t much on the coup itself, though it does mention Rictus killing him, and all the royal guard, including Captain Hector Renaud. Well, Remy has some questions to answer! Nat finds a page with invisible ink that simply says: King Barran Lives.

We spend a few hours looking around this tower for more information. Dalish finds a log book of the royal guards, it shows the visitor log for that morning. Declan Wiest signed in. He cannot find a listing for a squire of Hector, but the timing is off. According to the Pulps, the Red Knight would have been and infant at the time of the coup. Nat looks for the Greeen Witch’s genalogy, but finds only that the two old country noble lines died off centuries ago. Klyce posits that the Red Knight was a son of a mage, stolen and trained. I’m not so sure he had to be stolen, he could just be the Black Knight’s son. We wonder if Porter’s spell can help us find the King, or if it really is Hector, if Remy’s blood can lead us to the Black Knight.

Darkness in the Mines

I swear it was dawn, but as we headed back up to the castle, it grew dark once more. There is chaos in the courtyard. The prisoners that didn’t go to town came here, and took a dozen more down into the mines. Nat takes charge and sets an elder of the town to manage the citizenry. She gets the men to building tents in the continued storm and the women and children inside to the banquet hall for shelter. After checking to be sure Nat’s family is alright, we all try to get a little rest. We have to go to the mines, but not in the exhausted state we’re currently in.

After our rest, and a bit of orange juice (Remy is still obsessed with the juice’s existence), we talk about what to do. It’s decided that we’ll go to the mines through a secret entrance from the castle, instead of the front gate. We head down carefully, because the crazed crossbolter has set bear traps all down the path. Fortunately, we don’t run into him or the strange bat-man. We find a phantom hound, like Dalish’s upstairs. Gerhardt dispells it so we can get by.

We get down to the mine level, but the chamber between us and it is full of the inactive undead, stacked like cordwood. Remy starts freaking out again. You’d think he’d seen enough undead by now, but I guess some people just can’t handle the creep factor after they’ve tried to kill you repeatedly. Remy starts flying and the rest of us start climbing our way through. One twitches, Remy shoots, and then all heck breaks loose.

I grab Marybeth beside me and dimesion door us out of the room to the far side. Dalish and Gerhardt join us after only a moment. There’s a huge explosion on the other side of the door, and Remy yells at us to get Nat. It takes some doing to get the door open after he exploded all the zombies in front of it, but we managed to pull her out and get her healed back to consciousness. Just in time for Remy to get himself out before we slam the door back shut.

Back awake now, and with all of us gasping for breath, wondering what we’re doing down here, Nat shares a vision from the night before. The guy we’re after is deep in the earth. He’s been here a long time and to stop the current disaster we have to break his body. But to finish him, we have to break his mind. Oh good, riddles to go with the creepy shadow monster.

The group has a bit of a fluff up with Remy about zombies again, until said creepy shadow calls out to him, saying it can work with a fear of zombies. We call out to it in turn, asking why it’s doing this. It says it got a gift and now must destroy the Bones, as they kept him trapped here. We try to figure out who he is and how he got free, but it’s no use.

We head on, and come across a group of people, beaten and tied. We call out to them quietly, and they say that the miners check on them every half hour or so. Deciding to set a trap, we cut their ropes and send them back to wait outside the zombie room. Marybeth and I sit where they were while everyone else hides. They show up on schedule, and though the fight is rough, we put them down.

The shadow starts talking again. He asks about the mage revolution, and we tell him the mages won. He was put down here before it started. When we mention Rictus, he seems interested. We try to make a deal, don’t go after the Bones and we’ll help him get Rictus. He won’t be disuaded, though.

We head onward, freeing captives as we go, sending them back along the paths we’ve cleared , and hoping for the best. Then we come across a group of miners that are still working. Some are badly mutated, but some are only slightly affected. Nat recognizes one as Philomena’s butler, Ulysses. She approaches him carefully.

Asking what happened, he slowly, painfully replies punishment. Then asks after the family. She assures him they are safe. She asks what happpened. Bad things go bad, but not him. Remy steps up to take a look at him. The mana exposure has caused severe damage. It seems the mana has weakened them, made them easier to control for the shadow. Nat delves a little into his mind, with his permission, to try and understand. The shadow takes the weak, but he doesn’t know where they go. He keeps working so he can keep control. He says he’s been here in this mine for a year now.

We try to get him to stop working and go wait with the others, but he won’t. He doesn’t want his family to know what became of him, begs us not to tell Philomena. Remy thinks maybe Triplehorn or Klyce can figure out a way to fix the damage. Nat says it’s too late, he wants it to end. While the boys argue, Nat steps forward, and stabs him through the heart.

I… I can’t look. I… we knew him. He was innocent… Not a monster… not bad. He… I… what… No…