My Brother’s Keeper

The night is troubled with awful dreams. Not the vague terror of her childhood just a few years ago. She doesn’t dream of the beating heart or the green. She doesn’t run for her life or feel the earth breaking.

She dreams of her once despised brother. The ‘real mage’ of the family. The ‘proper son’ who always did the right thing. Who had apologized and asked forgiveness. Who had pleaded to help, even though she knew he couldn’t. Who she had left with Orrin to watch over him. Who was gone now. Taken.

He was with them now. Not dead. He couldn’t be dead. Not after everything. Not with everyone else already gone. Taken. Not dead.

But that made the nightmares worse. She Did remember the pain, even if she teased Remy about it. Remembered the searing pain inside when that thing held her in the fountain. But she was used to pain. Gerald was not.

She dreamed of him being tortured as she had been. She dreamed of him being ripped open. She dreamed of him being bled while they laughed at his screams. She dreamed of many more horrible things.

And every time she woke in a cold sweat, reaching out for him. She concentrated on finding him. On going to him. On finding the magics that would take her to her brother so she could save him. She prayed to the Dawnmother for guidance.

On her watch at the end of the night, she pulled one of the bones out of the bag of bits Marybeth had gathered. She cleaned it up, and held it, concentrating on where it came from. On the nest the creature had spoken of. On how to get there. She could already go short distances. They had traveled between the fae and here. Surely there was a way. They were no mere mortal men. They were Gods, as Remy loved to point out. And even he had a fae in his head.

When the group was ready to go, she would take them. They would find her brother and no more of her family would die.

New Spells and Old Dangers

Once I get everyone feeling a little better, Marybeth and Nat search the house. There are no hiding people left, but three spellbooks are recovered. Dalish raises a zombie to help with watches and for fun, I guess. It’s gross, but he says it’s stronger than a skeleton. Ew!

We decide to sleep, but Dalish on first watch, gets curious and opens one of the spellbooks. It Explodes! Dalish! Be more Careful! He promises not to open anymore, and we all get back to resting, a little more singed than before.

The next morning, with their spells all memorized again, they investigate and dispell the other two books, so they can get at the spells inside. After, Nat and Dalish go looking to see if there might be one more book because one of the spells cast in the fight isn’t in the two we have. Klyce is fuming that it might have been in the exploded spellbook.

They eventually call down to the group that they’ve found a tiny chest. It’s a spelled chest, I guess, with a big chest inside. But nobody knows the spell, and anyway, it has to be the one who cast it who opens it or it’ll go away, too. Dalish hopes he zombified the right corpse and calls it over. It lays a hand on the tiny chest and suddenly there’s a big chest. I guess the zombie’s okay.

There’s a whole bunch of papers and letters and things in this box, as well as this zombie’s spellbook. They make sure to dispell the trap before opening it, and do find the polymorph spell that Klyce has been seeking. Dalish and Remy say the papers will be very important for the Colonel to read.

Nat, Marybeth and I go check the outbuildings, but they’re just supplies and gunpowder for the canons. Marybeth finds tracks of the missing wizard leading out to a teleportation circle in the woods, but we don’t know that spell either to know where he went. Probably the big city we’re headed for though.

Deciding we’ve completed our mission as best we can, we head on to meet up with the army. When we arrive, Lt Durance hasn’t made it back yet, so Marybeth and Dalish report to the Colonel. When they come back, they tell us that the Colonel was very interested in the swamp witch and sends men out to investigate, despite protests it will get them killed.

When the Lt. gets back, he says he wants Nat to go study with her and convince her to be come a citizen, and that he’ll try to stop the Colonel’s men from rash action. He also says our next orders will be to head south when the Lt gets back, and check on another old plantation. Every team sent so far has not returned. So, teamed up with the Lt’s team, we head out.

Nat wants to check on her new mind palace spell. When she tries her brother, nothing happens. So, she sents up a palace between herself, Klyce, and Philomena. When they come out, she says it has a lot of delay and isn’t very good. So, now we know distance plays a part in it.

Nat is curious if her brother is in the place where we are going, and wants to see if she’s collected any of the right mushrooms to dream properly. She casts augury over them, one a day until she finds one that seems better than the rest. Unfortunately, it does not put her to sleep at All. She goes out of her mind, and I have to levitate her to keep her wandering around the camp like this. She wants to explore though, so she pulls us all into a terrible dream of a mind palace where we sink into the floor and have really messed up dreams.

Mine was feeling connected to the entire world, which seems nice, but the world was Hatching! Remy apparently dreamed he was being killed over and over, because, when he woke up, he came storming into the tent, screaming his head off and shoving Nat around. I very nearly attacked Remy myself, but he stopped touching her and just screamed a bit more before leaving.

Nat had a vision of the swamp we’re headed for, filled with blood and other gross things, but also the feeling of her brother definitely being there. So, she and Dalish go see the Lt. He is interested in her brother’s power, and wants to see whether he will join with us in our cause. Or, if he needs to be destroyed.

Oh boy…

Spells, Banshees, and Necromancy

This has all been a lot, but we found a spellbook last night, and the others want to copy down some of the spells. Nat’s father gives us enough ink and paper for us each to copy down one spell. Nobody tells him I can’t do magic that way. We spend an entire day discussing who wants what spell, and then hours copying them all done. Klyce has zero interest in the ones we found.

It takes some convincing to get Nat to come out of her room, let alone to take a couple spells. She’s convinced that she has to go south, down to where the fighing is. We tell her that we’ll go, we’ll all go, but we need to learn a few things first. We need a plan. Some want to finish our first year of school. Some want to at least tell their families where they’ll be. We do decide to split up the old Royalist money we found. Most of them will give it to their families. I don’t know what I’m going to do with mine, yet.

We all want to go back to school for a little while at least, but Nat won’t leave without another trip down to Old Town. I guess that’s what we’re calling the cave now. First, though, she goes to have a chat with her mom. Maribeth and I whisper a bit about her odd egg, and the place it takes her. The tower and the books and a fog fish. There’s even a book she wrote there. When Nat gets back, we gather up more OJ and water, and head down into the cave.

There’s some arguement about what exactly we’re doing. Clear them all out? Close the cave? Reverse the ritual? But the discussion is cut short when we get attacked by four grey corpses. It takes a bit to get rid of them, and we move forward a bit more quietly. Searching for other signs of the ritual.

We get back to the Town Hall, and since I had to Levitate Maribeth in the last fight, I send her above us to keep watch while we look around some more. Remy detects magic, but it mostly seems played out. Even back in the building by the symbol. Nat breaks up the floor there anyway. We decide to go gather the bones from the Green Witch – maybe a proper disposal will help? We head to the north to check out more of the town.

There’s a soft singing voice ahead of us. Super creepy, but even more so when we find her sitting, eyeless at a fountain at the edge of the village. Nat goes to sit with her and they have an even creepier little chat about familial responsability and fixing this whole mess.

“Do you know what your family did? … How will you fix this? … By your family’s choice… What does it look like? To what end? …. Peace?!? Do you know what would give me peace?”

And then, of course, she twists and changes into this horrible creature. Her terrible screams are so awful that both Maribeth and Remy age by decades! She even possesses Remy for a time, and we have to knock him out to get her to leave him. I thought I liked this crossbow, but then I shot Remy right through the neck! It was awful! Maribeth finally gets rid of her, and someone found her bones in the water. When we burn them, there’s a sigh on the wind. Not sure if that is good or bad.

This is just too much. We can’t stay down here, or we’re all going to die. We don’t know enough about what is going on here. We convince Nat that this isn’t the way, and head back out. Nothing bothers us on the way out. Once in the fresh air again, we roll the stone back to cover the entrance to the cave, and bury it all with as much dirt as we can msuter.

We need more information. We head down to the fishing village to talk to the Crab Woman, but she doesn’t know how to help. Then we head back up to the main village, but the caravans and Old Baba are gone already. When we get back to the castle, Nat and Remy lose it at Nat’s parents. Kendrick says he might have a way to help Remy or Maribeth, and returns with a potion. Gerhardt gets the notes about how to make the potion, and we convince Remy, who aged far more, to drink it. He drops down about a decade, but is still much older than us.

After a barber visit, some heavy drinking, and some new clothes for our now senior classmates, we rest and head back to school. We all troop up to visit Raltus, just so we can see his face when we show him our most recent troubles. Raltus summons the Necromancy professor, Rictus, who is just as creepy as you might expect. He says there is a mark upon the soul, and there is little to be done. But there might be something. He suggests they dedicate themselves to studying necromancy or alchemy, and in the mean time, gives permission for Maribeth to share her Disguise Self spell with Remy for ease of fitting in at school. Just before we all turn in for the night, Raltus measures Remy for a proper glass eye.

Swimming, Books, and a Party

The investigators question us, but things come round to normal. Families are safe and school is about learning again. Everyone is sure that the Lake holds important spells for them, and thus begins our next adventure.

Some of the boys haven’t really learned to swim before, so Maribeth tries to teach them in the shallows while Klyce heads out to the middle, I sit on the Dock, and Remy stays clear of the water. After Nat lowering me down from that window so softly, I’ve been working on ways to lift people up with the air, too, so I keep an eye on the new swimmers, in case they need pulled out. Remy notice something magical triggering when Dalish goes under and starts flailing, but a desire to live keeps him from investigating too thoroughly.

Watching the center of the lake for Klyce after he says he’s going to do a Rope Trick below the waves is a little nerve-wracking, but he eventually comes to the surface and says he found something. Unsure what it is, he invites everyone out to take a look. Maribeth goes out to the center to keep an eye on them, but doesn’t dive down. Remy and I stay dockside, the water freaks him out, and I know I won’t be any help.

It takes a while before they all pop back up again, and most of them are bleeding, but the spell they learned is apparently really cool. Cool enough that Klyce convinces Remy to go swimming, and Maribeth goes down, as well. I guess it’s called Alter Self, which wasn’t what they were after, but is probably better. The boys then ponder trying to drown again, to see what happens. Klyce thinks it’s ridiculous and not worth the risk. Eventually, they decide not to test the school’s protective magics.

Next, we head to the Library because Nat and I want to look up information on dreams. Mine haven’t gone away, despite everyone elses disappearing after the big fight. The rest of the group go looking for spells, as usual. Maribeth climbs a little too high and knocks over an entire bookshelf, which starts a chain reaction. Between Nat and myself, we manage to stop the tumbling. We’ve never been so glad there isn’t a Librarian in there. The books on dreams are just as dry as every history book we’ve found here, so there’s no hep there.

Remy and Gerhardt find words on a shelf, and thus ensues a very strange scavenger hunt between shelves, the card catalog, and weird old books. I think at one point they squeezed an orange over a book, and then threw dirt on it. Eventually, they ended up with eight books all together and when they opened it they found the spell for Nystul’s Magic Aura. Seems a rather boring spell to me, for all the trouble it was, but Dalish thinks it could be rather useful, or at least fun.

That night, we all get fancy invitations on our doors to Philomena’s Birthday Party on Saturday. She even left fancy clothes for Nat and Klyce. Klyce was Not happy about that, and threw them into the hallway. Given our station, and our families, everyone but Klyce decides we have to go, and work on what gifts to bring her.

With Nat’s family being so far away, I ask if Nat wants to get ready at my house and ride with me to the party. This does not please my parents, but when do I ever? Nat doesn’t wear what Philomena provided, but a suit brought from home. Philomena’s estate is HUGE! And Oliver is here! Oh, he’s so Cool. I couldn’t possibly Talk to him! He’s talking to all the cool upperclassmen.

We hang out like we usually do. Maribeth asks about getting a job at Klyce’s bakery. She’s very worried about her mother. Klyce gives her a very hard lesson in wealth and the lack thereof. Poor Maribeth, I’m sure it’ll all be fine. Even if her brother is a jerk. We wander around the house a bit, enjoying games, fingerfoods, and drinks until Philomena finally shows up.

She welcomes everyone very politely while her parents look on, as only indulgent parents can. Philomena invites us to go riding, and even though I’m in a fancy dress, I have to go. It’s been so long, what with the servires being so creepy. Dalish and Gerhardt come with me, though, so I don’t have to be alone with her. It’s quite a lovely ride, such grounds her family has!

When we get back, everything has gone crazy again! Nat runs out to us yelling about a dead body in the conservatory. Philomena is so angry at him, like he’s the one who did it. We all head inside to see what is going on. Philomena at our heels, until she grabs Klyce and drags him angrily away. I have no idea what that is about, but then the police arrive, declaring that they will take care of everything. Thank goodness.

Mana Smuggling

That was crazy and we are all hurt and exhausted. Several of the guys have overcharged repeatedly. We take turns watching the tunnel and sleep for what we hope is the night. Gerhardt sets up an alarm spell to warn us, but nothing comes. Eventually we all, including James, wake up.

He doesn’t remember anything, though. Not getting kidnapped, not being down here, nothing. Some of the guys take things from the piles and piles of stolen objects. Dalish checks his drawings, to try to show one to James, but the pages are blank. So, from memory, he redraws the creature and the circle. James still doesn’t remember, and we head out, it’s almost breakfast time.

Nothing attacks us as we make our way up to Professor Raltis in the Nursing station. Raltis asks what happened and we try to explain, but he doesn’t believe us one bit. Especially when he calls some Survyers and they go look and don’t find the tunnel. I don’t trust those things one bit.

At Fundaments class, Dalish tries again with Professor Malten. He has to redraw the creature, again, and Malten says it’s a Grumpkin, a fairytale creature. He keeps explaining and has to draw the circle again, too. When he tells him about the mist monsters, and I speak the language to him, he starts to really believe us. He says they were probably manifestations of mana with a conjuration spell. He says it is highly unusual and we shouldn’t talk about it with other people. Nat draws him a map to the place we found and we move on.

Today, we learn more about the properties of mana. Turns out it only has the mass you expect it to – mana is entirely reactive to the mages near it or in possession of it. Mana subscribes to consensus reality, its only qualities are change and impermanence. Today, I learn that I can, in fact, take control of mana, even though I can’t use it. That could come in very handy.

<time passes> We keep working on spells. I practice Catapulting sanctuary balls. Klyce organizes spell scavenger hunts. I convince Nat and Maribeth to come out to a nice lunch on the first weekend. Nat has a minor meltdown about betraying his family for magic. Seems he’s being pulled away from their traditional necormancy into divination type spells. Not sure why this is Our fault, he’s the one with the talent. </time passes>

One afternoon, we head to a lavatory to look for spells as a group. First we try turning on all the hot faucets, which fogs up the mirrors. Dalish really wants to learn Fog Cloud, and notices the fogged up mirrors say we should go to the obstacle course before dawn. The boys all decide to flush all the toilets at once to see what happens. Dalish casts detect magic and sees a spell trying to happen, but it’s incomplete. One of them passes gas, and it helps, but not enough. So Klyce orders everyone to go eat beans for dinner and come back.

This increase in gas does make Stinking Cloud appear on the stall doors. Luckily, I’ve stayed at the door as lookout while they do this since I can’t learn spells this way. Then they all use the toilets and flush and get an even stranger reaction. The bottom of the toilets became black holes. Nat drops a light down his and sees nothing. Klyce sticks his hand in, and it just feels cold and empty, so he jumps in. They all get Rope Trick and Deep Pockets. So unfair! I wanted to be a mage more than most of them. I got magic, but not the right kind!

The next morning we all get up with Klyce and head out to the obstacle course and start looking around. Dalish looks for magic and noticing it following Klyce as he actually runs the course. When he finishes he sees spells and tells everyone else to run it, too. We all do, and they all get Fog Cloud. Those that run it fast get Jump, as well. I already have that one, at least, though I fall repeatedly and see no spells when I get to the end.

A few days later, Dalish gathers the group and tells us that James heard rumors about ilicit dealings and Upperclassmen and Philomena and Garrett. He says the next drop is Saturday. We discuss following them and staking out the deal. Some are worried about getting caught. Would they attack us? This doesn’t seem a place that would care if a couple first years got killed.

Wait, what? Remy says he’s okay with killing people in self-defense. WHAT? No! I’m Not Killing anyone! Klyce cuts him off and says we’re not killing anyone, if we are spotted, we run. Maribeth says she won’t be involved, she can’t be involved. I’m okay with that, I’m not sure I want to be, only I really don’t like Philomena. Klyce and Remy, however, keep pushing and won’t let it drop. Maribeth says that her family has business dealing with their families, so she can’t be involved in anything that might get them in trouble. They finally leave her alone.

On Saturday, we stake out locations and wait. I watch them leave the main building and call everyone else. We follow them down the forest line and watch from a distance while they wait at the wall. Remy sends his little lizard to sneak up on them and listen in. It is quite a while before some larger figures approach. Three students? and two survyers. The people give over a vial to the creepy things and they go away. A signpost suddenly appears on the lawn where the students stop, then four jugs, which get catapulted over the wall. A crossbow bolt then hits the sign with something wrapped around it. They take it and go back to the school. Philomena and Garrett wait a bit then sneak back, too. We wait a bit longer and then head back ourselves.

Now what?? Do we tell someone? Professor Malten? We have no proof, we don’t even know who they are. What if we watch the fountain for someone taking large amounts? I wonder if there’s a safer place to spy from, but none of the school buildings have a view of where the jugs are tossed from. Remy wants to ask hypothetical questions about stealing and selling mana, but most of us think it’ll make us look guilty. We all agree to keep an eye on Philomena, Garrett, and the people they talk to, as well as the mana pool.