So now that I don’t have the Bubonic Plague anymore, a few notes on what I’ve been up to -
Some wizards attacked Valenci with the flying city of Kemotin. Wait, let me back up. Before that, the Banded Castle created a dropped a motherfucking asteroid on top of the Falling Star headquarters the day after the cult had set half the District on fire. That pretty much took care of them for the moment. Then the next day during the jongleuring festival to select a new Jester, the wizards just decided to drop in. Perhaps their uncloaking the city just after we shivved Seal was a coincidence – you never know. Likely not. Anyway, Byron had an inspiration and guided us through the panicked crowd up to Calleich’s temple. We wanted to be sure the wizards didn’t get the seal being kept there. Long story short – they didn’t get it, a priestess was killed and possessed by Calleich before becoming a Risen, and in the process provided enough Divine Encouragement to Scram for the wizards to leave Valenci for now.
The city took a few weeks to clean up and calm down.
While visiting Calleich’s temple to check in on everyone, Byron was able to track the connection to the ancient seal, so we followed it to a neighborhood several Districts away, where we lost the trail. We went to talk with our buddy Dameon, and in the process found out about an ex-priest of Aisling called the Builder, who it seems likely may be the one with his finger in the proverbial pie regarding the seal and possibly the skin-thieves as well. We visited Bemel’s temple to see about getting a puzzle built that might entice the Builder enough to get him to speak with us. Turns out Bemel had rejected him from her priesthood because he wanted to build things No One Had Built (read: should ever build) rather than building through connection to the materials. We contracted with an Architect to make a puzzle, which she said should take about three weeks.
Did I mention the earthquake? There was an earthquake, didn’t last long, but enough to flatten poorly-built buildings. Byron determined that it was caused by Summoning magic, and through walking a few districts we found that it had seemingly centered in the Government District, the ‘heart of the city’. Yesterday afternoon we stopped by Ebelton to see if they knew anything about the quake. Weirdly, although it was late afternoon, it seemed like they were all asleep – the guy who eventually came out seemed like he’d just woken up. He was bleary until Byron started talking, and then he got all jazzed up. We offered our help in looking underneath the heart of the city if needed. Cinnamon got a look at some of the animals.
On our way out from Ebelton, Cinnamon and I noticed something weird – like the edges of what we could see were parchment. Raisa passed out trying to look at us, then Byron I guess tried to grab a piece of what he could see and passed out too. I tried to wake them up and was about to pour some whiskey down their throats to see if it’d help, when I found myself with them in a big library. This wizened old guy reached out into nothing and plucked Cinnamon into the room. That’s how we met Gelt.
He was true to random form, so I won’t record all the ins and outs of our exact conversations. He said we were in over our heads and needed promotions, though the titles we got didn’t seem too useful. He gave us each a fortune-cookie declaration – mine was “all is not always as it seems,” then seemed to get bored of that and turned briefly serious, saying “Look, Macha’s coming back.” And then booted us back to our own reality with no goodbye except to pop back out a moment later to return Cinnamon the spoon she’d been using to eat the ice cream he’d procured from behind his beard. Oh, Gelt.
We were explaining this little adventure to Tory and Torvik as we continued down the hill to get some food when we heard horses behind us. Cinnamon (wise girl) vanished into the trees right away. The rest of us stepped off the road to let them pass, but saw as they got closer that it was Ivan, Feodor, and goon squad. They might not have noticed us, but then Torvik had to get all fancy and salute them. I swore to myself I wouldn’t say a thing, not a thing not a thing. It looked again like we might just get by with polite nods and tight smiles, but then Ivan stopped his horse, dismounted, and came over to me, barely blinking as he stared at me the whole time.
“Cousin. It’s good to see you well” he said. Translation: why haven’t you died in a fire yet for my amusement. I realized I wasn’t going to get away with my say-nothing plan, so tried a minimalist approach. “And you.” Translation: Go die in a fire yourself. “Say hello to Brother for us” he said Translation: go home, little Leo, and remind Vassily, in case he’s forgotten his psychotic asshole brothers, that we miss having him to kick around at will, and will instead menace him from afar. “I will.” And though I will pass on their greeting to Vassily, my inner voice was saying “up yours”. Ever so cordially, of course.
They departed, thankfully, before I lost control and said something mouthy to him. They were trouble enough before last month’s episode of the Duke publicly reversing their destroy-Leo’s-family foibles. Much as it would delight me to pour some lemon juice on their fresh paper cuts, I’m smart enough to have learned the lesson – admittedly through repeated administration – that it’s a bad idea to challenge their ingenuity. The trouble comes when my mouth thinks it’s smarter than my head.
We carried on to the bottom of the hill, and since I was ravenous I got us to stop in for a first dinner in the Government District on the way to the Big House. While we were there I stashed some rolls in my satchel to tide me over until we got to sandwiches at the House. On the way out, we stopped for a minute to look at the repairs they’ve started on the main plaza, and Raisa noticed some shadowy figures lurking down an alley. Strange for the Government District. I watched out of the corner of my eye and saw what looked like two little kids back there. A fellow walking his wolfhounds nearly got toppled as the dogs tried to pull him away from the alley, which was decidedly odd. The fellow seemed to have a cough, which didn’t seem significant at the time, but in hindsight is bad news.
We decided to send Cinnamon up onto the rooftops while I snuck down the alley to see what I could see. What I saw was an emaciated child, except its eyes were completely black. I offered to give it one of my rolls, and bowled the roll toward it. It ignored the roll and ran at me instead, just until its shadow hit me, then veered off to the side. I felt massively ill for a moment – and then most of it faded and I just felt moderately unwell. I retreated from the alley to have Raisa check me out, and she determined that I was halfway healed from the Bubonic Plague. (Yeah, I thought that was weird too).
A rat raced terrified out of the alley, and Cinnamon drew this amazing knife I’d never seen her use before. It seemed to confuse her for a moment, but then she decided that her instincts were telling her to use the knife, so she went back into the alley as Byron called “SALT!” after her. Two of the kids opened window shutters to create a light while a third darted at her enough to catch her in its shadow. She fell over immediately with a full-on case of the plague, but she caught one of the little things and ground salt into it as it tried to vanish. It seemed somewhat effective – the salted part stayed behind when the rest of it turned to mist. All three of us rushed in to help her – both Raisa and Byron were hit with mild versions as well. (I think Tory and Torvik were still watching the plaza paving a distance away). We debated whether to tell the Watch about the child-creatures, and Cinnamon suddenly realized (?) that she could cure herself. She started running, and by the time she got back to us looked like the picture of health. None of us – Cinnamon included – knew what the hell to make of that, so we kind of glossed over it in the moment, but man, was that bizarre yet awesome. We decided it would be best to notify Vikon’s priests of what was happening rather than try to engage directly with the Watch. Cinnamon ran on ahead to warn them, and so they had two high-level priests waiting when we arrived . They quarantined us for the night, but all three of us feel better this morning and have received clean bills of health.
So that-all’s been exciting, and I’m off for a beer.