Dinner With the Enemy

A bit later, eight guards show up and ask if we’ll come quietly. Gerhardt nods, so we are ushered out of our fancy prison and down to dinner with the rest of our group. It’s a bit long table full of food, and we are offered wine and water. Not allowed to turn down anyone’s hospitality, I dig in a bit, while most of the group awaits our host. We don’t have long to wait until a older gentleman arrives, dressed for the fancy dinner and introduces himself as Ernesto DiRudio. He welcomes us to his home, and the joins us in tucking in to the meal.

After we have eaten, he acknowledges our situation. American mages come to pursue the very same people as himself. They were his guests and stole his research. He says that research is dangerous and incomplete, and he has a deal to offer us, instead of finding and killing them. He suggests that if we get his research back for him, return all that they have stolen, he will let us all leave Italy. Never to return. We try to ask about the research but he brushes us off, best not to ask. We decide this is what we came for, so it works for us. Chirina doesn’t want to object is such powerful company, so we all agree and sign a contract with him.

Once we are bound to him, he provides more information. There are five groups in pursuit of Philomena’s family. The Sardinia Military, the Magia, the Church, himself, and there might even be more. He cannot protect us from any of them, and urges caution, given the feelings in Sardinia. The military itself binds mages with magic, and they have mage hunters in their ranks. He suggests that the lasst information he had was that our quarry was in the southern tip of Italy. He offers us horses and supplies to speed us on our journey and we head south.

There are more and more troops as we get further away from Rome. Chirina learns that Sicily is in open rebellion, and we are going to have a bit of trouble getting to where we need to go. We get by Napels on our tourist status, and on down to Solerno. Here, we stop to get rooms for the night, tired of sleeping on the ground out in the open. The city is very quiet, not a lot of people, and there are rumors of folk disappearing.

That night, we are attacked in our sleep. Four strange humanoid beings sneak into our rooms and two of them are wielding magic! It is quite the fight for our lives in the otherwise silent inn, but we manage to kill two of them while the other two escape. Their bodies are strange, and Aranea is terrified of them. She says they are filled with death. When Chirina goes downstairs, she finds everyone else in the place has been killed. We have to go, now! So, she smuggles us out of town through whatever contacts she has in the dark and we get away before camping again, this time under the dome.

Once rested, we head on, but we have to go slower, avoiding troops of soldiers, even going off the road. Still, we are spotted and told to turn back. The soldiers shadow us for a little while to make sure we do, so we decide to travel at night. Strange noises give us pause. A large man approaches, with a smaller, collared man.

“Fall on your knees, the beast is upon you. Quake and Tremble, the Beast has come.” Oh man, this guy is huge.