The Chioces of Gods and Men

We stare in shock as the bombs fall over the Bronx and the mobs rush across the East River. Wiest appears in the sky, raining her fire that is not fire down upon them. Clouds of luminous gas billows out from the dead. Klyce’s shout for us to DO Something! breaks our spell, and Gerhard takes most of us to Police Plaza. I rise immediately into the sky, bringing up a Storm of Vengeance upon the third line of faithful crossing the river. Gerhard and Maribeth join Wiest above the first and second waves. Dalish starts rallying the troops and giving orders below, sending Remy to the north with an army at his heels to take on the fourth wave. Behind us, Nat and Klyce take care of the airship, sending it into the bay before Klyce turns into Dragon and brings Nat in on red wings to join the fight at the river.

My storm keeps raging, far longer than it should, as I remember what it felt like those years ago in the Wrathbone mine, to Be the Green Witch. When it falters, I take control of the winds, to keep Dalish and Police Plaza safe while he commands the troops. Maribeth turns most of the river into a rocky mirage, slowing the troops, but not stopping them as Gerhard runs out of fire, and Wiest abandons the field of battle. Dalish and I head for the riverbed where he raises thousands of the dead and turns them back on the faithful.

Nat says we have to get to the church, we have to get to the source, so we stop fighting in the river and fly across to Brooklyn. Gathering above the temple, mana is redistributed and we take a breath, but not a break. We cannot wait, people are dying in the streets. Golden gas is coming up from the sewers. Only half of Pendleton’s men made it out of the Bronx.

Gerhard teleports us down to the workroom we all remembered so well from the time bubble. Nat could not see in there, but it was not protected against teleport. We land safely, and see that it has been used as some sort of ritual room. An altar in an alcove to the side, and all the benches and lockers gone. Everything s coated in a sickly pink flesh.

Klyce goes to the iron doors, back in his demon form now, to rip them open. Shadows in the corner ripple, and the Black and Red knights step out, with Aranea. The king has decided the city is worth saving. As we walk, Aranea fixes the weakness Nat’s last wish has caused her, allowing her to again wield her new sword. Klyce tells the Black Knight that he will fix his arm if we all survive, but the knight just shrugs. The tunnel is dark, but the brightness ahead grows quickly as we descend into the chamber with the severed head of the giant worm, still trapped in its bubble.

The flesh here covers every inch of floor, wall, ceiling, and machinery. It is also beginning to cover the time bubble in the center of the pit. There are body parts here, too, but far too many. Arms, legs, eyes, mouths, floating in the fleshy goo. The flight I have gifted everyone is still working, so only the knights dare step in it. The Archdeacon Wood is here, and dares ask if we have reconsidered.

No more than you, Archdeacon, it’s time to end this.

Wood rises up into the air, but Gerhard counters whatever it was he wanted to do. I cast out a chain lightning, but it does not reach him. Remy’s bullets, however, do. Aranea tries a different magic, but it is stopped as well. The Black Knight heads for the pit and the Red Knight rockets up to the machinery to begin burning away the flesh. Dalish calls up an illusory dragon to burn the flesh from the time bubble, and Maribeth follows suit. Nat tries to curse Wood, but it just falls away. Klyce begins chanting to his sword about being vengeance, and this many being most worthy of it and flies right up to Wood and throws him to the ground. Wood begins laughing joyously, that Klyce is giving in to his power here, at the source of his god, but we don’t have time to do anything else. Remy shouts for us all to do the same.

Nat, calling upon his godly power, manages to pull a few spells off of Wood, and I call up some holy lightning. The others begin pulling harder on their power to burn the flesh, and Klyce stays on Wood, dragging him down to the ground again and again, as he calls upon the flesh of the room to punish us all. I see pain in the faces of my friends, and some mana escapes from Nat is a blue puff, but they seem mostly alright, and I didn’t feel a thing.

Remy attempts to wish our that this room work like a machine, draining our divinity back into us. The room warps and the machinery changes and we are suddenly all connected in that agonizing way that only a mana machine can do. Wood is exstatic> “Exactly as you foresaw! Yes!” Klyce grabs him and they disappear down into the pit. The Red Knight ditches the fight and the Black Knight is nowhere to be seen. At Remy’s urging, we all try to take back our power while continuing to burn the flesh as we can. Aranea casts spells to assist us, but the fight is hard, for even unthinking, Garion’s will is strong.

Nat, using her sword as a focus, manages to pull the Dawnmother’s essence out, but Gerhard falls to the ground. Aranea continues to help and heal, but we struggle. Wood reappears at the top just as Dalish reabsorbs the Stoneman’s essence. Nat stabs the flesh one more time, and the flesh goes limp all around us and her soul-eating sword shatters. Wood tries to call up his own wish, but we counter him. Remy floats down to Gerhard and pulls his soul back into him with his own Wish. I toss lightning down at Wood, and Maribeth sends in a mental attack. Klyce stabs him through the heart and incinerates every inch of his body.

As Klyce turns to us, still seething with rage, Remy calls out to him to stay his vengeance. It is clear that it takes a great force of will, but he releases his power and lands among us. The Black Knight reappears, standing directly behind Klyce and sheathes his sword. Remy passes out from the strain of the fight. I send up to Pendleton that the Garion flesh is dead and the Archdeacon is down. He replies that the mist is gone, and the cultists have come to their senses. Dalish commands his zombie horde to stop fighting. The Black Knight bids us rest and then meet him and the King at The Door. I shout Deal! before anyone else can answer, and he and Aranea disappear into the shadows again.

Dalish offers the rest of us help getting our essences back later, but for now it is time to rest. We head back, Nat taking it slow, to heal anyone she can along the way. Dalish has his zombies round up the dead. Klyce tells Philomena the whole story. I simply collapse into bed and sleep, exhausted by the day’s events, but excited to meet the Prince.

In the morning, we gather for breakfast, sitting by Maribeth and both our brothers come home. I scold mine for having left, and he takes it with a smile at his lady. Porter and Julian look haggard, but well enough. Then the sendings start coming in from every corner, with reports and request for information and orders. Klyce wants everyone to get the bodies taken care of, search and rescue to be mobilized, and fresh water brought into the city in as large of quantities as can be mustered. They all need things to do while we finish cleaning up our own mess.

When everyone has eaten, stowed their magical gear, and replied to their sendings, I teleport us up to the throne room of the old palace. The door behind the throne stands open, and while magic is still suppressed beyond it, the feeling is a familiar one by now, and Dalish is able to descend with us this time. The world goes black and white as we climb, and down in the chamber, the King, the Black Knight, and Aranea are waiting. Dalish asks why Rictus’ son is not with them, and the Black Knight says that this does not concern him. The king apologizes for not trusting us and asks if we have any questions.

Dalish asks how he knew about the door. It’s an old family legend, he tells us. His family are descendants of the Green Witch herself, and their blood is needed to open the way. His great grandfather found it was here when he came to this continent, and built their home above and around it. Dalish asks if he knows what it holds. Yes, he and the Clever Prince shared the last seventeen years in the void together. The Prince helped him keep his sanity in nothingness, and he intends to open the door and free him.

Klyce asks if he knows what will happen then. Freedom. Maribeth asks what that means, and if it will do the things we hoped to fix. The king is not sure, but he knows none of that can be done until it is opened. Dalish asks what he intends to do after, and he says that will be in our hands. We all agree the mageocracy was a failure. He is willing to take back leadership if that is the will of the people, but mostly, he just wants to spend time with his son. That is his priority after missing the last seventeen years with him. Remy offers to take him south, but he does not wish to rule them either.

Klyce asks if we are all in agreement. If anyone objects to opening the door. Nat, Maribeth, Dalish and I immediately agree. Remy is his usual annoying pendantic self. Gerhard is reluctant, but will not vote against it. Klyce agrees and we are unanimous. Then six other voices ring out WE OBJECT, and six luminous figures descend into the cave. The Black Knight and the King freeze in time, as the Gods appear before us.

We all stare for a moment as the Gods look down upon us. They look tired, angry, sad, but determined. Remy, always Remy, breaks the silence by asking why. The Eternal Mind answers for them all, he talked more than Remy, but it went something like: Because it will make things so much worse. You have seen suffering and you think that anything must be better than this. That is how we felt, and the end of this road will take you right back to the beginning and the Clever Prince shall walk as a god, and set his vengeance against this plane of existence. And oh he went on and on and on… Something about our mana being the bones of the fae and havoc and chaos.

When he ran out of steam, Dalish asked why they left these bones, the mana, in the earth in the first place, when the separated the worlds.

The Stoneman answered that the bones belong in the earth, and is not for us to remove them. The fae realm was of the earth. Everything continues, they merely fractured it.

The Vengeance cut in then, saying that the Fae wrought horrors upon the earth. He wants to open the door and end the Prince, and the fae, forever!

There is some back and forth then. Remy calling out that vengeance is this god, and not the Prince, he wouldn’t seek vengeance. And The Vengeance calling him a monster. Then Klyce stepping in and saying that Vengeance is just as bad, or worse. That he just wants to destroy everything. The Green Witch enters the fray, with the tale of the frog and the scorpion. The Clever Prince is a scorpion, she says, he can do nothing but strike, poison, and destroy.

Dalish calls out what they have done, that it was wrong, and has wrought destruction in return. Klyce suggests that the fae follow their own rules, and perhaps we could make a deal with the Prince. Remy says the war needed stopping in their time, and they did their best, but men always find new ways to make war, and that the damage they have caused will only quicken our decay as we fight over the mana.

The Stoneman says that removing the mana would rupture the earth. The Tempest says they should have take it all away. The Eternal Mind does not agree, and is concerned that the Tempest does. The Vengeance says that the bones of our enemies belong in the ground. Remy asked if magic existed before the breaking. The Eternal Mind said of course it did, that’s where their power came from, and the fae made it possible. Dalish explains what locking the fae away has caused and the machines that have brought the fae back into our world. The Dawnmother says that the fae cannot be trusted but they must also not be destroyed.

I jump in at this point, having barely recovered from their appearance, but I am frustrated and angry. Your essences coming back into the world have caused this chaos, the deaths of thousands. We have to fix what you have done before more of the world is destroyed. Nat agrees with me, their mistakes caused this, let us open the door and we will deal with the consequences. The Vengeance is eager for this. Klyce steps in, You all failed. You had your chance and you missed. Be done with all of this? Aren’t you lonely and tired? Let it all go. Just let it go, you are only echoes of what you used to be. It is Our World now. You don’t live here, you quit. We’re still here, it’s our decision now.

The Stoneman shows us what had happened in their time. The chaos and destruction caused by the Prince and the fae. When it is over, Dalish nearly laughs. So, he is as big an ass as those we have already fought. The Stoneman relents that he is what he is. The Vengeance puts in another bid to kill him. Maribeth insists that the only way forward is releasing him and restoring the balance. That they had no right to destroy the fae world as they have done.

The Stoneman looks at us all thoughtfully, glancing at Klyce. In your tirade, one thing moved me. I am lonely. We exist from the power we took, born of the earth. It did not stop without us. I have one last wish, to slumber, to return to the earth. He then lays a hand on Dalish, and the last vestiges of his power flowed out and into him. The Stoneman was gone, and the Green Witch wailed in pain.

The Tempest looks at Gerhard. I would almost agree, but you seem to not be having any more fun than me these years. Nat steps in to defend our quiet friend, saying he has his fun in his lab, with his alchemical works.

Klyce steps forward. I doubt this was in your plan, but what is your endgame here? I step up with him, looking at the Green Witch. Your descendent is here, ready to open that door as is his familial duty. Ready to give his blood. It is time. Klyce picks up the line. The world has moved on. Let this be the end of it. You have stuck around long enough. It is over and if you cannot change then there are only scorpions here.

The Tempest, still frowning at Gerhard. I don’t think you are wrong. And gives his last bit of power to Gerhard.

Then Klyce turns to Vengeance. How about you just leave? I want no part of you. The Vengeance replies, You are too week to carry my mantle. Klyce scoffs, That’s some toxic B.S. You never look at your own self. Only everyone else’s sins. How many lives are on your hands? And they fight, and Klyce defeats him handily, but when he takes his essence in, it changes. Even his sword becomes a shining light.

The Dawnmother has been watching quiestly and steps forward, looking hard at me. I set my descendents to watch this door. It is true, that I am tired. If it is truly time, and this is to be the fate of the world. I must not stand in its way. If it is time, then it is time. And she places a hand on Nat’s head and gives herself over.

The Green Witch looks at me, clearly upset that all her friends are leaving her one by one. Even more upset that we are freeing her erstwhile lover. I would look upon his face one last time. And pass along the memories, and the pain, and the joy. Then she melds into me, but I can still feel here, looking out of my eyes. The Eternal Mind looks at us. He wanted to be the last one. He doesn’t even like his chosen. He says Maribeth never even figured out how to use the library properly. He goes on for a little while, and tells her to enjoy watcing everyone around her be stupid. Then he sighs, almost happily. At least now, I don’t know what’s next.

Time resumes, as the King cuts open his hand and anoints the door. Color creeps back into the room, and the door becomes living wood. He turns back to us. It is done, it is upon you to open the door and deal with the consequences. I will see my friend, and then go.

We all step forward, our minds made up, and open the door. Music pours forth as the Clever Price struts free into the chamber, a slow, sweet jazzy number, full of joy and promise. It’s been a long time, friends. Not for us. It’s good to see you again, he says, looking almost through my eyes. I answer for us both, that I’m not sure I can say the same. What would you have of me? Dalish explains what has happened and that we would like him to fix it.

He thinks it was all a great trick, and then that we would need to bring back his father. Klyce says no, that he is the King now, and it is time for him to grow up. He asks for his powers back, that we took from him. We agree, but Remy insists that the games must stop. Klyce says his distructive ways led to this. And Dalish threatens to separate the worlds permanently if he cannot control himself. Alock begins speaking through Remy to explain the damage to the Fea Realm, and the Prince waves a hand, pulling him out and giving him back his own body. The Prince enjoys his games and is sad we don’t want him to play. Klyce points out that it’s a bigger challenge to play games that don’t kill people. The Prince seems to be catching on, that games are more fun if people can keep playing and if they want to play them. He agrees to our deal.

I ask the Green Witch if she is ready to return to him, to watch over him, and she is, returning to be with him forever. The others all give up their godly essences, though Nat is most reluctant. That feels good again. We have made him whole again, and perhaps our influences on his essence will give him something to think on. He promises to make things as they were, and to have fun games. He will see us all again. Remy asks what of the mana, and he says it will just be dirt now. He is late to a party, so he takes Aranea and Alock and disappears back to his world. Remy tries to eradicate the machines with a wish, but they are irrelevant now. The King takes his leave with Sir Hector, and we warn them to be wary of Wiest, for she may still be on the warpath for her father’s death.

There is much to do, and we head out of the old palace to begin the work. To guide, explore, and discover this new world we are creating.

I must find my parents, and then, I must go back to the Fae. There is so much to learn there, and someone has to keep an eye on The Prince.

Negotiation, The Butcher, and Unholy Mana

Klyce leads us north to a burnt out pub, picking up three small groups along the way, swelling our number to near forty. It’s a miracle we don’t get attacked just from that, but we make it to the meeting where another sixty are waiting to hear him speak. Klyce greets one of the men, who then introduces him and tells everyone to listen up. Nat goes on scouting duty with HeyHey and her eye.

Klyce thanks them all for showing up. He explains that he didn’t grow up with magic, and he rather dislikes it. He acknowledges the horribly short stick the mages have handed them, and he has no problem with their grievances. However, these small bands of roving violence aren’t going to accomplish anything against the real threat – the Cultists from Brooklyn. He tells them we are going to take Manhattan back, and we’re going to get organized and do it together. He does not claim leadership, but rather says Costa will take the lead. They all know him, and he has the arms and knowhow to lead. He tells them we need to gather everyone up and come south to meet up with him and get started. Then, he goes on to say that unless someone is a cultist, they are not our enemy. We will be working with the police, and Costa’s folk, and the mages. The people have the most to lose, and we either fight together, or we die alone. We have to get organized, and armed, and we’ll get the mages off their backs. We will take Manhattan, and then the Bronx. Then we will go to war. He tells them that we have fought worse than they could ever bring to bear and we will win.

As his voice trails off, we hear the march of booted feet. They all freak out, but Klyce shouts them down. Nobody is running, not today. Heyhey lets Nat know there are 120 folk on the move, with eight priests up front. Klyce cuts in again, “I told you were are winning, now we’re going to show you how.”

Then he starts ordering everyone with long guns up to fire escapes and rooftops. He puts pistols behind us to be a second line. We prepare to scatter and strike. As they come closer, Nat sends out a psychic scream, but the cultist shrug it off. The people right behind them aren’t so lucky. In response, the priest rush up to use, grappling everyone except for Remy. Man, they are even faster than we expected. Maribeth manages a misty step away, getting punched again while she tried it, but managing anyway. Then she calls up an illusory dragon to start harrying their forces. I thunderstep away, grabbing Nat to come with me to the roof of the pub, barely surviving the punch and heal us both up tiny bit. Remy starts shooting and running. Gerhardt manages to dimension door out of their grasp, as well. Dalish flies out of their grasp, too. Only Klyce remains, stabbing them as hard and fast as only he can.

The battle is rough, but the do not chase us to the roof. Maribeth’s dragons, and our men with guns, and a zombie that Dalish raises at one point, take down the faithful to a man. At one point, Nat transforms and joins Klyce on the ground, stealing a soul or two with her new sword, crackling with dark energy. I bring one down with my lightning from above. Remy gets taken down by one, and is dragged away. But I toss a lightning bolt that way, and he wakes up, escaping quickly. Unfortunately, that one then runs off down the street, almost faster than we can see, and we certainly can’t follow, so we let him go. Gerhard has globe of forced one of the zealots, and we take the rest down. But not before the last one tosses out an interesting threat: “Our numbers are many, you will be overwhelmed or the butcher will have you.”

When the battle is done, Klyce asks that we round up the bodies to take for later mine labor. Dalish sends his zombie to do just that. We gather around the trapped priest. The globe is one thing they cannot dispel. Remy says that he is no longer completely human, that he has something of the divine within him. Nat says his thoughts are wholy focused on praying to his One True God. We set ourselves, Gerhardt drops the globe and we knock him out, dimensional shackle him, and bind him in our bonds from Italy.

Then we gather up our crowd again, and Klyce reassures them that this is how we win. He asks that they tell everyone they know, and gather together at our rally points. We have a fight to win. They all head off. We decide to take the prisoner to the Mage’s research division, but first Dalish has trapped a soul of one of them, and we can ask it questions.

He ask about the forces the cultists have, and the soul says they have thousands of faithful and hundreds of priest, and their prophet is unstoppable. He asks about the standard crew of an airship, and the soul says 24 fighter pilots, 40 crew, and 10 priests. Then asks how they make new priests, and he says the prophet makes new priests. Klyce gets angry at this answer and we have to waste a second question asking for more details. I get angry that we’re doing that and there’s a small argument and they do it anyway. Ugh! It doesn’t matter, we just need to kil him! The soul the tells us that they partake of the holy sacrament of the One God’s flesh and blood (ewww, gross, that flesh in the sewer???), the prophet blesses them, and it takes root within their bodies and they are made whole. The ritual takes minutes, the sacrament only moments.

Then he uses the soul to look within the cathedral. It is massive and heavily ornate with loads of stained glass and fancy decor. There are hundreds of people in the pews, praying to their god, priests and followers alike. He does not see Phil anywhere in the sanctuary, so that is our next question. Tell us all about the Butcher. The soul tells us that he is a recent convert, and a favorite of the prophet. His killing abilities are unparralleled. Dalish thanks the soul and sets it free.

They send to Pyrus, to let him know we have a prisoner to turn over, and he gladly opens the teleportation room for them. Dalish, Remy, and Nat go, and plan to spend the night so they can attend the deliberative in the morning without wasting another spell. Apparently, we are the first to succeed in taking a priest alive. The rest of us take the bodies down to the slaughterhouses to store them until such a time as they are needed. We head back to the school then, to get the younger students out to Bangoria, and get the volunteers on their way. We meet up with the faculty, and organize them into teams. Klyce explains what they will be doing to help. Half the group will be working on making munitions with Costa, the other half will be assisting the police in defending the southern tip of the island. Looking for threats and helping Poissant direct his forces on where to go. They will not be reporting to the Chief, just assisting him. We gather them all up and head south to make introductions.

Klyce checks in with Costa and Elizabeth, explaining our fight and the fighting style of the Priests. He suggests they work on a glue bomb of some sort to slow down their movements. Then we head over to Poissant to repeat this report. He tells us that, with the bridge out, they’ve been dropping teams from airships. Klyce wants their locations so we can send teams to take them out. Then we head home to rest.

Maribeth casts Dream on Klyce to spek with Phil, and then herself to speak with Porter. In the morning, I ask Klyce what he wants my brother to do, but he just want him to stay here and hold the house. Maribeth says Porter and his squad are coming back. Klyce explains that in his dream, Phil was indeed forcefully converted to the one god, and will be coming for us, and wants us to kill him. He is no longer in control of his actions. Klyce wants to try and take the vengeance out of him. He says we should just run when Phil shows up. I tell him I’m not okay with that, what if he’s not alone. Klyce relents and says we can peal off any support, but he does Not want any of us engaging with him. Leave him to Klyce alone. That, we can agree on.

We head north, to work the edge of the Bronx. As we walk, I send to Brother Kevin, but it does not connect. Then I send to Brother Carmine. He says he wishes he could bring me over to the church, to help me be whole, but that I am tainted by the magic. Dammit. I then send to Old Brack, asking him to meet us, and he agrees. Klyce gathers up folks as we walk, sending them all south to join our growing army. We reach our meeting point and only wait a couple minutes for Brack to appear.

He has seen the flesh in the sewers, and says it started in Brooklyn, but has been spreading quite badly up here. He says people have been pushed out of their houses and taken in the night, and he has just been helping folk run and hide as best he can. Klyce explains our organizing of folk and asks him to get the word out. We are working on gathering up the mages, and arming the people, if he can get them all moving south. We ask about Pendleton, and he says he’s seen wizards to the east. Klyce reiterates that he needs to get the people moving south so we can try and slow down the church’s efforts. We separate, heading east.

It takes some time, and conversations with other wizards before we find the fortress Pendleton has created and holed up in for the moment. This time we manage to stay away from all the people and the fighting. He greets us cordially, and Klyce explains our efforts, but he only really starts paying attention when Klyce mentions that we killed seven the night before, and turned one over for research. Then Klyce explains our Petals plan, but Pendleton is skeptical, the church wants People, not land, and not even really the mages. He says they aren’t hunting them so much as killing them if they get in the way. Klyce asks if he can simply cover the egress of the people out of the Bronx, and after a bit of strategy talk, they agree on a plan. Klyce explains the chemical weapons Costa has been working on, and he sets his transmuter on creating some right away.

We also inform him that Rictus is dead when he asks, and he is disappointed, this is what Rictus was for, this kind of fighting. We ask if he knew of his son, but he did not. His wife, he says, died shortly after the revolt, trampled to death by a wagon and horses. Klyce tells him that his son is out there, and also that the King is alive. He shushes us, saying the idea is still strong in the people to return to Royalist society. The king was a good ruler to them, only being controlling of the mages. Then they talk a bit more strategy and we head out. On the way out, we hear him give the order to pack up the machine, and it takes all that I am to not go charging back in there in a fury.

We start heading home to meet up with the others, and Gerald sends to me that Archdeacon Wood is there to speak with us. I tell him not to upset him, and not to go anywhere with him, and we’ll be home soon. We take our time, though. Klyce still wants to gather as many people as possible, and he wants to make the prophet wait. We get back and the deliberative team is already home, they are a little miffed we didn’t warn them, but I didn’t want to waste the spell.

The prophet says he is there “to convince us to see reason and to get Klyce to come with him.” Absolutely not! Reason? You murder people in the streets and enslave the rest! He says that magic is a wound upon the soul of humanity and it must be wiped out. Klyce coming and joining them would make their god thing complete. We then argue about his god thing, that Garion was a horrible man, and not holy. He says that the man is gone, the flesh is unthinking, but it is a divine, unifying power. He says that mage’s magic has no place in the world he wishes to create, that the old gods no longer matter, and he can fix the world if only Klyce would allow his essence to join with the one god. There is a lot of arguing then, about slavery, and erasing magic through the sacrement. I argue that magic is not the problem, people will always be horrible. He thinks that magic is a broader scope of terrible than anything man can create on their own, and therefore must be removed. Remy tosses out that he thinks it might just awaken Garion again if he gets the last piece, and they argue about that for a while. Returning to slavery versus Unity for a few verses and the evils that magic has wrought in our lives. Klyce cuts through all the babble. It’s not going to happen, and asks why he’s really here. He says he really did want to convince us, but Klyce says no, he might as well go home. Or come back in force and we will destroy them. And offers to race him to the grave. The prophet fades out of the room, and Phil breaks through the wall, immediately charging Klyce and taking him down before any of us can react.

Thus ensues a terrible battle of wills. Every time Klyce goes down, we heal him back up, and every time he rises, Phil puts him back down. Klyce asks us to help Phil show mercy, so most everyone begs him to remember his family, to remember his wife and his new daughters who need him. I am too overwhelmed by this scene in my own living room and cannot speak, I can only heal Klyce over and over again. Maribeth takes it to a whole different level with her illusions, and I’m sobbing before a few rounds even go by. She puts up an illusion of the bakery over the whole scene while Remy has Phil out of reality for a moment, with everyone cooking together. The next time it comes around to her, she shifts the illusion to Philomena telling Klyce’s crying mom that it was Phil who did it. The third scene she shows, is Klyce’s mom leaving a tearful note, and killing herself, and little Patti finding the body. Meanwhile, Klyce is telling Phil that he loves him, that even if he kills him, he will not stop loving him, that he remade himself once he can do it again. Maribeth then puts up an illusion of Phil in an infirmary, with his family around him, Patti curled up on the bed with him, and giving him a bracelet she and Lizzie made, and the bracelet is made real on his wrist. Klyce begins begging him for mercy on his knees, no longer rising to stand as Phil continues to beat him down, and we keep healing him back up. We can see that he is struggling, but he is still not winning. Dalish pulls out a Wish, that he win his struggle. And he does, he relents for just one moment, and in that moment, Klyce is able to pull the vengeance out of him, and he collapses into Klyce’s arms. Nat, seeing this happen through her own spell, then wishes for the divine corruption to also leave his body, and it does.

Phil, lying in Klyce’s arms, ages rapidly. Klyce welcomes him back an calls him Dad. Phil thanks him. Klyce asks him not to die just yet, he can help fix this in the morning. I drop to my knees, still sobbing and begin praying to both the Dawnmother and the Green Witch to fix what they have broken. At Remy’s suggestion, everyone else joins me, praying to their own gods. We receive an answer, they will not or cannot meddle in the affairs of the Vengeance. But we pray and heal and tend to him anyway. For the rest of the day and night. Remy disappears at one point and returns with a potion that takes a few years back, and in the morning, Klyce takes back a few more, leaving him far healthier, if still quite old. After some more goodbyes, I take him up to reunite with his family, and they mob him with hugs and tears. Remy wanders off to give his father news of the city, and then we update Stephen, grab a bit more unrefined mana and head back home.

Maribeth has been busy, and now has a second copy of herself, and Gerhardt has procured Dalish’s phylactery, though he got marked and immolated himself to do it. Dalish, Maribeth, and Nat sit down to do research, to find the son of both Rictus and the King. The rest of us head out. We drop Gerhard and Remy with Costa to do some weapons fabrication. Then Klyce and I head to Poissant. He still hasn’t slept, and lets us know that the Church is getting ready for something. They are massing forces on the shores of Brooklyn, and have been since before dawn. He says the wizards have been quite useful in finding the sleeper cells, and he’s passed that information on. No one has seen the airships today, but the cloud cover is quite low. Klyce turns into an eagle and flies up immediately at this word and when he returns, he reports that they are hiding in the clouds. I send to Pyrus to inform him that the attack is happening imminently. He says they haven’t finished the evacuation. I sent to Pendleton, who says he’s bogged down but he’ll try to send a few and asks about Pyrus. I tell him Pyrus is not helping, and he sounds like he is going to fix that.

Klyce and I head a bit north and he tries to take control of the clouds, but they are already doing that. We meet up with Dalish and Nat back and Police Plaze, as they have finished their unfruitful research, and Klyce asks to use the mirror. He wants to find the Black Knight and get him on our side for this fight. Whatever his beef with the mages, fighting the church has to take precedence. Nat looks into it and sees him walking in an alley of Manhattan. With Aranea and James trailing along behind him. He is excited and out of breath, asking when he’s going to get to see his father. The knight says soon. Nat looks around and notices they are just a few blocks to the south towards the park. She drops the scry and sends to James, asking him to stop and wait for a minute. James replies saying the knight says he can’t trust anyone. Klyce turns into a giant eagle, grabs up Nat and Me and flies south. Dalish flies with us, sending to Remy to let them know.

We arrive at opposite ends of the alley they are all in, hands up, entreating for a conversation. Klyce says we just want his help, the church is about to strike, killing or enslaving the king’s people. If he wants his nation back, we have to save it first. The knight admits that taking the nation back is part of the plan, but won’t talk about anything further. Okay, but look we’re friends, and Family in Remy’s case, we can’t make you trust us, but we still need your help. The knight says if we want his trust, then let him walk away and reunite the king with his son. We agree, but ask if he’ll come back. He says that is up to the king, so we formally ask to speak with the king and he says we must fix what we have done, but he will pass the message on. He calls Red and Aranea out from the shadows and they leave through a portal she creates. We head back to the plaza.

Not long after this, Pyrus messages me asking for a place to send a force of mages, and 120 arrive from the Petals for the fight. We explain how the fight with the priests went and Klyce sends them out to their positions. Maribeth arrives, telling us all about Rictus’ real name, and family, saying she thinks that his son became the Red Knight. We tell her about James, since she couldn’t find him in the records. So, now we know.

Then the group starts discussing taking out one of the airships before the battle begins. The forces amassing in Brooklyn don’t have boats, but we can’t do much about them right now. If we can get up to ship and take it out before they are ready, maybe we can at least figure out how to take them down. Klyce hands Remy three bombs and then eagles up and takes him into the clouds to find a target. They come back down after only a few minutes. There is a ship directly above Police One. I give everyone flight and we head up together. No one is visible from the outside. We put Gerhardt below the ship, to keep them from dropping bombs if the bay doors begin to open. The rest of us head up top, and Nat sends her eye in to see what is going on. There are no planes inside, no crew, no pilots. She does see about twenty Priests inside, and down in the gondola, three stand at the controls. The entire gondola is filled with bombs, and glowing golden canisters. The priests here have controls that could detatch the entire gondola from the balloon, so we send Dalish down to support Gerhard, in case they need to catch the entire structure. The canisters are filled with altered mana, infused wth the garion goo.

Maribeth and her duplicate cast invisibility on us all and we sneak in, we have to take out those priests and keep that from dropping on our forces. Remy decides to haste himself and Klyce before we start the fight, but this alerts the priests to our presence. Fortunately, it isn’t enough to save them. We put them all down and before they can even counter attack or alert the rest of the crew. We call Gerhardt and Dalish to join us and the pop right in beside us. We seal the hatches, set our bombs, and head out over the water. Nat studies the corrupted mana, tellig us that it would kill any mage and would either kill or convert the regular populace. Dalish sends to Pendleton, telling him to get his mages out of there. Then we send to Poissant and Costa with the same message, get the mages out and everyone else in shelter, underground if possible.

As we get out over the bay, and the clocks in town strike noon, the cloud cover vanishes, trumpets blare and light shines down on the city. The Hudson parts and the masse of faithful begin charging the city. The other nine airships are not over Manhattan, but are, rather, carpet bombing the Bronx. And we can only watch for a frozen moment, before kicking into action.

Plantation Attack

Ever paranoid, the boys announce a false plan to the troops, in case the house mages are listening. It involves a suicidal charge up the middle toward the canons, and the soldiers pincering in from the sides. Using fog clouds for cover, at dawn. Once they’re done pontificating for no one’s benefit, we retire for the night and Nat pulls us all into her head.

Klyce wants to go tonight. He wants Dalish, me, and himself to drop down onto the roof for an alpha strike inside the house. The rest should come in through tunnels like our old Sanctum games, and take out the canons and guys with the big guns. Dalish might zombie up some of their soldiers to help. The troops will hang back and do as little as possible from the treeline. Klyce will head inside while Dalish and I help clean up the yard. Then we’ll all meet inside to take down the mage(s)?

We get some rest, though only a couple manage to recover spells by not taking watches. Nat sends in her invisible eye during our watch, but an invisible lady pops out and dispells it. Still before dawn, we start the men marching, and quietly fill them in on their part of staying in the trees as much as possible. We’ll signal if we need them to come in.

Dalish, Klyce, and I part from the group as we get near and fly in an arc way above the house. The diggers get digging and start heading in. Once they are in place, we fly down and then drop onto the roof. Nat says that most of the troops are an illusion, and they set about putting them to sleep. Klyce decides they don’t need our help, and opens a hole in the roof.

We slip inside, and find no one on the top floor. By the time we get downstairs, the others are entering through the front. We start checking the parlor, and a mage pops out of invisibility and paralyzes a bunch of us. Klyce pins him to a wall after getting sliced up pretty badly. Remy shoots him, but he manages to Banish Gerhardt. Then Klyce turns into an octopus, which doesn’t seem to hamper him all that much. This guy starts calling in fireballs and I fall unconscious. By the time I wake up, he’s down.

Nat says she can feel three people within thirty feet of us, and Klyce starts ripping up the floor. Marybeth drops down into the hole, while I look out the door to find two mages in the hallway. I toss a teacup at one of them while shouting for the group, but one sends flying snakes into the room, while the other walls us in with stone. We manage to sleep or kill the snakes, and then I dimension door Dalish and my self into the hallway. Remy had managed to jump through the door before the stone went up, but now he’s lying bleeding on the floor. Klyce opens a hole in the stone and grabs the mage with the gun. The other mage dimension doors himself away. Dalish nearly kills himself transferring life to Remy to bring him back. Marybeth manages to kill the woman under the floor. We take a breath to gather the dead and our men into the courtyard.

Finishing the Semester

Finally back at school after that horror show of a fall break. It seems strange to be wandering the halls and going to classes. What are we even doing here? Everything is chaos, and here we sit, learning about math and history. Oh history. We’ve got a new teacher, and he just makes fun of all the “rich kids” in the class. Klyce seems much happier with this, at least. I just tuck in low and try to avoid notice as much as possible – it’s just like every other class now.

A lot of the upperclassmen have volunteered for the war, so the halls are a bit more empty now. Maribeth talked to her brother before she left, and then moved into my dorm room. She says he was probably involved in the mana ring, and he said she should stay close to me. I don’t think his motives are good, but I do trust Maribeth.

Someone left Dalish unattended and he told Malden all about the spellbook we found. Everyone but Klyce got really mad at him, but Malden only took out the Dominate Person spell and gave everyone the paper and ink they need to get all the spells, so I don’t see what the big deal is. Everyone knows Dalish can’t lie to save his life.

After all the fights we had at Nat’s place, and with a war looming, I give into the peer pressure and start getting up early with everoyone else for extra physical training. I’m not so sure about this crossbow anymore, not after what it nearly did to Remy, so the boys start teaching me to use a staff instead.

Klyce wants to go spell hunting one last time, so we head to the stables. When we tell the servires why we’re there, they all leave in a huff. Dalish notices some conjuration magic in one corner, so we mess around with water buckets, feedbags, and a horse, but we can’t get anything to happen.

Looking over the horse, Dalish notices something odd about the teeth, and with my help to keep it calm, sees that there are runes on its teeth and writes them out. Maribeth looks at the bridle and notices some similar runes. Looking over the tack, we notice bits of runs on different pieces of each set. Apparently, I’m the only one who knows anything about horses, so I set to work dismantling the sets and create a single set with all the runes and kit up the rune-teethed horse.

Nothing happens, so Remy casts his detect and sees that it’s an illusion spell of some sort, and putting it all together has created a unified aura. Looking around, he also notices the conjuration in the corner is an unseen servant like he has, so we leave that one be for now. We try riding around on the horse. We try casting an illusion on the horse. Nothing works.

Looking around the stable a bit more, I notice there’s a stall with runes inside it, too. So, I lead the horse in, with Remy nearby. The horse screams in pain and its leg buckles. With help, I quickly get it back out of the stall and unbridled. Gerhardt rushes over with healing potions to help, noting a lot of scratches around where the saddle and reins were. While we’re helping the horse, someone grabs all the kit and puts it in the stall. Phantom Steed appears in the air and they all hurry to copy it down. When the servires come rushing at the sound of screams we glare at them and they wander off again, but we’re done for now anyway. I fear for that horse, even though we saved it. There are only two left in the stables.

Something is wrong with Remy, but it takes him awhile to tell us. We all gather up in the dorms. Remy tells us that Professor Garian has been taking him down to the catacombs and making him use a machine that conjures weird mana beings, like the ones we fought around here. The machine then drains them, screaming, of all their mana, collecting it to fill the Fountain. Garian wants to roll out this method of collecting mana to the entire country. He is also using it for personal gain, juicing himself with mana, trying to become a god? Remy says one of these creatures killed the guy in his head, the memories the wierd gods gave him.

We all argue about whether the creatures are “real” or not. Whether they are just manifestations of mana that somehow hold more mana than was used to create them, or whether they are real, live, sentient beings. We talk about how all the ones we’ve seen have been trying to kill us, so why shouldn’t we kill them first. We talk about the gate the ones under Philomena’s house were trying to open.

Once again we consider just walking away, it’s none of our business. Klyce says Remy should walk away, too. I’m worried that he won’t be able to, that something bad will happen to him if he tries. Then the suggestions go off the rails. Destroy the machine. Kill Garian. What if it’s worth it. Maribeth wonders if her brother knew about the machine. He’s gone now, but not all his friends are. Klyce wants to talk to them, find out what they know.

Nat wants to help Remy learn more about his memory man, so they share the tea her Baba gave her. I sit with them, to make sure they wake up. Remy says people in his dream worshipped the Tempest, and we’ve been at war with these creatures for a very long time. I stop listening at this point, distracted by what my dreams could mean in this context.

She approaches, Shining as the Sun

She approaches, Burning as the Sun…

Fire … Destruction

Death … Rebirth

World Without End

The Kids are Not Alright

On the way back to the house, I ask Nat if maybe Professor Alleria can help me. I don’t do what Nat does, I can’t use divination, why did I have dreams about that horror show? Nat says she probably already knows I want to talk to her, so if she has answers, she’ll probably find me. So, when I go to her office and find a note, I’m not surprised. I am a little surprised by what it says. “Nothing I can do for you, dear.” Man, she’s just like all the rest of them. Everyone thinks I’m weird and impossible.

Where should they go looking for spells next? Nat wants to go to the catacombs, like we haven’t seen enough dead bodies lately. Remy wants to go to the Kitchens. Dead people or servires… I think I’m with Nat on this one. But no one else is, so we troop down to the Kitchens. Remy has to do some fast talking, and they want him to own them a favor. Ugh! Never! Even Remy is put off by that. Instead, he offers them Barry for a week. Barry seems not to care, and they agree. Everyone else goes in, but I stay by the door, keeping an eye out for any adults coming by.

They futz around for awhile, poking the fireplace and then a big door. Eventually, Remy comes over to me in a huff, insisting I come inside. The others have stopped responding and he needs to go into the cold room, but doesn’t trust the servires to keep the door open. Fine! I go hold the door, keeping my eyes on the creepy little chefs. They’re in there for a while, so I start sending Messages in. They’re fine, but they still don’t come out for a while. They do come out eventually, with something called False Life. Seems creepy to me.

I head back to the door, but now I watch them instead of the hallway. They peer down a trap door for a bit. I think Remy even sends his little lizard guy down. But they decide, whatever is down there, is not worth exploring, and the fireplace seems like a better idea. They whisper for a while, and when I toss in a message, they ask me to stay at the door and slam it shut once they all get out.

Remy grabs some fire out of the fireplace, like a little blob of it and takes off running. Everyone follows him. The servires start screaming immediately to put it back. Nat casts a fog cloud to blind them, and once Gerhardt gets out, I slam the door shut in the face of something I don’t Ever want to see. It sounded like a Huge Servire. Once we get outside, Remy is all smiles, writing down a new spell, but everyone else just looks tired.

My green dreams are gone that night, but the ground now has a heartbeat in my otherwise normal dreams. Why? Why? Why???

Remy tells us he overheard Malden and Garian arguing over dangerous experiments and something called Project Ambrosia. Malden threatens to kill him if things don’t stop happening. When Malden left, Garian called him foolish and said he had infinity in front of him!

Maribeth tells us of terrible dreams she’s still having of her grandfather. He says war is coming. She says the fire talks to her too, of Blood. He says her friends will leave her and she will know the time has come.

We all get a fieldtrip right before Fall Break. Professor Lerin takes us out to the Petals to show us all the work being done to build fully magically automated buildings. It’s beautiful and amazing! There’s a new Sanctum Pitch that can hold fifty thousand people! He says we can come out to a game once it’s finished. The professional league will play here, and our whole team can come watch.

Then it happens again. There’s a flash of blue on a screaming woman ahead of us. I try to push her up into the air, away from all the people, but I’m too slow, and everything explodes! Lerin saved us, he saved us all. He saved our whole class, but not himself. Gerhardt tried to save him, too, but it was too late. That explosion was just too much.

They escort us back to school. We relate the story to the professors who meet us at the gate. Lerin’s funeral is very small, but we all go. To remember him.

The headlines are terrible. War and Terrorism.

Nat tells us that his family has invited us all to Spring Break at their house. It’ll be nice to get away for a while. But Nat says it’s not normal, says something must be wrong. Well, nothing is right anymore. How bad could it be? What if they’re just being nice? We’re all going to go with Nat, even if we have to tell Klyce’s mother about the invitation to get him to go.