|Cast of Characters|
|Session One: September 14th, 2005||Session Seven: November 2nd, 2005|
|Session Two: September 21st, 2005||Session Eight: November 9th, 2005|
|Session Three: September 28th, 2005||Session Nine: November 16th, 2005|
|Session Four: October 5th, 2005||Session Ten: November 30th, 2005|
|Session Five: October 12th, 2005||Session Eleven: December 7th, 2005|
|Session Six: October 26th, 2005||Session Twelve: December 14th, 2005|
|Part 2 (2006 Spring)|
A muscular soldier-type who is obsessed with his family
(The haiku-speaking owl)
|Torvic Frei||A wind and water shaper with blue skin, no hair, and a tragic past||Adam|
Tobias (a.k.a. Tobs)
A roamer spirit dancer of an arbitrary disposition
(the watchful winged rhy-cat)
|Jaylynn||A shy and bashful blue-eyed healer from Kern who has a calming effect on enemies||Eric|
|Arianna||A ten-year-old girl with big round eyes, a love of fire, and an annoying knack for getting into trouble||Lauryn|
|Ursula||A somewhat indecisive lute-playing bard with strawberry blond hair||Martha|
Around noon, six travelers converge on a bridge at a crossroads in the middle of a forest. They all glance at each other – a 6’4” brawny man with short brown hair and brown eyes, a 5’9” bald blue-skinned woman with a billowing cloak, a 5’2” seventeen year old with a long red ponytail, a 4’0” girl with long black hair and big innocent looking eyes, and a 5’5” slender athletic sixteen year old wearing white and black breeches and tunic. The other, a 5’8” woman with long blond hair and tattered robes, is hiding out of sight of the others. Ursula, the bard in black and white, informs the others that there is a village to the east. Torvic, the strange blue one, immediately starts off eastwardly. She hears the sounds of people, noises, bells…a caravan of roamers. Torvic had come a long ways – she collapses from exhaustion at the side of the road.
The others are getting acquainted back at the crossroads. Arianna claims that she knows all. Ursula stares after Torvic and asks, “Who was that?” Arianna responds, “The person who just walked down that road.” They walk towards the east and also hear the noises. Tobs identifies the sounds as those of his roamer kindred. Jaylynn sneaks along after them. They come across Torvic’s unconscious form, which Tobs pokes with the blunt end of his spear. Torvic remains oblivious, even after Tobs puts his dirty socks under her nose. Arianna comes along skipping and jumps on the prone form of Torvic. Ursula cries “Oh no!” and Jaylynn mind-touches the little girl and tells her to beware of strangers, but that does not deter her. Tobs and Arianna try to draw on the blue woman’s face. At that Torvic wakes up with a loud exclamation: “Blasted roamers!” Ursula decides that she dislikes the rude blue lady. All of them continue down the road, including the unseen Jaylynn. They reach a clearing with a roamer camp; lots of kids are running around. A man stands up and asks the travelers who they are.
The stocky man, Jionn, is the leader of the camp. People in the camp seem edgy. He reluctantly allows the travelers to spend the night; the roamers themselves are leaving the area in the morning. This was Tobs’ old roamer camp, so he visits his family and talks with them. His sister informs him that there are crazy wolves in the forest and that kids have disappeared from a nearby village. Torvic wanders off and sees a shadowy figure in the firelight with a scar over her right eye and a band on her arm. She seems to be someone from the capital traveling with the roamers as a protector, and she is talking to Jionn privately. Meanwhile, Ursula plays her lute by the fire, and Kharlan tells anyone who will listen about his family. Torvic looks brooding and dozes, and Jaylynn is still hanging back from people. Arianna had wandered off, but she was found, and Jionn looks relieved. He tells others to keep watch and keep the children inside so that they are not lost. The roamers are leaving because of the strange happenings in that town, and there are strange creatures and crazed animals in the woods as well. The scarred lady, Krin, talks to them – she is a member of the Sovereign’s Finest. Arianna enthusiastically offers to help. Tobs’ family invites the travelers to stay the night in their wagon.
Not everyone can sleep, however. Arianna reads the surface thoughts of one of the camp guards and sees white skinny creatures and a wolf. Torvic continues to pretend to brood. A woman notices her; Torvic lowers the temperature, and they have words. Torvic refuses to join the guard and plays a sad little ditty on the flute at one in the morning. The old woman, Gazelds the fortune teller, pokes her head out of her wagon twice trying to see her. Then a piercing psychic cry hits the back of their minds. Torvic jumps to her feet, and the old woman throws the door open and says, “Ooh, it’s come from the town, it’s from the town…” She goes to alert the guard. Torvic also discusses the mind scream with a freaked-out guard. She uses her arcana to get a drink from the river, and the guard stares in amazement and thinks it’s cool. Kharlan leaps from the wagon and goes to investigate. He talks to Torvic: “What’s going on?”…notices water trick…“That’s cool.” The guard asks if Torvic is Kharlan’s girlfriend. The temperature lowers. Kharlan goes over to the guards in front and listens to Jionn’s conversation with Krin about the town and the safety of the children. Krin is sent off, and Jionn tells Kharlan to go with her. Krin passes Torvic doing her water trick and mumbles something about rookies. Krin also sees Jaylynn, who says she is observing. Arianna wakes up and jumps on Ursula to wake her up. The two of them go out of the wagon and up to the others. Arianna fetches Tobs. Torvic asks if going along means leaving the roamers; Krin says yes and gives a quirky half-smile. The six of them and Krin leave the roamer camp to go to the town of Bashti’s Ford to investigate.
Torvic wants to part the waters as they cross the ford, but the river that they are crossing is the biggest in all of Aldis. She does, however, use her arcana to dry herself. Krin leads the party down a path. They hear a rustling on the left, and Torvic cocks her crossbow. Ursula accidentally knocks Krin over. A wolf cries, and the battle begins. Arianna has a psychic weapon. Tobs tries to battle dance but gets fatigued. Ursula hits the wolf with her sword, and Jaylynn mind- touches a wolf and discovers that it is under some sort of mind control. Dire rats enter the fray with a squeak. One flies over Arianna’s head, one squeaks at Tobs, and two bite Kharlan, wounding him. The wolves attack Ursula, and Torvic tries to shoot them. Krin is nowhere to be seen. Tobs tries to hit a rat. Kharlan: “Quit biting me, stupids.” Ursula injures a wolf while Jaylynn tries to figure out the magic that is controlling the wolves. Rats bite Arianna and Kharlan, and Arianna falls unconscious and bleeding. Ursula shrugs off the wolves. Torvic freezes the rat that bit Arianna. The rats are sadly able to dodge everyone else. Ursula kills a wolf, and Jaylynn heals Arianna and cries. Tobs is wounded by a rat, and Torvic tries but fails to freeze another. Tobs still can’t hit a rat, but Kharlan manages to hurt one. Ursula attacks another wolf, which in return rips her clothes. Torvic becomes fatigued trying to freeze another rat. Tobs hits the frozen rat and kills it with his spear. Kharlan gives up on the rats and attacks the wolf instead. Tobs hits a rat that is trying to run away. Torvic freezes a wolf pretty solid, although she becomes exhausted in the process. This ends the battle.
Krin is still nowhere to be found. Jaylynn also leaves the party and hides in the forest. They continue down the path and see a village signpost reading Bashti’s Ford. Krin is there in the forest people’s town. She claims that she left just to test the rookies. While they fought, she was talking with a guard. They all walk to a wooden bed and breakfast building, and a bespectacled man pokes his head out and invites them to spend the night. Arianna asks Krin for a nice story, and she says to go ask Jonah. She goes up to the closed door and finds a man of about twenty or so with blond hair. He blinks at her. At the mention of Krin’s name, he pales a lot. Jonah has been investigating this place for the past two weeks and hasn’t been able to do anything. This makes him sad, and his head droops. The villagers don’t listen to him because he tried to water shape to fix the village well and caused a flood by accident. Arianna pats him on the head, gives him a flower, and tells him that he’s not a very good storyteller. Jaylynn doesn’t spend the night in the inn with the rest of the party.
The next morning, Kharlan gets up, eats, chatters about his family, and writes a letter. Arianna sneaks into Torvic’s room. Torvic is sleeping curled in a ball. Arianna puts a pillow over her head and then rummages around the room. Torvic sleeps naked. Arianna takes Torvic’s crossbow and tries to fire it at the wall…bing…bing…bing…thud, right by Torvic’s face. Torvic wakes up: “Get out. Now.” Jonah hears the commotion and looks in the room – he goes AHHH! at the sight of the naked blue woman and takes Arianna away. Torvic closes the door after them. Most of the others wake up. The inn owner’s name is Tam, and his wife is Jessica. Torvic tries to eat away from the others, but Arianna takes her plate and joins her. Everyone hears a loud shriek from the supply room – Tam discovered Jaylynn sleeping there. He comes in and jibbers to Jessica, who looks skeptical. Jaylynn has run away again. She hides in the shrubbery. Krin lectures Jonah while Torvic tells Arianna that she should eat more because there are starving people in Kern.
The town itself is very tense, and there are not many children. The few that remain are being held close. The townspeople grumble about that Sovereign’s Finest kid and the flood. Kharlan, Tobs, Torvic, Ursula, and Arianna go on a walk and see Krin lecturing Jonah again. Arianna goes up to Krin: “You lied! He didn’t tell me a story.” Krin: “grumble grumble rookie.” Arianna tells everyone else about the flood; Jonah cringes. Krin glares at him and then tells Jonah to go back to the inn. They learn that children have been sleepwalking away on their own and not coming back. Tobs’ winged cat and Kharlan’s owl fly around. A wolf, probably rhy-bonded to Krin, lurks in the woods. Krin tells the party to watch Arianna since she is a child. Arianna gives Torvic a pretty blue flower. She freezes it. Arianna is in awe. Arianna then imitates Ursula behind her back. Torvic goes into a partially flood-damaged shop. A woman is sweeping the porch. Inside hang roamer’s knots. A flighty young woman hits her head as she pops up behind the counter. Kharlan starts telling a story about his many sisters-in-law. Arianna goes off to look for little children friends, and together they mimic sleepwalking. A funny little kid tells monster stories, and Arianna tells the others about monkeys – “I’ve heard they’re terrifying!” Torvic walks up, and Arianna tells the kids that the blue woman can freeze children. When Arianna demands that she freeze something, Torvic freezes a puddle with a red-headed excited kid standing in it. All the kids get excited and decide the monster is a bogie monkey. Tobs comes over and frees the little kid. They learn that the children only disappear at night and that the shopkeeper’s daughter was one of the ones taken – they weren’t a happy family, and she, Kiya, was one of the first to disappear.
Tobs, Ursula, and Arianna go into the shop. Meanwhile, Torvic requests an abandoned building to set up a trap. While waiting for night, she makes ice sculptures. At the shop, Arianna splashes in puddles. When Tobs and Ursula mention the children, the woman becomes withdrawn. Janet inside is still talking to Kharlan about sisters-in-law, and she gets yelled at. A total of fifteen children have disappeared. Jaylynn naps in the shrubbery and then looks around the forest and finds a couple of trails. During dinner at the inn, Jonah helps to serve the food. Tam packs sleeping equipment for those going off to camp in the abandoned building. Jaylynn thinks “cold” at party members until Tobs finds her. He and Kharlan follow her down one of the trails until it comes to a dead end. Tobs tries to talk to the reclusive Jaylynn but doesn’t get very far, not even a name. The other path also leads to a dead end. Jaylynn thinks that there might be magic there, but it is very subtle. She leads Tobs and Kharlan back to the edge of the forest but stays there herself. Arianna and Torvic mind- bond themselves to each other, and they all sleep in the building while Tobs stands watch. He hears a noise in the brush coming from town and sees a figure with blond hair – Jonah – who is very intent on something. Arianna dreams of skipping in flowers and then hears a lovely woman and starts sleepwalking, cutting the rope tying her to Torvic with a dagger. Tobs tackles her, but she escapes. The mind link no longer works. She is headed off towards the stream.
Arianna is gone! The rest follow her. Torvic freezes the area around her feet as she is crossing the river and becomes fatigued. Kharlan then grabs Arianna, but she struggles out of both his grasp and the ice and gets away. Jaylynn hears the rest going by and tries to get in contact via mind-touching Kharlan. Kharlan hears static in his mind. Jaylynn tries Tobs’ head next and is more successful. Torvic finds Jaylynn to be a suspicious character. They see Arianna stop off the path for a moment, and a skeleton pops out of the woods. The rest have to fight their way through, but Arianna continues onward as a path opens up in front of her. Torvic continues to argue with Jaylynn while shooting the skeleton unsuccessfully – the shot hits Kharlan and then bounces into the woods. Ursula tumbles around it and then hits it from behind. Its left arm falls off. The talented Tobs gets his spear stuck in the skeleton. Ursula runs off looking for Arianna, as she feels motherly and responsible towards the little girl. Kharlan shatters the skeleton. Tobs sends Spivak the winged cat after Ursula, and the rest follow down this new path. When they reach a clearing, Arianna is there, along with two skeletons. There are more children going down the path, and Arianna continues along with them. The rest of the party continues to follow Arianna, and the skeletons ignore them until Torvic freezes Arianna in the stream. Kharlan hits one, as does Tobs. Arianna becomes aware for a second and notices that her feet are cold and that there is a skeleton next to her. She makes a psychic hammer. Tobs kills one, and Torvic freezes the other in the river. Ursula attacks the frozen one, and it hits her before falling into the river and being smushed by Arianna’s hammer. Arianna summons fire and unfreezes herself. Torvic chooses to ignore it. Jaylynn stealth-cures Ursula.
As they continue down the path, Torvic makes an icicle and eats it. Edible stuff is placed along the path at intervals, and Torvic takes a berry. Arianna skips up to another clearing, where there are more skeletons and lots of kids, both the new and the ones who have been missing for a couple of weeks. Kiya, the shopkeeper’s daughter, is also here. There is also a huge bear behind a clump of trees, and a badly wounded Jonah is fighting the bear. As they enter the clearing, Jonah turns and falls as the bear swipes at him. Kharlan runs up to hit a skeleton, and Torvic freezes the bear. Kiya shrieks, “Let go of my children, I’m trying to protect them!” Arianna wants to flee, but Ursula grabs her. Jaylynn magically suggests to the bear that it attack the skeletons. The bear bites a skeleton and shakes it, making bones fly off. Arianna shakes off her fear. Children walk up. Spivak flies over to Jonah and checks on him. Kharlan’s owl distracts Kiya. Torvic makes a gust of wind to bowl over the children, and the windstorm traps Spivak and Jonah, blows away the owl, bowls over the children, and knocks Kiya over. Out of Kiya comes a ghostly figure: “How could you hurt my children?” The ghost touches Torvic, but she is rebuffed. Ursula puts Arianna down and yells at Torvic: “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The bear continues chewing on the skeleton: mmm, crunchy. Arianna tries and fails to psychic blast the ghost. The skeletons stagger back. Kharlan swings at the ghost but hits air. Torvic instructs Arianna to attack the ghost psychically. The ghost goes into Torvic, and a cold presence slips into her body, snapping the mind-link between Torvic and Arianna. The windstorm stops. Jaylynn sneaks around, and both Tobs and the bear miss a skeleton. Arianna mind-touches the ghost and learns that it just wants to protect the children. Five years ago, she lost her children in a flood. The ghost had drowned herself in the river because she didn’t protect her children. There is now three-way calling inside Torvic’s head. Tobs has two skeletons on him, and one hits him. Kharlan goes to his aid and takes out a skeleton. The ghost tries to freeze Ursula using Torvic’s powers, and Ursula tries to hit Torvic with the blunt side of her blade. Spivak wiggles out from under the tree that fell on her and Jonah, and Jaylynn heals Jonah. Tobs knocks a skeleton’s arm off, and the bear pulls another’s leg off. Arianna tries to convince the ghost to leave. Torvic tells the ghost to speak with the parents directly instead of stealing children. The ghost withdraws from Torvic’s head and thinks about it very hard. The pressure lifts, and she dissipates – she has a direction now. The children come to, and the skeletons fall apart. The bear plays with the bones. The owl states his haiku after flying back from where the wind blew him: “I am back my friends. It was a long journey. But I am okay.”
Torvic glowers at Jonah, which freaks Jonah out. He has a tree on his legs and is concerned about the kids. The rest get Jonah out from under the tree. Jaylynn checks the children. Jonah mumbles that he found the path and went off to investigate. Kharlan helps him up, and the rest help the kids back. Kharlan talks about his kids. The villagers are very happy to see the children again. Lessa the shopkeeper grabs Kiya and cries. Jaylynn cries. Arianna and Torvic tell Lessa about the ghost and how she thought that the parents weren’t taking good enough care of the children. They learn that Kiya has a tendency to exaggerate. Torvic goes off looking for Krin. Jonah asks her about the beautiful woman who healed him. Torvic: “Lecherous fool.” Jonah: “Not you.” The temperature drops. Torvic knocks on Krin’s door with a vengeance, but there is no answer. All sleep except for Spivak, who keeps an eye on Krin’s door. Krin returns at six in the morning. One arm is rather bloody. She pats Spivak on the head and goes into her room. Jaylynn once again spends the night in the storage shed, and when the innkeeper Tam finds her again in the morning, he once again freaks out and thinks his shed is haunted.
Arianna knocks on Krin’s door and announces that the children have returned. Krin looks relieved, although she appears surprised at the news that Jonah helped too. She had to take care of wolves last night. Arianna wants to have the ghost haunt the town as a guardian ghost. Tobs tells Tam that it was Jaylynn in his shed, not a ghost. Jaylynn sneaks into the inn. Kharlan falls down the stairs and lands on his face. Everyone laughs. Jaylynn looks in on Jonah to check on his wounds and then runs off again. Krin takes Jonah off for a talk, and Arianna sneaks along to listen in. Krin: “No heroics! Only go when I’m with you! You could have been killed! Damn rookies. You’re going back to the capital; I’m not working with you anymore. Tell Sigourney that I hate favoritism!” Jonah looks very frazzled. Arianna tries to comfort him: “You did a very good job though. You make a great whatever you are.” He goes off to think. Arianna, misinterpreting the problem, yells after him: “Just propose to her!” He looks horrified and walks away faster. The owl presents another haiku: “Snore snore snore snore snore…” Torvic dreams her same bad dream. Tobs asks about his missing lover Phaedrus, and Tam said that he saw someone who matched that description going north. Kharlan mails off a heavy letter.
Krin wants Torvic woken up so that there can be a meeting. Arianna goes up. Torvic’s room is cold. Arianna: “Miss Frei, wake up please!” She pokes her with a pillow and then uses fire to warm the room. Ursula grows concerned and goes up after her. Jonah goes up to Jaylynn: “You’re so pretty! And good at healing! Want to come back to Aldis with me?” He describes Aldis to Jaylynn. Arianna hides under the bed and pokes upward. Ursula whisper-yells at her. Torvic snaps awake and jumps up naked. When most (except the elusive Jaylynn) have gathered, Krin tells them that since it was a job well done, they are to go to the Sovereign’s Finest with Jonah, watch over him, and ask for an audience with Captain Sigourney: “I’m sure Jonah can introduce you,” she says with a disgusted look. Kharlan decides that he will hook Jonah up with one of his sisters-in-law. Tobs goes out to tell Jaylynn. Jonah and Jaylynn are eating together. Jonah comes back to the inn with Jaylynn hiding behind him. She pokes him and cures him some more. Torvic notices that Jaylynn, like herself, is also from Kern. Her malcontent level rises. To cool off, Torvic makes an ice sculpture. Arianna tracks down the redhead and kicks him in the shins, bragging about the ghost and bear and calling him a stupidhead. The irritated Torvic freezes both their feet in the river. Arianna catches Torvic’s robes on fire in retaliation. Jaylynn gets in Tobs’ head again and asks him to find out about Torvic. The innkeeper provides a large feast. Torvic freezes Kharlan’s food.
On the road…with horses! Jaylynn nervously avoids the horses, and Jonah tries to reassure her. As they head down to Aldis, the weather gets warmer. They camp along the well traveled road by the river. Tobs dances around the fire to Ursula’s lute playing. Jonah cooks a decent meal under the light of the moon. Kharlan is happy to be returning to his home in Aldis, and he wants Jonah to meet his eight sisters-in-law. The owl drops a mouse in Jonah’s lap, and Spivak takes the mouse. Arianna plays tricks on people’s dreams while they are sleeping – furniture attacks Kharlan in his. She wakes Jonah up by dumping water on his head. He comes to with a start and asks, “Where’s the fire?” She puts fire on his foot.
A pretty day dawns. Arianna sits with Miss Frei on her horse; Miss Frei is holding on to the reins white-knuckled and grinding her teeth. Jaylynn looks wide-eyed at everything while Jonah talks very loudly and quite a lot. They reach the large city of Aldis on the day of the Midsummer Festival. Jonah stables the horses and leads all through the city on foot with Jaylynn by his side. They reach the Sovereign’s Finest area, and Jonah goes to talk to Captain Sigourney Donavan. Arianna mind-touches Jonah but doesn’t hear anything. A boy steals a chest from Jaylynn; Tobs sees and chases. By running quickly through the crowd, he catches the boy, and most of the others (except Jaylynn and Torvic) come after and surround him. Spivak mind-touches the boy and hears “Nean.” Arianna touches him with fire. The boy gets out of Tobs’ grasp, and although the others try to trip him, he gets away. Tobs goes back and tells Jaylynn, who is upset and shaking. Jaylynn then runs in that direction, mind-touching people to get information. The first mind is a guard, who suggests that she stops. Jaylynn keeps going, saying “stolen.” Arianna describes the boy and wants a pony if she catches him. Jonah comes out and wonders where everyone is, as only Torvic is still standing there. Torvic taunts him verbally. The rest come back, and Jonah escorts everyone into the compound. It is shaped like a rose with paths and buildings. Spivak feels bad for Jaylynn and flies off to look for the boy (but gets distracted by all the people). Jonah shows them around and then mentions his meeting with the captain, hanging his head and looking toward the kitchen. He says that the festival starts at eight.
They all go in to talk to Captain Donavan. She has long blond hair and a griffin motif on her forehead plate and armor, signifying that she is a friend of the griffins, a high honor. She tells Jonah that she can’t keep giving him these chances – she’ll have to talk to him later, as she has a lot to do with the festival. Arianna repeats what Krin said about favoritism. Sigourney mutters that if she ever sees her again, she’ll remind her of the reason that she is captain and Krin is not. She extends the invitation for the six to take the test and join the Sovereign’s Finest. The next exam is in a couple of weeks. Torvic wants to join and lead a force against Kern; she is impatient for vengeance. Ursula asks Sigourney if Jonah is family. When given a negative, Arianna then asks if she and Jonah are going to get married. Sigourney answers that Jonah is too dense. Arianna says that she wants to marry Spivak.
Sigourney leaves to see to festival preparations, and Kharlan goes off with Ursula to see his family. They go up to a 5-6 bedroom house with two kids playing in the yard out front – they yell “Daddy!” and run up to Kharlan. His wife is very pregnant. Meanwhile, Arianna and Torvic go to the adept building. It seems like it is usually a place of quiet, but many adepts are running around, and an authoritative woman named Danäe is talking heatedly with someone. Arianna hears a psychic cry in her head. Then she hears a beautiful stream of curses and sees the boy from the marketplace, who wants them to let someone go. His name is Rohi. Danäe the head mage grabs him and tells him that he’s not going anywhere. He wanted to make a deal with the chest that he grabbed from Jaylynn, which was apparently powerful dark magic. He claims that they are hurting his brother Nean and making him crazy just because he can see things. Danäe snaps her fingers, annoyed, and says that Nean is insane and that they are trying to help him. He was an apprentice gifted with second sight, but when he came in to make a prediction something unknown happened. Arianna says she will help him if she gets a pony. Torvic offers to give her a pony. Someone takes Rohi away. They enter a room in disarray. Nean’s hair has gone white with black on the edges, kind of like a vata’an. He is about the same age as Rohi – except for the white hair, they look like brothers. His psychic cry has reached a feverish pitch. “Cold! It’s cold! Red, red, bleeding down the neck.” Arianna tries to mind-touch him and almost gets taken in completely. She feels frigid and cold and sees mirrors, room and faces, mirrors reflecting no one. The full moon goes black. Arianna gets out of his vision and tells Torvic what she has seen. Then she tries to calm Nean down. She sends for his brother, thinking that a relative might calm him. Rohi holds Nean’s hand. He talks about memories and home, and Nean grows quiet. His hair changed after the attacks started. At the adept building, they also learn that the full moon is a maximum of magical power.
Meanwhile, Jaylynn and Tobs and Spivak continue to search for the boy but are unable to find him in the city. Torvic goes to the kitchen. Rohi grows more amiable towards Arianna and talks about getting his brother out, ranting and cursing about Danäe, who was his former master (he got kicked out for being a pick-pocket). Jaylynn continues to look, but Tobs, Kharlan, and Ursula return. Jonah is working in the kitchen. Hannah and Linu are also in there. Hannah greets all amiably and talks about Danäe – they are married. She asks Torvic to take a meal over to her, as she is sure that Danäe hasn’t eaten yet. Torvic runs the meal over and makes it cold. Jaylynn comes back with Spivak and runs into Torvic. She learns that they have found the dark magic and follows Torvic inside. The adept dome is now calmer. Danäe goes to take the lunch, but Jaylynn pulls it back and asks about the chest. She was trying to keep it from the Lich King, who was going to use it for some dark ritual when she stole it and ran away. Danäe is shocked: “You brought it into Aldis?!? You are an idiot!” The adapts are going to eliminate it. Jaylynn wants to witness its destruction, but Danäe says that she doesn’t have the right. Jaylynn is worried that Danäe might use it. Torvic wants at least herself or Jaylynn present at the destruction. Opening her lunch box, Danäe comments that Hannah knows how to pack her favorites.
Back in the kitchen, Hannah and Kharlan are chatting merrily away. Arianna had gone to the library but was met with signs saying Not open! Shut! Restricted! Can’t get in! Horrible things! Go away! She goes to the adept dome and asks about the moon and eclipses. Danäe shares some of her lunch with her after warming it with magical fire. Jonah thinks it is a great honor that he is in charge of the toast for the Queen. Tobs talks to Linu about Jonah and learns that his full name is Jonah Glenfeld; the Glenfeld family has lots of Sovereign’s Finest and nobles in the family as well as failures. Apparently the youngest child in the family is always unlucky. Poor Jonah. They go to the barracks and meet Bethany, who is working on some kind of contraption. Arianna goes up to her and announces that she is here to join the Sovereign’s Finest. Bethany: “Ah, cute little girl. You trainees get the nice rooms. Then you get in it…” She shows them two rooms, and they learn that she is a Blue Rose Guard. Kharlan goes off to spend more time with his family. Arianna keeps bugging Bethany until she learns what she is building. Bethany says “I kill people. But not tonight. I get paid for it.” Jaylynn paces her room, and Torvic and Ursula sleep. Arianna and Tobs go out to the archery field and meet Ken, who tries to teach them how to shoot – “Like this, no, like this…” Both of them manage to hit the target. Ken gives them a letter to take to the “cute little librarian.” He goes on a rant about how much he loves being out with the Sovereign’s Finest, but the librarian is one of his reasons for staying here. He gives them both souvenir arrows. Despite Tobs’ warning, Arianna opens the envelope, which contains a very flowery and racy love poem that makes Tobs’ face turn red. Fortunately Tobs was completely oblivious to Ken hitting on him while teaching him archery.
On their way to the library, they see a blond haired man that looks a lot like Jonah walking with a woman with bright red hair. Tobs asks him if he is related to Jonah but is brushed off. Rude nobles. At the library, they are told to go away. Arianna says that they have a message from the archery master. “From Ken? Oh god. One moment.” As he opens lots of locks, Arianna asks why he is a reason and gets silence in response. Tobs hands over the flaming letter very rapidly. The librarian says that there was a ghost, and Arianna offers to help. He closes the door after them, saying that there is bad stuff out there; he doesn’t want any more ghosts coming in. He tosses the letter on a rather large pile – “God-awful imagery. Don’t want to think about arrows.” The library is very orderly except for a bookshelf that fell over that morning. He saw something move, and one of the books came out and is missing. While they help him pick up books, Spivak looks for the ghost. The poor librarian Mordecai wrings his hands while muttering “horrible.” The missing book was in the psychic arts sections, one of the darker ones dealing with moon phases and eclipses. Spivak snorts in Tobs’ head at the thought of a ghost in the library. Mordecai tells them to go away and come back later. Arianna wants him to research eclipses and mirrors and tells him about the psychic next door. Mordecai: “I don’t want to talk about it, go away, come back tomorrow.”
Bethany wakes the others up at seven o’clock. Torvic doesn’t wake up. The thing she was making was a bandolier – a leather belt with pockets. She tells them to wake the guy at the end of the hallway for the festival. That person happens to be a vata’sha named Phaedrus, the lover Tobs was searching for. He says that he will explain his disappearance later. Arianna runs around saying that Tobs is getting married and jumps on Ursula’s middle and pokes Torvic with her longspear. Torvic snaps awake and wrenches her spear back.
All of them go to the festival. Ursula, being descended from Jarzoni, is suspicious of vata’sha, so she acts awkwardly around Phaedrus. The festival itself is marvelous – a bonfire, little crystals brightly lit, commoners mingling with Sovereign’s Finest and nobles, some thoroughly sloshed, and some on the job. Aaron Glenfeld, Jonah’s brother and a major noble, is up at the table with the Queen. Jonah is with the kitchen people. Spivak eats a candy apple. Kharlan is there with his kids. Torvic and Jaylynn vie for the most melancholy spot. Ursula competes in games. The Queen stands up, and couples stand together. She speaks and gives a toast with a silver chalice, but after she drinks, she collapses. Torvic feels that her own magic has been used.
It seems as if the Queen is dead, and chaos abounds. High counselors, mages, and healers check on her. Torvic, aghast, goes up to the high table. Torvic notices that the liquid in the goblet is the same that she had used in her own experiment to suspend her own ill lover Aron back in Kern. Her elixir had been corrupted. She checks the Queen and senses the same corrupted magic. The Queen is in a state of suspended animation. Tobs talks with a horrified Jonah about the goblet and the rest of the kitchen staff. Arianna goes up to join Torvic. Torvic tells the head healer Roland to find Danäe, as she thinks that Danäe will know how it got here. They move the Queen away from the crowd. Danäe, Hannah, and Sigourney come up. Hannah looks more serious than earlier today and tries to figure out who had access to the goblet, as it somehow slipped through trusted Sovereign’s Finest and taste testers. Danäe says that the box should be locked up safely. Torvic and Arianna think otherwise, and Torvic tells them what she knows of the dark Kernish magic; she thinks they should question Jaylynn. Sigourney sends Bethany to find Jaylynn. The crowd starts heading home, and Phaedrus helps with crowd control. Torvic demands a legion to attack Kern, but Sigourney says that Aldis will take action in its own time: “We don’t respond to threats.” Hannah gives the kitchen staff a ferocious lecture. Tobs moves away from the kitchen staff and goes to Jaylynn. Bethany finds Jaylynn also and wants her to go see Captain Donavan. Jaylynn asks for time, but Bethany says there is no time and pulls her along. Tobs and Jaylynn talk; Jaylynn suspects Torvic, and Tobs tries to convince her otherwise. Sigourney beckons Jaylynn forward. Torvic slaps Jaylynn, and Tobs tries to prevent further fighting. Jaylynn yells “Assassin!” The Sovereign’s Finest pull Torvic back. Tobs tries to explain what little he knows about both of them. Torvic makes it colder. Danäe makes them both stay in the adept dome for the night. Arianna wants to go to the adept dome to see Nean and bluffs that Danäe sent her, but she is not let in. Kharlan and Ursula then go with her, and they are all allowed in.
Torvic and Jaylynn are taken to a well-lit and comfy dormitory. They are put in a locked room and are watched magically by guards. The rest are escorted out. Tobs tells the others what he saw and heard. Then he goes off to talk to Phaedrus and learns that Phaedrus had disappeared so suddenly because he left to join the Sovereign’s Finest and didn’t want to tell anyone in case he failed. Torvic spends the night thinking of ways to kill Jaylynn. Arianna and Kharlan and Ursula trot to the library in the middle of the night. There are noises coming from inside. When they knock, the noises stop. Arianna: “Hello, Mr. Ghost.” Still nothing. She probes with her mind and feels a hint of someone in there, although there is a strong psychic shield. Kharlan hears a faint noise from outside the library. Arianna knocks on a window and senses a panicked mind – Mordecai has discovered the trashed library. She mentally tells him that she is here to banish the ghost. He panics more, and the mind connection is lost. Arianna goes up to a guard and says, “Mr. Guard, I think there’s a ghost in the library. Mordecai is panicked; we should go in.” The guard laughs at her, as panicking is apparently one of Mordecai’s traits and usually nothing is wrong. The guard and his friend tell her that little girls should be in bed. She says that she either wants them to let her into the library or tell her a bedtime story. The guards finally tell her stories. She grabs them by the hands and pulls them towards the barracks. One pulls free and remains at his post, but the other follows, as she says that he can’t start the story until she is in bed. She tells him that Mordecai’s death is on his soul. He tells the story of Steve the badger and the twenty six members of his family that went off and nobody knows what happened to them. She throws her pillow at him. He tells her another story and does a good impression of her. In the story, she gets married every day, once a day, and there are lots of rocks. The guard leaves. The library is quiet. Ursula thinks she hears wolves and goes to bed.
Jaylynn and Torvic are woken up. Danäe takes them in for questioning. Torvic says that torture does nothing to her, but Danäe replies that there is no need for torture with a truth reader. One of the guards enjoyed the fact that Torvic sleeps naked. They go upstairs to an austere, tastefully-decorated study. A tall, dark-haired mage is the truth reader. Torvic reports what she knows of the magic and says that it has been corrupted; then she says that they should be asking how it got to Aldis. Jaylynn calls Torvic a whore of the Lich King, and the guards have to separate them. Danäe scolds them both: “We are not here for insults.” Jaylynn was born in the mines of Kern and says that she doesn’t have the capacity for evil. She will only share her story by mine-touching with Danäe and the truth reader. Danäe is still not happy with the story, although she sees that it was unintentional smuggling. They are ordered to stay in the barracks; if they are trying to help Aldis, they can join the Sovereign’s Finest.
Lots of the Sovereign’s Finest are moving around. The meet in the archery range and discuss a possible attack on Kern. Phaedrus is leaving again – Tobs tells him to be careful and to keep in touch this time. Bethany keeps Jaylynn and Torvic apart. Arianna asks Bethany if she killed anyone last night. Bethany says that it was a kill-free week. Jaylynn suggests a relation between the Lich King and Torvic to Tobs…Tobs: “Eww!” Arianna wants to know where Ken is. She is told that he usually visits Mordecai in the mornings; he likes to start early. The library door is surprisingly wide open. Ken: “You can come down now; it’s ok. You’re a wimp.” Mordecai is huddled at the top of a ladder near the same bookshelf as last time, and Ken is at the bottom trying to coax him down. Arianna tells them about the ghost. Mordecai claims that he isn’t crazy and that it stole more books. Kharlan says that Mordecai is worse than Jonah. Torvic looks around the library for shaping books. Mordecai is up on the ladder because he thinks that ghosts can’t get him up there. Ken encourages poking and shaking of the ladder (he was able to get in because he has a key to the library). The books that Arianna had wanted were the ones stolen. Torvic drops books on the ground. Mordecai cries “No!” and comes down to pick them up. Tobs and Arianna help him. Ken also helps, standing close to Mordecai. Mordecai: “Eh, go away.” He calms down some after the books are picked back up. He has the books memorized and knows exactly which ones are missing – they are on blood-bonding, a dark sorcery used historically in which the more powerful creature binds and the weaker serves; the Lich King used it in the creation of the vata’sha. Mordecai shivers horribly. Spivak uses second sight and gets a blurred image of books moved around and vague magical traces of shaping. Torvic is convinced that Arianna used magic to scare Mordecai. Arianna and Jaylynn also detect vague traces of magic. Arianna remembers Nean’s vision of blood on the neck, and Ursula thinks of vampires, the servants of the Lich King. Kharlan looks for Sigourney. Ken and Mordecai bicker.
Kharlan comes back and says that Sigourney wants to see everyone. Jaylynn follows him, but the rest go with Arianna to talk to Nean. Torvic interjects in conversations, and Arianna tells Torvic that this is why she keeps her around. Nean is huddled on his bed, murmuring about cold. Arianna and Torvic inspect his neck but see no bite marks. Tobs puts blankets on him. Arianna gets pulled into his vision and sees the same things as before as well as how Nean views the other people in the room: Torvic is a mass of cold, Tobs is a little bird (Phaedrus’ nickname for him), Ursula is a very tall Jarzoni style pillar, Spivak is just wings. They look at his back, and he says “Not with touching, not there, it’s not there! You’re not coming back, you’re going to drown. It’s cold.”
They go downstairs and back outside. Jaylynn is hiding in a corner. Kharlan drags everyone to see Sigourney. She is busy directing things. Jonah is sitting on a bench in a long hallway, holding his head. Arianna mentions the blond man that looks like him, and he tenses. He says his older brother is a jerk, and the red-headed lady is his servant. Torvic mentions the family bad luck; Jonah winces and exclaims “It’s not fair!” Kharlan tries to be comforting by saying that everyone has tough times. Jonah is scarred for life. Sigourney comes up and tells the party that they are to go as a delegation to Rezea as honorary Sovereign’s Finest. They ask her about vampires and Nean’s visions. Arianna says that she owes her a pony. Jonah is going to come as well. They are outfitted as Sovereign’s Finest and ordered not to kill anyone on the team (with pointed looks at Torvic and Jaylynn). The plan is to travel to Garnet and then to Rezea by boat. Arianna makes her pinky-swear to take care of the library, and then Sigourney is off. Tobs tries to cheer Jonah up, but Jaylynn’s smile has the best effect on him. The blond noble and the red-haired woman come in. Arianna tells her that she has pretty hair that reminds her of her grandma’s. The noble looks down his nose: “Why are you wasting our time?” Arianna: “I’m a pleasant joy!” Noble: “You’re a pleasant annoyance.” She tries to kick his shin. Kharlan: “Hey Jonah, is that your brother?” The two brothers look at each other and move away quickly. Arianna tries to question the red-haired girl and then sets the man’s cape on fire. Torvic puts it out, and Jonah takes everyone to the supply room to get equipped for the coming journey.
Jaylynn gets a swanky sky-blue cloak with silvery embroidery and other pretty clothes. The rest get supplies and meet Jonah out with the horses. Although Jonah is bad at water shaping, he’s an extremely decent soldier. It rains all the way to Garnet, which is the second largest port in Aldis. It is a relic of the old kingdom with shipyards created by earth and water shaping. They enter town on the main road and cross the main bridge. In the market place is a fountain that is not running, an old kingdom relic. A pair of sea folk, one with an instrument (Andrys) and another dancing (Cleo), sing and dance a bawdy tune about the Lich King. Ursula tries to give them tips but gets her hand stuck in her lute. Andrys holds out his hat and says tips? Ursula sighs and says she meant advice but gives a low amount of money. Andrys says that he takes kisses too. Ursula blushes and declines. Arianna says that if you kiss frogs, they turn into princes and tell you great secrets of the universe. Cleo welcomes all to Garnet. Arianna wants her skirt. Cleo tells her where to buy sea folk skirts. Torvic wants to know about passage to Rezea. Arianna makes a fishy face, and Torvic magically pokes her in the side. They are told to talk to the mayor and are pointed toward the largest house. Kharlan: “It’s opposite day.” Arianna: “I love you all.”
A guard meets them at the house – a very old building with beautiful blue tile and fine stone work. Jaylynn touches the pretty shiny things. They stare at the murals of sea folk and the sea as they wait for fifteen minutes until a servant, glaring at those touching anything, escorts them in. The inside of the house is also very nice and blue. The mayor and his son enter – Sir Barnabus, a short chubby man with a big moustache, and his bored languid son Wolfgang. Sir Barnabus speaks much of business. He says that they sent dispatches of their own after receiving a psychic call. He wiggles his moustache. The mayor has been requesting Sovereign’s Finest for some tome because all of the waterways are dry and the incompetent sea folk can’t get into the passages under the city. If they help him, he will provide them with a ship. Arianna asks if it is going to be intact. He’s affronted. Arianna perches on the couch next to the boy and stares at him; he stares back. She throws pebbles at him, and he blinks: “What are you doing?” Arianna: “Why don’t you have a beard like that? He ought to shave it off. You look old because you’re mopey; nope, just lazy. You must have a bad soul if you’re lazy.” The mayor is slowly turning purple. They make a hasty exit, pulling Arianna with them.
Jonah takes the horses to the inn and gets taunted by various members of the party while Tobs tries to defend him. Tobs and Arianna dance their way to the shipyard, where there are stone piers, sea folk, humans, and ships being loaded. Older sea folk women with their hair pulled back are talking to others. They talk to the Sovereign’s Finest representatives and find out that there is some sort of problem at the foundation and that those who have gone in to fix it haven’t come back out. The party has to go underwater to go through the tunnels, so having a water shaper will be helpful. Spivak the winged cat and the owl unfortunately can’t go. Arianna, Tobs, and Torvic go into the shop, which is run by a woman named Rhoda with a scar on her arm and dark hair. Also in the shop are two guys and a younger girl. When they tell her what they are setting out to do, Rhoda asks if they have a death wish. Arianna: “Yes we do!” She smiles and takes a liking to Arianna. The rest of the party eventually straggles into the shop. They get wetsuits, crystals for light and heat, and some other equipment, including harpoons. Arianna asks about puffer fish. Everyone realizes that none of them can swim. At Rhoda’s bidding, they send the bill to the mayor (Rhoda increases the prices significantly). Arianna also gets a purple dress and talks about Cleo with the girl in the shop (although her mother doesn’t seem to like Cleo too much). Torvic strips and puts the wetsuit on right there in the store. Jonah joins them. Torvic talks to the sea folk and obtains seven amulets that allow five minutes of breath holding under water for the party. Then they go back to the inn.
It is a comfortable inn, in the Jarzoni style, which makes Ursula nervous. The bearded man tending he hearth was probably a priest from Jarzon. Kharlan gossips about his family. There are two rooms for the party – a guy room and a girl room. Kharlan taunts Jonah about going into the girl one. They all change into their wetsuits. After going back to the pier, they get short swimming lessons before taking the crystals, tying themselves together, and going down into the water. Torvic goes first and uses her watershaping; next is Arianna, then Kharlan, then Jaylynn, Jonah, Ursula, and Tobs, who is getting dragged by all of the others. There are two entrances, and Torvic takes the left. Except for the light from the bracelet crystals worn by Torvic and Tobs, it is absolutely dark. The tunnels are old and excellent stonework, covered by vines. Torvic uses an ice buoy at one of the air pockets. They tie a rope to an old metal hold and dive back in. At the next pocket, Torvic swims back to get the rope. Arianna senses something, and the party backtracks. Jonah is afraid of the dark. In the next air bubble is solid ground above water. There is a doorway, vines, and something shiny in one corner. One of the stones is raised oddly. Tobs arbitrarily pokes a vine, and it whacks him. Arianna sets the vine on fire. Jaylynn ignores the battle and looks at the pretty crystal shinies. Jonah, Ursula, and Kharlan all attack the vines. The vine on fire is very crispy. Torvic comes back from getting the rope and sighs, shaking her head. One vine pulls back into the wall, and the others on the floor and wall start moving. Arianna sets the other vine on fire, and pieces fall down. Tobs misses the vine and almost hits Jonah. Jaylynn inspects the stone while Ursula kills the other vine.
The fires are making it hard to breathe. Torvic puts one out, but Arianna accidentally makes the other one worse. They continue on. Jaylynn helps Tobs some. They enter a dry room with two levers and a hard iron door. Arianna grabs both levers; Torvic grabs Arianna and pulls her back. The levers are perfectly identical. Jaylynn finds more shinies in the corner. Arianna escapes Torvic’s grasp and pulls both levers. Water starts pouring in and draining out at an equal rate. The door behind them is shut. After some experimenting, they determine that they have to flood the room to open the doors. After flooding the room, a mechanism turns and the door opens. They ride the current out the door, Torvic with air bubble in hand. They are back underwater, but they see a bit of light ahead. There is a dry fountain that looks kind of like the one above ground; it has grooves on one side and ridges, and a row of small holes on top. Jaylynn finds more marble shinies (no one has noticed her finding these, nor has she said anything). Torvic makes an ice marble and rolls it in. It clinks in the bottom. She makes more and gets fatigued. A door opens in front of them as the marbles clink down. More shiny marbles move in the works (like the ones Jaylynn picked up).
They enter the huge circular room. It is spongy with vines, and Torvic sees an odd reflective moving surface: a giant eye. In the middle of the room is a huge mechanical contraption with pillars and marbles, and there is a giant squid wrapping around it and tightening its grip. It hits Kharlan and Jonah. Arianna makes a bow and arrows, and Torvic pokes the kraken’s eye with her spear. Ursula tries to hack a tentacle, but her sword bounces off. Tobs battle dances and stabs it. Kharlan accidentally almost hits Arianna. Jonah tries to hit it while Jaylynn tries to calm a creature that is angry at just getting its eye stabbed. The tentacles get in a knot. Arianna tries to shoot the eye. Torvic freezes the goo leaking from the kraken’s injured eye, and it lurches back, dragging Torvic and her weapon along with it. Ursula and Tobs both try to hit it, and Kharlan and Jonah slice tentacles. Jaylynn learns that the kraken just wanted something shiny to play with, but there is something bad in the back of its mind. Jaylynn tells the rest of them to leave. The squid makes a gneaw sound, lowers its tentacle, yanks the spear out of its eye, and drops it. Torvic tries freezing again and then passes out. Everyone else retreats. Jaylynn heals the kraken’s eye, and it purrs. A tentacle pats Jaylynn on the head, and it seeps back into the water. The machine is badly damaged, however. Arianna draws on Torvic’s unconscious form with squid blood. Jonah tries to fix the machine with water shaping, but water runs through it backwards and the parts break. Jonah panics and the water level rises; Jaylynn calms him, and the water stops rising.
Torvic remains unconscious. The water in the hole is very deep. Tobs talks Jaylynn into healing Torvic while Tobs and Jonah hold her down. They explain to Torvic about the broken machine. Torvic decides that the marbles are the key to fixing it. Kharlan presses a design and finds a small cache of six marbles. Others find some in various places. Torvic climbs up the machine using built-in handholds and puts a marble in. It goes off a broken piece and into the water. Torvic freezes to fix the ridge design. Jaylynn clicks marbles in the other fountain. Torvic keeps working on the squid-damaged fountain until something shifts and it starts up again. Jaylynn sees a light come on somewhere, and there is some sort of power. Their weapons all gain a bonus. Torvic jumps down into the water and climbs out. Jaylynn mind-touches Tobs about the light, and Tobs tells the rest of them to be quiet: “I can’t hear the voices in my head!” There are tiles up above – using move object, Torvic flips them out, opening a hole thirty feet up. Tobs spots a hook. Torvic moves a rope up to the hook, and Jonah goes up the rope. Kharlan suggests lighting the rope on fire. Jonah shouts no. The rest leave to go see Jaylynn’s light. Torvic thinks that they are aquatic fireflies. Then she huffily goes with Tobs to get Jonah a light. Jonah sees that the tunnel is small but big enough for them to get through and then falls and hits his head on the way down. Tobs yells for Jaylynn, who long distance heals. Kharlan pokes Jonah’s head, and Arianna shoves a marble towards Jonah’s nose.
They investigate doors in other rooms. Torvic opens one door and sees a light shrouded by vines. She decides that aquatic fireflies are shapeshifters. Kharlan throws a pebble at Torvic and blames it on Jaylynn. The temperature drops. Arianna wants to get warm by dancing. Tobs brings Jonah out to the other room while the others bicker. Kharlan opens the other door – it is a corridor with water at the end. Arianna shoves past, and Ursula as usual follows her out of concern. Arianna throws fireballs, goes underwater, and bobs back up. Kharlan looks down the hallway. Tobs gets Torvic’s attention away from Jaylynn so that Jaylynn can heal Jonah. Torvic looks dark and corrupted in thought. Arianna runs past to the other door. Torvic tries to grab her, but Arianna slides. She scampers on top of an unstable ledge that is made of shifting tiles. She bangs a tile against a door, and it rings with a musical tone – D. A tile should fit in a slot on the door. There are seven tiles. Kharlan picks one up and puts it in the door. A stone drops out of the ceiling. Ouch. Arianna grabs the tile out and dancing around. Torvic swims in the other room. Tobs makes Arianna stop and figures out the progression from A to G, with B and E being flat. He plays Mary Had a Little Lamb. Torvic tries to make a sword out of water. Arianna sticks A in, and blades go past them. They step away. She tries D next, and two blades come out and cut Arianna and Ursula. Torvic comes back. Arianna then grabs Bb and inserts it, and two stones fall down. When she inserts C, the door opens. She closes the door and inserts F. A stone hits her on the head. Jonah comes up, gets C, and puts it in, opening the door. Torvic walks in, and Arianna staggers after. It slopes down into water. Arianna grabs Tobs.
They go onward and figure out that this way leads to the other entrance into the tunnels. Torvic reverses the current and takes them back. Derris the owl (above ground) sees the fountain working again. Spivak, assigned to watch the mayor’s house, is bored. They go back and climb up the rope to the little tunnel. Arianna goes up first, then Kharlan, Torvic, Jonah, Ursula, Tobs, and Jaylynn. The wetsuits help them wiggle through, although the more muscular types like Jonah and Kharlan have some trouble. Arianna hisses like a snake. Torvic pokes her with her mind. The tunnel spirals and slopes gently upward. Arianna hits her head as the tunnel gets narrow and then ends. She pulls something loose and hears music, coming up eye level with the town square. She hisses, and some kid hears her and shouts “Ahhh, snake!” Kharlan shoves her out. The crowd stares as she pops up and dances to Cleo and Andrys’ music. Andrys claps at the entrance. They go to the mayor, and the guard glares at them dripping on the carpet. The mayor harrumphs. Jaylynn professionally lurks. Arianna tells the mayor to hold out his hands. Mayor: “Good work, I didn’t expect you to fix it. The boat leaves in the morning.” He distributes money. His son still looks bored. Ursula questions him. Arianna tells him a story. Wolfgang: “Get rid of her, she’s annoying.” Arianna drops a fireball that fizzles out on the carpet. At Ursula’s questioning, Wolfgang admits his father is an ass sometimes. He asks Ursula out to dinner
The rest go back to the inn for baths. Jonah disappears again. The old priest who runs the inn regales them with exaggerated escape stories. Ursula avoids him. Kharlan and Tobs take the rentals back, and Arianna changes into her skirt and stalks Cleo. Arianna tells them she wants to be the captain: “Swab the deck, me hearties!” Cleo gives her a shell shaped like a parrot named Polly. Jonah talks with the shopkeepers and returns the weapons they borrowed. Tobs asks about the controlled kraken because Jaylynn was concerned about it. He also buys beads and bells at the store to make jewelry for Arianna. Ursula gets stood up on her date, and Tobs sends Spivak out to look for Wolfgang. Spivak goes into the mayor’s house, bluffing that she left something in there. Sir Barnabus is doing paperwork and doesn’t know where his son is. Tobs and Ursula talk about Wolfgang being a prick. Spivak can’t find Wolfgang anywhere. Kharlan launches into a long story about his wife. Jaylynn keeps talking to the sea folk woman about the kraken and then wanders around the town. Spivak is pretty oblivious to everything. Rhoda talks worriedly to her sons – something is afoot. Tobs scolds Spivak mentally to pay more attention; Spivak finds Jaylynn. Both see a shadow moving past the ship. Spivak forgets about it and gets a big buff burly sailor named Burly to feed her. Jaylynn warns Burly about the shadow.
In the morning, the priest feeds them. Arianna throws hot water on Torvic; she freezes it and thinks murderous thoughts. Burly comes and looks almost cute while playing with Spivak. Then he recovers himself: “Ahem. Your cat? You’re wanted.” Derris perches on Jonah’s head and hoots. They get aboard the ship, but the crew is nowhere to be seen. They smell smoke and see a person in the shadows cloaked in white and red focused on something. Fire elementals appear. Tobs shoots one with an arrow. Kharlan runs over to the cloaked person. Jaylynn senses minds and feels the same presence in the cloaked figure as in the kraken and the wolves. Jonah doesn’t know what to do. Torvic water shapes, and the elementals grow smaller. Arianna psychic blasts one. The cloaked person moves forward quickly and effortlessly and charges Kharlan with a rapier. One of the fire elementals splits in two while the other tries to hit Tobs and sets a crate on fire. Tobs tries to use his waterskin to put the fire out but instead splashes it all over himself. Ursula gets a bucket. Kharlan rips the figure’s clothes to reveal pale skin. It seethes in pain and recoils. Jaylynn uses suggestion to try to get the figure to surrender. The mind rebounds, though. Jonah finally decides to act and hits a fire elemental with his sword pretty well. Torvic water shapes again. The fire on the crate goes out, and one elemental is almost extinguished. Jonah staggers, and Torvic is fatigued. Arianna uses a psychic blast again. Kharlan senses something forcing his mind to do violent things. Jonah and Tobs are singed by fire elementals. More of the ship catches on fire. Tobs stabs an elemental with his spear, and it hisses and draws back. Ursula dumps water on it. Kharlan stabs the figure again. Its clothing is very reflective. Jaylynn heart-shapes Kharlan with hope. Torvic dumps some water. Arianna brings one down with another psychic blast. The rapier flames but doesn’t hit Kharlan. An elemental attacks Ursula and sets her on fire. Another elemental river-dances out of Tobs’ reach. Ursula stops, drops, and rolls. Kharlan tries to attack the figure’s clothes. Torvic attacks the one on Jonah and causes it to bleed fire. Ursula, badly burned, moves away and curls up and cries. Torvic puts the fire on the boat out and becomes fatigued and unconscious, but another fire elemental goes out. Arianna psychic blasts the fire elemental on Jonah and rips it up. Tobs moves over to Kharlan’s side. The owl grabs the figure’s hood. Jonah tries to recover. Arianna tries to catch the figure on fire. It misses attacking Tobs, and Tobs also fails to hit it. Kharlan hits it, and the owl gets entangled in the hood. Jaylynn tries to calm it, but it resists. She can sense no emotions at all. Torvic wakes up. Arianna has a crossbow now. Tobs and Kharlan get wounded and set on fire from the fiery rapier blade. Tobs hits it, ripping the clothes more and causing the arm to hang useless. The sunlight affects its exposed skin – like a vampire. Kharlan puts the fire out. The owl god smiles, and Kharlan’s owl manages to pull the hood off by some fluke. The head bears an uncanny resemblance to the red-headed servant (Winifred). She staggers. Jaylynn cures Tobs and Kharlan. The form of the woman changes into a young girl, and something shatters.
Torvic kicks Jaylynn. Tobs helps revive her, and Spivak licks her. Torvic investigates the vampire-like girl. The burns from the sun are fading. Some extremely powerful vampire cast her image and did a long distance possessing. Derris flies down with the hood and makes up a haiku. The crew is strangely absent. Torvic makes a smallish geyser of water. Then she finds her room and goes to sleep. Tobs looks off to the side and sees the crew coming back. Burly comes aboard, and Spivak curls around his feet. He has a cap that’s two sizes too small, big eyebrows, and a moustache. Tobs and Kharlan tell him what happened, but he doesn’t quite comprehend. He wakes the girl up – she is confused and rubbing her neck, unaware of what happened. Tobs notices that the seagulls are hungry (not so bright today). There are deep bruises on the girl’s upper front chest. Spivak senses an overpowering something, like the wolves and the kraken. The girl is Ruki, shopkeeper Rhoda’s daughter. She thinks that it is still midsummer. The last thing that Ruki can remember is that she and Wolfgang were out and planning to go to the festival. She left to go home, took a wrong turn, and woke up here on the boat. Jaylynn heals some of the discolored area where her lifeforce is off. Jonah looks very dazed and avoids being healed. He walks in Torvic’s door, realizes that it is the wrong room, and goes away. Jaylynn and Tobs take Ruki to Cleo for healing. Andrys and Cleo come up, and Arianna brags to them about killing fire elementals. Jaylynn and Cleo discuss Ruki’s healing. There is some sort of block there. Cleo wants her to come along on the ship and takes her off to say goodbye to her parents.
Ursula and Kharlan go to the mayor’s house to talk to Wolfgang. Sir Barnabus is talking to a regional noble – Sir Patrick Jefferson. Ursula is pissed. She and Kharlan go upstairs to wake Wolfgang up. He is sleeping on a comfy bed with sunlight streaming in on him. She tries to pull the covers off, but he is so entangled that she can’t get them off. She huffs and yells “WAKE UP!” in his ear; he jerks awake and pulls the covers around himself, staring and looking confused. Wolfgang mumbles that he shouldn’t have drunk that much and flops back. Ursula glares at him and says that she’s here to talk to him about his fourteen year old girlfriend. Derris kneads the top of the boy’s head. Wolfgang: “Stupid bird. Which girlfriend?” He squirms, gets out of bed, and dresses. The owl keeps harassing him: “Dirty rodent!” He tells his dad that he is going out, and they bicker. Cleo and Ruki return, and all converge on the dock. Wolfgang looks awake when he sees Ruki, and they both look relieved. Torvic wakes up and comes above deck. Ruki doesn’t know what has been going on, and Wolfgang hasn’t seen her since then. Ursula mentions his other girlfriends very loudly. Wolfgang is concerned and takes Ruki back to his manor to be healed. [Adam – iguanas – nooooo! He bribes God. Lightning doesn’t happen.] Cleo decides that Ruki will be fine with Wolfgang.
Hermia is a sea folk water shaper, and Torvic listens in a she talks to the sailors. In the crow’s nest is a wind shaper. They push off at noon, and Torvic stand in the bow like in Titanic with her cloak billowing. Spivak follows her new friend Burly around. The coastline recedes, and they are out on the open ocean. Arianna goes with Cleo and learns how to tie knots. Cleo and Andrys, being sea folk, swim alongside the ship for awhile. Kharlan regales Burly with tales about his family. Burly stands and blinks throughout. At the end, Burly asks, “So…you have kids?” Spivak gets bored with the stories and wanders off. Tobs checks on Jonah and then wanders around the ship with Spivak. The burned spots have been repaired. Tobs learns how to work the collapsible lifeboats in case of an emergency. Torvic talks to the tired water shaper, who explains how she works with the wind shaper to control the boat. Torvic then goes up in the crow’s nest to meet the wind shaper, a vata’sha named Ehrvin. He tucks away a letter he was working on to talk to Torvic, waving his hands a lot. He talks about working with Hermie. He keeps the sails full during the day but stops at night, as it is very tiring. Ehrvin as a wind shaper is useless in a storm and is less powerful than Hermia, who is the captain. Ursula plays her lute, and Torvic plays the flute in the crow’s nest with great angst. Jaylynn runs around and looks at everything, amazed.
There is a beautiful sunset. Spivak finds Burly and perches on his shoulder. Dinner is ready. Derris taunts the seagulls, and they flee in absolute fright. Victory haiku: “Victory o’er the gulls/ I scared the shit out of them/ I really kick ass.” They go to the dining area, which looks like something out of Firefly. Andrys talks about the people he’s done. Although they all manage to eat their dinner, the boat starts to affect some of them. Jonah looks positively green. Although Kharlan’s fine, the rest of them all feel a little queasy. Arianna pukes on Jonah. Tobs soon recovers, but Ursula and Torvic still feel ill. Jaylynn goes up and finds Jonah hanging over the side. Torvic and Ursula sleep. Cleo helps Arianna to feel better. Tobs and Arianna want to see the dolphins. Jaylynn helps Jonah feel better. Arcanely, however, he doesn’t feel quite right. Jonah asks Jaylynn what she is doing. Jaylynn: “I’m checking you out; you’re sick.” Jonah: “I’m not feeling well.” Jaylynn: “Do you have any unusual marks?” He is unresponsive. She checks his surface thoughts but can’t get anything. Kharlan asks Burly about the kinds of creatures out here. Burly: “Fish, fish, uh, dolphins, and uh, er, fish, uh, sometimes squid, and there’s fish. Blowfish are nasty, poison. We’re going to see fish.” They go to bed. Spivak dreams about fish, and it leaks over into Tobs’ brain.
There is the creak of a door opening. Ursula hears it and wakes up. Jaylynn also opens her door. It sounds like someone has just gone past. Ursula sneaks up on deck, and Jaylynn lurks. Spivak tries to make everyone dream of fish unconsciously. All seems quiet on deck. Ursula sneaks back below deck. Jaylynn questions a sailor and scares him. He thinks that Jaylynn is out to meet a lover. Jaylynn backs away slowly and then runs off. Tobs thinks “No more fish!!!”
The sky is cloudy the next day. The captain is talking to the first mate and Erhivan very worriedly. Ursula comes up and asks about the noise last night. Spivak listens in to their conversation – some shaper has put them off course. Ursula tells them that both Jonah and Torvic are shapers. Tobs sees whales in the water – whee! The weather gets stormier, and it starts to drizzle. Ursula plays her lute below deck. Jonah remains in his room, sick. Jaylynn thinks that he is fine. Ursula and Tobs are worried. Tobs feels something odd in the shaping. He and Kharlan plot a stakeout. Torvic ice shapes idly. Tobs avoids fish at dinner. Jonah appears at dinner looking rather ill. Torvic glares at him. Arianna tries to get Jonah to eat. Ursula wants everyone to eat garlic. Jaylynn examines Jonah again and cures his seasickness. He perks up a bit. Arianna: “Maybe he’s pregnant.” Torvic makes the room colder. Jonah goes off to his room, and Spivak sneakily follows. Jaylynn watches warily for perverted sailor men. Tobs and Derris watch the back of the ship while Kharlan watches the front. Ursula sits in her room with the door cracked. Torvic freezes Jonah’s door shut and paces up and down the hallway. Arianna sneaks out of her room at three in the morning, which is when Torvic goes to bed. Ursula and Tobs get sleepy. Kharlan keeps trying to tell people about his family. Arianna sneaks around aimlessly trying to scare people. Derris tries to sing in haiku and then swears in haiku. Jonah stirs and says something about Aaron (his brother). He holds his shoulder, goes to the door, and leaves. Spivak follows him to the back of the boat. His eyes seem clear and not possessed, and he moves unnaturally quiet (for Jonah, that is). Torvic hears the frost on the door pop and goes out. Jonah freezes when he sees Tobs and Derris. He says he has to puke, although he doesn’t look that sick. He holds himself over the edge and then goes back to his room. He lets Spivak come with him when Spivak bluffs that Tobs snores and talks about fish in his sleep. Arianna continues sneaking and scaring. Tobs reports to the captain, who is concerned about the rudder being messed up.
There are some dead fish in the murky water. The weather is getting darker. They come to a strip of green water. The whole system of the ship is broken; they have to control it manually. The spot they are in is a bad one. Torvic tries to get the ship away from the nasty seaweed, throwing all that she’s got at it. Pieces break off the ship, and damage is done to the ship and Torvic. Everyone wakes up. A kraken tentacle grips a hold of the ship, and wood splinters.
The tentacle inches onto the deck. Arianna: “Ooh, fire!” The fire barely affects the squid skin. Arianna gets closer to Cleo. Torvic is still not conscious. Kharlan yells “Food!” and runs at the tentacle, but his sword bounces off its rubbery skin. Another tentacle comes up on the other side; the other extends around the mast. Moving seaweed crawls under the tentacles. Tobs goes up on deck. Jonah stumbles confusedly for his armor and sword and runs up right into a tentacle. Jaylynn and Ursula also go up to see what is going on. Ursula studies the seaweed. Arianna mind-touches a hulking huge old kraken out in the middle of the seaweed patch. The seaweed comes on board – or rather, shellfish/jellyfish creatures draped in seaweed. One tentacle cracks the mast. Tobs stabs the aft tentacle with his spear. Jonah backs up and looks indiscernible. Jaylynn connects with the squid and tells it that the boat and crew are not food. The ancient presence rebuffs her suggestion as just a water drop on the windowpane of its mind. Ursula hacks another tentacle. Arianna makes an illusion of lots of fire everywhere heading towards the shellfish creatures. Kharlan makes a nick in a tentacle. The shellfish hesitate at the sight of the illusionary fire. Although the mast is still holding, the other tentacle squeezes and cracks the ship. Tobs’ attack bounces off its rubbery hide. Jonah keeps backing away, unsure of what to do but observing carefully. Jaylynn heart shapes calm on the kraken, and it calms down a bit. Ursula hits at the spot where Tobs had hit before, furthering the cut into the tentacle. Arianna keeps her illusion going, but the shellfish start to suspect it. Torvic finally wakes up. Kharlan hacks his tentacle pretty well. Kraken: “Aww, I love you guys.” It pulls the ship closer. The shellfish with their pale pasty white tentacles ooze over the side. Tobs keeps poking at the open wound on the tentacle. Spivak tries to give a pep talk to the terrified and unresponsive Jonah. Jaylynn tells everyone to relax: “He just wants to hug us.” That doesn’t make anyone feel better. The big area of Sargasso seaweed is coming closer, ready to trap the ship. Ursula knows that the nasty shellfish monsters have stingy tentacles that are probably poisonous. She whacks at one and chops the tentacles off like noodles, and she manages to get the nasty stinging stuff off of her. Arianna sets a shellfish on fire and hears a high-pitched scream of agony. Torvic freezes another to the ship; it struggles, breaks off, and falls into the sea. Kharlan is now inside the tentacle hacking away at it. One shellfish, about at shoulder height with Ursula, tries to attack her, and another one crawls aboard. Spivak continues to try to convince Jonah to join in. Jaylynn also works on Jonah.
The ship is now only twenty feet away from the seaweed. Arianna sets the seaweed on fire, and it surprisingly burns rather well. Torvic tries to shoot the tentacle with her crossbow, but it pings off Kharlan instead. Kharlan cuts the tentacle through to its last thread. It keeps pulling the ship in. A shellfish hurts Ursula. The one on fire continues to scream. Derris thinks that he spews fire…burninating! Jonah finally pulls himself together and tries water shaping; the boat shudders and lists to one side. Jaylynn calms Jonah. Ursula and Tobs don’t have much luck hitting anything. The kraken’s head lurches up and blinks confusedly – why is the happy thing causing so much pain? Arianna sets the shellfish’s flammable internal organs on fire, and it explodes, catching the squid tentacle on fire. Torvic makes a tentacle snap in two with freezing; the boat rocks again. Kharlan slides forward, hits the icky exploded patch, and stumbles towards the other end. Although the kraken is in pain, it is still tugging the ship in closer, and it starts to squeeze again. Because of the ship’s listing, Tobs fails to hit the other tentacle. Spivak to Jonah: “Hit with your sword, your SWORD!” Jonah does, but he misses. Jaylynn heals the tentacle. Squid: “Ahh, that’s nice.” Ursula hits the shellfish; it spurts. The seaweed is still burning, and the kraken’s head twitches. Arianna catches the shellfish by Ursula on fire. Torvic goes up to Jonah, who is attacking the already severed tentacle, and says “Idiot. This one’s been killed.” Torvic freezes her feet to the deck to keep her footing. She freezes the tentacle, and it recoils and slows. The flaming seaweed draws even closer. One of the shellfish crawls over the tentacle and attacks Jaylynn. Tobs hits a critical spot on the tentacle and reopens the wound. The squid is unhappy. Jonah: “Oh yeah.” He runs to rescue Jaylynn and trips, failing to hit the shellfish. Jaylynn suggests to the shellfish that it go back to the sea. It sees the error of its ways and slides off…the sea is a nice place. Arianna tries to stop the fire on the seaweed but can’t. Torvic freezes the fire to calm it somewhat, but it is still rather nasty. Kharlan cuts through the tentacle, and it falls off the boat. The ship pitches, and Tobs almost goes overboard with the tentacle. Kharlan goes flying and lands on the deck. The ship just barely touches the seaweed. Torvic makes a water hill to make the ship move. [Adam: “Warp drive!”]
The ship is heavily damaged on the back side and is listing. Jaylynn sheds a tear while waving goodbye to Mr. Squid. Tobs puts on his wet suit. The sailors run around patching the boat up so that it will still float. Hermia reports a hull breach, and Torvic helps by freezing places on the hull. Jaylynn boosts the courage of everyone on the boat (except for the creepy pervert guy). Cleo attends to the injured sailors. Kharlan lies back and looks up and then feels a drop on his face – rain. Jonah stares at the seaweed, confused and tired. The sailors are worried. Hermia addresses the crew with her hands behind her back. Some sailors are distracted by Tobs’ wetsuit. She says that they narrowly escaped a nasty event and shudders. Things are not positive: the ship will still float, but they need to find a spot for repairs, and it will take a lot of shaping and work to get to land, especially as they have no idea where they are. The fourth problem is the rain. Things are looking grim…except for Kharlan: “Dogpile on tentacle!” Torvic helps with the shaping. Because of the shellfish’s attack earlier, Jaylynn is feeling weak. Ursula plays her lute for the sailors to inspire them. Tobs studies his Royal Road cards. The sky turns pitch black.
Jonah is very thoughtful and seems conflicted. He gets up and stumbles out into the hallway. Tobs tries to follow him but loses sight. He thinks he sees aquatic fireflies. Both Hermia and Torvic sense bad water shaping up front. Tobs sees Jonah behind a lifeboat with one hand over the side. Torvic tries to sneak up, but Jonah turns. Torvic hides her crossbow. Jonah says he was just trying to help – he has his head now and is trying to fight against being controlled. Tobs suggests tying him up downstairs. Torvic shoots him and pegs him in the shoulder. Tobs tries to pull Jonah below deck, and Spivak goes to get Arianna and Burly. Tobs falls over on the deck trying to pull Jonah. Arianna comes up: “Jonah, are you evil?” Torvic: “Light him on fire.” Burly and Tobs finally drag him below deck to his room before too much injury is done to him. Spivak and Arianna try to mind-touch him, but his mind is unreadable. Burly ties Jonah up while Tobs apologizes. The boat rocks – something is happening, probably with Jonah and shaping. Torvic knocks him out and the magic stops.
Tobs runs to get Jaylynn, who pulls the crossbow bolt out and patches him up. Like on the girl Ruki, Jonah has a strange off-colored patch, and curing disease only retreats the offness so far. Tobs goes to find Cleo. Torvic knocks Jonah out again, very hard this time. Jaylynn tries a biopsy to cure Jonah – she cuts off some of the skin on his shoulder and then cures him; the disease creeps back in, however. Cleo confirms what Jaylynn has said and looks dismayed at how everyone has been treating Jonah. She makes him a sleeping draught.
Everyone is in desperate need of sleep. Derris watches Jonah while Jaylynn studies him and takes notes. The ship pitches as the storm grows worse. Suddenly all goes quiet – no rain, no wind. Tobs goes up on deck. He can see the stars, but there are thick clouds on all sides. Spivak gets Ursula, who with her knowledge of natural phenomenon can tell that it’s a hurricane: they are in the eye of the storm. Tobs tries to explain hurricanes to Jaylynn, but she doesn’t get it. She thinks that Tobs has a fever. The exhausted Tobs gives up and goes back to sleep. Jaylynn goes up deck to check it out but gets wet and comes back down. Spivak joins Derris in watching Jonah. There is a very sudden lurch as if something stopped. Jonah wakes up. A small leak of water is coming in. Kharlan and Tobs wake up and go in Jonah’s room. Torvic freezes to help patch it up a bit. Ursula wakes up with a wet face – water is coming into her room.
The ship has become a lost cause. Tobs drugs Jonah and gets Burly to carry him. Torvic freezes some more and heads up to the lifeboats. One of the masts is missing. Tobs uses his earlier training to help set up the lifeboat, which he, Spivak, Ursula, Arianna, Torvic, Kharlan, Derris, Jaylynn, and the unconscious Jonah cling to as Burly shoves them off. Goodbye, Burly. Ursula is worried about her lute getting wet. Torvic helps steer the lifeboat Sorcerer’s Apprentice style. Getting through the storm takes several hours. They try to head north by northwest. Torvic sets everything straight and then collapses. A watch is set up, both to look out for boats and to keep an eye on Jonah. Derris looks for other birds. Tobs does a Royal Road card reading on Jonah, and it is almost as confusing as Jonah himself. At the end of the first day, Derris sees birds; the birds are scared of Spivak. Torvic makes their lifeboat into a magic motorboat. After another night, they come to land.
Jonah is very quiet when he is fully awake. Tobs questions him about his brother and what compelled him to wreck the ship. Jonah explains as best he can: “The Glenfelds are a very powerful family. We’ve been nobles for years, but the youngest is cursed with bad luck and failure. As you’ve seen, I’m not very lucky. I wanted to become a noble, but I’m not so good at politics, so I joined the Sovereign’s Finest instead. I studied and studied. Captain Donavan helped me – she’s an old friend of mine. I wanted to do well. Another friend of mine – Winifred – was studying to become a mage. I asked her for help with the test, and she helped me, but I still didn’t pass; I stopped halfway. I went to stay with my brother Aaron, and he criticized everything. I hate him a lot. Winifred wanted a position, and my brother was looking for an assistant, so things kind of worked out that way. Then it started getting bad. My brother changed – he got very quiet, not himself at all, but Winifred thought everything was fine. I was sort of freaked out, so I went back to Captain Donavan – she was just a Lieutenant then – and she offered me an honorary position so that she could keep an eye on me and protect me. That was two years ago. About a month back, my brother was back to normal. Winifred said that he’d been sick. When she heard that I was going to Bashti’s Ford, she wanted me to deliver something to someone. I refused, and things kind of got fuzzy after that. She wanted something, and she got it, but not through me. I talked with her afterwards, and she said that there had been luck and that something had come into her hands. She still has a solid grip on my brother. If I didn’t help her, something would happen to Aaron. I thought that this was ridiculous, like what you would read in a fantasy book. Captain Donavan realized that something was wrong, I think, so I got sent away to do this. Winifred told me to keep you all from Rezea at all costs, so I just stood by and didn’t help much. I wanted to delay us so that no one got hurt. Her power is very far stretching, though, and it hurts when I don’t follow her orders. By the end I just wanted to take down the whole ship and die. As far as I know, she and some others are trying to open a shadowgate between Jarzon and Kern.” His head bows, and he falls silent. Torvic thinks that suspended animation might be good for him. Jonah doesn’t want to be hit again; he says that being drugged and tied up is better. However, Jonah did succeed in a way: they were blown off course and are not anywhere near Rezea. They are in Jarzon. Dun dun dun…
The coast of Jarzon is barren, and it is not quite the dawn of a not so pleasant day. They hide the lifeboat and climb the rise in front of them to see a malevolent blur on the horizon – the Veran Marsh. Jonah thinks that there is a shadowgate up in the mountains of Jarzon to the northeast: he overheard Winifred talking about it. After some debate, they go to the northeast. Because they are no longer going to Rezea, Jonah isn’t in as much pain. Spivak is still keeping an eye on him, though. Torvic and Jaylynn look for herbs. As they walk along, they hear the sound of wolves coming from the north. Derris flies up and sees a village and a figure outside of it stumbling along as it runs from four mangy looking wolves. They go to intercept the wolves. As they draw nearer, they see a woman with long hair and conservative skirts who is bleeding heavily. Her left arm is damaged, but she is still holding something close. The wolves stop as they rush at them. Jonah hits a wolf; he’s looking much better. Ursula slashes another. Jaylynn suggests to another that it get out of here; it runs. Kharlan hits, and Torvic freezes one in its tracks. Tobs tries to hit, and Jonah misses. One wolf gets out of the ice, and another tries to attack Kharlan but hits its own tail instead. The other fails to attack Ursula. Ursula hits it pretty hard, though. Jaylynn suggests to another wolf that it leave, but it ignores her words of wisdom. Kharlan slices another, and Torvic stabs the one she froze. Tobs, Jonah, and Ursula all attack. Jaylynn attempts to calm a wolf, but it growls at her. Kharlan kills it. Torvic freezes a wolf again, and Tobs’ blow glances off. Jonah goes up to attack that wolf, but the nearby marsh begins responding to Jonah’s wild talent. Spivak mentally yells at him. Ursula gets in a good hit, but the wolf bites Torvic, making her feel weak. The woman looks on uneasily at the odd group of strangers who have just appeared to help her. Jaylynn calms her so that she doesn’t look quite so panicked. The bundle she was so tenaciously guarding is a child. Kharlan stands off to the side and roots the rest on. They don’t feel particularly cheered, but he is trying. Torvic freezes a wolf more, and Tobs kills it. Torvic stabs it a couple more times out of spite. She feels even weaker.
Tobs brings Torvic’s sad condition to Jaylynn’s attention. Jaylynn heals the woman first, however. The woman is awed by Jaylynn’s healing powers (healers are well-liked in Jarzon, although other aracana users are not). Ursula goes up to greet the woman. Arianna wants to hold the baby; the woman pulls her child closer. Jaylynn lurks up to Torvic and heals her some. The woman’s name is Lydia Callis, and her boy of five months is Abram. She is shocked to meet all of these non-Jarzonis. Ursula assures her that she is a Jarzoni. Lydia is happier to have a good healer. She offers all of them the use of her house, so they follow her.
Most of the party is going to have a difficult time in Jarzon. Kharlan and Jonah ought to be all right, unless Jonah uses his wild arcana. As long as they don’t realize that Jaylynn is from Kern, her healing talent is welcome. Ursula is of Jarzoni heritage but is descended from heretics who fled to Aldis. She is also not dressed conservatively – breeches on a female, gasp! Arianna is a little girl who likes to get in trouble and play with fire. Torvic is blue and bald. And an arcana shaper. And from Kern. And Tobs is a roamer. Jarzonis don’t like roamers. Or men who like other men. Or winged cats. Oh boy.
Although she gives most of the party strange looks, Ursula, Torvic, and Tobs get the most. Spivak hides in Jonah’s bag. Torvic tells Lydia stories to freak her out. Arianna asks if there are any monkeys here. They go into the village with its rows of houses and church cathedral, everything old and pretty in a stark architectural way. The normal looking ones – Kharlan, Jaylynn, and Jonah – are not noticed, and Arianna doesn’t attract much attention either. Ursula’s pants get odd looks, however. Tobs and Torvic wrap themselves up in their cloaks, Tobs to hide his red roamer shirt and Torvic to hide her blue skin. They follow Lydia to one of the nicer homes, a cottage like house with a blazing hearth and the smell of something cooking. There are religious symbols and candle holders. They sit down and listen to her story. She was out looking for medical herbs for her older boy and thought that it would be safe. Torvic offers to heal her other son. Ursula suggests that they all, or at least she and Tobs, get some dull and conservative Jarzoni clothes. Tobs hands Lydia some Aldean money, but she won’t take it. She goes off to buy clothes. Tobs gives Arianna a bracelet with bells and beads that he made from what he bought at the sea folk store. Jingle jingle.
Ursula gives everyone a talk about Jarzoni ways and customs while Torvic shapes water and drinks. Ursula: “No shaping! Be respectful. Tobs, you must not mention that you have a boyfriend.” Her talk is interrupted by movement upstairs. A blond boy of about fourteen, Melchor by name, comes down holding onto the wall and looking ill. Jaylynn wants to examine him, but he is scared of Torvic and goes back upstairs. Jaylynn follows him. Torvic and Arianna try to raid the larder while Ursula and Tobs try to stop them. Tobs fails to prevent either of them, but Ursula grabs Torvic. Arianna manages to take a roll and splits it with Torvic. Lydia comes in and scolds them: “It’s not consecrated yet!” She shoos them away. Torvic drinks water by shaping, and she looks horrified. Ursula yells at Torvic. Lydia asks Torvic to go to the back room. Ursula bluffs that Torvic is not really part of the party. She brings out the drab Jarzoni clothes. Tobs looks at the very ugly clothes distastefully. Lydia tells Arianna that her bracelet is bad because it draws attention to herself. Ursula: “God, I hate dresses.” Torvic changes right in front of Lydia. Lydia tells them that her older boy’s wound appeared out of nowhere. He was out walking late and someone tried to kidnap him. He got sick shortly afterwards. There is now a curfew in town because of strange shadows and missing people.
Tobs and Arianna offer to help her cook dinner. Tobs gets to chop vegetables. Arianna does a better job than Tobs. Tobs claims that the bad clothes affect his performance. At about five, Lydia lays the food out and waits for her husband Jared Callis, the priest of this town. He comes in dressed in his priest robes; he looks younger than his wife. Jared walks in. Looks around. Stares. He thinks that Ursula looks familiar and is suspicious of her. Lydia mentions that a healer is tending their son. Jared sits at the table, prays, breaks the bread, and eats. He and his wife are very quiet while eating. Torvic suddenly blurts out: “Hey Jonah, where’s the shadowgate we need to destroy?” The priest is aghast. Ursula tries to bluff their way out of this, but Torvic thwarts her attempts. Torvic tells them that they are Sovereign’s Finest from Aldis. Priest: “That’s Aldis’ poetic justice coming back, the Queen stricken by their own sorcery.” Torvic says that she is Kernish, not Aldean. Jared retorts that he does not like women talking out of turn. Torvic makes the room colder. Ursula kicks her under the table. The priest says that they are free to stay in his home if the shadowgate is their quest; he mentions the curfew. Arianna wants to be a priest and control people when she grows up. Ursula hastily says “She’s my little sister!” He had thought she was Kharlan’s daughter. Arianna shakes her jingly bracelet under the table. Tobs quietly snorts. The priest gets up from the table and leaves for Vespers. Tobs and Arianna help Lydia clean up the kitchen. She won’t let Torvic help. Torvic makes Jonah sit and read the holy book to learn the error of his ways. Then she curls up and goes to sleep.
Arianna takes a plate of food up to Jaylynn. The boy has the same markings that Jonah has. Arianna pokes the boy on his markings, and he flinches in his sleep. Kharlan, Ursula, Arianna, and Tobs decide to go to evening service. The church doesn’t seem as full as it should be. There are not many women. They sit in the back. Ursula tries to take Arianna’s bells away but fails. They try to fit in during the service, but at one point Tobs mistakes the god they are singing about and starts belting out a song about the lovers of the dawn. He gets nasty glares. Tobs sinks down into the pews as the others scoot away from him.
They go back through the deserted streets. Tobs and Derris hear movement from the side of town, but when they turn it is gone. Arianna wants to scamper off on her own, but Ursula and Tobs grab her. The shadows move again, and the sky flashes with light as a lightning bolt comes out of the sky. Tobs manages to get out of the way, but Ursula’s hair is charged, and Arianna is badly hurt. Two shadows step forward wearing the same garb as Ruki had on the ship. One prepares another lightning bolt while the other pushes the earth, causing rocks and stone to jut up. Kharlan chops at one, making it reel back. Arianna psychic grapples the other, distracting and dazing it. Jaylynn and Jonah back at the house notice the strange stormy weather. Tobs shoots the one Arianna has grappled in the shoulder, and Ursula attacks the same one. Kharlan feels the ground fall out from under him, and he ends up in a hole. He tries to climb out. Jonah doesn’t know what to do. Jaylynn checks on the boy – he is sleeping roughly. Jaylynn tries to calm his nightmares but can’t. Ursula hacks again; then it breaks its mind grapple and stirs the storm. The walls of the hole shudder, and Kharlan leaps out of it: “Whee!” Arianna uses a psychic blast, and it staggers to its knees. Tobs takes the hood off to reveal a shock of short red hair – no one any of them knows. Ursula knocks him unconscious with the flat of her blade. Tobs wants Jaylynn to check him out. The other robed figure tries to send an earthquake but instead creates a gash in the earth. Kharlan stabs, Arianna grapples with her mind, Tobs shoots it – it stumbles to its knees. Jonah comes and joins them, and Tobs tells him to take the unconscious one to Jaylynn. Ursula hits the grounded one again, and it is close to death. Tobs takes off its hood and hears something shatter before the face reverts back to that of a teenaged girl. They wrap up her wounds and carry her back. Jonah stumbles and lets the guy fall, cringing and holding his shoulder. Jaylynn comes down, and the priest comes back. Jaylynn cures the dying one, and the priest glares at her. They tell him about the possessions and that their faces change. The priest thanks them for bringing the witch back. He says that the man is Cameron the blacksmith’s son, one of the stolen children. The woman he calls a witch. The marks are fading from their bodies. He ties them up and says he will check them in the morning. Arianna can’t feel anything from mind-touching the unconscious witch. The priest insists that they all clean up and rest, although they have to sleep on the floor.
They wake up to noises downstairs – voices, more people than usual. The priest is talking to someone, and a strident female voice is protesting. Jared says that they will perform the ritual in a couple of hours. “I’m not a witch, you guys are crazy!” Tobs knocks on the door, and Lydia comes out and shushes him. The girl’s hair (the one they are calling a witch) is roamer-ish. They say that she has been cursing the town, as the Jarzonis are quite willing to blame outsiders for bad things. Torvic freezes the owl to the window. Then she attempts to interfere with the weather. Ilse, the witch-girl, has been dressed in sackcloth. Lydia lets Tobs, Jaylynn, and Arianna into the room, telling them to be quiet. Ilse and Jared argue and get angry. He wants to burn her at the stake. Tobs trips and nearly falls into the hearth as two townspeople take Ilse away, and his distraction allows Jaylynn and Arianna to sneak out after her. Torvic walks out and makes rain start. Tobs claims that his clumsiness came from being sore after last night, and he walks out to follow the others. Ursula says that she has to use the bathroom and is let out the back. She sneaks around.
The people of the village are pointing and pulling their children back as they watch the witch being taken to the church. Torvic finds an easily cowed farmwife with a child. The wife sees her blue skin and pulls her child even closer. Torvic questions her about Ilse and is told that a witch is not a person. The next woman she questions tells her that Ilse is to be burned at the stake. People are setting up wood to the right of the temple. Torvic walks towards the fire. Ursula looks for someone in charge and ends up grabbing the nearest person. “Has she been given a fair trial?” The response: “It’s a witch, the head priest says she is. What are you doing here? Get back to your husband.” Arianna wants to turn the witch invisible. Tobs goes to the temple and meets the altar boy, who goes in and fetches the priest Adrian: “Can I help?” Tobs tells him that he wants to interview the witch, as they were the ones that caught her. He is led further into the catacombs. Kharlan goes outside as the rain starts to fall. Derris flies up high above him. He walks to the church and sees the pyre. A concerned citizen looks up at the sky. Jaylynn senses psychic arcana and goes in with Tobs. She and Tobs convince the priest to let Jaylynn examine the witch. The guards are using heart-shaping to calm the witch and hold her down. Jaylynn has Tobs hold his cloak out for cover while she examines the marks on Ilse’s neck and chest. They are beginning to fade. Ilse asks “Who are you?” Jaylynn: “A stranger here to check on you. Are you ready?” Ilse: “Anytime, they are going to burn me to death.” Jaylynn tries to get the evil out of her, and it recedes further. Torvic sees Kharlan and secondsights arcana in the area – the pyre is started with arcana. It is only halfway finished.
Now the rain is coming down at a steady pace. Torvic discreetly draws water into the fire-starting spot. Ursula looks for the high priest before remembering that he is still in the house. She talks to a workman: “What are you going to do if it rains out here?” Workman: “Adrian will start the fire if it’s not raining…shouldn’t be raining. If the witch isn’t burned, we’ll cut off her head.” Ursula: “She should have a trial.” Workman: “She’s a witch.” He shoos her away, and she goes to talk to Kharlan. Arianna is inside with Tobs and Jaylynn. She tells Ilse not to worry because they are good with fire and water and stuff. Seeing Tobs as a fellow roamer, she spills her life story: “I’m originally from a roamer camp in Aldis. I was an idiot, thought I’d fallen in love with a man here. He died of the plague a couple years after we were married. I’ve lived on the outskirts of town ever since as a sort of herbalist/medicine woman and have been tolerated for the most part. When I went into the mountains for herbs, I saw some very strange things. I think the Lich King has a force in the mining town of Dulin and is using the peasants to excavate something. I looked around and talked to something and saw the Bridge of the Ancients…I don’t remember anything after that before waking up in the priest’s house. I have some small ability for air and water.” Jaylynn recognizes the town she mentioned as a subjugate town known for crystals and shadowgates.
Kharlan stands, and Ursula speculates to him about the rain. Inside, the mark is pretty much gone, and Jaylynn tells Adrian to get the head priest. It takes awhile. Torvic meanwhile keeps things nice and wet. She sees the temple boy go out and come back with the priest. Torvic sneaks to avoid notice, and they think she is a temple boy. Ursula talks to Jared about the witch: “Is it customary to burn witches without a trial?” Jared, frustrated and wet: “She’s clearly a witch. She fought you, she called down lightning. She was possessed! She’s been tainted, and so she must die. We are purifying her here and now.” Arianna talks to the witch about the rain and suggests that she could water shape when being burned. She says that they can ask Jonah to help and he will thwart whatever they’re doing. (Jonah is wandering around lost all of this time.) Torvic mutters to herself. The rain drums down in a telegraph that God likes cookies a lot. A crowd begins to gather, and rain falls harder.
It is the peak time of year for crops. Despite this fact, Torvic calls down hail. She feels a little guilty, but hey, she’s cruel. She walks toward the temple. Ursula keeps questioning the priest; he says that drowning her is equally purifying. “Excuse me, I have things to attend to!” Ursula panics because of his shortness with her and can’t decide what to do. Kharlan stands under the eaves of the temple to escape the rain and hail. Jared comes in looking wet and annoyed. Jaylynn explains that she has cured Ilse. Jared: “Why do I need to see this?” Jaylynn: “This person can be saved.” Jared: “The inner corruption is too much to bear.” Jaylynn: “The evil is gone now.” Jared: “This is the way of our village.” Arianna says that they will take her away and she can atone for her sins. The priest finally agrees: they can take her out, but they have to make sure she never returns. Ilse: “I would rather die than stay here.” As Jared escorts them out of the catacombs, Jaylynn tells him about his son and warns him that if it continues, the vampire will possess Melchor completely. The hail stones get bigger. Torvic goes in the main temple and does a nasty genuflection. All of them get back to the house by walking under eaves to avoid injury from the hail stones. Tobs tells Spivak to get Jonah to come back. Jonah gets hit on the head by a hailstone. Torvic asks Lydia for a board for head covering. They collect their belongings, thank Lydia, check the priest’s son, and are marched to the end of the town with Ilse, avoiding the hailstones as best they can. They are now golf-ball size hailstones. Some of the villagers are trying to save the crops; others are boarding up houses. Torvic waves at them. Ursula scolds her, but Kharlan thinks that she is cool. Seven miles out, the hail stops. Arianna is sitting on Torvic’s shoulders holding the board; when the hail ceases, she throws the board.
Ilse leads as Torvic sucks on a hailstone. They go up a mountain path into rockier territory. The air grows sharper and bitterer. Ursula dreams of aquatic fireflies at night. The wind seems a little odd. Torvic laments her evil side. They all rejoice to be back in their normal clothes. Ilse takes them to the mine and says that she will wait there for them for two days. Jonah looks pained again. Torvic crafts a sleeping elixir and leaves Jonah with Ilse. Spivak stays behind to keep an eye on them. The rest go up over the rise and look down at a bridge over a huge gorge. Both sides of the bridge are attached to mountains, and it looks almost like an island hovering in midair. It was created by ancient, powerful magic back in the days of the old kingdom. There are smaller islands throughout – they could be either air or solid land. Shapes fly by, and hulking creatures stand below. Something has been excavated, and two adepts stand guarding it. The hulking creatures are nasty dark fiends that weigh 2,000 pounds and are eight feet tall. Jaylynn is scared to see dark fiends again. No one is able to move her. Torvic pulls everyone back, and God tells them to plan.
Torvic creates a giant windstorm to blow across the gorge. The other toss arrows, rocks, stones, crossbow bolts, dirty socks, and a crowbar into it. Two gargoyles are forced into a landing, and one of the hulking creatures – an athach – staggers towards the edge. The other two gargoyles are blown away. A bowman falls to his death. Projectiles ping off the gargoyles, something hits an athach in the shoulder, and another athach protects an adept from being hit. Tobs’ crowbar goes right through a bowman’s chest. The ancient magic of the area responds and throws up barriers, cutting the wind off. This huge effort knocks Torvic out, but she stirs as magic begins to collect at the gate. Tobs tries to shoot the remaining bowman, and Kharlan and Ursula prepare to attack. Jaylynn suggests to the athach that his little adept friend is on fire and needs to be extinguished. Arianna psychic grapples an athach (they have dull heads). The gargoyles on the landing take to the air, and two outcroppings of rock turn into gargoyles. The bowman across the way shoots at Ursula, but the shot goes over her head. Torvic ices a gargoyle’s wings, making it drop down. Tobs shoots the bowman, but his arrow pings off the man’s armor. Kharlan smites a gargoyle. The adept cleric heals the athach that had protected him and moves towards the party. Ursula tries to attack another gargoyle. Jaylynn makes the other athach think that the gargoyle is a butterfly that it must catch. Arianna continues to psychic grapple. A gargoyle gives Kharlan a glancing blow. Another attacks Ursula but instead claws into itself. The other gargoyle attacking her goes past her. The bowman shoots Kharlan and catches a bit of his hair. Torvic sees that air elementals are connected to the gargoyles, and she ices another gargoyle’s wings. The evil magic from the shadow gate reaches the height of its power and lashes out, hitting everything in its path (fortunately just enemies). Tobs nicks the bowman, and the adept heals the athach. Kharlan smashes a gargoyle, making it lose its balance and fall screeching as its little air elemental disappears. Ursula attacks another gargoyle. Jaylynn suggests to an athach that the adept needs a big hug. The one athach thinks in its heavy brain: Oh no, you’re on fire! Pat pat pat pat pat. Ow ow ow ow ow. The other athach thinks: butterfly! It tugs on a gargoyle’s wing. Arianna tries psychic grappling the bowman, but he breaks mental contact. A gargoyle hurts Ursula, but the other one is distracted by the athach and kills itself (three natural ones in a row…). The air elemental is now cut in half, and it tries to grab Kharlan. The bowman shoots; then Torvic freezes his hands to his bow. The power comes forth from the gate again. Tobs shoots the bowman in the shoulder. The adept cleric backs away from the athach that is trying to pat and hug him and is really hurting him: What are you doing? Kharlan and Ursula both hit a gargoyle, but their blows ping off their stone bodies. Jaylynn tells the athach whose butterfly committed suicide to go after the other “butterfly,” but it is more resistant to her suggestion. Arianna does little more damage than a psychic poke to the bowman. A gargoyle attacks Kharlan. The air elemental whooshes over Torvic’s head, and the bowman breaks out of her ice and shoots her. She freezes the bowman again and he unbalances, falling to the ground. The magic charges up again and bolts out in the same pattern. The adept cleric gets out of the way, but one of the athach dies. Tobs tries to shoot the prone bowman but misses. Kharlan’s blow pings off a gargoyle, and Ursula scratches it. Jaylynn tells the bowman to lay down his arms and stop firing (not that he could fire now anyway). Arianna mentally triumphs over the bowman. A gargoyle attacks Ursula as the air elemental goes after Torvic, picks her up, and moves towards the cliff edge. Torvic freezes the gargoyle, and it lowers to the ground. The power seems more unstable now. Tobs shoots a gargoyle and crits; then Kharlan stabs it and kills it. The air creature lets Torvic go. Ursula cuts into an athach. Jaylynn becomes scared again and cringes back. The athach badly injures Ursula, and she falls unconscious. Arianna attacks the other athach and pins it psychically. Torvic freezes the wounds of an athach especially well, and it falls down dead; Torvic falls down as well from exhaustion and fortunately avoids falling off the edge. Tobs shoots an athach, and Kharlan smashes it. Jaylynn decides to face her fears. She suggests that the athach sit down; it says no. Arianna continues grappling. The athach attacks Kharlan, and Tobs tries to shoot it. Kharlan stabs it in a vulnerable spot, and it dies. Jaylynn goes to heal Ursula, and she wakes up. Arianna tries pinning the adept cleric. Tobs suggests waiting to go across the bridge until the energy goes off again. Jaylynn heals Torvic, who feels that the magic is different this time. Everyone ducks and covers as the power goes off in a circular direction. When everything clears, the adepts guarding the gate and the adept cleric are gone. The edge is open, and darkness lies beyond it. They cautiously walk up to investigate it. Kharlan goes over and talks to the prone bowman until he twitches himself to death. Torvic pokes her long spear through the gate – it disappears and then reappears when she pulls it back out. Arianna walks up to Torvic, asks what’s going on, and abruptly jumps through the gate. When she doesn’t come back, Tobs follows. Torvic studies it a bit and also goes in. Ursula follows, deciding to die saving Arianna. The others follow. The world goes black, and then they find themselves on a long cobbled path with groves of stately elderly trees. Arianna is skipping on ahead, and in the dust she has written “Arianna was here” with an arrow pointing onward.
Everyone follows Arianna. Tobs can no longer feel his rhy-bond with Spivak and is slightly worried. The trees are old with pale, almost translucent bark, stretching up with little bits of sunlight streaming down. It is very quiet. Torvic tries to affect the weather, but it doesn’t seem quite real. Arianna makes faces at Ursula and Tobs, who are running after her. Tobs catches up. Torvic and Jaylynn hear footsteps coming from behind them and turn around – it is Arianna. Torvic freezes her legs. Tobs tumbles acrobatically to a stop. Arianna sticks her tongue out at Torvic, who replies, “I’ll freeze your face that way, child.” Cold and fire battle it out for a bit. Magic ripples through, and part of the woods becomes more transparent and then goes back to normal. The trees are smooth like stone. Jaylynn pokes her head into a gap between two trees. The magic occurs again and seems to be speeding up. Torvic tells everyone to gather together, as the place is going to break apart. Arianna grips Tobs’ hand. One of the cobblestones falls out. They tie themselves together with Tobs’ rope. Torvic gets Matrix vision for a moment as more cobblestones fall into the darkness beneath them. Stones fall from under Arianna, and she falls, leaving Tobs with just a rope end. He freaks out. He sticks his foot into the darkness and falls through. The rest fall or jump in as the place crumbles.
They are in a stone chamber with non-reflecting glass on the wall. Tobs pokes the glass – it seems ordinary. They open a door in the wall to the east. It squeaks. Arianna weasels through and slams it shut behind her. The rest pull it open and follow. Arianna goes down the hallway to another door, which is locked. She sinks defeated to the ground. Once out of the room, Tobs feels Spivak snap back into his head. She had gone with Ilse and Jonah to the outskirts of the mining town, and then something from behind knocked her out. She woke up in a dark room with lots of ordinary townspeople herded together. Spivak was unable to spot Jonah or Ilse, but she did notice that the walls were covered with glass. Torvic breaks the lock on the door with freezing, and it opens onto a landing with wooden planking. The floor is dusty, and there are sconces with automatic crystal lights on the wall. Arianna makes her way across. She hears something creak, but she continues on until she reaches solid wood. She calls for Torvic to come over and unlock the door, but she doesn’t warn her about the floor. Torvic and Tobs go across to her – while Tobs tumbles beautifully, Torvic falls halfway through the wood. She drops a coin down…it’s a far drop. Tobs throws her a rope, and she pulls herself up. Arianna blasts the lock with fire, but it’s resistant. Kharlan and Ursula get across safely, and Jaylynn crawls along the edges.
They go through the door and down a hallway into a much larger room with long beams of sturdy-looking wood. Below is glass, and beneath the glass are a couple of robed figures and shelves along the wall. Torvic shapes weather to make a little rain cloud that follows her around. Tobs sneaks and balances across the beams. Then Arianna yells “Hey people, what’s going on down there? Do you have a flying cat?” Fortunately they don’t hear her. Then she screams again at the top of her lungs. One looks up and is confused for a moment; then it extends its hand and fire shoots up, making the glass shatter. Arianna goes out onto the beams and fireballs one of the robed thralls. The robes catch on fire, and they hear a high-pitched shriek. The other one concentrates and vanishes. Ursula plays her lute and inspires everyone with courage. Jaylynn gives hope to Kharlan. Torvic positions her rain cloud over one and makes lightning. Tobs shoots. The thrall sidesteps the rain cloud and attacks Tobs with fire. Tobs shoots it in the shoulder, and it falls down unconscious. Torvic makes rain in the room to try to find the invisible person, but that person has long gone. Arianna goes down on the rope Mission Impossible style. Nothing is in the room except for the unconscious thrall and water. Kharlan pulls her up as she tries to untie herself. Weasel in, weasel out, jump down, climb up, tie the body by the foot…it’s turned back to another normal person, a male of about eighteen. Jaylynn cures him and wakes him up. They try to question him: “Did I fall down the mine?” He said that the overseers, who were from Aldis, wanted them to dig something up. One from Aldis was a woman with a red braid down her back, and the other was a blond man. She said it was for the good of Aldis. Then he begins to succumb to the curse again, and they knock him out, put him to sleep, tie him up, and leave.
Across the beams is a much larger room that is significantly closer to the aura of power. A large room like an audience chamber is underneath it – a big final show down room. In that room are various people and strange lines. A door leads to steps curving downward. They can see ten cultists. Spivak feels people shift and move. Fortunately for the group, they can see down through the glass, but the people below can’t see up. The red-headed woman is talking, a monologue of the villainous sort. The image of Queen Jaellin floats in the middle of an area marked with runes. They seem to be about to perform some sort of ritual. The purpose of all of this is to have the Lich King take over Aldis. Spivak and the other people in the dark room come in through a door. Jonah is there as well. Spivak gets some odd looks, and Winifred tries to get her to come over, but Spivak resists. Ursula edges down the stairs and listens at the door. Arianna tries to psychic grapple a thrall, but they are shielded. Jaylynn suggests to the thralls to go save the people, but the strong shield once again thwarts all mental efforts. Tobs sneaks downstairs after Ursula. Winifred looks up – she can feel arcana going on – and she motions for the others to hurry up. She spots Jonah and looks pleased, and she pulls him closer. Jonah goes limp. The thralls move. Arianna fireballs them through the glass, and the glass falls down, hitting the adepts. Two die. Kharlan follows Ursula and Tobs down the stairs. Torvic makes her little black rain cloud bigger, and lightning kills another adept. Ursula moves out into the main room – there are mirrors everywhere (the lines), but none of the thralls have a reflection. Jonah slowly gets back up. The people run away. Arianna kills another thrall. Jaylynn tries to make them sleep but fails. Spivak moves over to Tobs, who fails to shoot an adept. Kharlan sends his owl to bother Winifred, and she looks pissed. Torvic makes multiple lightning bolts and becomes fatigued. Ursula attacks a thrall and knocks it unconscious. Jonah moves towards Ursula and attacks her, kicking her shoulder. Arianna attacks with fire again. The five remaining adept thralls and Jonah gang up on Ursula. Jaylynn cures the area, and it seems to hit whatever is holding them – two of them wander around looking confused. Tobs hits one of the adepts helping with the ritual in the shoulder with an arrow. Kharlan calls Derris back to him and comes down the stairs. Torvic makes lightning over Jonah. The adepts and Jonah attack Ursula. Her clothes rip. More power builds up centered around the five points surrounding the outline of the Queen. Arianna throws another fireball. Jaylynn makes an illusion of Queen Jaellin getting up and getting off of the pedestal, but the image was an illusion itself. There are now two images of the Queen. One of the three people concentrating on the ritual is distracted. Tobs shoots the same adept as before, and it also fails in concentrating. Now Winifred is the only one holding the magic. Kharlan hits one of the adepts surrounding Ursula. Torvic freezes Jonah, but he shakes it off. Ursula knocks another thrall unconscious. They attack Ursula and Kharlan. One of the others around the Queen recovers concentration, and the magic reaches its peak. Jaylynn tries to use suggestion but feels a backlash. Tobs shoots the adept again and makes him fall. Kharlan tumbles past and tries to smash the ritual dais. One of the five points pops. Torvic freezes the dais, and all but one pop. The magic creaks. Ursula kills two adepts. Spivak darts in and breaks the last one. Crashing, mirrors fall down, everything is climatic and shiny. Winifred and one of her companions are gone. Jonah survived, but he is in much pain thanks to Torvic. The surviving people look normal again. Ursula slaps Jonah awake, and Tobs hugs Spivak. Jonah is no longer possessed.
They find circles in the room corresponding to various things. Through one are the plains of Rezea and the Aldean army with Sigourney out in front. The shadowgate is destroyed. The Queen is not dead, although the kingdom is still uneasy. Everything is not quite fixed, but the party of rookies broke the back of it. They are now all Sovereign’s Finest.