As we land back in Buenos Aires, Klyce transforms into a huge demon and charges Hank, putting him through a wall. Then, through gritted teeth, asks us to get Hank our of here or stop him. Nat traps Klyce in a ball of force and Hank comes back in. Through sheer force of will, Klyce calms himself and explains that having killed Hank in the big fight under the glacier, and then having brough him back, his vengeance is very angry. That Hank being alive is athema to him. Locke grabs Hank and they blink out. Far enough for Klyce to truly relax.
Nat wonders about going into Klyce’s brain to try and solve the problem. Klyce is open to it, since Nat was able to almost find the problem with his new step-dad. Then Dalish asks if Klyce can’t just tell the vengeance No, but it’s not that simple. Klyce says that he IS vengeance, and there’s no putting a stopper in it. The others go off for awhile about out godly connections until Klyce and Philomena head off to find a different hotel.
Then, as folk start going through the loot they found, I send to Hank that he can come back, and he does. The group has picked up a couple swords, a blowgun, a new robe, some fancy armor, a strange candlestick, a satchel of potions, a new necromancy spellbook, and three tomes that they think are really big business. It seems both swords would fit Klyce, but also both seem pretty dangerous. I’m a bit horrible to Remy about their looting while he’s trying to tell us about the worse sword of the two. I was just so angry about them looting while we were trying not to die from all the lava pouring in on us. Maribeth talks me down and offers to get tea with me later so we can chat.
The group decides I should have the weird robe, it can let off a brilliant light three times a day and stun everyone who sees it. That seems weird, but hey, maybe the Dawnmother will like it. Then everyone goes off to their rooms to READ for Three Days!!! We need to be after the last shard, we need to finish this mission and get back home! We’ve been down here so long and the elections are coming, and my brother is living with a demon and my parents are still missing! And they take three days to READ! I know I always want to run away and just not deal with things, but we told the queen we’d rescue the prince, and we told people we would find the Black Knight, and we’re supposed to be helping stop the city from exploding or imploding, I’m not really sure which at this point. Nearly dying twice a week is fun and all, but we have to get home.
We get back together after those three days, after Nat dug around in Klyce’s brain on the third night. Everyone is there, and everyone stares at Klyce when he and Philomena arrive. He is confused by our attention, but seems fine, so we settle in. They say that to books didn’t expend themselves and can be used again right now, if we want. I nearly explode. I am NOT waiting another three days doing Nothing! We have to get the shard and we have to go back. Klyce agrees with me, thank the gods. We give all the pieces to Nat and they snap together into a nearly complete mirror. She says she can feel a directionality, but cannot see a location. The others pull out books and try to sort out her feeling. It looks like Southern Argentna, where there’s a place called the Cave of Hands. It’s an ancient site with stenciled handprints, but one of the illustrations has a stylized purple bird on the edge. It looks like the one from the tablets Philomena found.
We have a locaiton now, and Philomena says she’s going to come with us this time, with no research left to do here. Hank says he thinks this is for us to do. They were only led here to help us get there, so they’ll stay behind. We head out on Dalish’s dead bird, with Klyce flying Philomena beside us. Several people spend our travel time reading those damn books again, but I don’t know how they can read while flying, I can hardly keep my eyes open for the nausea of it all. Somewhere along the way, Klyce gives Maribeth and Remy their youth back, I looked up one morning, pulling my mask aright, and they were young again. Maribeth looks much happier now.
On the evening of the third day, we find the canyon and Nat leads us to the mouth of the cave. There is a huge circle around it of no vegetation, and it is all the way out here where our magic is suppressed. It’s easier now though, we’ve done this so many times already. We head inside and the darkness is oppressive, and magical. Dalish has to cast Daylight on Klyce’s scorpion tail to allow us to see even a little bit. The hands start changing as we get deeper and deeper, into clawed, hideous things.
Our path comes to a dead end at a solid sheer wall. There are two stylized, purple amethyst parrots. I reach out to one and it feels hot. Nat looks around and finds small carvings on the other walls. Describing the people coming here to offer sacrifices. That this is the gateway to the land of the dead. Daish and Maribeth say that could mean the land of shadows, or smokey mirror, where they go to be forgotten. Seems pretty horrible to me. Nat feels a thinness here, and she cuts her hand, praying to the Dancer at the Crossroads. She pulls the mirror out of her pocket, smearing it with blood. There is a deep purple flas and a gateway opens. It feels like death, but we all head through. We’ve all died at least once, maybe this is where we belong.
Stepping through, every bit of moisture feels pulled from our skin and the darkness presses in even harder. We are standing on sand? No, looking down, it is powdered bones, we can see a few full pieces here and there. Dessicated corpses from eons past. Nat leads us onward for a long while. It feels like Old Town used to, up in Bangoria. The shadows stir and rise, and crowd in around us. I shout for everyone to close their eyes and light up the cloak. We need more than me, folks. And I begin praying to the Dawnmother as Dalish and Remy cast more Daylight spells on Klyce to keep the shadows at bay.
Dawnmother guide us. Dawnmother teach us. Dawnmother protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. I live only to serve. My life is yours.
Over an hour later, the shadows finally abate, but what we find is far worse. Three monstrous chained beings of flesh and eyes and mouths, with three young people trapped inside them just barely younger than most of us. That Voice comes again: Great Works require Sacrifice. Do the work and complete the sacrifice.
I thin there were more words, but I stopped listening as Remy translated them out for the rest of the group. Nonononono! We are not killing children! The monsters just stare at us. And the group erupts. No! We can’t kill the kids! Nat wants to go investigate, but Remy stops her. We have to talk this through first. What are we doing? He turns to them and speaks in their language.
Can you understand me?
Why are you here?
To preserve and wait.
Why do you have these children?
To be their continuance and their end.
Where can we find the shard?
It will be revealed when all here are dead.
Who put you to this task?
Those you call gods.
Nat wants to see if the kids are still alive/thinking. She she looks in on them. They are sleeping and having happy, peaceful dreams. She pushes in, looking for how they got here. There were in a forest village with their parents when luminous beings arrived. They spoke for a time and then volunteered to be taken and brought here. The luminous being said a great work was to be done, and innocent young volunteers were needed. They would be lost to their families to protect a dangerous fae artifact. These three came willingly, knowing it would cost their very lives.
We all take a step back. Why are we even doing this? Why is the other group helping us do this? What if we just don’t? We don’t even know why Hank and friends are helping us put the mirror back together. We want to find the Black Knight with it, but why, actually. What are we going to do if we find him? What is all this for? We cannot kill these kids. There has to be another way. We’ve come this far, we have to finish, but we are not going to murder children to do it.
Remy turns back to the monsters.
What happens when they are taken?
They cannot but through death.
What if we kill you?
The children are freed.
Can they survive without you?
Can you be destroyed without killing them?
Yes, if you so choose.
What purpose do you serve?
And to this, they do not reply. Nat tries to detect thoughts of the monsters. They are waiting. To see if we attack or sacrifice the children. They are linked to them, in life and death. If they children are killed, the monsters will die immediately. The children are weak, it would be easy to do. The monsters themselves are quite hardy and will not die easily. They have no weaknesses, many resistances, and are immune to poison.
But this is what we must do, the children must live, even if it means our own sacrifice to save them.