A Plot, A Party, and A Pretty Drow

Everyone came down to the Restaurant to have lunch with Red and me. Orange says he found a guy with his brain eaten out at the Yawning Portal. He says it’s happening all over town. He got a new ax that made him promise to kill the monster responsible. It’s weird to make promises to weapons, but Orange never does anything normal. He says it’s the Xanathar mind eater that we met right back at the beginning. Red tells him good luck. Killing that guy is going to be an awful long quest. I think Orange was hoping Red would help him, but Red seems scared of the guy, or crossing The Boss.

Catbard, she’s not a page of a book, this is a page of a book. But I guess she’d rather I call her that. Strange Catbard. In love with a guy who lives inside her ring, and has a fancy palace full of air and bright loveliness. Page is someone else’s book. Like always.

Page asked Red and me to go to a party with her. She says she needs help finding spies there. It’s a really fancy party, so we go get some new fancy clothes. I get a pretty blue dress with sparkles on it. Not good for sneaking, but good for blending in at a fancy party. As much as this little bird can, anyway. I make up some new business cards, too. No one’s hired me in a long time. I don’t know how much longer this group is going to last. Flock may be family, but those stones, or that sea goddess could ruin it all.

It’s a really nice party, and I reconnect with some old clients and meet a few new. Cat… Page picked up a few acts for the cabaret. Red does what Red does. Then, about halfway into the night, Page threw champagne into some guy’s face. He played it off and started to leave, but we, and Mert, all followed him. Red and I went up on the roof, while Page and Mert followed him more directly. He says something about hiding a peacock, and Page says she wants to see. Then he was suddenly a drow in a big feathered hat and an eyepatch. Is he a Pirate? He says his name is Jarlaxle, and Mert seems to know him. Then he disappeared! I guess it wasn’t a big deal he was there, because we went back inside to enjoy the rest of the party.

Uninvited Guests

Dear Spymaster,

Did you know that Lady Gralhund wants to be a Lord of Waterdeep and wear a mask? And that there have been Nimblewrights around her place for months? Seems strange to me. Where’d they all come from?

Istrid stayed for a month. Some of my friend said she was rude, but she just seemed scared to me. She says it’s safe now and gave me lots of shiny metal. She can come stay any time.

The Big Guy’s people are worried about a black snake running around and stealing from the rich folk. Catbard and I go with him to talk to a reporter named Rudderbust. He told us all about a lady a hundred years ago robbing and killing people. Cassalanter he says, back then, and now an evil twin of the current lady. He also says they worship demons. Orange went to look at records and found the old snake stole from everyone, even the Cassalanters. She has no sister, just young kids. They had economic troubles, but 15 years ago, things go better. I went to watch the house, just to see if anyone leaves in the middle of the night, but just dinner guests leave.

Mert asked Page to go help a friend, Yssa Solsa. She has trapped a monster in her shop and needs help. Candlekeep, Big Guy, and I go with her. Turns out to be a Gazer like we’ve been dealing with in the sewers. We blocked off her sewer entrance and Page is gonna go yell at people for her. She gave us some cool books for our library.

Also, apparently bags of holding can have worms. Have you ever heard of that? They’re building a society in our bag. Weird!

~QS

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.

Okay…

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.

Just a Conversation… Or Seven

I spent the entire day worrying about everyone. Everyone going off to meet with the various political factions. New Primes, Old Primes, Wanna Be Primes, and Random Politicos alike. No political parties had contacted me. No, sirree. I’m just an object to study. Only Hardin contacted me, with some new research. I will not go back. I am not going back there. He’ll have to figure it out without me. But I do want to help, I want to know what he thinks he knows. I want to fix this mana problem for all my friends. Oh man, my friends. What if Wiest kills Natty outright? You know she’s not going to give the Professor what she wants. Oh, Natty!

Eventually, it’s time for me to head down to Xingtown for dinner with Hardin. I know the place, we’ve passed it a few times, but never stopped in. I head down and he’s there waiting. Smile on his face like everything is just fine. Like there aren’t three more world-ending events on the horizon. I’m already mad at him. Not a direct transcription, but it went something like this:

Good to see you! How’ve you been?

Died at least once since you last saw me.

This puts him off his game for a moment, and I sit down. He stumbles around for a bit, and then orders us a whole bunch of random food.

It’s been too long.

You still there?

Until recently. Until I got word about the deliberative. I wanted to discusss a new possible avenue of research. You’ve been to this Fae World?

Yeah, I had to die to get there though.

Well, I was thinking. If we use you and your connection to the fae as a conduit to bleed off the magical properties.

No! It’s not like that! I won’t be a fuel source! All my friends have been there, too.

Just a conduit. You’re connected to that place, maybe more than we know. Your magic is different than theirs. We can use that.

You sound like Garion!

Even just a ten foot square where mana isn’t required.

It would be catastrophic!

We would take precautions. We just need to create the spell, and then we wouldn’t need to use you as the link anymore.

How? How would this even work? I don’t know anything about magic like that.

That’s why I need your help, I’m not sure yet, but I have ideas.

You want to talk to my friends who know more about magic, not me. I can’t help you create spells.

I’d be happy to meet with your friends!

We’re going to South America, there are clues for our search for the Black Knight there.

That’s odd, isn’t he here? Anyway. Will you talk to your friends about my research?

Yes. We’ll get back to you.

We thanked each other for dinner then and went our seperate ways.

Back at home, all of us gathered up to discuss what happened in our various conversations and it immediately went downhill. Nat said that Wiest was already threatening her family and their mine. Klyce asks if everyone stuck to the plan of not committing to anything and telling them all we were busy right now. Remy said he signed up with the Utopians to get us mana, supplies, and sanction for our mission. Klyce went OFF on him. Then Dalish admitted that he left the Utopians and signed up with the Conservatives who were looking for a replacement for Rictus. Klyce went off again. And so did a few otheres. This is ridiculous, guys!!! Dalish insists that he wants to lead them to a more liberal stance. We try to convince him they just want a figurehead. Klyce is still pissed that Remy basically put the whole group in the Utopian’s debt. Remy said he hasn’t actually accepted their assistance/supplies, yet. But Klyce says it’s too late.

I pop in to tell them about Hardin’s research and his desire to collaborate with us all. No one pays me much mind. Maribeth says we were supposed to stay unknown until we had a plan, so we don’t become useless. Remy wants to enact change by being part of the processs. Klyce is annoyed that he gave them power over us. Gerhard Says Hadreas hates all the politics, and wants to go back to magic for magic’s sake. He could be an ally. Klyce said he had a productive conversation about the mana shortage, and demons and devils. They talked not just about the other realms, but about other countries and types of magic, as well. They also discussed short term plans to protect the miners, to buy time for such external research.

Returning to the topic of Professor, soon to be Prime, Wiest, Nat says there was just no talking her down. She showed up all bluster and fury, and Nat wasn’t going to point her in a direction. She has since warned her family and Stephen about the threat. Klyce asks if there are procedures for removing a Prime, but Dalish says the only way to do it is Certimum. Klyce wants to use our political capital to introduce an impeachment process. But that’s all for later. South America is calling.

I send to Hank to ask about where they are and if the wizard can Dream to me, because Nat doesn’t want him in her head. I hear him asking Locke if he can do that before the spell cuts out. So, I send to Locke, who asks when we are planning to arrive. I send again to say tomorrow afternoon. He replies that they’re in Argentina and he’ll dream me tonight to show me where. So, a few more drinks and it is time for bed.

Fallout and Conversations

We head out of there after a few quick conversations, and back to Johnny’s to have a drink and discussion about what just happened. Nat tosses up another telepathic bond so we don’t freak out the locals and we dig in. That was so strange!

Clearly it had been planned. Without consulting Rictus, of course. What do they want with us? Are we just bigger pawns now? Our freedom puts us in their debt, and strips us away from Rictus and his protection. For whatever that was still worth. Remy tells us that he looked at the magics, and Rictus is truly entwined with the geas. Woven into his very being, he says, and it’s going to drive him mad. Klyce is worried about all the machinations of the various Primes. Alleria, too, she used to be tight with Rictus, but now… Did she see his fall and step away? She sees even more than Nat does.

What are we going to do now? Start up our own independent investigatory squad? It’s about all we know. Go to South America? Open the door? Oh man, I really want to open the door. And what about Klyce and Philomena’s wedding, they’ve been engaged for years now. Personally, I’m not interested in South America and getting re-arrested for Treason by going there and consorting with Royalists.

Klyce wants to work on his committee to reinvest in the city. What about the Black Knight? Klyce wants to drop it. What about the door? Klyce thinks we should leave well enough alone. Marybeth wants to research safe mining. Remy says he has projects to do with golems. Klyce is concerned about worse results. What if Remy creates a way to make cheap golem armies and the wars get worse? I sugest the door again, as a way to get mana back into the world. But again with the worry about the chaos it will bring. Someone suggests a mana pipeline to the fae world, but that’s not really how mana works there. I want to talk to the Prince. Maybe I can send to him if I try hard enough. Maribeth asks about the Beast from Italy. So, we explain the monster who was set after us while we were there. A couple of the guys want to capture it for study if it shows up again.

The conversation shifts into demons and devils for a few minutes, but I’m preoccupied with the Prince and don’t catch most of it. Then someone asks who intends to return to school next year, and just about all of us are interested. So much yet to learn. What about working for political change? Yes, we have the right to do so as mages, and we have a responsibility as humans. Then it somehow devolves into family names and wedding decorations again. Maribeth is feeling nearly festive with her devil contract gone. We head out home for the night, still discussing wedding things. Klyce takes Philomena home, Dalish heads to meet with Rictus, and Nat heads off to meet with Alleria.

Once everyone gets back for the evening, Dalish and Nat report in. Dalish hands us dossiers that Rictus had of each one of us. He says that the Primes have all this information. They are going to start approaching us, and if we don’t do what they want, they are going to start using this information to force us to cooperate. Rictus thinks we should get out of town. Nat says she got the same impression from Alleria. Klyce, in his usual fashion, thinks Wiest won’t be a problem, she’s a hammer and too forthright to cause much trouble. I’m not so sure. Remy then suggests that we all have the right to say no if she declares Certimum, but someone else points out that this just means we have to give into her demands.

I look over my folder, and it has my brother and my parents, but isn’t up to date on his new girlfriend. Maribeth says her brother is listed as AWOL Most of the dossiers are pretty accurate about our families and their current whereabouts, except my parents. So, it’s just as bad as we thought when we took Remy’s Dad and Maribeth’s mom to stay with the Rathbones, but not really any worse.

Dalish also mentions that there was a bum found in the sewers of the Bronx, rambling about goden light and the one god. He had Garion-goo inside him, and kept regenerating. When Dalish told Rictus about Nat’s vision, Rictus disintegrated the remaining Garion-goo, but it’s probably already too late. Well, that’s a thing we’re going to have to deal with at some point. Did Garion actually become a god of some sort???

Nat brings us back around to our immediate future. Are we going to skip town? And take our families with us? Others argue that we can’t just go, we’re part of this city now, we have to stay and take care of it. If we leave, they’ll just hunt us down. Remy notes that Dalish, as a lich, is now an eternal threat to the rest of them. Klyce gets tired of our bickering, says he’s not leaving, and goes to bed. We continue on for a while. Remy says we have to stay, the city won’t be safe without us. I wonder if it’s us that is the threat, really. Dalish says we have to take care of South America. Nat says we’re targets because we’re politically inexperienced. It goes round and round for awhile until we all go, exhausted, to bed.

I need answers, so I do some sendings before bed. I send to Hank, asking how things are going and if they can come North instead of us coming South. He says they need our help down there. I send again, asking why. He says they are looking for a black mirror to help find people, including Remy’s Uncle, and they can’t get away to come to us. In the morning, I fill everyone in on what Hank said.

This brings even Klyce on board with going down to South America. We have enough people with teleport that we can get there and back without too much trouble. Though getting down there the first time will be the hard part. Nat can get us to the Carribean, but then we’ll have to make our way down to wherever Hank and the others are. Klyce says that we tell anyone who asks the truth. We need to make mana and gather supplies, so we can’t leave for a few days. We’re going to get offers and orders, but we tell them, we have to do this thing first. We are finishing our task for Rictus, and it’s taking us to South America.

Then the invitations start rolling in. Remy is invited to lunch with Pyrus. Dalish is invited to dinner with some of his party members. Maribeth is invited to dinner by three different Utopians. Gerhart receives an invite from Prime Hadreas to dinner in his tower. Klyce and Philomena are invited to dinner with Othar Pendleton. Nat is invited to lunch at a cafe with Weist. And I… I am invited to dinner by the mage from my “research assignment.” I don’t want to go, but he says they’ve got a new idea. I’m curious and also very afraid of what that new idea might be. I just want to open the door and unleash chaos we can deal with instead of all this politicking.