A muscular soldier-type who is obsessed with his family
(The haiku-speaking owl)
|Mithos||Male sea folk seer scout|
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|
|Inzilbeth||A female nightperson animist (and her bat)|
Those from the previous campaign were sent out to various parts of the world for six months. They returned from their away missions just before the winter solstice, which they either spent in festivals or not celebrating. Captain Sigourney Donavan called all of the Sovereign’s Finest in the area to come back so that she could speak to them about recent events, so a huge crowd of Sovereign’s Finest of every shape and size gather around the lawn. Danäe is there, Ken and Mordecai with Ken’s elbow on Mordecai’s head, Bethany chattering, Krin, Sheila (a vata’sha from Krin’s party) and Deanna (a griffon rider). They mill around chatting as a light snow begins to fall. Arianna runs up and jumps and hugs Tobs, asking him “Where’s my wife?” (Meaning Spivak, of course). Krin looks at Arianna, crumples her face, and nods in greeting. Arianna: “Did you punish Jonah?” Krin: “He’s not in my group anymore.” Kharlan runs over, and Krin excuses herself. Mithos lounges in the water. Inzilbęth is there with her bat. Derris the owl lands on Arianna’s head. She pretends to bite his head off and then grabs him and walks over towards the water. Tobs laughs and calls Spivak over to watch. Kharlan tries to get Derris back. Inzilbęth objects to the torture of animals and swoops down on her; Arianna goes between her legs. Tobs is now rolling on the ground laughing. Derris gets free and flies out of her grasp. Inzilbęth puts a grey clawed hand on her shoulder: “What were you trying to do with that animal?” Derris drops a dead mouse on Arianna’s head. She plays with it. Deanna is also laughing; Sheila: “Poor bird.” Inzilbęth eats the mouse whole. Arianna now wants to eat a mouse. Deanna to Tobs: “You have the best group ever! Krin is such a stick in the mud.” Inzilbęth to Arianna: “Are you in training to be an animist?” She disbelieves that Arianna is a member of the Sovereign’s Finest (Arianna is, after all, the youngest member ever). Kharlan tells everyone that his son is now a squire in the Sovereign’s Finest.
Sigourney comes up on a balcony and waves a bit; the crowd is still loud, so Danäe sends up fire (the crowd quiets). After the crowd has settled down, Sigourney addresses everyone: “Ah, it’s good to see so many of you back, especially as we’ve had hard times lately. Welcome home; I’d like to think everyone considers this place their home. Thanks for being back in our time of need. The Queen has made mostly a full recovery. We’ve been taking care of problems well. All of you know about the incident of the midsummer festival…” She nods at Torvic, standing to one side of her, for helping with the recovery of the Queen. “There has been some unrest in the body politic, rumors of things going about…the situation is not entirely stable, although I assure everyone that things have gone fine and are smoothing out.” Then she announces a Sovereign’s Finest tournament to be held in a few days and asks that everyone participate, as it is a celebration of Aldis and the seasons. The nation is beginning to possibly look at a war with Kern, and this tournament would honor their skills as warriors. She continues to ramble on for a bit and then steps down.
As the crowd begins to clear out, she makes her way towards the six, smiling a bit. Sigourney: “Good to see all of you back here; how did your missions go?” Kharlan: “Kinda creepy.” Sigourney: “Come and speak with me in my office to tell what you have done and seen. I may have a request for all of you.” She looks at Mithos and Inzilbęth: “You two come as well.” Arianna goes over to Torvic: “Child.” Arianna: “Well…goodbye.” They follow Sigourney into the Sovereign’s Finest building, down a long hallway with decorations, and into well-furnished office of sorts, where they sit at a table with her at the head. All ask “Where’s Jaylynn?” Sigourney: “She will be along soon enough.” She then asks all to describe their missions. Arianna: “I watched people die. I went to the Veran Marsh.” Sigourney mutters “Shouldn’t have sent the child” Arianna: “I watched what happens when shaping goes bad. People die. They go away and they don’t come back.” She mentions a rhyden puppy. Inzilbęth: “I’ve heard the marshes aren’t kind to those who use magic.” Arianna: “Oh, they like me.” Jonah comes out with a notebook to take notes. Spivak and the others greet him. He’s wearing a uniform of the Sovereign’s Finest (he finally made it in!). He immediately asks for Jaylynn. Mithos flirts with him, much to Jonah’s embarrassment. Kharlan points out that Derris has random colored paint on him because of his children’s artistic endeavors. Arianna to Jonah: “Did you go insane?” Jonah looks affronted. “No, I came back and was healed for awhile, took care of my brother…he’s still very sick.” Jonah looks guilty. Kharlan: “Oh, you’re sad because you’re girlfriend isn’t here. Jonah: “I don’t have a girlfriend!” He proudly says “I made it this time” as he rubs back of head and pats his badge. Kharlan: “Now you’ll get all the chicks!” Jonah: “You think so?” Arianna: “I can be a chick.” Jonah: “I think I like older women because I’m weird like that.” He sits down and focuses intently on his notes. Arianna: “I’m not done yet! You have to send shapers to Davin Broderic; I’m not good enough, he doesn’t like me any more.” Sigourney: “You’ll have to speak to Danäe about that. I’m sure she’ll be estatic to see you. That’ll be a first, as she doesn’t like little kids, which is why they haven’t adopted...” She trails off and turns to Inzilbęth: “So, what’s going on in Kern?” Inzilbęth: “If only more of my brethren could be liberated and brought to this country…it was a difficult mission, and many of us did not manage to survive. I was shot in the shoulder – fortunately the arrow was not poisoned. I was worried that the Winter solstice would bring the Lich King out of silence, but war looks to be coming soon. We ran into vampires last summer, but fortunately all were defeated, sadly at a great lost of life on our side.” The others learn that their old companion Ursula is now learning Arcanum in the Adept Dome. Mithos: “I think Arianna should study something to calm her down.” She waves fiery hands in his direction, and he flinches back, freaked out. Sigourney: “No fire indoors. There’s a strict rule against that.” Arianna: “So how come Torvic can do ice inside?” Sigourney: “Ice doesn’t catch other things on ice.” Kharlan is the next to report: “I went northeast, checking out people in towns, but there was a strange thing – sometimes we’d go to a town but there’d be nobody there. It looked like it had been abandoned for years, all dusty and overgrown, and other towns around didn’t know about it.” Sigourney looks concerned and has Jonah note it down. Kharlan: “I knew it couldn’t be my talking because I haven’t been there yet.” Sigourney then turns to Mithos: “You were on the coast?” Mithos: “I went to a port town called Garnet. And found a civilization comparable to ours, but with matriarchal dictatorship that distains men.” Arianna: “I’m a princess.” Inzilbęth: “Did you pass as a woman? Mithos: “They couldn’t tell, so I didn’t put forth any effort.” Kharlan doesn’t understand the hatred of men part – how could anyone hate men? Tobs shrugs at him, equally confused. Mithos continues: “They have different uses for technology and arcana, and they worship Selene in a different way, but over all it went well.” Tobs meanwhile had spent his six months with Krin, Sheila, and Deanna (a griffon rider) in Pavin Weald, where they spent their time erasing the vampire’s influence from the woods and watching the people of Bashti’s Ford repair their village. Krin wanted to stay longer; Tobs, however, is quite happy to be back. Arianna wants to meet Deanna because she wants to ride a griffon; Jonah says that he can introduce her.
After everyone has spoken about their missions, it’s Sigourney’s turn: “One or two things need to be addressed in near future. There’s trouble in town, especially with rumors…the city we are in was partially built on Old Kingdom ruins, and there are reports from other Sovereign’s Finest teams that something unusual happened in the tunnels underneath the city. I ask that you assemble and look at it for me. There is also the matter of Kern with the potential for war rising, so we need to send more teams up north. I would like a decision from you of one or the other.” Tobs: “Like the tunnels under Garnet? Sigourney: “No, there’s no water.” Tobs: “Aw, I look hot in a wetsuit.” Mithos hits on him. Sigourney leaves, and the others ask Jonah about the upcoming competition. Jonah: “It’s more like a trying to hit each other tournament.” Arianna: “Like this?” She punches Inzilbęth. Jonah: “No, that’s not quite it. There’s also magic. No no no, not right now!” (As Arianna spurts of flame…) Mithos ducks fire. Inzilbęth smiles a tusky smile. After things calm down a bit, Jonah continues: “You compete in groups of three in team combat against other teams. You can fight however you want. We’re using the Old Kingdom stadium; the magic users are doing something special with the field. I don’t like mages when they say things are interesting…” Jonah doesn’t know if he’s participating; he says he might end up refereeing. The rest asks him what he does now: “Sometimes I follow the Captain around and take notes. Last month I went on a mission, and it went pretty well, I only flooded one…bridge…” Arianna gives him a flower. Tobs asks about his brother, and Jonah curls in on himself. Kharlan suggests that his son Yuan follow him around. Jonah struggles with pronunciation of Yuan. Kharlan: “He looks just like me and acts like me too. I’m sure he’ll love your brother.” Jonah: “My brother is not seeing anyone except for me.” Arianna: “Are you killing him? He is shocked. Tobs tries to teach her about tact, Inzilbęth and Mithos help: “Sometimes you look pretty rather than speak words.” Mithos tosses his hair. Arianna imitates him. Kharlan tricks Jonah and says that he saw Jaylynn outside; Jonah quickly says that he needs to go file notes and leaves. Spivak goes with Jonah to help find Jaylynn.
Tobs says to Arianna: “Let’s go visit Mordecai!” On the way they discuss Ken and the letter and flaming…When they get to the library, the door is actually open, through which they can hear Mordecai’s voice and a more muted one. Mordecai and Ken are talking, and sunlight is streaming down through a hole in the roof. There is snow on the library floor, and Ken is trying to calm Mordecai down. As they all go in, Mordecai jumps. “AHH!! I remember you; don’t burn my books.” Ken: “I’m not hitting on him all the time.” Tobs gets a shovel for the snow. Inzilbęth inspects the library – some books are faded and worn, some brand new, on topics ranging from poetry and plants; it’s the biggest one in the country. Tobs leans against shovel and pants; no one else helped him clean up. Kharlan throws a snowball at Mordecai: “It was a ghost!” Mithos tries to comfort Mordecai. Inzilbęth ignores everything around her. Arianna tries to give Mordecai a flower, but he gets upset, as flowers stain books. Ken: “You can use it as a book mark!” Kharlan takes out a feather with paint and says that that would make a better bookmark. Mithos is touchy-feely with Mordecai. Mordecai looks up at him. Then he looks between Mithos and Ken: “Do you bud asexually?” Ken goes over to Mithos and puts a hand on his shoulder: “I always liked tall guys.” He puts his arm around Mithos’ waist. Mordecai sulks and looks jealous. Inzilbęth walks over to the fuming Mordecai. Inzilbęth: “Plant shaping?” Mordecai (irate): “That way!” Kharlan tries to tell Ken that Mithos is a girl, but Mithos lets Ken feel him up. Mordecai stomps off. Ken: “Well, I’m really kind of shallow.” He then goes around saying “He got jealous” in a sing- songy voice. Kharlan: “Strumpet.” Ken: “Why thank you! That’s a higher class whore. I’ll be a companion by the end of the month.” The bat climbs up on Inzilbęth’s shoulder and looks at her book. Ken: “I was going to ask him to be on my team – he’s a weather shaper, calls down big freaking huge lightning bolts.” Kharlan: “He might leave you.” Ken: “You think he’s got anybody else?” Mithos: “Feel love, go with the flow.” Ken: “What’s your name, handsome – Mithos, very nice name.” Arianna: “Mithos…me-toast.” She grins maniacally and creates fire. Mithos grips Ken closer and pets him: “Don’t hurt his face!” Arianna hold fire in his face. Tobs convinces Arianna to leave and go to the adept dome. Everyone else comes with them. Inzilbęth is still paying attention to her book. Tobs says bye to Mordecai. He glares. Tobs gets Inzilbęth. Derris said a haiku about strumpets to Mordecai. Outside it is snowing rather hard. Ken points to sheets that Arianna can psychically lift up and cover up the hole in the roof. Kharlan shouts back to Mordecai: “I’ve got a sister-in-law for you!” Silence.
They trundle off to the adept dome, Ken with Mithos in hand. It’s a big shiny building with a dome at the top. Unlike the Nean escapade, it’s not in disarray this time but very neatly kept. Spiral stairs go up with rows of records, and it seems bigger on the inside than outside. They see Danäe sitting at a desk off to the side looking at a shelf and pulling something down, a lunch tied with a pink handkerchief under her arm. Danäe: “I hope you aren’t bringing bad news this time.” Arianna asks after Nean. Danäe: “He’s doing much better.” Arianna: “Is he sucking people into his mind still?” Danäe: “He began to recover after the vampire attacks, so he should be fine for visitors.” She looks over at Ken and shakes her head. Mithos: “I like your pretty pink bandana.” Danäe: “My wife insists…cute is what she does, but I do not approve of cute.” Mithos: “How’s the sex?” Danäe (affronted): “You have no place to ask me about that, sir. How is it that your party attracts all the crazies and idiots?” Tobs looks puzzled. Inzilbęth is offended. There is lots of petting going on between Mithos and Ken. Tobs: “We’re distracting people.” He motions to Arianna. Arianna tells her she needs to send shapers to the marsh: “Cause they have a death wish.” Danäe: “I can think about it. That’s very responsible-ish of you.” Mithos offers to take her bandana, but she keeps the pink handkerchief, glares, and walks off.
Mithos and Ken turn their attention to Tobs: Threesome…foursome…Tobs runs after Arianna. Kharlan: “Stay away from my sisters-in-law.” He then proceeds to list them off. Inzilbęth listens intently and recites the history of her own family. As they make their way up to the dormitories, they hear scuffling coming from inside Nean’s room, accompanied by muffled cussing. Nean opens door; his hair is completely white now. He’s in white robes. Somebody is scuffling out the window. Arianna: “Was that your brother?” Nean: “Rohi, you can come back.” He lifts himself back over windowsill and sits there like that. Arianna: “Have you been stealing things? You promised me that if your brother got better you would stop.” He calls Arianna a bitch. Everyone is shocked. Kharlan backhands him. He falls out of window but manages to grab onto a rope. Kharlan: “That’s what you get!” as he slams the window shut. Arianna is crying, and Mithos gives her a one-handed hug so that he doesn’t have to let go of Ken. Nean apologizes for brother: “You didn’t have to hit him though, he’s my impulsive older brother.” Arianna reminds him that she was sucked into his mind. Nean: “I remember you. I couldn’t distinguish anything at the time, really. I’m better now, though, and I’m going to be competing in the tournament.” Arianna takes credit for saving him. He does earthshaping and shows the excitable Arianna, who has just found her new best friend. He settles himself into a pose and moves his body through patterns; the earth moves around, and it looks shiny. Arianna: “I just set things on fire.” She makes herself catch on fire. Nean is just as impressed with her as she is with him. Mithos backs away with Ken to a corner. Ken approves. Both Arianna and Nean wish that they could use the other’s talents. He tells her that his brother was a light shaper and was especially good at making himself invisible.
It’s beginning to get towards evening. Mithos and Ken talk about star marriages. Ken: “I’d love to see the sea.” Tobs goes off to freak out to Phaedrus, Kharlan goes home with his kid, and Nean and Arianna go to kitchen. Phaedrus and Tobs and Mithos and Ken also eventually go to the kitchen. Kharlan invites Inzilbęth to a party at his house and grabs and drags her along for a bit, but eventually she breaks free, telling him “Some other time.” The kitchen is full of life at the dinner hour; Hannah is bustling in and out, as is Linu, her assistant. Hannah comes over to them and is her usual talkative self: “It’s been so long – what’s going on? Have you seen my wife, she’s looking more beautiful everyday!” When they mention the handkerchief, she says that it’s a sign of true love. She turns to Mithos: “Ah, I see you picked up Ken there. Can I get you something to eat?” Linu comes over, a quiet poised young man. He brings food and sets it down. Ken digs into the food, quite hungry. Arianna eats like Torvic. Nean to Arianna: “Eating contest?” Arianna: “Yeah, more food!” Mithos looks afraid. Nean gets sick first: “Excuse me.” He stumbles off to puke. Tobs and Mithos to Arianna: “Yes, please stop.” It gets quiet again. Hannah does dishes, and Tobs helps. Phaedrus doesn’t. Arianna follows Tobs. Linu goes over to window on the sly. Rohi pokes head up, and Linu passes him bread. Tobs asks Linu about him. Linu looks startled and is slightly flustered: “Ah, he’s incorrigible, I can’t get through to him…but I don’t know him that well.” Arianna calls Rohi a poopyhead.
Arianna and Tobs go off to find Ursula, and they drag Phaedrus along. Kharlan comes back. Inzilbęth goes to barracks. Mithos to Ken: “Let’s find some place warmer to go hang out, have a little fun.” He flips one side of his hair, and Ken does the other. Bethany greets the people at barracks; she’s her normal cheerful, perky, and destructive self. “Hi Ken, are you sleeping in the archery range or in a bunk?” Ken asks for a quiet place. Bethany: “Ah.” She makes a dirty hand gesture. Ken takes Mithos by arm and walks him off. Mithos gets it on with the horny archer dude. (He’s done what everyone else has done.) Bethany to Inzilbęth: “We don’t get many night people.” She talks awkwardly about them for a second and points to different rooms: “Depends on if you’re quiet.” Inzilbęth: “Do the rooms on the top floor have rafters? We’ll take those then.” She lets her bat out, and he goes up in the rafters. Arianna and Tobs meanwhile find Ursula. Arianna spews out long list of almost incomprehensible phrases. Ursula: “It’s been a long time! Where have you been?” Arianna: “In the marsh by Jarzon.” Ursula: “Don’t do that!” Tobs: “I got to hang out with Krin.” Ursula: “Well, at least this time you can’t make fun of Jonah. I’ve been studying contemplation arcana.” Arianna: “Look, look, fire!” Ursula: “No no no.” Spivak and Jonah come back, and a dejected Jonah goes home. Arianna describes Inzilbęth to Ursula: “Nightshaper, nightcrawler, it’s big and has tusks, and she’s mean.” Arianna makes Ursula feel guilty. “Well, when I have this body control technique down, I’ll be a great fighter and even go with you to the Veran Marshes.” Arianna: “Anyone who touches me can catch on fire.” Nean tries it. “Ow, fire hurts!” Phaedrus rolls his eyes. Ursula: “I think the only thing he likes to touch is Tobs.” Tobs turns red. The discussion turns to the evil chest that almost killed the Queen. Kharlan comes in and tells Ursula about the bitch incident. Nean says that Rohi and Linu are old friends; they used to be apprentices to Danäe, and they used to get in trouble all the time. Arianna suggest they get married. Nean: “Really?” They plot marriage for them and for Tobs and Phaedrus. Ursula joins in the plotting. Tobs and Phaedrus have long since left the room. Kharlan helps with the plotting too. Plan so far: brainwash, drunk…married! Kharlan suggests that Ursula marry a sister-in-law. Dead silence. Kharlan describes his marriage ceremony.
Nean’s going to be on a team with Ken. They’re trying to get Mordi for the last person on team. Kharlan asks Arianna to be on his team: “We can fight against them!” Arianna goes and attacks Bethany. “Have you killed people?” Bethany: “Yeah, I killed a lot of people.” Arianna: “Did you keep trophies?” She pulls toenails out of one of the bandolier pockets. “Don’t worry, this person was already dead, unless I was trying to torture them. I got lots of different ways that torture people.” Arianna: “Can you teach me?” Bethany: “Probably. You have to be twelve.” She bluffs that she is 13. Bethany: “After the tournament. If you beat Nean.” Arianna: “Can we torture a flower?” She pats her on the head. Everyone gets rooms; it is night. Inzilbęth cracks her door and lets her bat go out to eat. Derris goes after it and bothers: Bother bother you. Bother bother bother bother you. Oh bother bother.
Mithos wakes up about six in the morning when Ken is getting up. Ken: “I didn’t mean to wake you up; I’m going in early today. It was nice last night, I haven’t gotten some in awhile.” He kisses Mithos on the head, gathers his things, and goes out. Mithos goes back to sleep. The rest wake up around 9-10 o’clock, some in barracks, Jaylynn and Kharlan out in Aldis. There’s a light fall of snow on the ground. The day is clear and bright. Kharlan got up at seven and made ten snowmen with his kids. His wife comes out and scolds him for using household items. When those in the barracks go out, they hear the murmur of activity from main triangular square. Another crowd of Sovereign’s Finest has gathered, and everyone is milling around and talking. Some clump together in groups of three. Ken and Mordecai talking, Mordecai looking extremely angry. Jonah is talking to someone. Arianna goes over to talk to Nean, who looks like he’s talking to nothing (a.k.a. his invisible brother Rohi). She throws a rock and clips Rohi’s shoulder; Nean looks over and looks scared before he recognizes her. “Why’d you throw a rock…at…nothing?” Ariana: “Cause I wanted to throw a rock.” Nean: “Want to sit down next to nothing and me?” Arianna: “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” They talk about getting ready for the tournament. Nean: “Have three people for a team?” Arianna: “Spivak is! Spivak and I are going to get married.” They decide to have the tournament first and then have everyone get married. He tells her that Ken’s on his team, and they’re trying to get Mordecai. Arianna: “They’re having a tiff…Ken and Mordecai and the sea fairy we don’t like.” Nean is confused about the tiff. Arianna wants to get Ken and Mordecai married too. Arianna: “Bet you nothing made the hole.” Mordecai was so upset that he even forgot about the hole yesterday. Nean: “I should make sure nothing gets away safely and then talk to Ken about something.” Lots more talk about nothing and something. Nean stands up, grabs nothing’s shoulder, and drags nothing away. Arianna clocks nothing in the back of the head, and she hears cursing. (Much ado about nothing.) Derris drops a strange drawing on Tobs’ head that one of Kharlan’s kids drew of the snowmen. Tobs passes it around. Mithos walks over to Inzilbęth: “How was your night in the barracks?” Inzilbęth: “Fine. Relatively comfortable. And you, dare I ask?” Mithos: “Very comfortable indeed.” Jaylynn professionally lurks back to the barracks. Kharlan arrives. Inzilbęth notices Jaylynn: “Excuse me, are you from Kern?” Jaylynn backs away. Everyone else notices her and runs up and greets her. Jonah perks up on hearing people shout “Jaylynn!” and walks over, trying to not look excited. Mithos slips a hand around her waist. Jonah looks a little confused. “Jaylynn, it’s good to see you again. Do they scare you?” Inzilbęth: “I’m not from Kern; my family has been living here for generations.” She lists her impressive genealogy. Jonah: “It’s very good to see you again, Jaylynn.” Arianna: “We should make you get married too!” He turns red and starts stuttering. “No, no…have to talk about the tournament.” Jaylynn removes Mithos’ hand when he tells her that healers are attractive. Tobs settles things down a bit. Jonah is considerably flustered by now. “I’m supposed to take you to see the field, do have any questions? Preventing death? Ah, well, shapers have made the damage subdued so that it doesn’t kill anyone; it can knock them out but can’t kill or cause serious injury.” Arianna asks about cutting things off. He tells her that healers will be on hand. Jaylynn volunteers to heal on the side. She’s not one for fighting. Inzilbęth thinks that Jonah and Mithos will be trying to get hurt just so that they can be treated by Jaylynn. Jonah continues: “In the middle of each field is a relic, and the score for getting a relic is 6; knocking a member of the other team out is three, and you need to get to nine points to win, so the relic plus one or knocking out all three is a win. Rhy-bonds don’t count in the numbers.” Inzilbęth asks Arianna to be on a team; Mithos and Kharlan and Tobs form another. Arianna wants Bethany on their team. Jonah takes notes, nods, and heads off.
Back at the barracks, Bethany is back at her desk cleaning a torture device. Arianna: “Bethany Bethany Bethany, I need another person.” Bethany: “I’m not sure, torturing people is not good for a tournament.” Arianna almost hits the wrong chord but then Bethany nods: “I wasn’t planning to participate because there’s not much room for a torturer, but I think I can do it.” Arianna: “You can watch me catch sea fairies on fire!” Inzilbęth: “Do you have any other skills?” She has a shiny sword. Bethany tells them to meet at the field at seven tomorrow morning. (Half the stadium will be taken up by Kharlan’s family.) Bethany shows Arianna torture devices…certain points they poke, they bleed, and they die. Bethany: “I know how to not kill people by killing people.” Inzilbęth: “Hmm.” Mithos and Kharlan talk about sisters-in-law. The day goes along, people are drifting, and lots of threes are forming up: Mordecai, Ken, and Nean have formed a team, and Krin and Sheila and Deanna have formed another.
Jaylynn asks Jonah directly how his brother is doing. He looks guilty: “He got better, but he’s been really really sick lately, and I don’t know what to do with him.” Kharlan (referring to Winifred): “He’s lovesick.” Jonah (quite affronted): “No no no, not love, she had a hold on him!” Mithos: “Was the sex good?” Jonah twists his face and looks angry at him. Tobs explains the vampire bit. Kharlan asks if he misses being a thrall. “No! Can we not bring it up anymore? It’s kind of a sensitive topic. If you want to look at my brother, that would be really nice.” All of them follow Jonah out into the nice cobblestone streets of Aldis. They pass buildings of various shapes and sizes, Kharlan’s lawn with ten lumpy snowmen, and the Blue Rose square, where the Summer Festival was held last time; there are still decorations left over from the Winter Solstice. Jonah stops at a particular manor on the left made out of nice blue-tinted marble (quite a rich estate) and pokes head in the gatehouse. The gate opens through arcana, and he leads everyone in. The inside is not quite as spectacular, as it has fallen into disrepair in some spots, but it is still very comfortable with a roaring fire and deep soft rugs. They remove their shoes and go in and up the stairs. Along the walls are lots of different portraits of blond haired persons (Jonah’s esteemed pompous important ancestors). He points out things along the hallway. Derris makes a haiku about being sad about not being able to poop on the rug. They go up winding stairs to a tower area, warm and homey with a locked room at the top. Jonah opens it with a key. “Is it that serious?” “It’s for his own safety, just in case, he’s kind of paranoid…” Arianna: “Does it run in the family?” Jonah: “No, I’m not paranoid!” Arianna proves him wrong by playing with fire. The room beyond is very dark, lit only by a lamp. Jonah speaks in hushed tones and goes over to his brother softly. Kharlan: “Are you sure he’s not a vampire?” Jonah glares at him.
Jaylynn is allowed the closest to Aaron, who is lying in bed, looking pale and unconscious. He looks feverish, his hair is in disarray…he looks very sick. Jaylynn takes a look at him. She does a good reading, as during her stay in Aldis she looked up diseases. Aaron has something particularly nasty although not contagious brought on by supreme stress. It strikes very slowly and can take a couple months for symptoms to show; a couple more months is death. In other words, not good. Jaylynn manages to soothe away some of the fever. At this stage, with a disease like this, there is a point past which healing magic puts more strain on the body…Aaron needs outside medicine, although he is not quite sure what it is. Jaylynn asks Jonah what his brother does to relax. Jonah reads to him, but mostly he sleeps a lot. “Before this,” Jonah thinks for awhile, “I really don’t know; we weren’t on good terms. The servants might know. I wasn’t in the house until a couple of months ago. I’m not a person of high renown in this family.” Jaylynn goes asking around and then leads everyone back out. Talking to the servants, they find that he was fond of going out to plays. He was also fond of the arts and liked politics and going to meetings. Jaylynn prescribes Jonah to read newspaper to him. Kharlan says that his sister- in-law Abby has an advice column in the paper.
Then Jonah offers to take them to the tournament field. Kharlan: “Going on a field trip!” He takes them to a coliseum, an old kingdom artifact with lots of seats, lots of activity, and lots of mages moving about in various parts of the field. The field is rectangular, 100 by 150 feet, with raised metallic platforms and ordinary cobbled stone. The magic users shift things about; sand then converts back to stone. Others are working with water, and healers off to the side are doing damage dampening, as they don’t want to loose any of the Sovereign’s Finest. Tobs and Arianna dance, Arianna mimicking Tobs. There are no animals anywhere. The stones themselves are strange: really old stuff, some magic past what anything can do in this day and age. Arianna lights a fire on a stone, but it doesn’t affect it. They’re impervious to just about everything. Jonah doesn’t know why it’s like that. They said something about changing shape, but he doesn’t know how. Jaylynn senses that it is in how they are interlocked and can shift. Jonah pokes around…Tobs quickly intercedes: “Don’t try to shape anything!” He looks a little guilty. “I’m getting better at it, really!” Arianna wants to see what happens. He concentrates and with unusual skill he gathers water, lifts it up, and shoves it down at the stone, where it splats. Mithos’ hair goes sparkle sparkle with water droplets. Tobs applauds. Arianna: “Go Jonah go!”
Then the mages shoo them out. Kharlan explores like a small child. There are lots of small rooms, things being set up, the kitchen staff (including Hannah) working on food for tomorrow, more rooms for resting; in the infirmary, Jaylynn counts beds. People are starting to move in one particular direction, and they hear voices from one end (to the right). A female voice is speaking, along with the murmur of people. Sigourney stands by the side of the Queen, walking down the hallway. Queen Jaellin still looks a little pale and not completely at full health, but a lot better. There are also some nobles with her – members of the Sovereign’s Council, talking concernedly about something. Jonah starts and drops into a bow. The tail end of their conversation is about Kern – Jaellin is debating with one of her advisors, and the main argument is whether or not to send people into Kern now. She doesn’t want to do it, as there are things to mop up here to protect Aldis; Lord Sayvin wants to send an army in quickly, and he already has a leader (Torvic). Inzilbęth pays close attention and waits for an opportunity. Sigourney nods at the group; Arianna follows them, Tobs follows her, and Inzilbęth trails after as well. Jonah: “What are you doing?” Jaylynn lurks back to barracks to research, and Jonah goes back with her. Kharlan and Mithos go have a party, but Kharlan sends Derris with the three.
Sigourney glances back as Lord Sayvin speaks of the necessity of a preemptive strike on Kern. An older woman turns and addresses the three: “Can I help you?” Arianna: “I have an idea: you should send a scouting party in.” Inzilbęth agrees with her. Arianna: “You’re not very nice, you interrupted!” Inzilbęth thinks an immediate attack may be unwise; Arianna suggests a small group of about six people, which has been Sigourney’s advice. Lord Sayvin shakes his head: “Are you mad?” Arianna: “Yes!” “Who would be mad enough to volunteer for this sort of mission; the probability of coming back is almost nonexistent. Are you volunteering?” He looks to Sigourney. “Well, I will consider this feasible. Are you participating in the tournament? The top two groups combine, and we’ll send them on the mission. If they volunteer, we’ll consider it.” The Rhydan agrees. Arianna and Sayvin argue about meaningless death. Then he and Inzilbęth argue, and he walks away. Jaellin shakes her head a bit and beckons to entourage.
Kharlan and Mithos go to an Aldean bar, which is cleaner and nicer than other bars but still a bar. Some of the Sovereign’s Finest are there, including Ken, who has his arms around yet another guy. Deanna the griffon rider is at the bar, very noisy and drunk out of her mind. The bartender is their old sailor friend Burly. Spivak immediately comes (6th Burly sense), and he cleans glasses with Spivak on his shoulder. Kharlan: “Hi Burly, I’m drunk.” “I know, I served you five of those drinks.” He looks very focused on this one glass: “It’s dirty, my goldfish was in it. The goldfish is in a better place now.” He points at it in a big bowl. “Fish like beer.” Mithos scans the room for attractive people and locks eyes with the goldfish. He’s the most beautiful aquatic firefly you’ve ever seen. After another beer, he tries again, realizing that the shiny thing was not hair but fish. Mostly the Sovereign’s Finest are pretty. There are lots of different people for Mithos to choose from. He goes after Deanna. “Kinda remember you…I remember you? Can I have another one?” Burly shakes his head.
Mithos buys, she drinks: “You’re a great man or woman, doesn’t matter at this point. What’s your story, I’ve got a sob-story, I’m not the bartender, let’s not be lonely, I don’t like cats…” Their conversation makes drunken sense. “We should go hang out somewhere.” “I’m Mithos.” “That’s a pretty name, reminds me of my mom’s name…Sarah.” “Deanna’s a pretty name too, almost as pretty as you are.” “Ooo…That’s a pickup line, want to do something? I’ve got a place in the barracks. I can lead you back there, not that far.” She wobbles quite heavily…”Over there, no over there.” Spivak helps them back to the barracks. They open the door to Sheila lying on bed reading a book. (Jaylynn is meanwhile studying…herbs and spices…not the Colonel’s blend). “Deanna, what did I say about bringing home strange men? I’m not good at threesomes, and I don’t want one tonight.” Mithos: “I’m here for her.” “I’m busy on the bed, you’ll have to go someplace else.” The roommates argue about the bed. Sheila looks annoyed, like this happens every time they come back. Deanna waves a bit, and they go to Mithos’ room. Mithos gets laid again.
Spivak goes off to find Tobs. Inzilbęth goes into history of her people, etc. etc. Spivak to Tobs: “Burly’s here!” Tobs and Arianna: “Let’s go see Burly!” Burly pets Spivak as he polishes the same glass. Tobs asks Burly how he got off the stormwrecked ship: “Uh, water shapers, island, kind of good, seafolk and stuff, stayed there awhile, real tropical, lots of seashells (points to pretty pink seashell on shelf), spent a couple months in a grass skirt, that was kind of fun, went back, no problem.” Arianna asks about Cleo and is told she is back in Garnet. He says it’s a custom to wear grass skirts in area. Inzilbęth notes that it is good to blend in. The goldfish is named Susan. She bobs up, and Arianna feeds her with a small shot glass of alcohol. Kharlan: “Small children should not drink alcohol,” he lectures while he drinks. Fish: “Glub glub glub.” Kharlan: “Know where that one guy and the griffon rider went?” Arianna: “It’s not fair, Mithos is going to get to ride a griffon before me.” Kharlan calls Burly emo. Arianna wants to beat Mithos at riding a griffon. Burly: “Bit young.” Tobs is oblivious to the innuendos. Burly tries to explain the birds and the bees to her; then Inzilbęth tries. Kharlan talks to a potted plant, which he thinks is Jaylynn. Tobs listens to the girls. Arianna: “Children come from storks which come from cabbage plants.” (Back at the barracks, Deanna tops.” Arianna goes on a long explanation. Tobs gets alcohol: “I think I need alcohol.” Kharlan: “I don’t remember that happening, and I have three of them.” He holds up two fingers. Kharlan takes over explaining. Burly serves Arianna some food. Kharlan: “My wife didn’t know where babies came from and she did fine.” Arianna goes back to the barracks to talk to Bethany before the others tell her about sex. Kharlan stumbles home, and falls to the ground; his sisters-in-law drag him in. The others sleep.
Early the next morning there are two knocks at Mithos’ door. “What is it?” They hear Krin’s voice “You have Deanna in there? Deanna? What time is it? You’re late. What are you doing in there?” Deanna: “Oh, I have to go, forgot the tournament. We should do this again some time. Next time you can top.” Both Sheila and Krin glare at her. They go off to prepare. Arianna to Bethany: “I was telling people where babies come from, but they know nothing.” Bethany points Mithos to a sea-folk pool. Roland comes to get Jaylynn, and they go to the infirmary. Jonah falls down the stairs. And he comes in to the infirmary to get his ankle treated. Kharlan stumbles in. All go over to the field. Everyone drew on Kharlan’s face while asleep, so he has battle makeup. Mithos has battle hickies.
The boy’s team (Kharlan, Mithos, and Tobs) is led out on the field and up onto a metal platform. The stands are filled with lots of people; it seems that most of the city turned out to see the tournaments. The Queen herself announces: “Here is the competition of our finest warriors who uphold the realm etc. etc.” When she finishes, the field begins to change. They feel a lot of magic in the air as the stones reshape themselves. The temperature increases dramatically, large stones rise up, some stepping stones come out, and those stones fall out and fill with something like water. Tobs is scared. They can’t even see opponents, or relic that is supposedly in the middle. Everything except the stepping stones is lava. Derris flies up and looks down. The field is mirrored on the other side, and facing them are Krin, Deanna, and Sheila. Mithos and Tobs groan. Derris also sees the relic in the middle. Kharlan jumps two stones. Mithos goes up the up the path. There are curious markings on one side of a stone. They hear Deanna almost falls into the lava, but Krin moves up, as does Sheila. Spivak flies up to the cup and guards it. Tobs dexterously goes out to the other side. Kharlan feels a rush of magic well up, and heat radiates out in an arc: Mithos is covered, Tobs dodges it, and Kharlan shakes it up. Krin and Sheila do just fine, but Deanna is knocked right off and disqualified. Healers come up, and the stone goes back to normal where they walk; they take her to the infirmary. Kharlan tries to move two and does, and Derris goes to bother Krin. Krin is very bothered and gets engaged in swatting Derris. Mithos makes another jump up the middle. He struggles a bit but clings on and hauls himself up. Sheila has a bird on her shoulder, a great big eagle hawk. The hawk goes after Derris, hits, and rakes into his wings; Derris is hurt. Tobs jumps another one, but it crumbles underneath him, so he jumps and lands near Spivak, slightly hurt. Kharlan jumps two more. Mithos jumps up to the next one, the rock kind of depresses, and the wave of heat is disarmed. Krin leaps and jumps forward, the rock shifts, and she is back where Tobs used to be. Sheila’s bird goes at Derris but doesn’t hit. Sheila moves two. Tobs picks up the cup and puts it in his backpack. The other side emits heat again; Derris swoops around on the hot air and makes a haiku about how hot it is. Kharlan jumps twice and is now next to Tobs. Mithos jumps down, flipping while his hair sparkles, and lands next to them. Krin jumps bravely and brilliantly and attacks Tobs with her shortsword. She doesn’t hit. The eagle owl attempts to attack Derris and fails. Sheila jumps closer. Tobs moves back and shoots at Sheila. Kharlan swipes at Krin and hits her pretty good. Mithos also attacks Krin with his rapier and scores another good hit on her, and she falls back, almost out of it. Krin attacks Mithos and hits, hurting him. Sheila’s hawk is hitting the owl, Derris is hurting pretty bad. Sheila stays put. Spivak goes to help Derris. Tobs shoots Sheila pretty good. Derris flies away, withdrawing. Kharlan knocks Krin out. That’s the end. The field goes back to normal, the relic disappears, and medics come out and heal everyone. Tobs and Mithos do a victory dance.
Next the three girls, Inzilbęth, Arianna, and Bethany, come out. The crowd cheers, and the field rises up as stairs and a wooden catwalk, ladder, net, thin rope, wall…everything else is empty space with an endless drop below. Inzilbęth’s bat comes out. Tobs cheers them on from the sidelines. Mithos does too. Kharlan asks Jaylynn about the bar (you were talking to a plant, silly). The other team gets to go first. Bethany walks out onto the rickety steps and balances beautifully, moving slowly. Inzilbęth’s bat goes up and scopes stuff out. There are arches with the relic in the middle. They’re fighting Nean, Ken, and Mordecai. Arianna tries to go on out as well. She takes ten and slowly progresses as it sways. Wind is picking up. Nean does an exceptionally awesome job at moving himself, and he progresses along nets and catwalks. Bethany has some trouble getting up the ladder, as she has too much stuff in the bandolier. Ken also progresses up. Inzilbęth enhances her dexterity. Wind picks up even more, as Mordecai is in particular concentration. Arianna attempts to mentally contact Mordecai, and they grapple with each other. Nean is being amazing tonight and maneuvers himself along a slim line and leaps across. Bethany crawls up the ladder and onto the next layer, pulling out a long range weapon. Ken proceeds along. He fires a shot at Arianna, and she reels back but is not knocked out. Inzilbęth moves out onto the catwalk. Arianna tries to psychically pin Mr. Mordecai; he is pinned and immobile, and the wind dies down a bit. Nean goes up closer to the dais with the relic. Bethany shoots at him with her crossbow and clips him a bit. Ken takes another shot at Arianna, but she’s fine, it bounces off. Inzilbęth shoots at Nean, but he’s not really that hurt. Mordecai psychic grapples back but is unsuccessful. Arianna tries to make him stop with the wind, and the wind slows down again. Nean jumps down and gets the relic. Arianna yells to get Mordecai. Bethany moves, jumps long, and lands on the high wall. Ken shoots at Arianna again, and she is hurt. Inzilbęth moves out and jumps beautifully. Mordecai breaks contact with Arianna. She lobs a fireball at Ken, who looks singed. He staggers back. Nean is the most agile little sucker ever (direct quote from Rachael). He’s looking irritated because there is no earth to shape. Bethany moves to attack Nean, but they swipe at each other in mid-air. Ken shoots at Inzilbęth, but she shoots at Ken and hits him. Mordecai starts up the wind again; Arianna gets pushed back. Nean attacks Bethany but doesn’t hit her. Bethany hits him back with a self-assembled sword. Ken shoots Inzilbęth again but fails to hit. Inzilbęth shoots Nean with her crossbow. Mordecai maintains concentration on the wind. Arianna attacks Ken with a fireball, but it doesn’t hit. Nean almost crits on Bethany, but she crits back. Ken fires at Inzilbęth again. He hits and hurts her. She shoots Nean but doesn’t hit. Mordecai keeps concentrating. Ken staggers and almost falls off. Arianna tries to grapple Nean but doesn’t make it. Bethany hits Nean, but not too hard. Ken fires at Inzilbęth and crits on her, wounding her. Inzilbęth feels nightpeople rage against Ken and fires at him but doesn’t hit. Mordecai concentrates on the wind again. Ken stumbles and is off balance. Arianna psychic grapples Nean and pins him. He’s immobile. Bethany crits on him, and he falls backwards. (Dan – we don’t kill fuckable NPCs). Inzilbęth tries shooting again. Mordecai tries again with the wind, and Ken falls off. Inzilbęth and Arianna are knocked back to the edge. Bethany makes a flying leap down into where Nean is, and she knocks him out and grabs the cup. They win!
The tournament games continue! The two groups keep winning their fights as the day progresses, and none of the fields have been the same. Arianna reminds Bethany that she gets to learn torture since she beat Nean. Bethany: “What type? Water, knife, psychological...” She continues to describe psychological… “Keep talking until they give in!” Jaylynn gets some herbs and works them into a concoction for Jonah’s brother. Arianna wants to torture Rohi to learn what’s between him and Linu. They talk about Mithos seducing Aaron…Mithos wants him better. (Vampiric STDs? We don’t want to know.) They go off to sleep. Ken looks frazzled; he’s leaning on Mordecai’s shoulder heavily. Mithos goes over to talk to Ken, who is drunk. Mordecai perhaps got him drunk. Ken suggests a threesome, and Mordecai looks mortified. Mithos: “Drunk sex isn’t that fun.” Mordecai: “I don’t want to have sex with either of you!” Mithos offers to take Ken back. Mordecai doesn’t believe him, but Ken stumbles over towards him, and they proceed to Ken’s bed. Ken recovers quite marvelously and enjoys himself. Inzilbęth tells Arianna to go surprise Ken. There is a big debate about this. (We are a special group.)
The next morning dawns bright, snowy, and busy. Ken sleeps in a lot. Jaylynn gets up early to count bandages. Roland chatters to Jaylynn rather amiably. Arianna goes to wake Ken and Mithos up. She gets snowballs spiked with ice and shoves them in a bag. She opens the door, crawls on the floor, and puts ice balls of torture around the bed. Then she stands up and chucks snowballs at the bed and yells “Wake up wake up!” and sets fire to the foot of the bed. “What, AHH!” Chaos ensues. Ken stands up, quite naked, and steps forward: “Oh god I’m wet and on fire…” He trips and falls flat on his back. Arianna throws more snowballs at him. Mithos screams. Ken scrambles for a blanket. Arianna: “You were having a slumber party and you didn’t tell me!” Ken: “Oh god, it’s cold…” [looks down at himself…] “I’m never going to come back out.” Kharlan builds a snowman outside of their window. Ken puts on his clothes and goes to see Mordecai. “It was good until the little girl…” Arianna jumps on the bed, and she and Mithos argue. She chases him out and pokes him with an icicle in the butt. Arianna is evil. Phaedrus tells Tobs that he also won all his fights, and he got to see Jonah fight…on a snow field…and he had an interesting effect…it was quite an amusing fight…he was with Sigourney and Danäe. He’s not sure why Jonah is on a team with the Captain and the Head Mage, but… Inzilbęth goes into the kitchen, where Hannah is talking to her wife. She asks about wild game; she wants it to help her focus on her talent. Hannah sends Linu back for some venison hotpot. Kharlan and his two kids build a snow fort in the street and throw snowballs at whoever walks by. They hit three people – two random strangers and Jonah. He falls over in the street. Kharlan’s kids want him to come play. Mithos swims in the fountain. Kharlan hits Jonah with a snowball again. He’s upset about his wet hair. Kharlan offers to injure him so that he can go see Jaylynn, and he agrees. Jonah thinks Jaylynn is pretty, but Kharlan goes on about his wife.
Mithos is late. The person in charge wonders where their third person is…Kharlan sends Derris to peck him on the head. Because of his lateness, Arianna, Inzilbęth, and Bethany go first. The stones slide away, and sand comes up. Stones come up out of the sand, and the rest of the sand doesn’t look so solid. On the other side are Phaedrus, an archer (Ted), and a swordsman (Bill). Inzilbęth looks at the sand and figures that very dexterous people could go on top, but others would be sucked down; she jumps onto a rock. Bill yells “Excellent!” and does an acrobatic jump across the sand. Ted steps out carefully. Bethany trots across the sand to another rock. Arianna runs over to a big rock. Phaedrus maneuvers onto a stone. Inzilbęth jumps to the next one. Bill makes it onto the relic spot. Ted tries to shoot someone and jump at the same time; the field shifts and moves, and he topples into the sand. Inzilbęth’s stone sinks, and she’s knee deep. Phaedrus jumps forward and makes it onto the middle platform. Bethany moves onto a big rock. Arianna mentally tortures Bill. She talks in his head…he’s like “Whoa.” Phaedrus takes the relic and sticks it in his pack. Inzilbęth jumps onto a stone right across from Phaedrus. He attacks her, but she manages to stay on her rock. Bill: “Ah, voices in my head! Not excellent! Totally heinous!” and he goes to his knees. Bethany lengthens her sword, adding pieces to it. Arianna convinces Bill to throw himself off the edge. Bill and Ted go into the infirmary: “That was most heinous.” Phaedrus takes two swings at Inzilbęth with his sickles. She manages to be okay with some effort. She jumps on the rock next to Bethany. Bethany strikes at Phaedrus but misses. Arianna tries to psychically grapple Phaedrus, and he gets pinned. Inzilbęth shoots at Phaedrus but misses. Bethany whacks at him. Arianna tries to torture him, but he breaks free after a long and complicated psychic battle. He jumps forward and attacks Inzilbęth but doesn’t hit. Inzilbęth shoots at him but doesn’t hit. Arianna throws a very nice fireball at him; Inzilbęth and Bethany stagger back, and the edge of their rock crumbles. Phaedrus, Inzilbęth, and Bethany sink into the sand up to their knees. Bethany staggers and gets burned, as does Phaedrus. Phaedrus tries to get out of the sand, and he staggers up to the rock looking woozy. Inzilbęth clambers up onto the rock, as does Bethany. Arianna wants to psychic grapple mister woozy boy, but she fails. Phaedrus attacks Inzilbęth and hits her once, hurting her a little. She shoots at him again. Bethany moves and hits Phaedrus; she slashes him across the chest, and he falls in the sand. They win! Bethany compliments Arianna on her torturing skills. First rule is, you don’t talk about torture club…
Kharlan, Mithos, and Tobs face Jonah, Sigourney, and Danäe across a water/snow field. Danäe begins to concentrate. Sigourney leaps forward and skids a bit on the ice, but she keeps her feet. Jonah tries arcana and moves the water; a wave goes everywhere. Sigourney goes into the water, and it gets the others wet. The relic disappears. Mithos swims underwater to try to find the relic. Spivak goes to bother Jonah. Tobs jumps to a rock and skids lovely and sparkly. Derris goes to bother the other caster, but Danäe isn’t bothered. Kharlan jumps to a rock, and Tobs balances as Kharlan hops on. Danäe concentrates, and the ice under Tobs and Kharlan melts; they jump forward. Sigourney jumps up to the center where they are as well. Jonah tries again with the arcana. Mithos keeps searching and gets close. Tobs tries to shoot Sigourney, but she’s too shiny to hit. Kharlan bull-rushes Sigourney, and they grapple until she gets to the edge. Danäe aims a fire attack at Tobs. He moves aside as the ice under him melts. Sigourney and Kharlan grapple some more. Jonah rushes water at Tobs, and he is moved back and drenched. Mithos has the relic. Tobs shoots Danäe. Spivak bothers Jonah. Kharlan takes out his sword and swipes at Sigourney. Danäe: “What are you doing Jonah? Why are you getting bothered by a cat?” She blasts Tobs and hurts him, making him jump back. Sigourney attacks Kharlan but does no damage. Jonah is bothered, and he tries to work on his botheration. His arcana causes water to flail about. Mithos is back on the surface with the relic, and he jumps back on the starting gate. Tobs shoots Danäe again, but she saves. Kharlan hits Sigourney, but she saves. Danäe fireblasts Tobs, who jumps onto a nearby rock, skidding but keeping his balance. Sigourney doesn’t hit Kharlan. Jonah does no good. Mithos stands back with the relic, flipping his hair and sparkling. Fangirls cheer. Tobs gets an arrow through Danäe’s shoulder. Derris poops but doesn’t hit Danäe. Kharlan hits Sigourney, and she gets hurt. Danäe fires at Tobs again, and Tobs goes swimming. Kharlan attacks Sigourney again, and Jonah moves water around Tobs. Mithos yells and asks Tobs if he needs help; Tobs clambers back up. Derris uses a dirty limerick involving Danäe and her mother, and she gets bothered. She hits the owl with fire, and he falls into the water. Jaylynn gets a rather wet and burnt owl to care for in the infirmary. Sigourney hits, but Kharlan is fine. Jonah throws water at Spivak, who lands wet and hissing. Jonah apologizes. Tobs shoots Danäe and hurts her a little more. Kharlan: “No, Derris!” He hits Sigourney again, and she looks badly off. Danäe sends a fireball at the three in the middle, and all have to move. Sigourney crits on Kharlan, but he saves! Mithos cheerleads on the side. Jonah tries with arcana again. Spivak goes off to one side, sulking and licking herself. Tobs fails to hit Danäe. Kharlan knocks Sigourney out, and they win! She nods a bit: “You guys are a pretty good group.”
They continue throughout the day, winning all of their matches. Then they have to fight each other. The final field: walls rise up, high stone walls, way too high to jump on them. Mithos runs forward towards the circle in the middle. The stones fall out in the direct path he takes. Inzilbęth sends her bat up, but it can’t get up over the walls; there are doors in the circle wall in the center. She casts enhance self on herself. Kharlan sends Derris out to where Mithos is, and he moves out to the wall. Bethany also moves out, as does Arianna. Tobs runs all the way to the door, leaving a wake of destruction in his path. Mithos goes to the door on the other side. Inzilbęth goes in the opposite direction of her companions. Kharlan runs forward, and Derris goes to bother Arianna. Bethany moves up to where Mithos is. Arianna moves up to Mithos and attacks him with fire. Mithos: “Arianna, no!” Tobs runs in a circular path, grabs the relic, and jumps over the hole to get back out. Mithos grapples Bethany, but she beats him. Inzilbęth tries to shoot at Tobs but misses. Mithos notices that the ground under him is becoming unstable. Kharlan runs straight towards Bethany. Bethany grapples Mithos right back. Arianna tries to set Mithos on fire, and she jumps to avoid falling down. Tobs shoots Inzilbęth, who falls back into a hole, and the boys’ team wins. Mithos poses as everyone cheers.
The Queen comes out and presents the champions with tokens. Mithos kisses her hand. Lord Sayvin looks a bit miffed because they succeeded. Arianna and Bethany and Inzilbęth got second place. Everyone gets healed. Arianna gives Tobs a flower, and he puts in it his hair. Bethany teaches Arianna more fire torture. Bethany: “Never use it on Mithos, though.” Inzilbęth shakes a somewhat nervous Tobs’ hand. Mithos hits on Bethany: “I’ve never fought someone as beautiful as you.” Arianna wants to marry Bethany too. Mithos: “So, Bethany, are you into whips and chains? Can you show me sometime? Or I can watch.” She’ll think about it (as in, not likely). Arianna: “Can you show me how to torture him?” Bethany goes off to teach Arianna about fire instead. [Mithos gets the feeling that she is pretty asexual; she puts more of her energy into…other things.] Lord Sayvin comes in. Mithos flirts with Tobs, Arianna sets Mithos on fire, and he jumps into Inzilbęth’s arms. Lord Sayvin looks, stares, and shakes a bit. Arianna: “Hello, here’s a flower!” Lord: “No, child. So you are the ones who won the tournament. I’d like you to leave as soon as possible – a reconnaissance mission to Kern to see what the Lich King is up to. I want to make a preemptive strike, but the Queen disagrees, so this is the next best thing. He might be doing something with the crystals and the shadowgates.” Arianna makes faces at him. When he notices, she goes to hide behind Inzilbęth. Inzilbęth: “She is young, please be forgiving.” Mithos: “No, don’t be forgiving.” They need a seventh. They get to ride griffons!
They make a list of people to take on and argue. (Which fun NPC? So many good ones to choose from…) Then they do interviews. Linu is first. They go into the kitchen, and Hannah talks about how she was cheering for her wife. They sit down to dinner and ask him questions: “If you were taken to Kern…” Mithos scares him with innuendos. Derris poops on his head. Linu: “I have some skill at shaping light and water.” [He knows Rohi, but he lies and says he doesn’t know him that well…he actually knew him from before when they studied under Danäe.] He’ll go with them if they want him to. He seems offended that Kharlan knocked Rohi out of the window. Poor Rohi broke his arm. Tobs says he’s sorry for bothering him, and they leave. They go to talk to Ken next, who’s shooting at the archery range. Tobs shoots too; Ken is distracted by Tobs, he and Mithos flirt with Tobs, and Tobs hides behind Inzilbęth, who shoots as well. Jaylynn makes Ken think that he sees an enemy down at the end of the archery range, and he shoots really really freaking good. He’d like to consider himself charismatic and attractive…Kharlan: “None of that on the trail.” Next they talk to Nean in the Adept Dome. Nean is talking to someone who isn’t there: Rohi. He idly goes over to the window and shuts it. Arianna: “Nothings can say in here.” Nean: “I’m an earth shaper, and I fight with my hands sometime.” Arianna: “Nothing can come to Kern with us too.” Nean would be willing to go: “Nothing should follow my example.” Inzilbęth comments that Nothing should cover his arcana trace, and she gets a book chucked at her head. Jaylynn pulls the same trick; Nean jerks upwards, and they hear shuffling as something stands in front of Nean; they face it defensively. Jaylynn has it fly straight at him and vanish; Rohi and Nean move to strike it. Rohi is visible now, and he glares at everyone. Mithos goes over and ruffles his hair. Kharlan apologizes for breaking his arm. Rohi is seventeen and shorter than Tobs (only 5ft!), and Nean is fifteen and 5’6”. Rohi sits down on the bed and sulks. He doesn’t want to go, but he’ll follow his brother. Tobs mollifies Rohi, but he hates Arianna, Mithos, and Kharlan. Next they go to Deanna, who is handling her griffon. Deanna to Mithos: “Oh, I remember you. You were pretty good.” She’s pretty loyal to her group, though. They vote and choose Nean and Rohi.
They go to Burly’s bar for a going away party. Jaylynn hires a crier to read her snide letter to Torvic: “We’re going to Kern and you’re not.” Spivak’s presence convinces Burly to throw them a party. Burly brings out weird cheese puffs. Kharlan feeds one to the goldfish. Then he starts a conga line, and Ken, Deanna, and Jonah join in (Jonah gets the rhythm out of whack). Mithos talks to Phaedrus and then attempts to comfort Jonah. Slightly drunk Jonah doesn’t notice that Mithos isn’t female. Mithos teaches him how to dance…rather seductively. Mithos feeds him lots of compliments. Jonah talks about how everyone always went after his brother. Jonah: “You’re a shiny person, I’m a shiny person, everyone’s shiny.” Mithos says his name is Martel. Jonah: “It sounds like Sigourney.” Mithos tells Jonah that he should quit the Sovereign’s Finest and start a modeling career. Mithos: “I need a lot of water.” Jonah: “I’m good at water.” Jaylynn cures Jonah’s drunkenness, but it doesn’t quite help his judgement. Kharlan holds up a sign behind Mithos that says MALE. Jonah blinks as Mithos throws a cup at Kharlan. Jonah: “Mail? There’s no post office in here.” Mithos: “I think he’s trying to tell you that you’re male.” Kharlan returns the cup and conks Mithos in the back of the head. Mithos suggests that they go somewhere more private, but Jonah says that he has duties to attend to. Mithos buys him another drink, but Jaylynn keeps poking Jonah to keep him somewhat sober. Mithos: “This might be the last night we have…I could even die in Kern.” Jonah: “I’ve never done it with anyone before.” Mithos: “I’ll take good care of you.” Jonah: “If you want…not like I’ve got anyone else.” Spivak goes over to tell Jonah that Mithos is not a girl. Jonah to Mithos: “Sorry, but I’m sepia…absolutely nothing personal.” Mithos suggests a threesome. Jonah turns beet red. Jonah glances at Jaylynn: “She’s a good person.” He backs away and makes his way out of the bar. Tobs waves and laughs at Mithos from the bar. Mithos to Tobs: “I hate you.” Kharlan sends Derris after Jonah to sneak into his bed. Ken comes up and pats Mithos on the back as he drinks at the bar. Tobs tells him about Mithos trying to seduce Jonah, and Ken goes out laughing and tells pretty much everyone. Mithos is miffed and angry. He attempts to get laid, but he doesn’t have much luck. Jonah wakes up, feels something fuzzy, and hugs Derris. Looks at him…sits up…”I’ve got to stop drinking before bed.”
The next morning, they are ordered to meet in front of the palace at nine o’clock. The palace is nice Old Kingdom architecture: lots of trees and flowering things, despite it being winter (eternal blossoms). Queen Jaellin, Lord Sayvin, and Sigourney are standing there. Griffons fly down out of the sky, and snow is fresh on their wings. Deanna is among them, and they line up in front of the Queen. The griffons bow, and Jaellin steps up and addresses them all. Hannah tucks handkerchiefs into everyone’s collars. Lots of Sovereign’s Finest are there, and Kharlan’s family, and Phaedrus. Danäe and Hannah hug Nean, and he gets on Deanna’s griffon…and there seems to be extra space there for Nothing. Inzilbęth’s on one with a nightperson. They all say goodbye to Jonah. They wave and fly off. They travel for most of the day, and they toss bundles of food back and forth. Kharlan wears pink fuzzy mittens and a scarf made by his family. Kharlan’s talking about his family causes him to shift riders frequently.
It takes two or three days before they are set down in a fortress up in the mountains. They can see down into the grey dull land of Kern. Mithos: “It’s ugly.” Jaylynn’s heart sinks slowly as emo snow falls around her. Renolls greets them. He looks at them from over the top of his scarf and nods at them. “I was not informed that we were getting reinforcements.” Deanna: “No, this is the suicide, I mean reconnaissance, group. I’m the reinforcement. They’re going into Kern.” He looks, nods: “I’ll send you a guide to get you through the rest of the mountains, but then you’ll be on your own. I would have preferred an army. We’ve had attacks from darkfiends at least twice in the last two months.” Renolls compliments Jaylynn on her bravery for going back into Kern, especially since she was born there. Tobs attempts to disguise the seafolk (hated in Kern) with a hat and scarf. Mithos looks unhappy. They go over to Sandy, who is intensely working with fire to shape armor. They ask her for disguises. Deanna pops up: “Sandy, oh, I didn’t know you’ve been assigned here! I’m so happy to see you again!” They’re sisters. Deanna picks up the fifteen year old and hugs her. Sandy: “Oh god, make it stop.” Deanna keeps babbling as Sandy analyzes who will need disguises. Points to Jaylynn’s amulet: “Take care of that. Don’t let on that you’re from Aldis.” She pulls out horrible looking burlap things to put over their clothes: the things that Kern laborers would wear. Nean looks saddened at the awful clothes, as do Mithos and Tobs. Mithos wants to be Jaylynn’s slave. Nightpeople are the ones that lead the labor gangs, however. Jaylynn tries to tell Inzilbęth that she speaks too nicely; Inzilbęth responds with a harsh Brooklyn accent. Mithos drags the still babbling Deanna away. Tobs talks to Lirael, a woman posted at the fortress, about what he can expect in Kern. She tells them to behave like they’re downtrodden. “Also, don’t show any weakness. There are no old people, because they kill them.” Tobs looks wide-eyed at all of this shocking news. Lirael lightshapes on Spivak’s wings to make her look like a normal cat. The owl and the bat should be fine. Kharlan says the bat’s name is Steve. Inzilbęth: “Animals don’t have names.” Kharlan tells a young man stories…the young man listens enthusiastically, as he has a young wife at home and wants to have lots of kids. Inzilbęth talks to Renolls about the nightfiend situation as his scarf flutters in the wind. “We’ve been attacked by shadows that come out of nowhere. My commander was one of those slain, which is why I’m now the leader here. They don’t seem to be from the Lich King, but acting on their own or by someone else’s orders.” Inzilbęth: “Either there is a shadowgate we don’t know of or someone else is sending nightfiends.” She sends her bat out to eat and scout. Mithos hits on Lirael. Lirael: “My girlfriend’s a griffon rider. We tried to get married, but I got sent out.” Next he tries Deanna, who is talking to her sister. Tobs takes Sandy away to talk, as she looks miserable at Deanna’s constant chattering and Mithos ruffling her hair. Deanna says her sister always seem to know that she has been sleeping with people. Mithos says she is just jealous. Mithos interrupts her talking with a kiss. He gets laid again. Tobs talks to Sandy, who sees no point in that sort of thing: “It’s messy. I’m going to go back to Aldis and getting a cat farm.” She’s happy to pet Spivak. Tobs says when they’re both old people, he’ll come visit her cat farm. Jaylynn dirties herself and scatters dirt on her party members. Kharlan throws a snowball at Tobs, who throws one back, and Spivak and Derris join in. Kharlan to Sandy: “You shouldn’t take life so seriously.” Sandy: “I want to live like this.” The night passes.
Lirael awakens them early the next morning. Kharlan throws snowballs in the tent with Mithos and Deanna and runs. Nean goes into a corner to fuss at Nothing. They say goodbye to Deanna, who says goodbye about ten different ways. “It’ll be cold and lonely without you…see, I’m pouting!” Lirael leads them along the mountain path. Poor Sandy is left with her sister. It is absolutely silent, and there is nothing. Downwards they see a dim entrance of a mine with people shuffling in and out. They stop on the slope around dinner and hear a faint noise above them. Spivak goes to fly up, but Tobs pulls her down by the tail: no flying for her in Kern. Derris and the bat fly up to check it out, and they see vague shadows. Tobs to Jaylynn: “So, what kinds of monsters are in Kern?” Jaylynn tries mind touch up there. Something is wrong, but they don’t know what it is. Kharlan suggests that Nothing go see what it is. They hear the slightest cursing. Kharlan thinks he hears aquatic fireflies. Jaylynn lurks. More stones come down. Lirael: “We should move.” She jumps to the side as a slide of rocks comes down, and everyone scrambles to get out of the way.
They surf down towards the village area, except Kharlan and Lirael, who manage to stay up at the top. Snow comes down in other spots and almost converges on the little village. Nightpeople yell and curse. They are more concerned about the snow that covered up the entrance to the mine. Some of them come over and order those at the bottom to clear out the snow, and Inzilbęth orders them around, blending in. Jaylynn fades back into the mountains as Tobs, Mithos, and Nean follow Inzilbęth on pain of death. Nean looks around for Nothing. Kharlan looks over the edge. Lirael: “Oh shit. You stay here, I’m going to go back for help.” Mithos fears castration after rumors he has heard about Kern. Everyone gets pushed around, and Inzilbęth does pushing herself. These peasant people are hard-looking, hunched over and working. Tobs gets flashbacks to shoveling snow in Mordecai’s library, and Nean does okay at shoveling as well. One of the nightpeople snaps a whip over Mithos’ head, and he screams. Some of the Kernish people look at him funny. Jaylynn lurks her way slowly and carefully back to the top.
“Get back to your houses, you’re working early tomorrow.” Spivak tries to mind touch Rohi, as Nean can’t find him or sense him. The few down there have a mental conference call. Inzilbęth tells them to sneak in and blend in as they go into the “town.” The huts are made of adobe or mud. Near the center of the town is a statue made out of mud of a woman with outstretched hands containing a healer’s badge. The Kernish people bow in reverence as they walk by it. Spivak darts in and out of the rubble, looking for Rohi. She senses something under the rocks and starts digging…a very dirty bloody Rohi clambers coughing out. Spivak licks his hand. He and Spivak gather rubble around themselves for the night.
Up on top of the mountain, Jaylynn mentally tries to find everyone to make sure they are all right. Derris tells Spivak where Kharlan and Jaylynn are. Jaylynn makes her way down to Rohi, as does Kharlan. The others see a woman shuffling in to a small adobe hut. They say that they were brought in by that nightperson, pointing to Inzilbęth. Tobs, Mithos, and Nean follow her in. Everyone is dirty, and children cough. Inzilbęth is confronted by another nightperson; she says she brought in three workers on their way to another town. That nightperson thinks that the Sovereign’s Finest caused these slides. He leads her to the only real building in the place: “We’ve got some good booze tonight.” Jaylynn and Kharlan see Rohi sitting there clutching his side. Jaylynn heals him; he had a broken rib, a dislocated shoulder, and lots of bleeding. The three boys in the hut eat a bowl of disgusting stew that the others pass them. Mithos: “Oh, this is good stew.” Tobs: “Yeah, much better than we had in the last town.” They keep bluffing, even when they are asked where they came from. The woman: “It’s not good here; I hope you can move on soon. Did you happen to get a healer to come this time? We’ve been waiting, they said they’d send one.” Tobs asks about the statue: “That’s Lucretia. There was a horrible malady that came through eight months ago, and it hurt our shoulders and a lot of us died, but she came and she healed us. I’ve never seen anyone so kind. We wanted her to stay, but she said she lived further in. We will never forget her kindness. However, it’s going around again.” It seems to be a different strain of what Jonah had. Tobs mentions he knows something about it; she grabs his shirt: “You’ve got to help us! They’re dying!” Tobs conveys this to Spivak, who tells Jaylynn. The town’s name is Falderan. The nightpeople keep Inzilbęth drinking. She hears a mishmash of things: “We’re going to get punished for the avalanche.” She learns that they are mining crystals. They joke about the statue: “It’s the greatest thing ever, the crazy peasants are all attached to it, they think it’s their savior, and it makes them not think about rebellion. She’s just one of the mages from up north, a servant of the Lich King.” Jaylynn works her way into town, and Kharlan sleeps at the bottom of the cliff with Rohi and Spivak. Jaylynn sees a nightperson walk up and grab someone else: “Don’t you know about curfew?” That person gets beaten. Jaylynn “suggests” that the nightperson go back and stop beating, and it eventually works. Jaylynn looks for her companions. She finds them as everyone lies down for the night, and she inspects a girl who has streaks on her chest; it seems to be a strain of last time’s: experimentations, not the finished product. Tobs sees Jaylynn and mentally talks with her. Jaylynn heals a few more people, as it’s not as strong as before.
Very early, the nightpeople come to wake everyone up harshly. Nean looks young, so he’s allowed to stay behind. The rest have to go out to work at the mines. Mithos groans. The others stay hidden in the rubble. The mines are dark, and they are taken down in long shafts and rickety elevators. Nightpeople push the unseeing workers along. Tobs and Mithos fall and skin their knees. Inzilbęth grabs them both by the back of their necks and hisses at them. They see glowing minerals and people excavating them, something looking like spun silk in the rock. Jaylynn knows that it means that shaz crystals are around. Nightpeople are standing and looking nervous about something as they watch down the passageways. Tobs gets fatigued. Kharlan asks Rohi to become Nothing and go to town to look for his brother, and they argue about his previous slapping. Those working in the mines hear skittering. One of the nightpeople stops and tells everyone that work’s done for the day. The guards go first, putting the Kernish peasants in between them and whatever lurks back there in the darkness. Jaylynn sees a shadow with long legs moving up. They hear a high-pitched shriek as something pierces through one of the people and drags her back. There’s a sort of sparkle thread out, glowing like the crystal veins, and they pull the woman back. The creatures have some sort of magic: the handiwork of the same person as the disease.
They take the others back up. The people look shaken, but it seems to have happened before. “Tomorrow’s your day off. Don’t try to enjoy it too much. No food.” Lirael still hasn’t come back. Kharlan decides to wait until tomorrow morning. They talk to the same woman as last night. “They’ve been appearing since six or seven months ago…we call them rock spiders, and they just reach out and grab people sometimes, and the nightpeople just let us die.” Inzilbęth learns that they lose one or two every week. Jaylynn sneaks in again as everyone sleeps and cures a few more people. There are rumors of Lucretia coming back because of her sneaky healings. Mithos tries to scry but gets blackness. Inzilbęth meditates to learn the presence of unnatural animals in the area, and she notices that they came towards the end of the day, which is odd: “Why didn’t they attack at the beginning? If I cut the legs off, they would fall over and squished. They seemed pieced together slipshod, like a prototype.” The night passes uneventfully.
Dan: “x cd cdc ec e d32xew”
[Note concerning last session: Arianna was off with Rohi and Kharlan so the people in the village don’t die of Arianna craziness.]
There’s an unusual amount of bustle as they go to work in a field (where not much grows) for their “day off.” The nightpeople lounge about. Reinforcements from the outpost still haven’t arrived. The woman (Rosalyn) moves about and shakes Mithos’ shoulder: “Wake up, we have to go to work.” Mithos: “We don’t have work today…” Rosalyn: “No, the important work…we have to work in the fields to grow food.” Mithos, Tobs, Jaylynn, and Nean sneak off to meet the others. Inzilbęth talks to the other nightpeople about the darkfiends, and she sends her bat into the caves to check on the rock spiders. Derris flies up to try to find reinforcements, but he can see nothing. Nean runs up to Rohi: “Rohi, Rohi, you’re ok!” Rohi: “Oww, no, no hugs!” Behind cover, Mithos rapidly sheds the burlap and brushes out his hair. The comrades chat for a bit. Arianna contacts Inzilbęth mentally to talk about what’s going on. Mithos: “I don’t want to go back, Tobs, I don’t want to go back, Tobs…I’m too pretty for hard labor!” Inzilbęth wants to destroy the spider things; she thinks that they are the creation of Lucretia. Arianna: “So, it’s not ok to set something on fire?”
Jaylynn checks out Rohi’s injuries and heals him some more at Nean’s request. Then she suggests that she illusion Kharlan to look like a demon higher- up of Kern to order the nightpeople to kill the spiders. Arianna: “Can I be the demon please can I?” Jaylynn will also inspire the nightpeople with hope; then the villagers can get the food and make their way towards Aldis. Inzilbęth’s bat sees lots and lots of spiders. Mithos and Arianna psychically battle to see which one of them talks to Inzilbęth. Mithos gets a link to Arianna instead. Tobs leaves to go work in the fields, as he’s not much help in planning. The “fields” are “cultivating” mushrooms and edible fungi…not nice stuff. A couple of the village people in the corner fight off a mutated plant. Tobs grabs one and strangles it. A little boy is astonished: “Are you a god? My name’s Harold. How’d you do that?” Tobs shows him how to strangle and kill plants. The kid laughs maniacally at the plant blood on his hands. Harold doesn’t know if he has parents…people die a lot. Susan’s kind of his mom. He’s only five, and he discusses the strange markings that he had and how he admires Lucretia so much, as she was the one who cured him. “I used to be sick, it was great! My not-mom was really worried.” He has fluffy red hair, and he and Tobs become friends.
Mithos had a pet squid growing up. Jaylynn puts a sarcastic sign up: “Torvic, I wish you were here.” Mithos tries to see visions concerning the future of their plan or of Nean’s earthquaking the spiders. Earthquake equals blood and death, things collapsing and going badly. The other one is also blood and death…thin lines, scary noises like Arianna pretending to be a demon. Inzilbęth hears the nightpeople sound more jittery…they are a rather superstitious bunch, and they’re waiting for the third bad thing to come. The little boy Harold wants to marry Lucretia. “She’d be a great wife-mom!” They talk about grapes…apparently she brought grapes. “If I was her husband, I would have grapes every day!” Since Harold and Tobs both have red hair, maybe they’re lost brothers!
Arianna keeps mis-representing Inzilbęth’s words to the others. Mithos finally manages to get in contact with Inzilbęth: “Take that, Arianna!” Inzilbęth doesn’t see any option of freeing the slaves. She doesn’t think the nightpeople can wipe out the spiders. Inzilbęth: “We should illusion someone to look like Lucretia to take everyone down to the spiders…or tell them to move so that we can earthquake the place.” Mithos to Nean: “Based on your beauty, how pretty is your best earthquake?” Nean: “Well with you as the prettiest and Rohi at the other end…” Rohi glares, and Mithos ruffles his hair. Nean: “Well, I’ve never done an earthquake before.” Arianna to Nean: “We’re like cousins!” And Rohi too… “We’re threesome cousins!” Rohi looks disturbed at his older brother. Mithos: “You know what that means?” Rohi: “Duh, I’ve lived on the streets.” Arianna continues in her strange misshapen analogy: “We’re a holy trinity of cousins!” Inzilbęth mentions the nightpeople’s suspicious about the third bad omen. Nean has heard about evil dragons that move underground. Kharlan: “Use an illusion to put a dragon up on the hill.” They don’t know what such dragon would look like. Spivak: “Make it scary looking.”
Arianna mind touches Rohi. Then she mind touches Tobs.
Dan, Maranda, and Martha (while the others are off talking): “Mithos stares longingly at Rohi’s amazingly virile body. Kharlan tells Derris to peck Mithos on the head. He does so. Mithos bleeds. But he still can’t get the idea of a naked Rohi out of his head. He pulls Rohi behind a large boulder and forcibly takes off his clothing. Kharlan cou- de-gras Mithos. Mithos DIES. Mithos possesses Nean’s body and continues to go after Rohi! Kharlan kills Nean. Mithos possesses Arianna and she proceeds to have her way with the dead bodies. DEATH MITES! Kharlan gives up and runs away and becomes a monk. Meanwhile, Inzilbęth remains blissfully unaware. Later on, however, when she loses mind touch with everyone, she starts to become puzzled. Making excuses, she slips away, only to find Arianna humping Rohi, having finished with the corpses of Mithos and Nean. “WTF?!?!” screams Inzilbęth, and commits seppuku in horror. Tobs watches it all and is amused. Jaylynn cries and then lurks away to find her own brand of Kernish fun. Which involves hot lesbian sex. And by lesbian sex I mean tea. But it’s still hot. And reminds her of Jonah.”
Rohi, Arianna, Jaylynn, and Tobs are involved in a four-way talk, making plans. Tobs and Arianna get excited and chant, mentally jumping up and down: “Rohi likes Inzilbęth!” [Rohi is caria, or “gay,” which makes this even funnier, although the characters don’t really know this.] Arianna: “Are you ready?” Tobs sends Spivak out ahead to the outpost. Jaylynn brings Tobs her healer’s amulet, which looks like Lucretia’s, and Harold is amazed to see “Lucretia’s” symbol. Tobs sends Harold to gather all of the other village people. He vaguely hints that “she” wants them to get out of here and tells them of their plan to have the nightpeople attack the spiders while they take food and supplies and escape to the outpost. “I don’t know if you’ll see ‘her,’ but this is something that ‘she’ wants you to do.”
Jaylynn creates an illusion on Arianna involving lots of flaming spikes. Arianna sneaks away. Mithos sees an icky Kernish bird: “I hate Kern. Even the birds are ugly.” Inzilbęth, Mithos, Kharlan, and Nean are out of the loop, thanks to Arianna’s strange method of planning. Arianna is disguised as the scary spiky thing, and Jaylynn walks cowered in front of her. The unhappy nightpeople line up in front of the spiky figure of doom, and they bow down. Inzilbęth sneaks out and meets up with Mithos. Spiky Arianna paces and looks menacing, and she is very very menacing. Mithos mind touches Jaylynn to figure out what the heck is going on, as he wasn’t in on the plan. Jaylynn says that they’ll only keep the nightpeople down there long enough to get the villagers out (and to test the strength of the spiders). Rohi helps out with the illusion on Arianna. Mithos relates what he’s learned to Inzilbęth. The spiky dude kicks at one of the nightpeople, making them cringe back: “Eep!” Arianna: “I heard that there have been problems here…why aren’t they fixed?” “We’re meeting our quotas!” “Why is there no one in the mine, and why have there been accidents?” “It’s those Aldis people!” “Those excuses are fruitile!” (Yes, Arianna says “fruitile,” and the nightpeople decide that they’ve been saying it wrong for years.) “I want you to fix this problem as soon as possible; go gather your weapons!” They run quickly to get their weapons. Arianna sits on Jaylynn to look more impressive. A timid nightperson: “We could go kill stuff.” Arianna to that nightperson: “You’re now in charge.” When he talks: “Shut up!” Nightperson: “Shutting up now.” He begins to discuss a possible method of attack. Arianna: “I never said you could talk.” The poor nightperson uses hand motions. Arianna: “I never said you could move either. Stand at attention. I’m sending you to fight the spiders…there’s no way you can lose with me at your back.” Jaylynn heart shapes them, and they bravely go into the mines.
Tobs starts to get supplies, and the villagers start moving once the nightpeople head off to fight the spiders. Arianna makes an illusion of fire everywhere to light her way in the dark tunnels and to further scare the nightpeople. Rohi, invisible, goes down with them. Mithos and Kharlan and Inzilbęth and Nean come up to Tobs: “What’s going on? Why didn’t we know about the plan?” Tobs holds up the amulet and jerks his head toward the statue. They help with the people, gathering supplies. The others go down into the mines. The spiders look like stone until one of the nightpeople move close; then it attacks and misses. They apparently react to heat. A big battle begins between the nightpeople and the spiders. Arianna shoots the rock spiders with fire. The spiders are quickly decimated, and the spiders hiss as they die at the hands of the inspired nightpeople. Jaylynn sees an herb she needs, so she puts it in her bag.
The others herd the people away and up towards the outpost. Spivak finally gets close to the outpost, and she sees smoke. Flying closer, she sees bodies and corpses and dead people, and some of the griffons are dead. The nightpeople come back: “Where are all the people?” Spivak sees a red coat among the corpses (Lirael). Inzilbęth: “And this is why we never let Arianna plan anything ever again.” Inzilbęth meditates and tries to read nature to determine a path. Harold obliviously skips along with Tobs as the comrades, furiously mind linked, try to figure out what to do. The voice of logic: Well, they do already have information…and they need to get the townspeople to Aldis. Inzilbęth yells at everyone mentally for not following their mission and for discriminating the nightpeople. Inzilbęth sends a message with a bird to Sigourney. Kharlan gets the villagers to go faster by talking about his family. Jaylynn and Arianna tell the nightpeople to go to sleep and go after the escaped people in the morning. The others, especially Kharlan, try to mess up their tracks and show them leading elsewhere. The illusion group works at covering tracks as they move to catch up.
They all finally reach the outpost after a couple of days of traveling, and it is burnt out. Tobs tries to calm the people and convinces them to move on. Harold’s not-mom shields his eyes. Mithos stays behind and uses his seeing abilities on the site. He sees fighting, flashes of people he knew: Lirael is dead from darkfiends (the darkfiends are not remotely recognizable … things get gory), the captain Renolls is dead, the griffon riders try to get back to Aldis and Sandy and Deanna both get on a griffon and leave, Sandy especially injured…a very nasty bloody vision. Spivak also investigates the bodies. Mithos comes back looking tired, pale, and like he vomited several times.
The one hundred people of the town follow them out of Kern. Inzilbęth thinks Arianna should be ashamed for ruining the mission; it was supposed to be espionage, not a rescue mission. Mithos sticks up for Arianna because of the darkfiends. Arianna: “I love you, Mithos” ::hug:: . Mithos shows the others the almost stapled-together darkfiends, some of which look completely artificial. Tobs comforts Spivak and shows her to Harold, who squees and squeezes her (bulging-eyed kitty). Nean and Rohi look shaken, Nean especially. Arianna hands him flowers. Tobs tries to comfort Nean too, but he made a strong emo check. Everyone else tries to comfort him as well, and he perks up a bit, although he feels a bit guilty that the destruction of the outpost might have been their fault. Kharlan stoops down to his level: “I’m going to talk about my family until you cheer up or kill yourself.” Nean cheers up. Arianna drags him off to talk to little kids, and Rohi tails them, concerned about his little brother. Arianna makes Nean feel light and not-emo inside with butterflies.
They continue traveling as far as they can before resting and then go on through the mountains for about a week until they reach a town in Aldis. The Kernish people are nervous to be in Aldis among new people, and the Aldean people are shocked at the numbers but kind. Roamers in town help the Kernish villagers to set up camp. The hawk comes back with a reply from Sigourney: she wants to meet them at a town in the middle of Aldis, and she wants them to bring the people along so that they can continue on towards the capital with members of the Sovereign’s Finest. Kharlan offers to house about fifteen or twenty of them. Inzilbęth is no longer speaking with Jaylynn because of the disagreements they had in Kern, and Jaylynn is disinclined towards Inzilbęth as well.
Mithos jumps in the river in town…water! Harold is excited about being in Aldis. Mithos wants to sleep with someone. Ehrvin’s there (the vata’sha windshaper on the ship from their previous adventure), as he sometimes makes circuits on land with the roamers. Tobs tells him about Burly, and he listens patiently. He’s interested at seeing a sea folk this far inland and is shocked that they were in Kern. Mithos shows interest in their former adventure, and they talk about squid…and big things…Mithos: “Ever done it in the water?” Ehrvin: “Not in a river, though.” They get it on in the river. No one wants to drink the water after that.
They make it to their assigned meeting place and see Deanna there. Tobs: “Is your sister ok?” Deanna hangs her head. Arianna: “She died, didn’t she.” Mithos hugs her. Sigourney, Ken, and Mordecai are also there. Mordecai looks pissed at being out of his library. Sigourney looks calm. They go into the “city hall” and give her a report. Arianna gives her a cookie and a flower: “It’s story time.” Sigourney’s not impressed. Tobs explains with help from the others: the rock slide, the spiders, the mark on the villagers, Lucrecia, the darkfiends, etc. Mordecai doesn’t like to hear about the spiders. Sigourney has seen and heard enough. She wants them to go back and try not to make such a ruckus this time, and she wants them to investigate this Lucretia and find out if she is really a good person or a manipulator. She also wants them to find out what kind of a war effort they are amounting, which is what they were supposed to find out last time. Sigourney sides with Jaylynn’s assessment of the situation over Inzilbęth’s, although she knows that Inzilbęth as a nightperson is valuable in the mission and compliments her on that.
They will be also sending in an army, however. Torvic walks in, letter from Jaylynn in hand. She glares icy daggers and looks smug. Arianna: “I got you a present! An army…look, look, I can do ice now!” “Child, I got that army on my own. I’m better off without you all.” There is more glaring. Both Torvic and Inzilbęth glare at Jaylynn. Mithos is attracted to the blue woman. Torvic, sensing this, turns to Mithos: “I will freeze your brain until it streams out your ears.” The room temperature drops. She heads out to go get her army.
Jaylynn wants to get back to the capital for a day or so with the herb she collected for Aaron. Because of time restraints, however, she makes the drug herself and then sends it. Kharlan sends a note to his wife explaining why people are coming to their house. Tobs tells Harold to look up Phaedrus, although the Kernish boy is nervous about meeting a vata’sha. Tobs tries to work out the problems between Inzilbęth and Jaylynn, but as Inzilbęth is upset about using the nightpeople as bait, as well as how the whole last situation was handled, he doesn’t get very far. It’s going to be a long next mission…
The army is going to reinforce the burnt-out post. The group is put up with an innkeeper named Jared for the night. Kharlan wants Rohi to turn the griffons invisible. They call each other useless. Flying over Kern is finally decided to be a bad idea. More bad ideas are thrown around. They finally decide to fly in to a different place than the army and go ahead as had been planned before (except they will send the rhydan and the bat ahead of them to scout this time). Mithos gets laid by a rather handsome woman. Kharlan and Tobs and Arianna wave and torment Torvic as she terrifies the troops. Tobs goes to ask someone on how to disguise themselves better. He gets the burlap shoved over his head, and a reconnaissance woman shows him how to disguise his gear underneath. A messenger summons them to the griffons – a much more sober Deanna is one of the riders. Kharlan starts a conga line – Tobs is the best conga dancer ever! Kharlan tries to cheer up the emo burnt out post survivors. They get on the griffons again, and Nothing tags along with Nean. Aldis looks very pretty below them. They also see abandoned cities below them, like the ones that Kharlan had visited on his mission. It seems to be in some sort of pattern, but they can’t figure it out.
It takes about two days to fly back to the mountains. They put them down in a clearing, and Deanna hugs everyone, including Derris and Inzilbęth’s bat, which screeches and flies back under Inzilbęth’s cloak. After the griffons leave, she sends her bat out to eat. They stay there the night and keep watch. Jaylynn notices that the sun is late in coming up. Rohi grumbles as Jaylynn wakes them up. Rohi makes Spivak invisible, and she and Derris and the bat fly on ahead the twisty mountain path. The path goes into a wooded area. The Sovereign’s Finest seemed to have picked out a route for them with no random towns to liberate. The trees have no leaves, and it’s much darker than it should be. Inzilbęth leads them into the woods. She sees faint traces of human footprints, as if humans had used that path to get out of Kern. Tobs twists around and gets his bow out of his burlap. Nean looks nervous about going into a dark forest in Kern. Kharlan says that Nothing will hold his hand. “I don’t need anyone to hold my hand!” Something invisible pulls up his hand. “Damn it.” Arianna takes his other hand. They skip down the scary path. They place Mithos so he can’t stare at party members’ butts. Everyone clomps in front of Jaylynn and Tobs, who are sneaky and quiet. Those two see something moving far out in the forest. Tobs pokes Jaylynn: “Something’s moving, pass it on.” Jaylynn skips Mithos and mind touches Kharlan, who throws a rock up to Inzilbęth in front over the skipping children. Jaylynn mind-taps the creature: it knows that they are moving through its forest (“My forest, trespassers…”). Jaylynn, Tobs, and Rohi sneak like ninjas. The rest make noise. The creature draws closer, angling for some point up ahead.
The three animals reach a clearing containing a pool of dank stagnant water with roots going into it. Spivak lands in a tree, and Derris pokes the roots. The bat feasts on the bugs above the water. This is a power level three wellspring – not shadow-aligned, but in the middle of Kern, so not something they should tap into. Inzilbęth attunes herself with it. The water starts to ripple, and the creature wheels around: something is coming up. Kharlan pokes it with a stick. Something grabs the stick: a chuul. It is hungry. Inzilbęth enhances her dexterity. The chuul goes after Kharlan with tentacles, and Kharlan screams like a little girl. Tobs shoots it, but his arrow bounces off. A hag comes out of the forest, sees Tobs, screeches something incomprehensible, and flies at him. Jaylynn tries to pull the aggression out of the hag. Kharlan stabs the chuul in the face, but his blow bounces off its hide. Nean attempts to earth shape around the hag and hits her with some rocks. Inzilbęth’s crossbow bolt also ricochets off the chuul’s hide. The chuul grapples Kharlan but can’t touch him, and Tobs shoots the hag. The hag attacks Nean. Jaylynn tells the hag to leave them alone; they’ll get out of her forest. She’s grumpy, but she’ll think about calling off her friend. Kharlan slashes the chuul across the face. Nean tries the same trick with the rocks again, and Rohi tries to get a light to blind the hag. Inzilbęth shoots the chuul but doesn’t damage it. The chuul continues to go after Kharlan. Tobs tries to shoot the hag again. The hag is still mad, so she moves up to hit Kharlan. Jaylynn tells everyone else to back off so that she can settle it peacefully. Everyone holds, and the hag relents: “If you touch one thing in my forest, then we will come back and get you.”
Inzilbęth tells everyone to stay on the path, looking at Arianna in particular with her serious yellow eyes. She also tells Rohi to pay attention, and he answers sarcastically. As they continue along the path, the hag dogs their steps; however, she is pleased that they don’t touch the trees. By the end of the day, they reach the other side. Kharlan waves goodbye to the hag as they enter the barren wasteland of Kern. Inzilbęth reads nature to find a good place to camp. She suggests an abandoned hut. Jaylynn is suspicious. It has moss and weeds like what was growing back in the village. Tobs chokes weeds. Kharlan draws a smiley face on the door, and a foot, and a hand. Jaylynn digs a spot out to sleep in. During Kharlan’s watch, she notices that a nightperson is leading a band of humans through the night, but they’re not coming anywhere near their hut.
Morning dawns, but not cheerfully. Spivak helps Inzilbęth track up north, and after a long time they come upon another hut. Some of the tracks go into it, and there’s a vague design on the half-open door. It looks abandoned. There is a lot of magic, however, centered around the door. Inzilbęth sees that the tracks stop there. Arianna goes through and stands in the abandoned hut. Inzilbęth also walks through, and it looks like an ordinary inside. There are grooves in the door like keys. Inzilbęth asks Nean to make stone shapes to fit inside. It takes him awhile to get it just right. Inzilbęth puts them in…nothing happens. Stone is not the same material. It needs to be wood. Tobs and Mithos try to see visions of what happened here before. They see nightpeople reach for the doorframes and put something in. Kharlan carves some crude star-shaped things out of wood and shoves them in and gets shocked. He repeats the process several times. Spivak finds pieces tucked up in the corners of the frames, and Inzilbęth puts them in the door. It somehow doesn’t seem like the circuit is complete. They close the door, and the circuit completes. Kharlan enjoys zapping himself: “Arianna, you must never do this.” They open the door to a plush carpet in a nice hallway. Inzilbęth tells everyone to look miserable and walks through the door. Tobs ties roamer’s knots to make it look like they are all tied up and under Inzilbęth’s command. Jaylynn lurks back with invisible Rohi and Spivak.
Inzilbęth leads the tied strand through the door and into the hallway. It’s very quiet, and there are paintings on the walls (people, mages…they seem to be by the same person and part of a collection). Mithos attempts a vision and gets flashes of rooms in this place and patterns. He thinks he sees someone who resembles the statue of Lucretia and some male. There is a lot of magic in this place. They notice that the other side of the door is similar, minus the keys in the frame. They close the door; it’s a broom closet now. Inzilbęth looks at Rohi: “I’m sure people will be impressed by your stories of heroism when you get back to Aldis…people like Linu.” Rohi goes on ahead with Spivak.
All is quiet. Inzilbęth asks for their opinion and then orders them to go back down the hallway. Tobs salutes…looks at the rope he’s supposed to be tied up in…and shoves his arm back into the rope. Rohi and Spivak sneak up ahead, and Spivak relates things back to Tobs. They find a library, a very nice one. The area up ahead is even more richly done. [Maranda: Has this led us to Jonah’s house? Rachael: No, not that kind of plot twist. Maranda, Jedi-like: This is not the plot twist you were looking for.] The paintings all seem to come in sets, and in some places there are spaces where a painting should be. None of the space seems to make any sense. An invisible servant moves through the entire group, as only Jaylynn sees. Inzilbęth: “Hello? Slaves here. Anyone around?” Silence. The invisible servants don’t react. Inzilbęth unties everyone and instructs them to act humble as she pulls her crossbow out. They move on to the doors on the other side of the stairs, and the one on the end is magically locked. Another room contains a conservatory with a piano and other musical instruments: a very nice music room. All of the instruments seem to be of the same make (another collection).
The other door goes into an observatory with telescopes, and it is three stories, as opposed to the library and the conservatory, which were two. There are a lot of maps. Tobs slides down the banister into the room. There are nice maps of Rezea, Aldis, Kern, Jarzon, and the ancient country that the roamers are originally from: Faenaria. They are old kingdom maps and old maps from before the shadow wars. There are also more recent ones. Jaylynn takes a map and puts it on the ground out of place. An invisible servant moves it back. Tobs thinks an aquatic firefly did it. Kharlan turns a map, and it rights itself. Then he piles maps to make a castle, and invisible servants put them away. Jaylynn’s the only one who sees this. Kharlan thinks that whatever is doing it is awesome. He puts the star key on the floor; it gets moved along and is thrown in the trash. Inzilbęth thinks this room is haunted, and she decides to leave. They go out on the first level. They see the kitchen area, and it seems to be moving by itself. Tobs moves to take food, and something invisible slaps his hand. He freaks out. Tobs sneaks back and gets a roll, and he takes a bite before something takes it out of his hand and throws it away. Inzilbęth takes a while to figure out what is going on when invisible Rohi is seen by the invisible servants. She finally figures out the invisible servant trick but is pretty fatigued. She sees one move through a freaked-out Tobs. Jaylynn goes up to one and requests an omelet. It shakes its head. Inzilbęth yells at Jaylynn for not telling them.
Some of the servants take a meal into the study, and they hear a female voice. Rohi and Spivak poke their head in: “You know that invisibility is really rather tiresome.” Rohi jumps back. Inzilbęth opens the door, and she sees a woman that resembles the statue. “I was wondering when you’d come down here. I knew you were here the moment you walked in the door. It’s really funny when you lie.” Lucretia motions for them to sit down. Jaylynn puts an illusion of a smiley face on a servant, and she laughs. Tobs has already eaten a roll, so he digs in. The food is wonderful. Others eat it after Inzilbęth says it is not poisoned. Inzilbęth: “So, are you the servant of the Lich King or a savior of the people?” “Depends on the moment.” She says that nightpeople and humans are very straightforward. She wonders what Aldeans are doing here. Tobs: “I’m on vacation! I mean, look at all this good food.” Kharlan talks about his family and then shows her the star thing. She says that the disease marking the townspeople was something she cooked up. Inzilbęth is straightforward and tells it like it is. Lucretia: “Let’s just say that I like to have fun in my life.” She remembers Winifred, and it was she who taught her those particular skills. She just felt like it. She thought it was amusing to experiment on people and create new dangerous creatures. Lucretia has no concern for the people whose lives she is destroying. Inzilbęth: “I’m not going to leave until you tell me what you are.” “I’m not quite as powerful as an exarch…I’m more of a neutral party here.” Her predecessor’s name was Loki. “I can tell you what the Lich King is up to, and it’s something you can prevent. But for me to tell you, you have to win against me.” Is it chess? Kharlan: “Mithos gets to be queen!” It doesn’t matter to Lucretia who’s in power. There is one condition to the game: “If you lose, you don’t leave.” She tells them to take their time on their decision and rest in the guest rooms.
This story takes place back in Aldis among Sovereign’s Finest members who were not among those sent to Kern (oh darn, just not shiny enough to go fight a war). Danäe, however, asks that the seven of them accompany Jonah von Glenfelde and his ill noble brother Aaron to the Glenfelde’s summer home, as the countryside is becoming unsafe and there are those mysteriously abandoned towns along the way. They have an evening before they leave; some visit the kitchens and talk to Hannah, and Ialdabode and later Caym go to the library to subtly irate the already irritable short little librarian Mordecai. Carteloise makes a necklace while sitting in the fountain, and the rhy-cat Surnalli lounges nearby. Commodore Fluffy-Paws accompanies Collibe to the archery range, where they see Ken writing a horribly dirty sonnet. Collibe shoots for a while and then hesitantly tries to aid Ken with his sonnet writing before giving it up for a lost cause. Ymir emos because Ialdabode beat her at mind-touching and made her feel inadequate and unskilled. She meets Bethany in the barracks and emos more after she learns that Bethany taught a little girl how to torture people. They also see a tired annoyed Phaedrus being followed around by a very talkative energetic little red-headed boy named Harold. Poor, poor Phaedrus. Evil, evil Tobs.
Later all of them go out to Burly’s Bar. He’s feeding his fish Susan beer. Ymir mind-touches the fish [::glubb glubb…beer beer beer!!!::]. Burly pets the rhy-cat and misses Spivak. Commodore Fluffy-Paws feels left out, so Collibe pets her on the head. There aren’t very many Sovereign’s Finest in the bar, as most of them have gone north to Kern. Burly sadly polishes the same glass over and over again. Carteloise flirts with Burly. Ialdabode and Ymir instigate a karaoke night.
After they get back to the barracks, Collibe talks to Bethany, who is still piecing her weapon together. Collibe gingerly holds it to avoid the poison. Then he interrogates a worn-out Phaedrus carrying a sleeping Harold about what to expect on their trip. He hears mention of Mordecai’s father, Alexander Rhodes, who disappeared while studying the abandoned towns. Everyone they talk to warns them about Jonah’s wild and unpredictable water-shaping “skills” and the fact that he and his brother Aaron don’t get along very well at all. However, they are the last two left in the direct line of the long lineage of their noble family.
The next morning, Caym, who was sleeping in the library, shoots a crossbow bolt into a book, and Mordecai sparks lightning and chases him out. Jonah meets them all and haltingly introduces himself before leading them to his brother’s manor. Aaron is in a carriage, and all of the others (except the rhyden) ride horses. They follow the road out of the city and continue up alongside of the river, camping at night on the rolling plains of Aldis. Most watch carefully for any signs of Jonah trying to use arcana. He and his brother argue often, leaving Jonah sullen and depressed. Aaron is rather ungrateful and looks down on everyone.
On the second day, they reach one of the abandoned towns. Ymir remembers her relative Kharlan mentioning something about them. They seem to have been abandoned a long time, and a white dust covers everything. The fountain in the middle, however, seems to be from a different time. “It doesn’t fit,” says the rhy-wolf. Although they find some sort of trigger along the sides, the mechanism is no longer there. Slowly, however, all of them succumb to sleep. They try to flee the town, and only Ymir and Ialdabode remain awake long enough to escape. The sleepers strangely disappear and wake up to find themselves in a bright sunny place bustling with people and full of Old Kingdom buildings. Ymir and Ialdabode get panicked and later bored, so they return to the town, fall asleep, and join their comrades. Caym steals pie and ice cream. They find another fountain, but this one is modern and has mechanisms. Aaron shows off his superior water-shaping talent.
They hear word of Alexander Rhodes and go to visit him. His house, like his son’s library, is also filled with books, but he is far messier than the impeccably and anal-retentively neat Mordecai. They question him about what is going on, but he evades their questions and asks to speak to the eldest von Glenfelde brother, Aaron. Although they are very reluctant to let their charge out of their sight, Alexander is quite insistent and takes him off alone, although Ymir mind- touches Aaron first. A good thing she did, too, for although Collibe and Commodore Fluffy-Paws snuck after them, they teleported to another building.
All of them quickly chase after, pulling the directionally-challenged Collibe and Jonah along. When they enter the building, they are set on by four gargoyles. Caym runs up and picks the lock on the door while Commodore Fluffy-Paws bites a gargoyle. Carteloise swings with her scimitar, and Collibe shoots with his bow. Surnalli earth-shapes to turn one gargoyle’s wings into bunny ears, and she also crumples the wings of another. Ialdabode makes one apathetic about fighting, and it leaves. Jonah has quite a stroke of luck, and his water shaping explodes one. Ymir and Ialdabode make the remaining two malformed gargoyles hug each other to death.
Caym having picked the lock, they race into a round room with six stone flower petals. Alexander Rhodes is in the center with a knife held to Aaron, who looks somewhat distressed at his situation. They try to talk him down, but Rhodes insists that he needs the noble’s blood to ensure that the Old Kingdom and all of its knowledge can come back because of some deal that he made with someone. As he is persistent, they fight him. Caym sneaks up behind him with Ialdabode’s illusion help and stabs him in the back of the head with a short sword, and Commodore Fluffy-Paws bites his leg. Surnalli works on weakening the stone petals that correspond to the six abandoned towns. Collibe finally knocks him unconscious with an arrow.
Surnalli manages to destroy the stone petals one by one, and the continuous noon light fades to night again. When all of them are demolished, the building itself disappears, and they find themselves in an empty field. Despite Aaron’s objections, they decide to not continue on to his summer home and to instead return to Aldis with Rhodes and report what they have discovered. Papers on his unconscious form revealed that he had been working with/for Loki or Lucretia.
They are high in the Kernish mountains. Inzilbęth and Tobs investigate the library, and Tobs swings on the moving shelves. Inzilbęth looks for books on Kern, assisted by Tobs. One of the unseen servants trails after them and notes titles they have taken, helping them with their search. Tobs browses the poetry and finds a book of Faenarian poetry. However, there is nothing on Loki/Lucretia. There’s a table with a magical glowing thing and a chess set upon it, however. Arianna and Mithos go to the baths…hot springs! [It’s the prefects’ bathroom from Harry Potter in the Beauty and the Beast castle.] Mithos tries to teach Arianna proper bath etiquette: different sexes use different baths. Arianna: “But why?” She shampoos her hair into spikes; Mithos makes her go back in and wash it off. Kharlan meanwhile talks to Lucretia, and Jaylynn looks in the observatory. Arianna now has cold shaping. She freezes Mithos’s bath. Then she makes it warm. The unseen servants are not happy. Then she and Mithos make bubble ducks: “My duck will be king!” Then they play pool games. The unseen servants clean up their mess. Tobs goes to the hot springs as well; Arianna leaves, and Tobs leaves so as not to be alone with Mithos, who gets out naked and starts following him. Tobs goes to the observatory to read his book.
Nean and Rohi are banging out music (in an out of tune fashion) in the music room. Arianna looks at the locked door: it seems to be keyed to one person. She knocks on it and tries to open it but is arcanically recoiled. The unseen servants loom at her and shake their heads. She hunts down Lucretia: there’s a man sitting in her study with the same haircut. “Hello man Lucretia.” “Oh, you caught on quicker than the other guy. You can call me Loki in this form.” Arianna: “I want to change…I could be Aaron!” However, he tells her that she doesn’t want to go in the door. “It’s a secret.” He mentions places where he keeps creatures like the rock spiders. Arianna: “I’m ten. I don’t have to think.” “If you get in the door, you won’t be here anymore.” Arianna wants to play twenty questions. “It’s a game!” He looks tempted. “What are you risking?” “Mithos!” “Game accepted, then.”
Mithos, oblivious of Arianna’s plot, goes to the kitchen to try to flirt with things. He tries to flirt with the unseen servants; they stare at him. Mithos lounges around. Tobs sees that Mithos is gone and goes to the bath. Inzilbęth goes to the veranda to look at the gardens and watches the animals. The animals look happy and seem to be endangered species gathered from all over, so Inzilbęth forgives Lucretia a little. Jaylynn eats snacks given to her by the unseen servants. Kharlan thinks he wants a pen and some paper; an unseen servant brings some, and he and Derris write haikus.
Back to the game! Loki asks questions first. “Is it an animal?” “Yes.” “Is it sentient?” “What does that mean?” “They can think for themselves.” “Yes.” “Is it one of your party?” “Yes.” “Is it that lovely winged cat who came in with you?” “Damn you!” Then they switch. Arianna: “Is it alive?” “In a manner of speaking.” “That’s not a yes or a no.” “I’m sorry…yes and no.” “Is it magic?” “Yes.” “The first one doesn’t count because it was neither a yes or no.” “Ok.” “Is it in the mansion?” “Yes.” “Have I been to it yet?” “Not in the room with it.” “Is it inside the door?” “No. You can take that one back if you want.” Arianna makes mental contact with her party members to get the answer. Something blocks it off after the first person. She gets Inzilbęth, who is somewhat surprised that she is betting Mithos’s life. Arianna calls the Lich King the Lynch King; she thinks that behind the door might be something to defeat him. Inzilbęth goes over to Mithos and tells him the situation. “But there’s so many more people to have sex with than her!” Mithos looks for visions related to his situation: there’s no real peril either way. “Is it the rock spiders?” “Yes it is. That’s a tie; I guess neither of us win.” “Can we do a tie-breaker?” Inzilbęth loudly in her head: “NO!!!” Arianna tells her to invite people she knows. “I don’t know everybody.” “I’d like Cleo to watch me die. And Ursula.” “Alright.”
Rohi and Nean are abhorred by Kharlan and Derris’s bad poetry. Tobs continues to enjoy his bath and his poetry. The unseen servants escort everyone to the veranda, where there is a dinner table laid out. Spivak goes in the birdbath and splashes about. Unseen servants bring her a plate of food next to the birdbath. Loki comes out. Mithos: “Wow, you’re really hot.” Kharlan doesn’t recognize him/her. Loki says that Mithos is charming… “but, you don’t want to do that.” Inzilbęth mentions the animals: “Yes, I like to rescue things.” Mithos volunteers to play a game; apparently, he doesn’t do “that sort of thing” any more. Kharlan wants to play a card game. “I can make you something!” He pulls out a reed basket. Loki: “Have you considered my proposition yet?” Inzilbęth: “Well, this one can’t be completely evil…” Loki thinks he is being flattered. Kharlan: “Isn’t it Lucretia who offered the game?” He finally figures it out. Magical girl transformation sequence! “I learned it from someone who claimed to be from the moon.” Mithos wants to learn how to do that. He/She can also change his/her age. She now looks like Arianna’s age. If they lose…they are too interesting to turn into unseen servants.
“Who’s the leader?” Mithos volunteers. He is handed a book with a quill and a pen to be used to communicate with her. They have two attempts at it. She shows them an illusion of the chess set in the library and then sends them off to a room to prepare. Derris and Spivak are offered the chance to leave, but they decide to stay with their companions. They are teleported into a room with something that looks like a town with mismatched architectural buildings: some seem to be from Aldis, some from Jarzon, a tower from Kern…down the main street, there is a fountain and a very nice piece of Old Kingdom architecture. A guard is sitting, asleep. Mithos and Jaylynn sense that this is out of phase with the rest of the world. They also have the feeling that there are no fatigue checks. They look up and see books making up the sky. They are in the library, on the desk by the chess table. Mithos straddles the guard and tries to wake him up. He kisses him…he starts up. “New people…new people? Oh…there’s eight this time. You can’t come in without my permission. You should talk to the ruler here.” Inzilbęth thinks…I’m smaller…summon ants! Arianna: “How did you get here?” He has the symbols of the Sovereign’s Finest’s knights on his uniform. He’s quite excited to hear that they’re from Aldis. They are told to talk to Cordelia, as she’s the oldest one and in charge. Mithos wants to stay there. Inzilbęth: “Learn to lead with your brain, or what you are thinking with now shall be gone.” She smiles at him with her big fangs.
Queen Hulja had sent Peter there on reconnaissance…that was about fifty years ago. “There is one way to get out…one got out…Mordecai! That’s it. He was here, it was really kind of sad. He lucked out, only ten years. One of the heroes got him out…Ken. You are supposed to have the whole back row filled, and then if there aren’t eight, you can get replacements. But, that’s all right.” Poor Pete has a girl back in Aldis. He names Kharlan’s grandmother. Is he Kharlan’s grandfather? Seems dumb enough… “Well, I’m guarding, in case new people come in.” He bobs his head and looks tired. He was tired when he came in…it seems that one doesn’t change once one comes in. Arianna wants to find little kids. They go down the main road and see lots of hero types, Sovereign’s Finest and more archaic, even evil looking people. There are big potted plants in one corner. Inzilbęth is upset about being parted from nature. The fountain looks like it doesn’t fit. The buildings seem to be ruined places that were “rescued.” Tobs and Inzilbęth chant “We will get out of here we will get out of here…”
Cordelia is sitting out in front of the main building. Her clothes are Old Kingdom. She looks at them regally. Next to her is Roxanna, wearing light armor that is shiny. On her other side is Brent, who appears to be on fire. Mithos has dragged Peter along. Mithos greets her, and she speaks in a soft voice. “Eight of you…” The three hang their heads. They show them where the rather large chess set is… “You still have both of your attempts left…you’re lucky.” Mithos wants to split their party up to help them out. “You’re a very selfless group.” Cordelia is here to supervise, as she was the first one here. They will give them all of the advice that they can. Mithos: “Why are you on fire?” Brent: “Why do you want to know?” Arianna also does a fire aura on herself. “It’s not like that…it’s more permanent.” It’s a curse. He came here to be uncursed. At least chronic pain doesn’t matter here. “Why do I get this question? I always get this question!” They know five or six von Glenfeldes…Jonah’s family! Cordelia is a water shaper. Roxanna is from Faenaria…she is depressed when Roamers come through, since they informed her about the destruction of her homeland. Then they ask about Mordecai…his father traded his young kids, 13 and 16, for some information. His older brother is Matteo. Ken came in a group of seven and rescued Mordecai.
The rules of the game: white goes first, and then it goes in order of initiative. They get three squares per turn, or they can forfeit a turn and move a pawn. The leader (the king) can give his turn to another hero. If they king is defeated, they lose. They attack from an adjacent square. If a person “dies,” they get sent back to the town and don’t leave. The main problem, according to Cordelia, is people over-extending themselves. People like Cordelia could be replaced as pawns. However, pawns are destroyed and will die permanently. They debate plans. Tobs talks more about Faenaria with Roxanna while Mithos seduces Peter. Kharlan tries to stop Mithos from seducing his grandpa. Peter: “Well, I’ve never done it with a guy before.” Mithos: “It’s almost the same, believe me.” Pete falls asleep in the middle of sex. Silly narcoleptic. Mithos is miffed. Rohi: “Don’t leave us behind.” Nean: “They won’t leave us behind.”
There’s no way they can save everyone, though. They ask Lucretia through the book what would happen if they won the first time (if by winning they would let some others have a second chance). She says that if they win the first time, some can leave and others can play a second time with replacements. There are only two attempts for the group, even if they split up. Arianna: “Pawns are bait.” To make Inzilbęth feel better, they go over to the plants to talk. There is a nice pond area with a water lily. Ophelia tends to the water lily. Mithos gets in the pond and flirts with Ophelia. She’s wearing older clothes, but not as old as Cordelia’s. “I’ve been tending to them myself. They’re very pretty, aren’t they?” She’s a very shy plant shaper. Tobs makes her feel less intimidated by them. Inzilbęth has a plan: “We will play as a group with no added pawns for the first game. If we win, we will play a second game with the condition that if we win that one, then X people leave with us.” Lucretia replies: “If you win both, two can leave.” They ask if anyone wants to be pawns. Tobs looks for Mordecai’s brother. Inzilbęth looks at the water insects. They go on a search for suicidal types. Matteo is sixteen, living in one of the houses. He seems to be by himself, and he doesn’t seem to be particularly scholarly at all, unlike his father and brother. Almos is another person they find. He is sound asleep in a bed, showing no signs of waking up. Brent’s in there too. “He’s sick. That’s the other reason I’m here. He has sleeping sickness from using arcana too much.” Lucretia was supposed to heal both of them. He’s a friend of Brent’s family, and Brent carried him in the game. They’ve been there about two hundred years. Tobs pricks his finger…he doesn’t bleed. Very strange. The board works normally, however, so while playing the game they can bleed, and feel fatigue. They persuade Mithos to carry the unconscious person since he is the king and just stands there. Arianna says she could take him too… “I could stand on him!” They could probably take the sleeping Pete as well.
Matteo is shocked that his brother is twenty-three. “Ten years…” Kharlan calls him the little brother. “I am not!!!” Mordecai was almost happy to be here until he found out that he couldn’t read the books. Ken was apparently Matteo’s age. Matteo always wanted to follow his father around…he’s an archeologist. “That’s why we followed him along…but then he left us behind.” His father had asked for the ruins of the Old Kingdom, as Lucretia had a way to bring them back. He is depressed that they haven’t seen anything about it in Aldis. Mithos mind-touches and shows Matteo what his brother looks like now. “He’s still short. Ken grew up nice though.” Matteo seems to have had a crush on Ken…but he took Mordecai instead. Matteo: “I’ll go as a pawn. I want to see my brother again.” Arianna wants to sit on someone to make her taller. Lucretia says that it would be a bit more difficult. Tobs ask Brent if he wants to be a pawn. “If you’re taking Almos.” Arianna doesn’t want to make people pawns if they might die. Ophelia is content to stay. Where she came from was much much worse. Cordelia has been here so long…she has to think about it. Either she or Roxanna will stay behind to lead the town, but they’d both be out of sync with the rest of the world. Peter’s fine with falling asleep and being carried. Arianna asks people who would want to carry her. Brent will do it, although he is annoyed. They ask Lucretia what would happen if they play without pawns (but with the unconscious people) and beat her in twenty four rounds. If they win, they want to save as many people as possible. Instead of their idea, however, she says to give her a list of who they want: three people in addition to the unconscious ones. On the eighth round, they get the first, on the sixteenth, they get the second, and on exactly the twenty-fourth, they get all three. Matteo first, and then Brent…then either Cordelia or Roxanna.
Tobs talks to blond haired people, looking for relatives of Jonah. He finally sees a blond woman of about 30, hanging out by the fountain. She lists off some Glenfeldes and mentions that Almos is a von Glenfelde. They explain to Matteo, Brent, and Roxanna what is going on and tell them of their plans to try to save them. Mithos will hold Almos, and Inzilbęth will carry Peter during the game. They walk through a pathway to the chess set, and the people of the town, although they can’t leave, watch from the town’s border. The wood “bridge” has a steep drop on either side, and they cross it to a small square table entirely covered by the chess board.
When they leave the town, they feel time begin to move again. The opposite pieces stand silently, and they don’t move until the others step on the table. Then they start moving on their own. A pawn moves out. Jaylynn heart shapes and gives everyone hope. Arianna centers a fireball on the white pieces. The pieces, however, seem resistant to magic. The fireball nonetheless takes out two pawns. Nean erects a stone wall around Jaylynn to stop the opposing bishop. After the Queen moves, Rohi turns invisible. Inzilbęth shoots at the Queen, but she hits the pawn, and it disintegrates. Tobs shoots at the Bishop and hits it right between the eyes: it goes down. The Queen moves and concentrates, sending a wave of cold, and Nean’s wall disintegrates. Kharlan moves up. Spivak and Derris fly around above, and Inzilbęth’s bat sits on Almos’s head. Mithos gives Kharlan his turn, so he moves and attacks the Queen. The Queen hits Kharlan but doesn’t hurt him, as he’s a tough guy. Jaylynn heals herself. The Queen attacks Kharlan again, and he is wounded. Arianna sends out another fireball and takes out another pawn. The knight leaps out and slams into Kharlan, hurting him again. He can’t stay in the square, however, because Kharlan didn’t die. Nean puts a wall between Kharlan and the Queen. The knight attacks again but misses. Rohi moves. The knight attacks and misses again. Inzilbęth shoots at the other knight, but her bolt tinks off the stone piece. The rook moves behind Tobs. Tobs stabs with his spear and takes out the rook. The Queen moves up but forgets to attack Tobs. Kharlan goes in to smash the knight and kills it. He cleaves into a pawn and kills it. The Queen attacks Tobs and slices him up. Jaylynn moves out of the Queen’s way and heals Tobs a bit. The Queen swings at Tobs again and puts him right back where he was before Jaylynn healed him. Arianna fireballs the Queen. Jaylynn heals Kharlan. The Queen moves back a square, and Nean protects Tobs with a wall. The Queen moves over to Jaylynn and wounds her. Rohi sneaks over and stabs the Queen in the back, but it pings off her marble self. The Queen swipes at Jaylynn again. Inzilbęth moves up and shoots at the King but misses. The Queen attacks Jaylynn yet again. Tobs moves next to Mithos and shoots the Queen. She attacks Jaylynn yet again. Jaylynn is standing but looks badly off. Kharlan charges the King and swipes. The Queen hits Jaylynn once again, but she’s still breathing. Mithos gives Kharlan his turn, and he hits the King. However, he doesn’t destroy the King, and that was turn 24. They suddenly appear back in the town.
They immediately start plotting their next (and last) chance to win the game. Lucretia will give them an extra four turns if they forfeit the third person on their list. Then she says she will allow the third person, but she will add a condition of her own (that she won’t say). Most don’t want to take her condition. Kharlan then asks for 24 turns but the entire back row would have lower magical resistance. She doesn’t like that idea. They continue discussing strategy. Tobs talks to Roxanna and learns about Faenaria. He’s sorry they can’t save her anymore. Mithos looks for hot people: everyone there is a shiny hero. However, it’s physically impossible to get it off here due to the unchangeable nature of the place. Mithos is very sad and wants to leave even more.
They move out to the game again, buffing themselves up as before, and they step onto the board. After the pawn moves, Nean uses his shaping to soften the Queen. The Queen resists, even though he concentrates. The Queen moves up, and Arianna centers a fireball on her. She takes out two pawns. A bishop moves forward. Kharlan moves forward to protect Jaylynn. Mithos gives Kharlan his turn, and he attacks the Queen. More of the white pieces move. Inzilbęth shoots the bishop with her crossbow, and she destroys him. The knight comes after Kharlan. Tobs shoots beautifully and slays the knight. He does a victory dance in his square. Jaylynn moves behind Tobs. The Queen attacks Kharlan and wounds him. Rohi goes invisible. The Queen attacks Kharlan again and hurts him badly. He’s knocked out cold and on the ground dying. Nean weakens the Queen with his earth shaping: bits and pieces fall off of her. Arianna hits the Queen with a fireball; she’s not quite dead yet, but she’s not healing. Tobs is attacked by the rook. Kharlan is not quite dead yet either. The rook attacks Tobs again, but Tobs once again dances out of the way. Mithos tells Jaylynn to heal Kharlan. The rook goes after Kharlan as he stands up, but he’s fine. Inzilbęth shoots the rook. Tobs shoots the King, but his arrow has no effect on him. Jaylynn heals Kharlan again. The rook attacks Mithos. Rohi sneaks up but misses the Queen. Nean tries to weaken the King, and he ends up in the same condition as the Queen. The rook misses Mithos. Arianna fireballs the King, and the King disintegrates. They hear noise from the town.
Everything freezes for a moment, and then they and the four other people (Mattheo, Brent, Almos, and Peter) are in the library. Mithos kisses Inzilbęth out of excitement. The unseen servants surround them. Everyone hugs Arianna, and Nean and Rohi hug each other. Peter wakes up. Almos is still asleep, Matteo is in a daze, and Brent is on fire. He quickly exits the library. The unseen servants point them to the study. Lucretia is in the study, and she stands and applauds: “Well done.” Kharlan strikes a pose of glory: “I’m not dead!” Arianna tells her to have more fun by letting the townspeople try again without their pawns. The others come up with even more complicated schemes. Arianna pouts about not getting into the door.
Lucretia: “What you should consider now…the Lich King has been cultivating a very powerful wellspring. I can transport you fairly close and tell you the conditions under which the wellspring was created (and thus you can know how to reverse it, which you will want to do). It’s going to be difficult; there have been lots of murders and sacrifices and unicorns being killed.” Tobs asks her if it is the black cauldron, and she is amused. She lets Tobs keep the Faenarian book of poetry. They look outside…it is spring. But what year is it? Jaylynn says it can’t be too long because Torvic’s wrath isn’t visible. Inzilbęth asks the animals…it was three months. They remind her to fix the others. She puts her hand on Almos’s forehead and does complicated healing. He looks weak, but he’s awake. Arianna: “We’re going to eat you now!” Brent is also no longer on fire. Lucretia: “Oh Pete, I can’t help you anymore.” Pete explains: “We were going to get married, but she’s too old now…” Kharlan: “You can still hang out with my family!” She tells Matteo that he can go home. The four are going back to Aldis, and Kharlan gives them important addresses (i.e. everyone in his family). Lucretia takes Arianna to see the door. It’s very dark inside. She turns on the light, and Arianna sees what looks suspiciously like a baseball in the middle. “This is a very old artifact.” Arianna gives Lucretia more evil ideas: Lucretia will send the others back to Aldis once the party gets back so that Arianna can see their reactions. Arianna: “When I grow up, can I come back?” “If you can find me.” Lucretia goes back into her study and closes the door.
The unseen servants confer amongst each other, and they hear a humming in the air. A big bag floats over to them. It is very large inside. They all get a bag of holding. Tobs gets a pink one. He drops a dirty sock in it. Mithos hits on Peter, and Arianna and Kharlan attack him with the bags of holding. Tobs gets Peter to tell his whole story. “I’m your grandpa, actually (to Kharlan), but she’s going to fix it. I was going to prove myself, and I am going to come back…and then I’ll be your grandpa. But I’m not right now. But I will be.” Kharlan shows him woodcarvings of all of his family. Pete’s would-be wife’s name is Amelia. Tobs goes over to Almos and Brent and comes in on the tail end of a conversation. Almos is lying on a couch, and Brent is sitting next to him. He asks about Jonah and all of them and tries to tell him about his remaining family. Almos chuckles: “Jonah’s like me then…the useless one.” Almos had been poisoned. Tobs wants to know more, but Brent steps in between them and intimidates Tobs. Mithos pulls unpleasant memories into Almos’s head. He seizes up and sits up, clutching at his chest. He relives his poisoning, and Mithos gets hints that the Glenfeldes had connections to Kern. Tobs panics and runs and gets Jaylynn and shoves her into the room. Arianna tries to push the memory further while Jaylynn calms him down. Brent sends all of them out angrily. Inzilbęth is irate and questions Mithos and Arianna. Mithos: “I didn’t do anything…really.” Brent is also calmed by Jaylynn. Kharlan scolds Arianna for five hours straight. Tobs tells Nean to go in and help, since he also had psychological problems. Brent, however, is letting no one in. Tobs is sad that someone doesn’t like him. Matteo’s in the library, and Tobs talks to him about his brother and father and everything. Kharlan drags Arianna and Mithos away. Inzilbęth looks for books on wellsprings and takes notes.
They rest for a bit and go through the door and out of Lucretia’s house. It’s dark outside, and there’s a dilapidated hut. As soon as they go through, the symbol falls off into dust: no going back now. There’s a hill. Rohi makes Spivak invisible, and she flies up and looks around. Arianna senses lots of people. They go up the hill and see the capital of Kern.
Ack! The capital of Kern! All they can see are walls and towers with lots of pikes and sharp things stuck on them. It is night and dark and figures are moving about talking in ugly guttural tongues. The day is just getting started here. Lucretia said that the wellspring is nearby. But where? Inzilbęth meditates on nature, and Mithos tries wayfinding. They learn that the wellspring is on the opposite side of the city. Mithos puts his arm around Rohi’s shoulder; Rohi pulls out a knife and threatens him. Kharlan clanks around: “Look, I’m a sneaky ninja!”
Rohi has them wrap Kharlan up in burlap: “And tie his mouth!” Mithos pulls something out of his bag of sex goodies and ties his mouth. Rohi will make Kharlan and his brother Nean invisible. It takes him quite a while. Fortunately Jaylynn is good at lurking, and Tobs, Spivak, and Mithos are good at sneaking. They start off around the hills on the outskirts of the town. They see a sentry hunched with his eyes glowing, but it doesn’t take notice of them. They continue, and for a terrifying moment some freaky head turns all the way around, but they get back into the slopes on the other side. They climb up, and Tobs sees a nightperson escorting a group of vaguely humanoid creatures. He barely manages to warn the rest of his party before they walk straight into them. The group goes back down, and they move forward and see a wall similar to the main city but smaller in scale, only about 10 feet high. They also can view mountains and woods. The wellspring is within the walls. Derris and the bat fly up to see what is in there: the wall is only a foot wide with spiky things on the top and occasional heads impaled on the spikes, and there is a pool with an island in the middle. There are a couple of stragglers moving through to the exit. The others see two nightpeople lead the ghastly humanoids down the path. There are three entrances/exits. Tobs comes up with a plan: Rohi, Kharlan, and Jaylynn watch the entrances, Nean and Arianna maintain psychic links, and Tobs sneaks in with Inzilbęth and Mithos so that those two can investigate the wellspring. Jaylynn figures out that the minds which come in and out of there are quite ugly; Spivak determines that they missed the ritual of the night.
Tobs, Mithos, and Inzilbęth move in. It is a very forceful power 10 wellspring. It is water of some kind, but Mithos would never want to swim in it: it is icky and dirty with mats of nasty stuff. Mithos throws a stick in, and after a few moments, he sees the stick crawl back out with little malformed legs. On the island in the middle is a horrible altar with blood running down in. Inzilbęth squishes the stick. When the moonlight hits the water, they see a face…and a cut throat…and a mutilated body: men, women, children, some vata, rhyden, puppies, kittens, rainbows (no, not rainbows), and a unicorn with its horn cut off. On one side are raised stones used to get to the center. Mithos acrobatically moves out to the altar island. The blood is mostly dried, although it looks like it gets renewed. The center area (from the last stone) is frozen over. Mithos shares the knowledge. Torvic technology?!?! Mithos puts his hand down next to the ice, and he feels a backlash as he tries to read it. He taps in and sees people coming and going, regular humans being pushed into the water and coming out malformed, and an exarch standing before the altar with innocent people with the full moon over head, sacrificing on the altar. He sees the seasons change and the cycle repeats again and again until late fall: it was a pool of water, and someone comes in with a casket. Two people (a man about 30ish and a woman Jaylynn’s age) are there; sacrifices had been made, and the water was full of blood, and within the casket was the last sacrifice. Those two people were also sacrificed on the altar, and they sank to the bottom on either side; the frozen area came into play, and the wellspring was in place. When he comes out of his vision, he looks over the side and sees the man from the initial sacrifice.
Everyone is very disturbed. Kharlan: “Poke it with a stick!” Jaylynn: “The last stick we had walked off.” Inzilbęth: “We need to make some form of atonement for the deaths of all of these people.” Jaylynn is very creeped out by the wellspring, so she creeps forward and away from it. Inzilbęth reflects: that frozen area didn’t appear until the ritual was done, so reversing that would be good, and everything was done on a full moon, so whatever they do to reverse it ought to be done on a full moon. It is waxing to a full moon now. Jaylynn sees a shape starting to come down the path: things are coming, five rather large creatures. He tells Tobs, who tells everyone to move into the woods. Mithos dexterously goes across and sneaks back out. All of them hide in the nearest spot in the woods. Otyughes (large bloated bodies, huge mouths, tentacles, covered in feces) come up the path just as Mithos slips into the woods. They move past and don’t notice those hiding in the woods. Tobs does a Royal Road card reading, trying to figure out how atonement would work with this wellspring, and Mithos tries to see the same thing with his visions. They all point strongly toward something to do with Jaylynn that she is not remembering. Also, the wheel of reincarnation has been stopped or broken. Mithos wants to break into Jaylynn’s brain to make her remember. Kharlan smacks her in the back of the head with his sword. “Ow.” Jaylynn sneaks away from everyone. Kharlan thinks it is the box that Rohi stole from Jaylynn way back in Aldis. Jaylynn suggests that Kharlan not hit her, and she senses that she becomes slightly more corrupt because of the wellspring seeping into her arcana. Jaylynn lurks away. Tobs and Spivak look for a place to sleep, and everyone spends the day hiding. Jaylynn spends the day away from everyone else. She is paranoid. Tobs reads his book of Faenarian poetry. Mithos plots how to get information out of Jaylynn’s mind. Things are quiet during the day in Kern.
Evening rolls around again, and they see movement along the path. Tobs and Spivak go off to find Jaylynn, Inzilbęth goes off to look too, and Mithos scries to find her. Jaylynn notices that a crystal is scrying her and is still more paranoid. She sits holding all of her things, cowering in the middle of Kern. Tobs and Inzilbęth do their best to comfort Jaylynn, and Spivak is a cute little comforting kitty. Kharlan meanwhile watches the three kids. Inzilbęth and Tobs block Mithos out of their brains and continue to talk to Jaylynn. Kharlan puts on a puppet show. Rohi is not amused, but Nean is captivated. Arianna wants to do it too, and she sets Kharlan’s hand on fire. Inzilbęth comes back: “Why is your hand on fire?” Tobs and Spivak look at Jaylynn with big shiny puppy eyes. Jaylynn goes to a peaceful clearing to meditate, and Tobs follows her. She pets Spivak as she meditates. Mithos is still watching, but Kharlan waves a flaming puppet in his face. Kharlan wonders what would happen if he puts a flaming puppet in the wellspring. He sneaks in, throws it in the well, and runs like heck back to the others. Those in the cave see the flaming puppet, about eight feet tall. The fire is now greenish, and it wails horribly. Kharlan: “I thought it would make the people in there happy!” It wanders off into the woods, and nightpeople look at it funny. The flaming puppet kicks their asses, but then they kill it. It smoulders in the distance as the nightpeople stare confusedly. Mithos tells the kids not to do that ever. Inzilbęth prevents Kharlan from throwing more puppets in. More nightpeople gather to stare at the wreck of the flaming puppet. Meanwhile Jaylynn, Tobs, and Spivak are oblivious. One of the nightpeople return, looking rather inspired. Those in the cave prevent Arianna from going to put things in the wellspring. Jaylynn resists her fear and calms herself, and she and Tobs sneak back to the wellspring. They see the remains of a giant puppet. Tobs thinks…that looks like Kharlan’s handpuppet…a giant Kharlan exists somewhere and plays with giant handpuppets? A giant Kharlan’s FAMILY exists somewhere?!? He is disturbed while Jaylynn studies the wellspring. She tries to mindtouch the dead people, but it doesn’t work. Mithos and Inzilbęth go to join Jaylynn and Tobs, and Jaylynn notices someone approaching and starts lurking. Kharlan once again watches the kids: “Now, what would happen if we threw this stuffed badger in?”
Jaylynn suddenly turns pale white and starts moving away. Tobs follows Jaylynn, and Mithos follows Tobs. The people in the cave are having a rave. The others get back to the cave. Inzilbęth talks to Mithos about trying to work everything out in a timely manner. Jaylynn cowers in a corner stroking Spivak. Inzilbęth tries to convince her to remember, as they need to get it by the full moon, which is in a couple of nights. Mithos tries to see the future of Jaylynn figuring things out: it’s not in the future anymore! She has already figured it out. Kharlan keeps the rave up in the back of the cave. Inzilbęth keeps being a psychiatrist to Jaylynn. Rohi is also being emo in a corner, and he and Jaylynn compete for most emo. Mithos goes up to Rohi; Rohi tells Mithos he sucks. Insert sexual innuendo here. Tobs tries to inspire courage in Jaylynn as Spivak continues to provide kitty comfort. Those keeping watch see more figures moving along the path in the daylight. Mithos throws a stone at Jaylynn, and Spivak deflects it.Maranda’s bad fanfic: the mighty puppet decided to rave with Kharlan, Arianna, and Neon. Rohi continued to emo. The puppet smited him. Rohi then raved. They all had a jolly grand time. Then the puppet went off and killed the lich king. FOR GREAT JUSTICE!!!!!
Jaylynn breaks out of her stupor for a minute and tells Tobs to get someone to find out where the Lich King is. Inzilbęth sends her bat out to scope things out in the city. The bat sees an empty throne room; he’s not in the citadel. Inzilbęth: “He could be going to the ritual.” Tobs: “Or fighting the Aldean army.” Mithos sees into the future of the Lich King: war and Aldis in ruins. Jaylynn says that the Lich King needs to be as far away as possible. Rohi denies vehemently that he likes Lin as Mithos continues to torment him. Then he gets called short…and pulls out a knife…sigh. Kharlan tells Rohi that he is taller than his own dad. Rohi: “I want to go home. This whole thing is stupid!” This continues for awhile. Inzilbęth vows not to make fun of his height again. Rohi denies that he is short. Jaylynn sneaks out with Spivak, and Tobs follows.Dan’s bad fanfic: Mithos continues to try to seduce Rohi, but happens to fail several times. During the courting period, Inzilbeth attempts to give Mithos tips to deal with Rohi, but Mithos ignores her. However, he begins to wonder how many children he has fathered, but decideds that doesn’t much matter. He continues his pursuit of Rohi’s hot ass, which is pretty damn fine… even if he is a bit short, though well-endowed. ^^ Karlan becomes a monk because he witnessed these horrifying events and his son went on to become the biggest pimp of Aldis, though no where near the stature of Mithos, who is the “god of sex”. Mithos taught Karlan’s son all of his ways and thus increased the size of Karlan’s already massive family.
Tobs and Spivak learn that Jaylynn is the key to the wellspring and is necessary to the Lich King to tap into its ultimate power. She also thinks that there is something that will turn the wellspring off in the capital. They need to sneak into the capital somehow.
Torvic is not here…jokes ensue!
They try to figure out what to do. Kharlan: “Ice fishing!” Everyone else: “…” Then something horrible about sex with the wellspring and mutated body parts and tentacles…eww… Mithos recalls the legend of how sea folk are supposed to have some part in the downfall of the Lich King. He has a vision that Jaylynn is involved with a box. He also gets a vision of Torvic from her past standing with a man, the same man who was in the wellspring and who was used as a final sacrifice. The full moon is in two nights. They need to sneak into the capital of Kern. They hear a wagon going down the road. It is the first of many, going towards the citadel. Inzilbęth’s bat goes to investigate. There are abominations along with the wagons. Jaylynn and Rohi disguise the others as the abominations to blend in with the procession.
They feel the horrible emo weight weigh down on them as they enter the city. The watchers look down on them from periphets, but they make it safely into the citadel. There’s a very high spiky tower in the center area. The wagons go off to a side area, and they see lots of random things: nightpeople, dirty and cowed humans, mangled humans from the wellspring kept in pens, grunts that take the wagon and push it aside. Kharlan sees a person walk by that he thinks looks like one of his lost uncle’s sons…second cousin Sybak?
After they drop off the wagons, they are left to themselves. They move towards the tower. It has an icky looking moat around it. Mithos sees a grate in it that looks like it would be wide enough to get in, if they could pull the grate out. Rohi tugs on Mithos’s sleeve: “I can do that.” He goes invisibly over to the grate and picks at it, and the grate pops off and moves slowly to the side. “Alright, it’s open.” Inzilbęth notes that it is safe water, although dirty, most likely coming from a kitchen. “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.” Spivak: “Ew.” They duck into the dark sewer past nasty squeaking rats and move into a small kitchen area with oily lamps in the corner. Spivak notes that one of the doors is better traveled, and she thinks it leads into a dining hall of sorts. Rohi is sent to scout ahead. He bumps into something in the hallway and shies back. “There are ‘people’ in there. I wouldn’t go that way.” They go in the other door and see a set of steps going down and a door leading to another long hallway. This area is deserted. Jaylynn sneaks on down the hallway. There are more squeaky rats. Down the stairs is most likely a cellar. Jaylynn creaks open a door and notices people in some sort of room. She finds another that seems to go outside. Tobs sneaks after, as Jaylynn has been gone awhile. He finds her about to make her way back. She looks down the long hallway and sees another door leading to a center area with a possible stairwell. Tobs sneaks back and gets the others, and they move stealthily down the hallway to Jaylynn and to the staircase.
They creep up the staircase to level two of Lich King Tower. There are no doors going out, just a stairwell going up. Something is a little off here. It seems a little too convenient. It is similar to being in a shadow gate. Kharlan tosses a rock down, and it ends up hitting him on the head. Then he throws his wooden star, and it keeps going down, then up and down, then up and down… Tobs feels around the walls, and he finds a seam that goes along the crack of the steps and into the wall. He pokes his spear in it. Nothing happens. Kharlan sticks his sword in, but nothing happens. Spivak does a second sight reading and sees weak points up at the corners. Kharlan jumps down the steps and knocks into Tobs, but fortunately they stop before rolling over and over and over. Spivak points the weak points out, and Kharlan stabs one with his sword. Some arcane force responds. Tobs tries too, but nothing happens. Kharlan stabs another one with his magic sword. Jaylynn senses out the illusion and sees that getting all four points simultaneously would be best. Kharlan, Rohi, Nean, and Arianna use magical weapons/magic on all four at once.
They suddenly find themselves in a large circular room with no trace of the steps. There are pillars at the “corners” of the room, and a window that reveals that they are very high up. In the middle is a slight depression, and there is what seems to be a door on the other side. They are in the middle. Tobs goes to look out the window, and Mithos and Kharlan look at pillars. Jaylynn looks for magic, and Inzilbęth goes over to stand with Tobs. Jaylynn doesn’t sense any magic, and she feels disturbed. Kharlan draws mustaches on the Lich King’s paintings. Tobs and Inzilbęth suddenly have to get out of the way as a blast of psychic energy hits them. It injures Inzilbęth as a cloaked figure materializes. He’s holding a stave with a shas crystal in it. He fires at Inzilbęth again and scratches her. She whips out her crossbow. Mithos uses a startling revelation to hold him off balance, but he is not fazed. Jaylynn suggests that he drop the stave, but he rebuffs it. Kharlan reasons: “If he’s resistant to magic, then he sucks physically!” He charges in with his sword. The three kids try to work with their magics. The evil guy takes a few steps back from Kharlan, concentrates, and the whole room erupts into flames. Inzilbęth shoots with her crossbow, and Tobs shoots with his bow. Mithos moves up and attacks him. Jaylynn tries to calm him. This guy is unfazed by everything. Kharlan stabities! Nean gets the stone to slide down and lock around the man’s feet, and invisible Rohi attacks. The man shoots out a wave of fire at Kharlan, Mithos, Arianna, Rohi, and Nean, and they dodge out of the way. Rohi’s pretty badly hurt. Inzilbęth enhances herself. Tobs and Mithos battle dance. Mithos attacks him and scrapes by his face, catching a glimpse of blond hair underneath. Jaylynn inspires hope. Kharlan continues to swing at him, and Nean works the stone up to the man’s knees. The man disappears. Inzilbęth second sights him on the ceiling. Tobs prepares an arrow for when he shows himself again. Mithos also points at the ceiling. Jaylynn heals the area. Arianna tries to burn him; the flames repell and shoot back down towards everyone, and the fire shoots out the window past Tobs. Nean tries to work with the stone on the ceiling, but he’s kind of tired. The man drops down from the ceiling next to Mithos and attempts to grapple him. Mithos cops a feel as he is pinned. The man leans into his neck and bites. Tobs shoots him and manages to damage him a bit. Mithos tries to roll him over and get on top of him, but he’s too strong. Jaylynn tries to “heal” the enemy. Kharlan whirls around and stabs. Rohi recovers a bit and tries to use light shaping on him. Nean is tired. The man (Xander) grapples Mithos again and continues to pin him. Inzilbęth shoots again and hits this time in a pretty critical area in the back. He reels back looking really hurt. Tobs also shoots him. Mithos once again tries to get away, and since he is distracted, Mithos gets out of his grasp. Jaylynn keeps healing. Xander has dropped to his knees. Kharlan makes the finishing blow, and he falls to the ground unconscious. Kharlan takes out his ninja star made of wood and moves to stab him in the heart. His hood falls off, and he has lines moving up his neck – it looks like that disease in its final fullest form. They tie him up with Mithos’s bag of sex toys. After tying him up, they encase him in stone around a pillar. Jaylynn heals Mithos and Rohi. Mithos pokes the man’s face, and Kharlan draws a mustache on it. On his forehead, he writes “arrowed.”
Jaylynn studies the door. Kharlan opens it and sticks his head around. He sees steps that curl around and up. They are not crazy dimension steps. They scamper up and come to a door. Within is a room similar to the room below with the depression in the middle, although it is a bit nicer. Jaylynn recognizes the room. It is very dimly lit; vague shadows and forms are moving about.
The moonlight is streaming in. The ceiling curves up to a single point with a six-pointed design, hard to see in the dark. There are objects seemingly floating one story up. They see two black cloaked figures similar to Xander by the windows. Their “good friend” Winifred is also there. Mithos senses two more, and Kharlan and Tobs are also aware of them. Those two are standing by barbershop poles filled with wellspring water. Power is coming from them. The room is completely silent. Kharlan waves. Winifred smiles and waves back. Mithos also smiles and waves. Arianna steps forward. The two by the windows move up; they are even more marked than Xander and look like the humans that were thrown in the wellspring. Arianna asks Winifred if she can come out without being maimed. “If you like.” As Arianna continues across the room, she has six standing around her with Winifred in front of her. Everyone is taller than her. Arianna: “I would like to say that you have heightism.” Winifred: “I hope you killed the one downstairs.” Mithos: “Oh, the cute one?” Winifred: “You have weird tastes.” Mithos: “You’re cute, too.” She glares at him. Arianna: “I think it’s kind of cute that you’re going to take over the world. And that you’re a vampire.” She mentions Lucretia and the markings, and Winifred says that she doesn’t want to discuss it. Someone is jealous… Winifred: “This is ridiculous. I don’t see why I was left here to take care of you.” Tobs and Jaylynn lurk around to try to find something that will turn off the wellspring poles. Back behind Winifred in the wall seems to be something important. Mithos walks towards Arianna. Arianna: “How do we stop you?” She grows even more annoyed. Arianna makes multiple Ariannas in her head. Jaylynn casts heal centered on Arianna, but something interferes and snaps her magic. Winifred herself snaps and shakes her head. “Well, if you insist, let’s get this over with.”
Winifred steps back from Arianna and propels herself up onto a small landing and concentrates. Spivak flies over to inspect the inlet in the back wall, and Tobs shoots at Winifred, but it seems that some sort of magic is deflecting attacks on her. Mithos gets a flash of the wellspring water being the cause of their power. Inzilbęth senses arcana and learns the same thing. Jaylynn looks at one of the closed crystal vials filled with the nasty water, and she casts cure on it but gets the same sort of backlash. Flames spring out from one of the cloaked figure’s fingers, and they graze past Arianna. Kharlan is attacked by another one with fire, but it doesn’t hit him. Another attacks Mithos; he goes on top of a landing and sends a lightning bolt down, but misses. The one on Inzilbęth reaches his hands down the the ground and brings vines out of the stone, but that one also misses. One, however, hits Arianna rather hard with a cold blast, and she falls unconscious. Kharlan attacks the glass with his stone. Nean lifts Arianna’s body up with stone and moves it over to Jaylynn. Spikes lash out at them. Tobs shoots one of the glass pole vials, and it cracks and begins to leak. Mithos attacks another and cracks it. Inzilbęth shoots another, but her bolt dings off. Jaylynn heals Arianna some, and she sits up. The one behind Inzilbęth looks weakened with the water leaking out. Another attacks Kharlan and Jaylynn with fire. Others attack Nean, Mithos, and Inzilbęth. The one tangles himself in his own vines. Another misses Tobs with a cold blast. Kharlan yells obscenities and slashes again. Rohi barely avoids slipping in the water, and Nean attacks one of the cloaked figures. Arianna attacks the fire guy with ice. Winifred watches everyone, amused. Tobs shatters another, and one of the figures slumps on the ground, weakened. [He shattered his shiny.] Mithos cracks another one. Inzilbęth turns around and shoots the figure behind her, but he dodges out of the way. Jaylynn heals some more, and Arianna is ready to go. Jaylynn makes an illusion that she has fallen over. Fire dude thinks he killed the healer, and he rejoices and singes Kharlan. Another two hurt Mithos badly, and he collapses dramatically. Another attacks Tobs. Kharlan keeps hitting the glass thing, and it starts to leak. Rohi finally follows Spivak’s advice and goes to work on the mysterious thing in the back. Nean uses earth shaping to bring Mithos over to the healing spot near Jaylynn. Arianna continues to use ice on one. Tobs shoots another one, and it begins to leak. Inzilbęth shoots the entangled person in front of her and hits him for serious damage. Jaylynn heals some more and contacts Nean to tell him to loose the earth around the vials on the wall. Kharlan and Nean are attacked. Inzilbęth is fighting the most pathetic villan ever, as he is still entangled in his own vines. Two attack Tobs with ice and stabity earth above things. The one Tobs shot first has entirely drained, and the creature by Inzilbęth collapses and lies still. Derris goes over and bothers the ones on Nean, and Kharlan swings and shatters the glass, making the one attacking them look very hurt. Rohi works like a working machine. Nean shields himself with rock and backs away. Arianna moves to hit the ones on Nean with cold, and she kills one. Winifred looks back at Rohi and has technical difficulties. Spivak alerts Rohi that Winifred is eying him evily, and Tobs continues to shoot one of the vials. Mithos stands up and finishes another off, flipping his hair and stabbing with his rapier. Inzilbęth shoots and misses. Jaylynn heals Nean some. One attacks Arianna with fire, and she feels warm and toasty. Another attacks Inzilbęth and makes her unconscious and dying with cold. Tobs dodges the stone lances out of the ceiling Matrix style. Derris bothers Winifred, and Kharlan moves over by Rohi. Kharlan shatters a vial, and the one above Tobs looks rather weak. Arianna enflames herself and shoots with ice for pure humor value. She kills the other, and crystal shatters when he dies. Winifred looks rather pissed and is distracted by the bothering Derris. Spivak flies in front of Rohi and hisses at Winifred, and Tobs shatters the last vial with his arrow. Mithos heals. Inzilbęth stabilizes. Jaylynn heals Inzilbęth, and the one by her also looks more hurt. One fails to hit Kharlan, but the other cripples Tobs with the spikes. Kharlan whirls around, smashes, eliminates him, and spins around in a pretty circle. Nean puts a stone wall up to protect Spivak and Rohi. Arianna: “So many things to do, so little decision making skills…” Arianna tries to psychically grapple Winifred, who blasts out with spiky dark stereotypically evil energy. Tobs kills the last remaining minion; he shoots him, and the cloaked guy falls and splatters and dies. Mithos heals. Inzilbęth also heals some more. Jaylynn casts calm on Winifred, but she is rebuffed. Kharlan climbs up the ladder and glares at Winifred. Derris poops on her and flies away. Arianna shoots her with fire and hits her. Winifred flies right at Kharlan and swings at him. Tobs moves into the happy healing space and heals a bit. Mithos battle dances, and Inzilbęth shoots at Winifred. Jaylynn casts a range cure on Winifred, and she heals…not a vampire?!? Kharlan smash! But she saves. Arianna fires some more. Winifred does another spell on Arianna, Mithos, and Kharlan. Tobs heals and shoots. Mithos flanks and slashes. Jaylynn heartshapes hope on her party. Kharlan rages and stabs her and takes her down. Arianna flames her, and she looks hurt. She moves, and Kharlan and Mithos attack her. They kill her as she flies away.
Rohi and Nean finally get it open, and they see a box similar to the one Jaylynn took into Aldis; Jaylynn takes it. Kharlan meanwhile rages about his family. The box contains a vial with clear fluid in it. Tobs congradulates Rohi and Nean on their good work, and Kharlan draws a mustache on Winifred’s dead body and writes “owned” on her head. Mithos sees into the vial: Torvic made it, Lucretia’s been tinkering with it, and Winifred’s been using it. Arianna starts poking the black goo the bodies dissolved into, and Tobs stops her and tells her to poke it with a stick. Tobs looks out the window and sees an army. There is fighting going on. They try to figure out what to do with Xander and the vial. Inzilbęth thinks and looks at the vial; there’s a process of fixing the wellsprings, and part of it is to remediate the wrong that was done to begin with. Using the vial to get rid of the ice would start the process. However, there is potential death for the ritualists. Mithos sees two visions: yay happy, the wellspring is fixed and Aldis wins, and then bad, they don’t fix the wellspring and Aldis loses.
They grab the cloaks left behind and disguise themselves. Inzilbęth goes as herself, and Jaylynn illusions herself to look like Winifred. Arianna and Jaylynn split the shiny things off of Winifred’s body. They go back down, and Xander is still there and unconscious. Kharlan carries him out. They get some odd looks but also bows. Jaylynn orders the minions out to the battlefield. They leave the capital and go to the cave to await the full moon. “Winifred” Jaylynn goes to the wellspring to direct traffic and study it. Arianna and Inzilbęth go with her. Xander wakes up in the cave. “Where am I? Let me go, right now!” Mithos and Kharlan get in his face. He threatens to kill them. “I chose this, let me go!” Kharlan: “Who would choose to be a blood-sucking demon who can’t eat candy?” “I can eat candy if I wanted to!” Mithos gives him a startling revelation. “Ow, stop it, what are you doing?” He holds his head and clears up. “You can’t scare me!” Kharlan holds up candy…how’s this scary? Kharlan thinks to throw it in the wellspring. Xander: “It’s not fair for the candy to get the wellspring before I do!” Tobs tries to diplomacize him. He pretends to review him for his service for the Lich King to figure out why he wants power. Spivak lands on his head: “How well do you resist cuteness?” He tries to burn Spivak and fails miserably. “What do you want me to do?” Mithos mind-touches him and flashes him images. He looks chargined but puts on a more serious face: “I will do that.” Mithos is now slightly corrupted. But he does it anyway. Xander may have done this before.
The other three clear out the wellspring by ordering the people there to the front lines. Inzilbęth studies it. They can get the frozen people out, and that will give them the chance to heal the wellspring itself. They take turns guarding the wellspring while they rest in the cave. They wait until the next night, which is the night of the full moon. Poor, poor Xander. They tell him they are going to prepare the wellspring for him. Arianna gags him, and Nean encases him in stone. Spivak, Derris, and Nean remain behind to watch. There are people at the wellspring, but they move aside as if expecting Winifred to do this. They are told to leave. Rohi puts up an evil ritual illusion. Tobs and Mithos go across to the middle and help ritualist Inzilbęth. Tobs dances the eternal dance to inspire her with courage. Jaylynn also carefully gets across. Jaylynn sets up some funeral rites, and Inzilbęth begins the mumbo jumbo and pours the vial onto the altar. It shimmers and reflects the moonlight, and the area with the frost acts confused as if it wasn’t the ritual it was expecting; the frost lets up, and the two people float up to the surface, breathing. Now they need to purge the wellspring. Inzilbęth’s unconscious and in pain and anguish, but she’s not dead, despite her ten minute grapple with the wellspring. It lifts, and they feel the power breaking. The bodies lower down to the bottom, looking more restful, and the two frozen people begin to sputter: a young woman and a man, coughing on them. Tobs puts a cloak and a blanket around them. The wellspring is now just regular water. Xander senses this: “What the heck?” He goes very very quiet. Tobs asks them if they know Torvic, and the man looks up. “Where is she?” “Leading the army, I think.” Aron is Torvic’s lover. Neither he nor the girl can get to their feet. They get Inzilbęth and the two frozen people across. A lot of chaos is over by the capital: they sense that something went horribly wrong. Rohi brings up an illusion to cover them. People run by them; the army of Aldis is very close now. They hide in the cave. Xander is still very very quiet. Jaylynn lurks in the forest and watches remnants of the Lich King’s army run by. The Aldean army is laying siege to the citadel. They take the gag out and talk to Xander. “We’re actually Aldis people who just destroyed the wellspring.” Xander thinks that he is going to be tortured. “They have monsters like sea folk and talking animals.” He is revolted by the good happy images of Aldis. There are big pockets of his mind missing, as Arianna can see. Inzilbęth staggers up and looks at him. He glares. Nean lets him go. He moves to leave. “I’ll take fifty of them with me or die trying.” “Winifred” Jaylynn comes in, and Xander looks at her funny. She tells him to sit. He backs up and sits, glaring. She and Xander have a conversation. It would take a lot of work, but they might be able to help him.
Spivak is sent over to Sigourney, and she requests that they go join the army. All of them go over. Aron is disturbed that all of them know Torvic. He has a really nasty disease. They get back to the army, and they take the citadel. They don’t know if they defeated the Lich King, though. And then they go back to Aldis. Sometime during the journey back, Arianna disappears.
That area of Kern is captured! Now what to do? The Lich King is still alive. Sigourney, however, is very pleased with them. They get a griffon escort back to Aldis. There has been some stress in Aldis, but the heroes are hailed with much cheering and flower petals. They get nice quarters in the main building. Xander was transported back to Aldis and is put under the care of the psychics in the adept dome. Arianna is missing, but Nean and Rohi are glad to be home. Rohi slips off as soon as they get back, and Nean goes back to the adept dome. Kharlan, Mithos, and Inzilbęth go to the library. Mordecai is traveling all over the mess of the library, trailing papers, and Ken is trailing along behind him. Kharlan: “Hey, we saw your brother!” Mordecai freezes. “You’ve been talking to him, haven’t you.” Kharlan mentions chess. Ken and Mordecai look at each other. “You got him out, where is he?” They tell them the story. There’s a rattling coming from the closet. Mithos opens it, and Matteo comes tumbling out. He’s somewhat dazed. Mordecai stares at his older younger brother. Matteo is still taller than his brother, though. Matteo hugs him, and Mordecai is frozen and happily terrified. Kharlan calls Ken a cradle robber. “It was not a romantic thing at the time. But he did grow up nicely.” Mordecai mentions his father and looks unhappy. Inzilbęth mentions that Matteo liked him, and Ken excuses himself to tell others about the happy family reunion. Mordecai says he was looking for his father’s research. He clearly hates his father. And his father is in prison now. “At least the research won’t be in vain, even though he was a bastard.” Mordecai tells them about his father taking entire towns to get the essence of the old kingdom…a party stumbled across it while trying to escort the Glenfeldes. He tells them to go away and flutters his hands.
Roland the healer is walking along the path towards the fountain, talking to a sixteen year old girl wearing a black cloak with long black hair and a bit of blue on her skin. Roland is a little concerned about the skin condition. They stop as they see the three come out of the library. The girl hands them all a flower. Inzilbęth: “You remind me of a friend of ours that we lost.” [It’s a sixteen year old Arianna, though she is trying to hide it.] Roland: “This is Ria.” Kharlan: “Do you know someone named Torvic?” Ria: “Oh yes, we’re great friends.” Mithos: “What, you didn’t use to go FIRE!!!” Mithos has a vision of Lucretia. “I trained under Torvic, and then I went to Loki.” They try to get out of her if she is Arianna. She seems—or pretends— not to remember things. “Why are you asking me these strange questions?” Mithos to Tobs in his head: “ARIANNA’S SIXTEEN!!!” Tobs: “…” Spivak goes over and talks to Arianna and secretly plots in her mind. Kharlan wants to summon his whole family and do a Riverdance rendition of their adventures.
They make their way to the front gates, and Jonah is standing out front. Mithos gives him a big hug, and he stands stiffly. Jonah looks stressed: his brother is healthy again and ordering people about. Kharlan offers Jonah to go on a vacation: “We have a summer home…somewhere.” “I’ve had a bad experience with summer homes.” Mithos tells him to go down to the sea. But Jonah has obligations. Almos has been there for a couple of days. That’s part of why everything is so complicated. They’re fighting, and Jonah wants to stay out of it. Mithos: “Jonah for president of the family!” They go in the house, and servants are moving. Jaylynn lurks in to check on Aaron. Aaron and Almos are arguing. They hear a whooshing and a shattering. Ria: “I’m from Lucretia.” The servants try to shoo them away from the door, but they go in. Almos looks rather peppy and energetic, and he and Aaron are circling each other, wearing rather ceremonial garb and with water shaping raised high. They seem to be evenly matched, so they stop and glare at each other. Brent is watching from the side. “They’re preparing for the duel to determine who is going to run things here.” Kharlan suggests a dance-off instead and gets weird look. Jaylynn wants them to be healthy, so she goes up and asks to check them out. They are both healthy. They all try to prevent the fight, but it is a time-honored tradition, and they’re not killing each other. The duel will be in public this afternoon. Jaylynn looks back down to Jonah and calms him some. Jonah is happy to see her. “I don’t want them to fight. If they kill each other, I might have to run the family!” Jonah couldn’t handle the servants while his brother was sick, so he had to dismiss them, and his brother wasn’t so happy. Inzilbęth is sad that Ria has lost all of her charm but happy that she knows where babies came from…or claims to. Kharlan tells Jonah about Xander, and Jonah looks at Mithos in horror. Inzilbęth wants to take Ria to see Nean. Inzilbęth tries to drag her away, and Jonah and Mithos pull on her other arm. Jonah: “Please start making sense!” Spivak tries to confort him. Jaylynn suggests that Jonah lay down for a bit.
Tobs goes to see his boyfriend Phaedrus and hears a child talking animatedly: “I made you a hat out of flowers!” When Tobs knocks, Phaedrus heaves a sigh of relief and opens the door. Tobs goes in, and Harold gives him a bit hug. Tobs spins him around. He sends Harold to go see Spivak and then turns to an exhausted Phaedrus. Phaedrus: “We need to talk about this.” Tobs: “Later.” He drags him back into his room, and they aren’t seen for some time. Harold runs out and squeezes Spivak and says he has two daddies and Spivak is the wife and he tells Mithos that he’s a daddy – Deanna is pregnant. Mithos is rather quiet for once. Harold thinks that babies come from Mithos. He tells them a story about griffons and zombies. Spivak mentally: “Tobs, you owe me one.” Mithos is entirely in shock. He goes for a swim and feels a little better.
They go to the adept dome, and Danäe has her lunch with the pink handkerchief. She says they have a delicate case on their hands (Xander). Xander is proving resistant to their techniques. Inzilbęth wants to take Ria to see Nean. Ria wants to see Xander. Nean is called down and introduced to Ria. Nean is confused: “You’re taller than me.” Inzilbęth: “This just makes it easier for you two to kiss.” Both of them look confused. They all go off to see Xander. They go down to the cells and see psychic healers working with a slumped, quiet Xander. They managed to remove most of the marks, but they figure that he chose to do this, so rehabilitation hasn’t worked so far. Kharlan makes inappropriate remarks, and guards escort him away. They can’t break his will legally. Xander glares at them: “What do you want? Have you come to torment and torture me?” He objects to the taking away of his marks. Jaylynn says he wasn’t worthy of them. He lashes at his chains: “How can you say something like that? You’re just filth!” Jaylynn shows him Winifred’s shinies. He doesn’t believe she is dead. The guard won’t let them have the key. Ria asks Danäe to fight him to show him that they are stronger and more superior than him, and Jaylynn wants to as well (it was her idea), but Danäe forbids it vehemently; she objects to Jaylynn’s Kernish thinking and ignores her. Ria does the fire thing as she passes Mithos in the fountain, and he dives further in. Kharlan remembers his grandpa and runs out. Kharlan’s wife hugs him and is happy that he’s back. “I met my grandfather, and he was young!” “Dear, I think you’ve been out in the sun too long.” His family is all there, including an old man Pete. Kharlan talks to him. He is confused that it just happened; his memory is not so good these days. And he’s still sleepy.
Harold comes back with Deanna, and they go up to Mithos in the fountain. Mithos: “Yeah…” Deanna: “Am I making you sad?” “No, it was really startling.” “We should probably plan for lots of things. The summer solstice is always a great time to get married.” Ria: “Yes, the summer is a time of great fraternity.” Mithos: “You mean fertility. We shouldn’t get married with everyone else; we’re special.” Inzilbęth kindly suggests a star marriage arrangement. Deanna: “And it’s going to be very happy, right?” They suggest that they name the child after her sister Sandy. Kharlan pulls Mithos aside: “Always stay quiet and nod. Otherwise they will eat your soul.” Ria arranges wedding colors with Deanna. Deanna: “My first daughter is doing very well.” Kharlan: “Who’s the daddy?” “I don’t know. I gave her up for adoption, but I visit her sometimes.” Mithos looks into his future and sees domesticness. Deanna looks very very happy about this. And it’s definitely his kid. “We will talk and have dinner after the duel.” Derris writes a novel about all of this in haiku.
Jaylynn goes down to Xander and tells him that the power that he seeks is not the power he really needs. They argue. “I’d rather be dead; you should have killed me.” He laughs strangely.
Mithos stands close to Ria: not because he wants to touch her boobies, but because he is suspicious of her Arianna-ish-ness. They all go to the duel. Almos and Aaron stand out in the cobble-stoned area of the mansion. Jaylynn sets out bandages and nibbles on pastries. Ria goes over there, and Mithos and Inzilbęth follow her closely. Tobs is there with Phaedrus and Harold and Spivak. Harold wants to play in the water. The two send shots of water at each other at the same time. Aaron takes a gash to his face. Almos seems to be a natural. Jonah looks startled, as he thought his brother was the best water-shaper ever. Brent isn’t surprised. Then Aaron hits Almos in the side. The water gets sharper and sharper, and the wounds get heavier; finally Almos almost accidentally puts a lance of water straight through Aaron’s chest. Aaron is quite dead. Jonah steps out to take on Almos. Jaylynn: “No.” Jonah: “Bring him back, quickly!” Almos looks pretty proud of himself (and unremorseful). Brent pats Almos on the shoulder. Jonah hovers near Jaylynn and glares at Almos. Harold is disturbingly happy at all of the exciting violence. Jaylynn heals the wound in his chest, and Jonah looks relieved. The servants take Aaron back into the house, and Jonah and Jaylynn follow him in. Jonah: “I know this is a bad time, and I’m really grateful for everything you’ve done, and you’re a good person…would you like to stay in the house for awhile? If you don’t want to, that’s ok, I understand…” He babbles on awkwardly for a bit. (Everbody goes Awwww…) Jaylynn blushes shyly and lurks away. Mithos follows and talks to Jonah: “You’ve got to be more aggressive with Jaylynn.” “It’s her decision.” “But she needs to hear it.” “But I’ve barely even held her hand!” Mithos and Ria council Jonah. He starts writing notes. “Kiss her on the cheek!” Tobs congradulates Deanna, and Harold pulls Tobs and Phaedrus together. Double marriage? Mithos says no. Deanna says yes. Harold looks very happy. Phaedrus and Mithos emo. Mithos: “I’m getting a double whamie.” Phaedrus: “Try getting the child before the marriage.”
Ria flicks fire at Rohi when she goes back to talk to Nean. Rohi: “Do you get off on that or something?” Ria freezes Rohi’s lips and invites everyone to the bar. Nean: “You can bring Lin, Rohi!” Rohi flicks them off. She streams fire at him. Nean and Arianna plot marriages. Jonah is still looking around for Jaylynn…Tobs invites him to the bar. Inzilbęth’s bat watches his brother.
They go to Burly’s bar. It looks better, as it has a reputation that heroes hang out there. He’s still behind the bar wiping the same old glass with Susan the fish behind him. Spivak lands on his shoulder. Rohi and Lin are there. Rohi denies that he has a boyfriend. Arianna says they go kissy kissy behind the kitchen door, and Rohi glares at Nean. Rohi claims he’s not attracted to anyone at all, and he argues with Arianna. He walks out with Lin. Lin: “Man, he’s just a handful.” Arianna catches Rohi on fire, and Nean laughs. Deanna is there with candles at a table, and she sits with Mithos. Neither of them have been good at being monogamous, so this should be interesting. Both of them are nervous, but Deanna says it will be ok. Jaylynn is there drinking and having a good time. Jonah comes up to her, looking shy. He tries to lean in and kiss her on the cheek. She is completely surprised. He turns quickly away and holds out a letter. (And everybody goes Awwwww). Jaylynn grabs his hand and lets him sit next to her. He is totally red in the face but very happy. Kharlan riverdances. Ursula shows up and plays on her lute for the performance. The drunks join Kharlan and sing “We’re knights of the round table…” Somewhere in the dungeon, Xander starts clapping. Burly sings “I have to push the pram a lot!” [That really didn’t happen.] Arianna makes the blue go away and goes in between Mithos and Deanna: “I’m going to teach your kids lots of fun things.” She goes over to Jaylynn and Jonah and confesses that she is Arianna: “I can turn blue now!” Jaylynn: “But you still have hair, thank goodness.” Spivak goes Cheshire cat and uses illusions to make parts of her disappear. Inzilbęth thinks Arianna will make a wonderful babysitter. Jonah volunteers to babysit. Kharlan tells Jonah to tell the truth from a positive point of view. Mithos to Jonah: “You have a penis. Act like it.” Kharlan: “You mean you have to act like a dick?” Arianna gives Jonah a flower, and he gives it to Jaylynn. Inzilbęth talks to Arianna, and Mithos and Kharlan give Jonah advice. Burly brings out a toast to the group. Deanna is sad she can’t drink due to her pregnancy. Burly: “It’s a toast.” They drink, and it all winds down for the night.