Trouble in the Allegiance

Prolix looked very unhappy when we went to see the Fragments today. Something must be wrong at the AoA, they spent the entire day running back and forth between the Take and the Sigil district. First they visited the Omnival Library. The Bookkeeper said they were looking at excavation records. Are they going down there? We’ve got to get there first. I’ll have to report this up to the Consortium folk. Oh, no, they’re just going back to the Take.

Leaving again so soon? Is Prolix still inside there? Is he Drunk? Back across town to the Schoolhouse. Harder to blend in here, but they’re very focused on something. The Archeaology department? They Must be getting ready to go below. Wish I could get closer. And now they’re going back to the Take again. Talking about evidence, and a professor and the headmaster. I really should learn to read lips.

They’re up early the next day, almost missed them leaving. Back to those archeaology professors. Then down to the Headmaster. A commotion. He’s sending guards after someone? Trouble. The Consortium will definitely be interested in this. Chal’Nas should be here, where is that man? They’re just going to the library again, I’m following the guards.

To the other Headmaster at the Chateau, Professor Lymmle! They go to arrest her, and she is Not happy, but that sour man puts her down easily. Best not get in his way. I’ve got to get back and report, if they’re arresting her, she was probably working for us.


Warnings, Witches, and Warriors

The voice in the mist says we must pay the price to pass through her swamp. We must Find Her.

I rush to Marybeth , and pull her body back to our camp. Major Dalish decides we’re going to finish our rest before heading out. I barely rest, lying beside my lifeless friend. Surely this witch, Mistress of the Undead, can do something.

In the morning, I send to the Lt. to tell him we were attacked by an arcanist in the swamp, and we’re going to take care of her on our way to the plantation. He simply replies Okay, but in a way that makes me think he’s confused, or busy. The group sits to confer on where to go next. I simply stare at Marybeth, as they argue about heading to the plantation, as our only landmark in this awful place.

Nat leads us forward, but after a very short time, says that we are lost. Remy looks around at the magic of the swamp and sees all schools. We spend the entire day walking in circles because Major Dalish won’t admit we need a different plan than heading for the plantation. Remy spends most of the day arguing with him. That evening, the guys go to take care of the soldiers, but I can’t leave Marybeth. Klyce has carried her with us all day, and I spend the evening before sleeping praying to the Dawnmother that there is a way to bring her back.

We gather up to plan for the next day. Should we try to use Natty’s divination gifts to set us on the right path? At the very least Augury our plan before setting out the next morning? Do anything but keep heading for the plantation? Mid-discussion, shouting breaks out among the soldiers. Giant toads are attacking and eating our men. We burst into action, and it’s a bit of a mess, but between Klyce, Remy, and Dalish, we manage to organize the terrified soldiers enough to help. Unfortunately, we do lose two in the battle, unable to save them from being eaten before we dissected the toads.

I go through the wounded and gather the most greviously injured together. First I tell them about the Dawnmother, and how her light shines upon us, even in this dark swamp. Then I invite them to pray with me and her light heals their deepest wounds. I tell them where the church is in New Gnosis, should they ever wish to worship once the war is over. Then I return to Marybeth and the discussion of plans. Dalish thinks to mark the direction the toads came from, for tomorrow’s march.

I take second watch with Nat, who says there are zombies all around us in the water. But they aren’t moving. This is super creepy, but not unexpected. Somehow, I manage to sleep through til morning. Nat Auguries our path and gets a yes and no, so seems better than just plain no. We go with it. After I report in to the Lt. about our losses and new plan. Klyce takes Marybeth again, and has the soldiers form litters for their fallen, as well.

We find a banyan tree which seems to have eaten an old plantation mansion at the edge of a pond. There is movement in the water as we go around to reach the door. Once on the stoop, the voice bids us enter, but just us, our troops must stay outside. Remy takes them to a dry patch nearby to set up camp. We note dangling mage corpses near the door as we enter.

Zombie servants greet us silently in a row, and a young woman in fancy dress with wild hair descends the stairs. She stops short when she sees us.

You’re just kids!

She apparently can’t see through her undead and did not realize she was attacking children. She is horrified to have done so, and especially to have killed Marybeth. We all agree that our government is terrible for sending us to war, as children. She is at a loss, clearly, but insists that we must still pay the price to cross her lands. Sure, of course, we’ve made enough deals at this point. What does she want? Power, bodies, spells… Klyce immediately offers up three spellbooks for her to choose from. Everyone has copied down all the spells they wanted out of them, we have no use for them anymore. She chooses one and we discuss how different we are and how most mages wouldn’t be so generous.

What about Marybeth? She takes her, and Nat away into a back room. Remy goes out to check on the troops, figuring we’ll be a while. And we are. It is quite some time before she comes back in and escorts us outside, to a brackish pool behind her home.

She pushes Marybeth’s body out into the water and begins chanting. Storms and mists roll in and build. Her chant rises to a crescendo with a clap of thunder and she collapses. The mists part and Marybeth is standing in the water before us. Next to her corpse. The corpse stands up, a glistening, rubbery, black body with fangs, horns, and glowing red eyes. It looks at us, then at Marybeth and smiles. Nat rushes betwen them, but Marybeth walks right past her, towards it. It walks away from the both, casts a spell, mutters something to Marybeth and then disappears. We can hear it running away through the water, but we stand helpless, too far away to stop it.

Our stunned silence is broken by the witch waking up. She stares at Marybeth, terrified. What’s wrong with you girl?! Get out of my Swamp! Now! All of you!

We hustle away as Remy appears around the corner, drawn by the clap of thunder just moments before. We turn him around after he hugs a very confused Marybeth, to get the troops moving. Nat drops back to talk to the witch woman for a moment, but we hustle out as quickly as we can.

Two hours later, we hit the edge of the swamp and the beginning of fields. Marybeth fills us in on what the thing said to her. She believes it was her grandfather, back from the dead, and that he is going to kill her. Nat tries looking into her head, and gets a vision of a hazy conversation with an old man, but not much detail. It doesn’t seem to be like the others. We camp on dry land and send Heyhey out to scout the path ahead. He finds skeleton and zombie scarecrows in every field.

The night is peaceful, and then next day, as we march. The boys entertain themselves by tying up any zombie or skeleton that takes an interest in our troop. Afraid that killing them will alert their creator. Heyhey is able to scout all the way ahead to the mansion that night. A big old Grecian thing surrounded by woods to mark it off from the fields. There are loads of soldiers with big guns and they are fortified for a fight. We push the men forward to within a quarter mile of the place and dig in for the night.

Dalish casts Invisibility on Remy and Nat, who sneak closer for a better look at their defenses. It is some time before they come back, without Heyhey, and with bad news. They know we’re coming. The mage is looking forward to it. Klyce tries to sign at Nat to make a mind palace, but she can’t see without her Heyhey. So, I tap it out in her hand for her. We have to plan in secret.

New Friends in Italy

We arrive in Ostia only two days ahead of schedule, but better than not. The captain gets us past the dockmaster and we head into town. Remy tries asking after a nice in using French, but gets sent to a seedy area. We head back and I ask in Spanish, and we get directed to a nice little inn where we secure three rooms for two nights. I send to Philomena to tell her we’ve arrived, but get nothing back. I send to Maribeth as well, and still get nothing.

In the morning, we have a nice breakfast and then head out to buys supplies at the market. Proper clothes for Dalish and some bags and food. Remy has gotten a couple suggestions from our innkeeper, but neither one pans out as having been visited by Philomena. So, we head into Rome proper. Gerhardt casts a spell on me so I can speak Italian for a little while, and we eventually find a nice leather shop where she visited a few weeks ago. Looking around that area, we also find a wine merchant she bought four bottles from. Gerhardt has to keep casting tongues on me, as we search all the fancy inns in the area, but no dice. At the last one, I inquire about a tour guide, and they send for Jean Carle. We get rooms for the night so he can take us around in the morning.

That night’s sending to Maribeth gets a reply saying we are all in a Lot of Trouble, like we didn’t already know that when Dalish showed up. Nevermind, though, at least Maribeth is okay enough to reply this time.

Jean takes us on a tour of Rome as we explain about our missing friend who was supposed to meet us. We visit a lot of fancy places and cool old architecture. We get a few blips of having seen her a few weeks ago, but nothing recent. Jean tells us that the countryside has gone mad over Wizards. He says they’re turning them into slaves out there. Not that Rome would ever do such a thing, but the Kingdom of Sardinia is another matter. When I ask him where a family might take an ill relative for healing, he mentions some hot springs to the northeast, but it’s across the border into the kingdom. He says there are also a few noble manors just outside the city they might have stayed at. When we try to pay him at the end of the day, he demures. Seems a bit suspiscious to me, but maybe it’s part of our room rate.

Back at the inn, we decide to visit the springs the next day. Remember, no magic and no killing. I try another sending, but get nothing. Nat scries on Philomena’s dad, and this one goes through. She sees a dark room with candles, but no windows. Her mom is lying unconscious on a bed with her dad sitting next to her. He is dripping a teal liquid into her mouth, but there’s no reaction. When Nat tells me this, I immediately send to him, asking where they are so we can find Philomena and rescue them. He gets angry and says we should just leave, find her and get out of Italy. We go back and forth a few times because we can’t find her if we don’t know where they are, but he’s just as obnoxious and stubborn as his daughter.

Late that night, Dalish comes knocking on our door. Seems the boys all got stabbed at. Aranea killed the one who attacked Remy and Klyce knocked the other one out. That one is carrying a note with our address on it, and one other. He’s also carrying some poison, which Remy takes. We wake him up and I have a conversation while Klyce menaces him. Derudio hired them to watch for people asking about Philomena, and then kill a few of any such group and get information from the rest. He’s supposed to leave a note to say he has information in the trash by a particular fountain. His contact will then meet him and pay him 1500g for good info. Perfect, now we have a lead. We send this idiot away with his life after he pens us a note, dispose of the other body, and set a plan to use this as a trap and to check out the other address.

Next morning, with Remy disguised at the cutthroat, we go drop the note in the right place, then head to check the other address before the meeting time. The innkeeper is in quite a state. He is so pissed at Philomena, who has threatened him if he touches her things, but hasn’t been back in three weeks. We pay him 40g and promise to remove her things. Heading up to the room, we find it ransacked, and occupied. A young woman named Karina Giovanni is searching the room for information she says Philomena stole, that could save her ill uncle.

We give the room a look and notice it’s been searched several times before. Nat finds a hidden safe and a burnt bit of map. Karena opens the safe and inside we find a bag and a letter to Klyce. She says sending isn’t secure, and isn’t sure where to go. She’s going after the people who are after her, hoping to get more information. She requests we find her quickly, since we won’t turn back. It seems to have been written around the same time as the various merchants last saw her. Karena says she knows a shop where the paper might have been purchased.

We head to her house, so she can make arrangements for her uncle and we can leave Philomena’s baggage. During the walk, she tells us that Philomena and her family seemed to have been friends with Duridio and had stayed with him. But for some reason, stole his research and left. Remy warns her that hanging out with the likes of us could be dangerous, but she’s nervously determined, so we introduce ourselves around.

Over at the paper shop, we find that Philomena did stop here for paper and a few maps. She seems to have pissed off every merchant she spoke to. He finds her receipts and says she got a Northern Italy map and a Southern Italy map. Great… But at least we know the burned map matched the one she got here. Suddenly a bottle bursts through the window, explodes and tosses fire all over the room. Nat starts tossing magic at the guy who threw it, while Dalish tries to douse it with a rug. I work simple magics to contain the blaze while the others get water and sand to douse put it out. The shopkeeper, grateful the whole building didnt go up in flames, gives us the two maps of Italy before we head back out.