The Red Hand

Pithic gets reinforcements

“Please sit down, young GoldentonguePithic said wearily.
Unlike their usual mental sparring appointments, this meeting was not taking place in the tired old man’s quarters this time. Accommodating two fellow Disciplinary Officers for this encounter needed more space after all. Poor bastards, Pithic thought, looking sadly towards his newly appointed assistants. Of course it had to eventually end up like this. Pithic was simply not enough to deal with Samir’s antics. How could one man investigate this mischievous bastard all on his own when a simple clue threw them down a rabbit hole of nonsense and madness? How could one even find a small droplet of proof when the suspect reveled in seemingly creating complex clues that would take the investigators down a path of confusion and mayhem, only to finally be revealed as a dead-end lead? Indeed, after following one such lead, Pithic ended up in a city bordello once, only to be surprised with a birthday cake (how could he have known???) and celebration in his honour, all “pleasure expenses paid for by a gracious admirer of his”. Bards were even hired to sing his love-making praises to the crowd with songs using lurid verses.

No, Pithic was not enough to deal with this, so he had to beg for an assistant to help him make progress. He was surprised that he was given four of them. Quite so.
So while two of them “were in the field”, so to speak (one was literally in one it seems!), the other two would help question the subject of their obsession. “Let us begin” he said, pessimistic of the outcome already.

Korith immediately cut to chase.
“So, Mr. Goldentongue, you seem to have vast swaths of time unaccounted for within the walls of the Academy. We know that you are on a mission for the heads of the schools, thus we are unable to ascertain your exact whereabouts at all, but still, we would be curious to know if you had any… extracurricular activities outside of your Masters’ purview?”
“You mean like taking little vacations here and there? My dear Korith, that would be VERY unlikely on my part! For that to happen I would have to have written approval from one of my… aids? Three of you are now frowning at me right now and I’m sure none of you would approve such a request, yes? The other two aren’t even here, so there’s that. No, my dear Kor, all my time spent outside these walls are to do our masters’ bidding.”
“Even in Geb?” interjected Vithnya, her eyes burning with a smoldering hatred towards Samir.
“Eh? You saw me go there? Huh, I must’ve missed that one” Samir mused aloud.
“Indeed. We lost trace of you in the dark markets, apparently looking for ‘grafts’ or some such. Whatever that is, I highly doubt that our Masters would need such vile items for your secret mission of yours!”
Samir shrugged nonchalantly. “Then run up to them and tell them about your discovery, dear Vith. Just make sure you skip the part where you are using spies to follow a sanctioned Academy agent on a secret mission for them” He smiled, apparently obvious to the eyes looking back at him, shooting daggers.
Pithic raised his hand, calmingly entreating the room to settle back. “Be that as it may, we are here to question you about the few… incidents that occurred in the past few weeks. Chief among them is the disappearance of this “Spellbook of Dyslexia” you and your friends brought back from the Dream Plane. Would you have anything to do with that?”
Samir’s eyes grew wide in (mocked) indignation. “Why, Pithic. How could you even think that I would have anything to do with that? You’ve heard the higher-ups! A spellbook where you can change but one letter to a spell name and change its purpose is to be kept at a ‘safe distance from students of the Academy. Especially you, Goldentongue!’. You were there when they said it. The whole population of the Academy was there during that speech if I recall…”

Korith smashed his hand on the table. “Oh please! We know it was you who took it! Why else would the first victim of this theft be your mortal enemy, Theofyr?”
Samir burst out in laughter. “Ha! Like I’m the only one who incurred the ‘attention’ of this high-pitched buffoon while within these walls! Your obsession with me has clouded your mind, my dear chap. Quite so!”
Korith did not relent at that. “So you are telling me that you have nothing to do with Theofyr running away from the privy in terror after finding out his stool was in fact a small metal child, running after him while chanting ‘daddy!’!!”
“Now, if you believe that I’ve impregnated dear Theofyr with the fruit of my loins, I would highly recommend that you brush up about the birds and the bees… See, when a man loves a woman very much…“
“Enough!” Korith screamed, standing up. “I know it’s you who did this and I will not rest until I see you hanged for all of your sacrilegious deeds done within these most sacred walls! Mark my word on this! I know it’s you that created a man made out of acid, riding a pig in the outer courtyard! Who else would made the scorched stones in the shape of a phallus, huh? Who else?

“…have you tried questioning Mavrikos? That boy is so sexually repressed because of this god of his that I wouldn’t be surprised that he sleepwalks on some nights”
It was Vithnya’s turn to rise up, pointing a finger at Samir. “Enough! We know it was you! And it’s just a matter of time before we pin ALL of these so-called ‘pranks’ on your sorry hide! Your corpse will dance at the end of a rope; that I guarantee! Half the students had to shave their heads when a bunch of creatures made of glue fell from the ceiling during a feast! My own daughter had to celebrate her wedding bald! You’ll pay for this, you scoundrel!”
Samir sighed theatrically. “Is it my lot in life to be so condemned for crimes I am innocent of? No matter, I will investigate this event myself! That way, I will prove my innocence to you so that you could point your wrath towards the proper culprits. I’ll start with that shady Hasdrubal fellow. No, no. don’t let the appearance of friendship between the two of us fool you. I shall remain impartial in my endeavour, just for you, dear Vithnya”
Pithic groaned in defeat. “How can you possibly think we won’t discover who did all these deeds, Samir?
You are being investigated on a multitude of events that occurred since the theft of this spellbook.
You are the sole suspect on the following:
- The courtyard suddenly filling up to the brim with rubble;
- The students’ dormitories suddenly bursting with a thousand voices, speaking nonsense all throughout the night.
- The Academy’s monthly open debate session turning into chaos after all present could only communicate with grunt and by thumping their chests;
- Numerous students reporting being constantly licked by an invisible force while using the privies to relieve themselves;
- Making the whole Divination wing stink of a pungent musk for days after tampering with their scrying tools somehow;
- Getting students drunk off their asses by somehow enchanting their practice swords to inject alcohol when being hit;
- Wiping the memory of some students of their spells for the day.”
“Shall I go on?” Pithic asked, casually flipping through a thick stack of parchments.

“Hey, far be it for me to decide for you how to waste your time investigating an innocent chap, dear Pithic. Is that all? I have an appointment in Geb soon and must prepare these old bones of mine for the trip. But alas, this is all I can give you, as it’s a secret mission, eh? Eh?!” Samir intoned conspiratorially, winking in a caricature of a bad play.

Pithic simply sighed…

Samir's tired old bones

Pithic didn’t remember when he stopped sighing continuously since he got “promoted”. He was beginning to fear that his exasperated sighs, moans and groans were the signs of a developing tic on his part. Stress was getting to him. Before the Samir Era, he was known to be one of the nicest mage within the Academy. Now, teachers and pupils alike were avoiding him, fearing being snapped at by the grumpy old man. The avoidance he could tolerate. The looks of pity and sympathetic understanding from his peers though… that didn’t sit well with him and furthered his sour mood to no end.

A file sat atop his desk: this week’s report concerning his “dear” protégé. The dossier was as thick as any from the previous weeks, which was surprising, considering that his spy was out of commission this week, having suffered an attack by some mad Venedaemon. A rift had opened from Abaddon, inside the spy’s potion laboratory and, foregoing its magical attacks (strange for such a creature), tried to tear poor Theofyr’s throat, screaming in absolute rage.

The ensuing inquiry revealed that the deamon had been driven mad by being constantly pestered to seek knowledge of… the consistency of some random senator’s stool. It had been going on for weeks now.

The deamon had seen through the summoner’s pathetic disguise and had seen the true form of his tormentor. No one knew how he was able to create a rift big enough to pass through the Academy’s defenses, but it was suspected the daemon made some kind of pact with some powerful being indeed. What price was good enough to attack a mortal, Pithic thought. And the wrong one at that!

Of course, the usual suspect was interviewed, but nothing incriminating could be found.

Pithic didn’t care, quite frankly, as another issue had arisen concerning his charge. He had to reread a half dozen times to make sure he understood properly and it wasn’t some kind of joke played upon him.

To be honest, he still suspected being pranked until he saw it with his own eyes this morning. The sight was simply too absurd to be false.

His reverie was soon shattered by the sound of a cheerful knock on his door.

“Come in” he grumbled.

“Hey, master Pit! How are you doing this fine evening?” Samir said as a way of introduction, plopping himself on his usual chair.

“And good evening to you too, STUDENT Goldentongue” Pithic replied, vexed at Samir’s lack of respect toward his position of authority.

“So, what are we going to talk about today? Theofyr again? How is he by the way? He really shouldn’t harass the same daemon every day, you know. He sh…”

“No, student, we will not be talking about this incident, as no evidence was found linking you to this attack”

“Of course not! Such is often the case when, y’know, one is innocent” Samir said, grinning.

“Indeed… The reason I have summoned you tonight is related to your new… contraption you’ve created to move about the Academy”

“I assume you’ve been informed of my present condition? My bones are now those of a really old man due to an unfortunate series of events in a dream plane, and involving a dragon, no less! Surely you would not prevent the elderly from using tools built to help them move about relatively great distances, yes? I mean, you’re an old fart yourself, so surely you understand.”

“YOU ARE NOT AN OLD MAN, SAMIR!” Pithic screamed, rising. He caught himself, took a deep breath, and continued, somewhat calm. “You are not an old man, Samir, and I’m not here to prevent you from moving about the Academy. It is rather the nature of your apparatus that has been getting attention throughout our halls. In fact, there’s been some complaints, you see. Many mages believe that the Academy’s reputation would be tarnished should the commoners see a mage moving about with a contraption such as yours…”

“Why would they? My Samirian Chariot is a literal work of art, I say!”

“You think that a zombie that has been sculpted into a giant wheel with a chair to sit on is a work of art, young man?”

“Of course! You have no idea how much of a headache it was to find multiple pairs of boots to fit all the feet populating the outer rim of the wheel! And matching boots to boot! Hahahaha See what I did there?! ‘Boots to boot’… hehehehe”

“And that would make your contraption pretty in your eyes?!! A work of art you say?!!!! There’s a pair of exposed ass cracks on each side of your seat for fuck’s sake! And that’s not even addressing the vomit-inducing ‘pop’ sound the joints make at every turn of the wheel!”

“You mean ‘Wand holders’, Pithic. Those are used to hold my wands at the ready, should I get attacked while moving about. In fact, they can be used a cup holders, too! Sure, it needs to be stretched a little bit in order to insert…”


“Sure thing, Pithicarino! I’ll see you next week!” Samir cheerfully said, leaving the room.

Pithic slumped back down on his chair, sobbing. He couldn’t wait to see Samir’s request at transmuting his bones into steel (or at the very least making them youthful again) being approved by the higher-ups…

Never deal with a "dragon"

Valsoth boldly walked towards the old abandoned storehouse that stood on the outskirt of the Sewers District. His steps had a spring to them, as if they had finally found a purpose long-sought, making the waddling of the little fat man all the more comical, if not pathetic to the few onlookers still up this late in the night.

His contact’s rendez-vous point was a great choice, the necromancer thought. The place had become feared among the locals since a few months ago. Until recently, the facility had been rented by an insane, ever-grinning old man that the locals of this small, innocuous city-state soon slapped him with the monicker Rat King.
Indeed, a day after settling in, the poor fool set the local urchins on a city-wide hunt for rats and other vermin, paying 3 coppers for each kills the orphans brought back to him.

None knew what the King was doing with his cache of dead rodents, but the smell of death and decay emanating from the place soon contended with the pungent air of the open sewers nearby, making all but the most courageous (or foolhardy) adventurer give the storehouse a wide berth.

The city officials were alerted, of course, but the drastic reduction of diseases among the poor, coupled with the (modest, yet not insignificant) money injected into the city’s economy and, of course, the unfavorable location of the storehouse made the bureaucrats turn a blind eye to the problem, deciding instead to delay their intervention for the day the old fool would stop pissing his money away into their coffers.

It turns out the problem solved itself, for the corpse of the King was found in an alley behind a popular tavern one cold, misty morning. The corpse had been brutally murdered and left naked to become rat food (if rats still lived in the city, that is), but there was no doubt in everyone’s minds: this was indeed the corpse of the Rat King.

The news of the murder was the gossip of the week among all the social strata of the city and soon after an enterprising band of thieves broke into the storehouse, looking for the remnant of the King’s seemingly endless horde of copper coins. The expedition proved disastrous (some rumors even say deadly for some of the burglars), for soon tales of ghost sightings made the place feared by all.

The owner was unable to rent a haunted place and soon had to sell the building for a pittance to an anonymous buyer.

Who was it? No one knew, but the consensus was that the new owner must be foreign, for no one who knew of the place would be stupid enough to buy it.

Yes, a perfect spot for this transaction, Valsoth thought, grinning in anticipation.

His crew had arrived before him in wagons and had scouted the outside of the building, reporting the place safe and secured.

Nodding to his trusty lieutenant, he knocked imperiously on the huge door with his staff and opened it, walking inside smugly, accompanied by his bodyguard and a few trusted henchmen. The rest stood guard outside.

Their steps soon faltered and came to an abrupt halt at the sight before them. There was no question about what they saw. All knew what they had just witnessed. This was no man standing before them, but a huge blue dragon, for they had come inside just in time to see the beast transform into a human form.

All of Valsoth’s lackeys looked nervously towards their chief, unsure on what to do. No words needed be exchanged between them though: the plan of killing the seller and making off with the loot was now out of the question.

“Now now, Valzy, have you left your manners in that shitty swamp of yours you call your ‘domain’?” Zassrion playfully said, grinning.

The Necromancer shook off the cold, creeping fear he felt tightening his lungs and resumed his imperious poise. “My apologies, Zassrion. I’m simply too eager to make this deal. 50 gold pieces for a zombie is a great deal. The going price in Geb is usually 90 gold pieces. You’ll forgive my suspicions on the quality of the merchandise, yes?

“Of course”, Zassrion said, still grinning. “The goods are stored in the next room. You are more than welcome to inspect them. Once you are satisfied, we can talk payment”.

And with that, Zassrion slid himself into a nearby chair and put his feet up, waiting.

The Necromancer soon came back, excitedly smiling. “These specimens are of incredible quality, Zassrion! The corpses are all of fighting quality! My army of the undead shall conquer Taviros within a month! I shall wipe the priesthood of Phos from Lyria!”

Valsoth was spluttering in excitement now, gobs of spit flying everywhere.

“Of course they are of quality, my friend. How could it be otherwise with me? I will forgive the impertinence of your doubts about the price of my goods, as you’ve seen my true form and I assume you are smart enough to know that my kind has a lifespan that makes a lower profit irrelevant when accounted for a few thousand years of living. ‘Slowly but steady’ as the saying goes, eh?”

“Anyway”, the dragon continued, “I took really good care in selecting the best human corpses I could find and I’ve magically enhanced them with an ancient spell at my disposal. They should prove more than a match for the conquering campaign you are soon to launch on those Phos followers.”

“Yes! They shall rue the day they banished me!” Valsoth exclaimed.

“So it’s settled, then. 50 gold pieces per corpse. And the wands to animate & control them yourself are included, of course. Say, would you be interested in acquiring the Onyx of the Lich? Perhaps a demonstration would be in order, yes?” Zassrion, holding what looked like an ordinary black-painted rock, jumped to his feet and shoved it in Valsoth’s hands. “Come with me and try turning a bunch of undead so you’ll see what I’m talking about”

“This artefact is amazing, Zassrion! I usually can animate between five and eight zombies per spell used. But while holding the Onyx of the Lich, I can animate thirty of them! I want this item, even if it will ruin me!”

“Ah, I see that I am dealing with a smart man. Who cares about your fortune if you’ll have the gold of a whole kingdom once you’ve conquered them all? I knew I put my trust in the right man!” Zassrion cheerily said, patting Valsoth amicably on the shoulder. “Now, about the price of that artefact…”

Zassrion” waved the thugs goodbye.
Once he saw the last corpse-filled wagon turning the corner, he closed the door of his storehouse, smiling.

“Well, that’s that!” he said. “I’m now the proud owner of a storehouse in Taviros and I now have the funds to build my own tavern back in Whadi. Oh, and a shitload of cash to inundate the surrounding region with tales and statues of our dear Mewling Quims Leader! Maybe I should give him a nice gold necklace to add to his collection as an added gift to a safe place for his sister to live once we’ve saved her. I hope she’s cute!”
He inserted his port key into the huge door, hopped on the gold-filled wagon he was able to add to the deal with Valsoth, and “tchk thck” the horses forward, towards the portal leading to the Academy.

“Say, I wonder how much it would cost to make a necklace that magically shows random slogans of my choosing to passersby, but to be invisible to the wearer…”

“Welcome, Samir. Please sit down.”

Pithic sighed inwardly. His casefile kept getting thicker and thicker, with no solution in sight and nothing to show his superior in matters of progress, making the case worker cranky as of late.

“I see that you are unaccounted for vast swaths of time since your return to the Academy. We’ve talked about this, young man. You are supposed to fill your presence form for each moments of the day that you are present within these walls”

“I know that, dear Pithic. Not being INSIDE the Academy does not warrant me filling this stupid form, yes? Ha! Checkmate, bureaucrat! Hahahahaha!”

“I… gods damnit! That was not the intent of this disciplinary exercise! You know damn well that we need to know your every moves!”

“Doesn’t look like this is what’s written on my disciplinary slip, yes? Not my fault you are making loopholes so blatantly obvious”

“ENOUGH! Now, where were you the past few weeks?”

“While I was here? Well, check the form and you’ll…”

“You know damn well what I mean! There’s been a report of a failed invasion in Taviros by an idiot using an army of sewer rats sculpted in the shape of human zombie warriors! What have you to say for yourself? You ARE known to favor that spell above all else, you know! And the confession of that Valsoth fellow pointed to a person matching your… facial mannerisms…”

“Honestly? I think calling this thing an ‘invasion’ is stretching it a little bit. I mean, the first village attacked boasted 500 souls and they MASSACRED this so-called ‘army of the walking dead’ numbering over 20 000 defective zombies. And dear Pithic, as an intelligent person, you know, of course, that I do not hold a monopoly over smiles. I assume that by ‘facial mannerisms’, you mean smiles, yes?”

“Indeed… I’ve seen the wands workshop list of check-in names and you’ve been in there for a mighty long time. What were you doing in there?”

“Probably wands, I guess?”

“I KNOW DAMN WELL THAT YOU MAKE WANDS IN A WANDS WORKSHOP!” Pithic screamed, froth coming out of his mouth. “What I want to know is what kinds of wands were you making? Where are they?!”

“Well, it turns out I suck at wand-making” Samir nonchalantly replied. “They were all duds, you see.”

Pithic’s shoulders dropped and he let out a long, overdrawn groan.

Samir's Adventure Log - Dream On! - Part 7: Final Chapter

So here we are, at the end of our quest. We’ve defeated our foes, yet one remains: a big-ass blue dragon…
So, with our spells depleted and our wand of cure booboos nearly spent, we look towards the steps with juuuust a little hint of apprehension showing on our faces.
Here goes…

“Guys! Guys!”

Huh? Oh, it’s that hare king fellow that won’t stop annoying people with his nonsense and endless talking. How annoying is that?
So from what I can make out of his ramblings, he’s grateful for helping him find his way into the castle and gives us magic carrots, eats one, Screams something and charges up the stairs.


Doesn’t take long to hear a ZAP! though. Oh yeah, and we hear a piece of metal tumbling down the stone stairs. It’s the little bastard’s…. bastard sword
Gulp. Thank the gods we can rely on Hasdrubal’s stalwart stoicism in the face of such a horrible task ahead of us

For once the scribes don’t argue with each other and they start to eat the carrot. Even Rhea! No fear whatsoever that the carrot simply gives you a stupid amount of courage and will kill all of us! Nope! Nothing! I’m starting to think the scribes only argue among themselves when the solution is evident or too easy…

Turns out the carrot eases our worries… and replenishes our spells! Somebody up there must like us! I like our chances now!
Let’s DO THIS!

We cast a few spells in preparation to help us in the coming encounter. Some blessings, prayers, speed… stuff like that. I personally chose to fly, along with Hasdy. So off we go!

We arrive to this big library, filled shelves, tables and high backed chairs facing a fireplace. Sitting in one of them is a human, or so we think. We can see only his hand, holding a glass of brandy.
A booming voice beckons us to come sit with him and talk. Orfée being Orfée, she sits by the man and starts negotiating the release of the artifact we came for, which can be seen hanging by a pedestal close by. The others have mixed reactions.
Hasdrubal seems pissed that by talking instead of hurting, our spells are slowly being expended (damn him and that common sense of his!).
Rhea follows Orfée’s lead.
Nasah slowly places himself to have a good shot with the deadly arrows of his.
Yours truly nonchalantly flies over to the artifact and makes to lean my arm on it, but a violent shout from the “man” stops me from touching that piece of rock.
…and Mavrikos who is sure that we are actually talking to an illusion (by loudly proclaiming his suspicions of his… in front of said “illusion”) and decides to lightly… poke him with his polearm. Nothing violent or anything, just a liiiight prodding of the (possible) illusion with the pointy end. Y’know, what we usually do in polite society

For a reason that to this day escapes me, the dragon somehow felt threatened and decided to end the illusion (ha! One point for Mav!) and attacks us! The galls, good Sir! The temerity! Ha!

Ok so the fight is on! The dragon starts the fight with a breath weapon of lightning and happens to select Mavrikos (what a coincidence!), of all people! Good news though, as Mav survived the jolt and smashes into the dragon with his polearm, inflicting pain to the blue bastard while Hasdrubal moves within striking distance. Nasah peppers it with his arrows and even Rhea is able to confuse the wyrm with her never-ending supply of spells. The fight is doing great, but we’re not out of the woods yet!

Me? What did I do? Well… it didn’t start too well for me, for I flew within spell distance and prepared myself to blind the creature with a well-placed mudball spell… only to remember that dragons’ eyes aren’t the only thing they rely on to strike at their foes.
What am I doing? I…
Oh shit! I was right there! The dragon SHOUTED when I was about to touch Baba Gava’s pleasure bead! He clearly didn’t want me to touch it! And I, like a silly, well-behaved CHILD, did as he was told! What the hell is wrong with me??? Thank the gods my conscience (who suspiciously sounded like Hasdrubal’s voice coming in through our telepathy link we had) hit me in the face at that point! Samir was back, with all of his quick wit back in his noggin’! Phew!

So I flew back to the orb and before I grabbed it, a moment of clarity hit me in the face like a ton of bricks.
“Maybe that thing’s dangerous”, I told myself. Yeah, that’s right. ME! I said that!
So guess who activated his ring of undeadism before touching that baby? THIS GUY!

As soon as I grabbed the rock, something happened. The first thing I felt was an immense sense of peace washing over me. It basically felt like I always do first thing in the morning actually, so it did not felt weird to me, even though I knew it came from the rock. When I telepathically told the scribes that I held the artefact and we could now retreat / run away, nobody answered me. How rude! They always talk! ALWAYS! It never ends! What in the hells is going on?!

Oh… I think I know why they’re not answering. It might have a correlation with the total absence of any combat noise I’m now erm… not hearing.
Yep, found the problem. It seems the plane is experiencing a lack of time flow at the present moment. And I seem to be immune to it somehow. Hmmm… quite the mystery!

Well, I guess time will resume its regularly scheduled flow. Any moment now? Aaaannnnnyyy moment…? No? Huh…

Wait…. Oh! I’m holding the thing that stops time! Maybe if I stopped touching that thing time would resume?
What am I doing?! I can actually HELP the group while time has paused! Let’s DO THIS!

First things first. The dragon is there, attempting to bite Mavrikos’ head off (even confused, it’s still pissed off at the poking I’d wager). Let’s pepper that bastard with snowballs. I’ve always dreamed of an overkill… Now how many charges have I left in my wand again? Something like 48? Hmmm… let’s go with 47 charges, “just in case”. Here. We. Go!

Ok, as soon as I trigger my wand, a huge snowball appears in the air, and just… stand there! What the…?
Oh… OH! Does that mean when time resumes the spell will speed towards the dragon? Oh, the scribes will have one HELL of a show coming their way! Hahahahahaha!!!

Ok, I’ve angled the snowballs to literally bury the dragon in icy goodness when the time will start back up. It’s a sure kill, that’s for sure!
Now what? Hmmm, Mavrikos might get crushed under the dragon if it falls towards him. I’m gonna have to move him out of harm’s way.

So uh (clears throat), I discovered that I can modify the posture of my scribes if I wanted to, so uh… I MIGHT have done some things to amuse myself for a little while. Yeah…
Oh, with all that work, I really should take a break, as all that stress is doing something to my innards. Oh, hey! That dragon’s mouth is opened… Teehee.

Alright, I think I’m about done with my spare time on this plane… Wait. Did I study the arcane mark cantrip today? Oh yes. Yes I did!! Oh, Hasssddyyyyyy…!!!

(Sigh), I think I’m about done here. So I’ll just go down the stairs and resume time, just in case the dragon survives (maybe it’s immune to magic and/or snow? I really should start listening in class…) and wants to chase the artefact thief. My not being here might make the (confused) dragon… confused (yeah, not too smart thinking, but it’s not like whoever reads this would be surprised at this point in time, yeah?).

So, here goes…

WOOSH! I can hear an avalanche upstairs and confused cries from the scribes. I should be proud of myself for so easily defeating a dragon, but something occurred that put a break on my typical enthusiasm. I seem to have aged QUITE a bit when time resumed. A quick estimate would be around one year for each ten seconds lived while time has stopped.
Thank the gods that I activated my ring! Otherwise I’d be dead for sure! Not being dead is awesome! Watching your skin going PUFF! in a cloud of dust though? Not so awesome. I can’t even talk! I’m a skeleton now! I’m being kept “alive” by the power of my ring. I have but about half a day before the ring starts to take its toll on my body and slowly drains me of my soul, which is not good.

I telepathically call out to the scribes so as not to surprise them when I come back up and after a brief explaining (and waving aside questions of weird body tastes some of them are having in their mouths), we quickly pocket the dragon’s hoard.
We found some cool stuff, but Rhea is the lucky one on this: she found a spellbook of dyslexia! Meaning she can create ad hoc spells by changing one letter in the spell’s name!!!
Think of the possibilities!!
For starters, I’ve always wanted to be able to summon an Air GEEZER! “Get off my lawn!!!” Ha!
I could also Alter my WANDS to be even more powerful!
I could torment Mavrikos with visits from his self-righteous ancestors (Ancestral GUILT. Get it?) during the night (has his application for a room transfer away from mine been accepted yet?).
I could have an army of animated housing deeds, willing to wrap themselves around my enemies’ faces! Or it could be poisonous lead? How about rapists? Just think of the possibilities! Argh!!!
Wouldn’t it be cool to have your own ale walk up to your mouth instead of drinking it using your limbs?
I could lick Hasdy’s face in his sleep and atone myself by offering him a night out in town and drown him in ass
I could become beer and revert back into Samir once I’m ingested by an enemy!
Why not transform ennemies into bubbles?!!
Need an answer? We could easily locate a sage to answer our questions.
I could activate my ring and see if it’s possible to breathe in a mist of stones
How about screwing with Theofyr’s potions with well-placed shit projectiles???

My head is spinning at the possibilities!!! It’s… I…
Stupid Rhea and her trustworthiness…
Hey! I’m sure Rhea wouldn’t mind lending me the book when we’re in-between adventures, right? And I can now craft wands!

(evil laugh)

Alright, so we’re back in the real world, said goodbye to Baba Gava, and we’re off to the Academy!

No time to fool around for me! I throw the Delithium Matrix to Kholm Meany as we arrive (no more debts for Samir!) and I drag Hasdrubal with me to be my translator, as I need to speak to people in order to exploit my present condition asap. (Nasah was good enough to offer me to cast the spell Restore Corpse on me, which would solve a few of my problems, but that’s a plan B for me, as it is but a bland and boring solution.

So our first stop would be to see Mistress Althea and see what she can do with my exposed bones. I’ve read about transmuters being able to change bones into steel, but only on corpses, which I’m not. I wonder how many bones I can remove from myself before undead-dying in the process…
Next stop would probably be to see Ogma and ask her about necrografts
Well, that’s it for my adventures so far! Can’t wait to get a little break from people wanting to kill us. I have BIG PLANS ahead of me. Hope Hasdy has spare time for me right about now. Ha!

Letter from the first Martyr of Sithrak
This scripture is said to be from the first follower of Sithrak after he received his punishment

To my three brothers,

I am overjoyed to write you my last letter as tomorrow, I will die. Tomorrow I will die but on my own terms. I was able to convince the jury to be tortured, unbound I shall remain for the whole session. Only sheer will and self-control will demonstrate I am freely accepting this agony. When I can no longer bear the pain and be ready to forfeit my life, cold-iron nails shall be driven into my eyes.

Blessed be the one who suffers.

I am overjoyed as I will endure suffering and make the final sacrifice in reminiscence of Sithrak himself. I do not expect all of you to understand, but be aware I am doing this to ease the suffering of others. I am innocent, I have committed no crime but willingly commute the sentence and amplify it to assuage universal pain.

Blessed be the one who suffers.

I am overjoyed as tomorrow I suffer and I die. No child should have to endure pain, no child should be punished to try to feed their family, no child should be flagellated for breadcrumbs. It is not I who shall judge the sins of others, but I to take away their ache.

Brothers, do as I did and take away the pain of others. Brothers, follow Sithrak’s footsteps.

Blessed be the one who suffers.

Yven, devout follower of Sithrak

Samir's adventure log - dream on! - Part 6

After a good (moonless) night’s sleep (and an episode with a pissed-off Hasdrubal), we are fresh of mind and body and ready to go!

But first, let me tell you about something that happened after we retrieved all the tokens and put them back into the scarf: a robe fell off it. A robe of MANY sparkling colors! A robe of FABULOUSLY sparkling, dancing colors! A robe! Might as well call a spade a spade: a fucking colored dress! And guess who gets to wear that beautiful thing??? Mavrikos!!!

Of course, I can’t keep my face straight at the sight of our paladin walking around in a dress. Nearly pissed myself, too! In all seriousness, I’m kind of disappointed that Mav got to wear the thing, as his vows of celibacy kind of ruins it; Not much shame can come out of attempts at attacking his masculinity since, y’know, he doesn’t have one to begin with because of his faith and all of that. I think Hasdy will be wearing the robe in the growing myth surrounding him around Whadi.

Ok, so we’re all physically fit (Ha!) and our spells are replenished, so here comes the time where we bag ourselves a blue dragon! Where the hell is he though…?

Mavrikos tells us that by virtue of wearing the dress, he seems to have a connection to the dragon’s castle, so he proceeds to call it forth.

Sooooo, a castle, walking around on mechanical chicken legs, pops up on the horizon. I wonder if it’s that one…

Since no other castles are coming, we shrug and begin planning how we’re going to climb up that thing, since Mavrikos can only make it come here, but not control it to stop or come down in any way. So we have a randomly moving, sixty feet high problem to solve.

Hasdrubal and I end up casting a fly spell to go up. Hasdy drags Rhea up first and with the help of flying wizards and a little bit of rope, we manage to be all up in the chicken thing. Now what?

Rhea has a great idea! By now you should know that we are not the tactical bunch, choosing to boldly run forward without any idea of what is ahead (to disastrous results most times). Not this time, though!
Rhea decides to cast an Arcane Eye spell and scout ahead. So ahead of us, in the outer courtyard, Rhea sees some kind of gnome thing, giving orders to a bunch of ogres (this is gonna be an easy fight for once!). Further inside she can see:
A bunch of naked ladies taking a bath (sweet!), a Marid and an Efreeti having a couple’s fight, a bunch of shadowy clerics doing whatever shadowy clerics do, a prisoner inside… a prison and of course, a blue dragon with patches of skin sewed all over him, reading a book inside a library. Now we know what we’re up against! What could possibly go wrong now?!!

Welp, looks like Rhea’s INVISIBLE eye was spotted by every damned creatures inside the castle, except the naked ladies (of course), so we’ve lost the element of surprise… and numbers.
Poor Rhea, she looks so ashamed of what she did. Oh poor, sweet summer child. Don’t you get it? If we survive this, guess how much leeway I’ll have to get us into trouble without repercussion? THIS MUCH, baby! Rhea, I could kiss you right about now! If we survive, that is.

Oh, look! Ogres and evil genies are coming!

The fight is not looking good right now. The angry gnome, riding an ogre, takes a swipe at me and hits me square in the chest with his flails. He even manages to make some kind of Hasdrubalzy (ha!) move with his weapons that shakes a lot of us to our core. We are thoroughly intimidated.
…by a three feet gnome, no less! What a day to be alive! (sigh)
The ogre mount does the same and good ol’ Samir drops like a stone, at death’s door. The gods smile upon me, for Orfée and Mavrikos are able to heal me in time and let me go back into the fight. I’m able to throw one hell of a snowball into an ogre, felling the brute.

After burning a scroll to throw a Scorching Ray at the Efreeti, he returns the favor by hitting me with three of his own, which throws me back at death’s door. Again.
Well, not really. I could still stand up, but barely. A single action on my part and I felt that I would faint, so I decided to fake it and drop to the ground.

There is fighting around me. Screams of pain from my lovable scribes enters my semi-conscious mind.
While lying on the ground, soon to die of my wounds, a voice booms inside my head.

“You will not die this time, heathen. You still have your part to do.
For He who walks alive and dead shall be my prophet.
Your madness endears Me, mortal. The Knight Demise will have use for you. You shall deal in betrayals that will shake this world for centuries to come.
Now get up and join the fray, for a time shall come when you will meet my envoy.
Look for the one who is of two, like you. Now GO!”

I shake my head and open my eyes. What. The. Fuck. My wounds are healing by themselves!
So a god has plans for me? Gods damnit! Not one of those meddling fools!
No time to piss and moan, for I need to help my friends now.

Well, I wake up just in time to face a Wall of fire, which hurts a lot (and I’m about ten feet away from it!).
So we’re sandwiched between a sixty foot drop behind us, Rhea’s two Wall of force spells (helped preventing a gang rush on us at the beginning and prevented the Marid from joining the fray right away, which helped us a great deal at the beginning) to out left and now a burning wall brought forth by the Efreeti. Great.

Rhea, ever the resourceful one, makes a pit under the wall of fire, allowing us to run under it and attack the Red & blue couple.

Thank the gods that the Marid is not it its element (water) or she’s be stronger!

… the damned bitch cast an obscuring mist spell around her, so she’s got plenty of water droplets around her to be the badass she truly is.

Oh great, now the two genies have grown the size of giants…

…and the Efreeti has dropped Rhea! She’s in even worse shape as I was a few seconds ago! That doesn’t look well. Hello, God thingy? A little help for her, too? No? Of course not…

I chug a potion of fire breathing and vomit a dragon’s breath on the Marid, burning her good. Orfée does her goody magic and makes an area of healing around her, thus saving Rhea’s life, healing a good portion of our party, but the Efreeti, too. Dang.

Doesn’t matter! Orfée killed the beast with a magic missile!

Fabulous-Mav helped dismissing the Obscuring mist by ordering the castle to run in a random direction, which allowed us to see the Marid and attack it.
And yours truly finished her off with a snowball to… the ear! Went in one and exited the other, of all things! That was one “critical” hit to the face I tell you what! Ha!

We’ve somehow survived this fight! Thank the gods that the castle’s courtyard roof was opened that time though, preventing the shadows from joining the fray outside, where the sun shone, for I think that would’ve been too much for us. Thank the gods for small favors.

Now we can enter the castle proper. Let’s go see the prison Rhea spotted. We find an old man in the prison, delirious from malnutrition and terror. He keeps rambling about the dragon, Zassrion, wanting to rip his skin off & sew it on him. Try as I might, I can’t get the answer if he rubbed the lotion properly on himself of if he was hosed… I’m disappointed (pouts).
Turns out the prisoner is a real, live person, just like us! He was a member of an exploring party out in the jungle looking for plants of some sort or something like that. They were ambushed by trolls and all were killed except him, who was brought to a witch (Baba Gava maybe?) and transported to this dream plane. Looks like Zassrion kidnaps self-aware entities to rob them of their skins for some reason. Maybe he plans to become “real” enough to leave this plane? (shrugs) Let the scribes figure that one out.

After Orfée heals him and asks him to wait for us at the castle’s entrance, we go further inside the castle and loot a little of this and a little of that (yay looting!)

We soon arrive at the naked chicks’ room. They’re in a pool and claim that they are chained, unable to get out, so they are asking for out help in freeing them.

Ladies: Oh, free us! Please!
Samir: We’ll come back once we killed that dragon thing, ladies
Ladies: But should something happen to us before you come back, what then?
Samir: Dear pretty ones, I promise I won’t sleep well for a night or two should that happen.

Well, I was outvoted on this one. The scribes want to help them right away. (sigh)

Hasdrubal steps forward, planning on breaking the chains with his adamantine sword of his. As soon as he enters the pool, he becomes electrocuted. It’s a trap! We’ve got some Succubus to kill!

The fight is not going well. First, Rhea succumbs from a compulsion of theirs and is forced to go under the water, which electrocutes her pretty badly. Then she is asked to remain in the pool and to make out with one of them. It took a lot of willpower on my part to tear my gaze away from this “horrific” scene and continue the fight.
My trusty snowballs doesn’t seem to hurt them much and so is all the weapons we are using against them…
What to do?
I know! Time for some illusion magic to once again save the day!
I quickly summon the image of a blue dragon with skin patches on it outside the room’s door and make it intone “Leave them be! They are to be mine!”

The spell seems to have convinced the lot of them to go away, for they disappeared soon after. We survived, once again with Samir’s great help! Is there anything I can’t do?

…don’t answer that.

Ok, so we’re a little worse for wear, but none of us died, which is miraculous to be honest. None of the scribes seems to have witnessed my miraculous recovery, which is good, for I’ll have to investigate this god thing further…

And now we have a dragon to kill. Onward, fellow wizards!

A Change of Heart
The Journal of Rhea Amelia Namtab

– Previous Entry -

I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.

Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, Dread came upon me, and trembling, And made all my bones shake.

Then a spirit passed by my face; The hair of my flesh bristled up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance; A form was before my eyes; There was silence, then I heard a voice.

He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it.”

And he said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.”

Now I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains; and the mountains were bronze mountains.

I awoke in trepidation, yet heard the voice from my dream speaks anew: ““Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”. I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands.

I am an accomplished Dreamwalker and can tell apart dreams mundane from dreams prophetic. This is the latter. Yet, I find myself unable to resist their lure, changing my heart in ways I would not have believed possible. Is it the hag who mires me in deception, or is my heart truly opening to Phos? Who speaks to me in my dreams, in these visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, …

Little personal journal of Orfée

Moving to the edge of the group while relaxing before the next day and fighting a dragon, Orfée sits down, take a small book and start writing.

“Ha my goodness, I am puzzle by this realm. It is at the same time interesting and completely insane. I have only a limited understanding but now I am concerned that my friend Rhea as taken the price for this reality. I know that my price was high and losing myself was not an option, but seeing this insane and purposeless place is beyond me. I am very anxious to leave this place. I know now that I cannot really stand it much longer. Do we really need this thing that we came here for? It is worth our sanity and very core essence of living? What about the other objects, what will be the price for the vanity of a few master that wish to defy the natural order of the livings?

Anyhow, we have nearly broke the basic rules of etiquette with the slave master, murder without second thoughts, exploited some flaws and make sure we get out on top. I am grateful that my friend can do such things as I would be here forever and would eventually die of hunger and thirst.

Next step is to go kill that dragon so we can get to the next stage of our quest. I hope I can support my friend succeed and finally we can get out of here….”

Once written, Orfée looks at the sky, sigh and then lay down to get a few hours of sleep.

Pithic's fall into the rabbit hole

Pithic Okelak
was not sleeping well lately. The past nights were spent tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

After the initial shock of learning that his work entailed dealing with only one student, he began to suspect that his newly appointed position was not a blessing after all, but a test that Lady Fate had thrust upon him.

This case… Pithic was simply flabbergasted at the amount of interest the Academy took upon his new protégé. Surely there was a reason to it, for the Ritual of Binding all students took before entering these walls showed clearly that all its members were but chattel (they killed an apprentice for each cohorts passing being taken in) to them. So, why this as-yet-unheard-of tolerance on their part? What was so special about Journeyman Goldentongue to merit spending so much resources on him instead of simply throwing his mutilated corpse to the dogs? Pithic made it his mission to know, as something did not quite add up.

To his surprise, perusing all the Academy’s files pertaining to Samir yielded little to no information. Certain parts were mysteriously missing, making Pithic suspect that the trickster was involved in something important for the Academy. But what? Dangerous as it may be to investigate the dealings of his masters, Pithic was simply too curious to stop.
So he set out to interview all of Samir’s relations in order to extract details he could then piece together, but not before making a serious mistake in starting with the young man himself…

The interview did not go well, of course. Samir’s notorious lack of concentration with the mundane made the conversation a jumble of non-sequiturs and typical Samirian nonsense. Pithic had to resign himself to failure when Samir, probably sensing the defeat in the old man’s voice, decided to throw his case worker a bone.

Something important was brewing within the high circles of the Academy, for they had “forced little bastards into my head to keep me from spilling the beans, you see”, Samir had glibly told him. As Pithic sat back in his chair, pondering if the student’s words were to be taken literally or symbolically, Samir proceeded to make a demonstration and settle the matter. With a bounce Samir had risen from his chair, pulled down his trousers and proceeded to sit on Pithic’s prized scrying bowl. Before the Old man could utter a gasp of astonishment, Samir laughingly exclaimed “We’re on a secret mission to…“

Right then, Samir’s eyes rolled back into his head and a seizure took hold of him. It was only later, when Samir had woken up, smiled and brightly exclaimed “See!? How cool is that!??”, leaving with a spring in his steps that Pithic found out that the seizure also involved defecation…

Interviewing Samir’s friends was a slow and convoluted process, for Pithic had to sneakily insert questions relating to their mission throughout an interview related to Samir’s behavior, which was no easy task.

Mavrikos replied to questions with short, concise answers that did not betray anything regarding their whereabouts. Concerning his friend’s behavior, nothing was said that Pithic did not know already: a stream of confusing and shocking actions that made the Academy look bad, but in the end made things done nonetheless.

Rhea was a hard one, for her skills at knowing everything (she was some kind of a prodigy in the divination arts) made Pithic’s task an impossible one, so he decided not to ask questions he should not ask with her. She did mention a sacrifice she made to a hag to help Samir though (a debt repaid or some such), but the way she looked at him while she said it made it quite clear no further details would come forth. Pithic was left wondering if Rhea knew of his misgivings and was just playing with him, feeding him nonsense.

Orfée clearly had a soft spot for Samir (or everyone around her, really), but in a way a mother would towards her mentally-challenged child. She was the worst Samir apologist of the bunch. “What was the reaction of the priests when Journeyman Samir tried to excuse himself to go ‘urinate violently’, Orfée?” he had asked. “Oh, you know Samir. He likes to shock people, that silly-nilly! The priest were taken aback, of course. But who wouldn’t when faced with such a crude, yet personal need to leave their presence?” she’d reply. “And why were you there exactly? A context would help me better understand my… burden if you will.” “Oh, he is a handful, isn’t he? Well, Mavrikos needed some closure from his past, so we went there for that, you see. We are a tight-knitted group after all” Again, little information was provided.

Nasah’s interview was an uncomfortable one, for Pithic was always leery around necromancers. Nasah though… Pithic had never seen a necromancer like him. Nasah’s obsessions towards the dead was a completely innocent one; no thirst for power or world domination (typical necromancers, those) could be detected. Nasah simply liked to explore the anatomy of corpses. ANY corpses. Pithic found out that Samir had spent a lot of time helping Nasah out in his experiment (that ring of his was a subject of unhealthy obsession on Samir’s part. Lots of book loans on spells relating to the undead. Pithic was suspecting that the young mage was trying to exploit loopholes of being an undead through that ring), even volunteering to be the “part-time corpse” for Nasah to “explore”, which puzzled Pithic somewhat. Samir’s general flippancy towards everything made him think that he simply did not care about anything (or anyone) other than immediate hedonistic pursues. Was Samir’s attitude some kind of front for something else? Was he actually able to care for others? Samir, having a soft spot for others? Mind-boggling, that. He’d have to dig further into that at a later time.

Hasdrubal’s interview was a short one, for as soon as he stepped within the interview room, the runes carved into the floor activated, making all magical properties flare up (a necessary precaution when interviewing wizards to know if there are any magical means to lie through an interview). Hasdrubal’s back lit up like a lighthouse beacon, surprising the young gladiator. Taking his shirt off, he was able to see the multiple graffiti magically marked on his clothes. Pithic could see multiple slogans about a great leader of “Mewling Quims”, which did not make any sense to him. Before he could utter a word, Hasdrubal swore and screamed “I’m going to make that little bastard eat his own fingers and reattach them to his hands once he shits them back out!” and stormed out of the room.

Resigned and about to admit defeat, a student entered the room, an arrogant sneer on his face. “Do you want to know more about this mongrel mutt you are cursed to oversee?” he asked by way of introduction, sitting down without prompt.

Pithic had learned a lot after the hours-long interview with Theofyr. Quite a lot, actually. Maybe even too much. The potion-maker had taken lots of steps (and spent a fortune, apparently) to spy on Samir in the past few months and learned things he should not be privy to. And now Pithic knew about it, too. A cold dread began forming in the pit of his stomach. “I think I went too far in my investigation”, he murmured, rubbing his eyes. He decided to forget what he’d learned that day and instead concentrated to the task at hand.
Samir was back at the Academy after coming back from a mission on a dream plane, having fought some kind of dragon in the process. Pithic was charged with regulating Samir’s magical items purchases before heading out to do gods knew what else for his masters. Delaying the decision to allow him to buy cursed items on the cheap was a great victory for the old case worker, something that rarely happened when dealing with the ever smiling illusionist. However, Samir was now able to happily craft his own wands, to the horror of many within these walls.
Samir often went out of the Academy on “rogue missions” (Theofyr had provided him that information) to enact dealings with various bards and engineers around Whadi for unknown reasons, but now he seemed to have recruited his friends Rhea and Hasdrubal on one of his outings. His grocery list of magical items made Pithic raise his eyebrows in bewilderment. So many low-charged wands… and the trigger words he wanted for them was baffling: no words at all, but funny sound combinations that made no sense, other than what a deaf and dumb peasant would utter, as if he did not have a tongue…
Pithic sighed for the thousandth time that day, ordered a tea from his orderly, then set to work on writing his report to the headmistress of discipline.

A chink in the armour...

Spirits were high around camp. They had finally acquired the last token, getting ever so closer to retrieving the Stone of Serenity and escaping Sonorae’s grotesque dream realm. The only thing standing before them was Zassrion, the dragon. The leader of the conspirator and usurper of Sonorae’s former seat of power. While their greatest challenge had yet to be bested, for now the group was taking a well deserved rest, breaking bread and sharing a fire.

Orphée and Nasah were having a discussion on the philosophical implication of story-kin assassination, while nibbling on dried fruit. Mavrikos was polishing his new plate armor, attentive to the debate being conducted next to him and occasionally shimming in. For the first time in a long while, the paladin would not spend the night in doubt or in prayer.

Samir was gesticulating widly while humoring Hasdrubal by meticulously running the details of the next prank he had in store for his archrival Theophyr. A little to their right, Rhea was brushing her long green air a subtle smile on her lips. While seemingly lost in thought, the elf was ever attentive to everything happening around her.

Yes, spirits were high… but for one.

Caught up in the telling of the «prank to end all pranks» Samir had just now realized Hasdrubal not cracked not so much of a smirk during the entirety to his exposé. His friend might have been reflectively nodding but he had not listened to a single word.

«Hey ho, you’re still with me?» A bit miffed, Samir clicked his fingers repeatingly in front of Hasdrubal, snapping him it out of his torpor.

With a grunt, Hasdrubal slapped Samir’s hand and stood up defiantly. The rest of the group, taken by surprise by Hasdrubal’s outburst, suddenly stopped their conversation to watch the stand-off.

The rogue, uncowed by the warrior’s annoyed scowl, stood up getting within an inch of his face.

«You alright, buddy?»

For only reply, Hasdrubal gave him a forceful shove, sending the rogue to his backside.

Looking up at the warrior towering him, Samir did not skip a beat:

«Well? Spill the beans, will ya?»

Maybe his curiosity overrode his sense of self-preservation, but since the rogue had little consideration for social more he likely didn’t care for the cue not to push the issue.

In any case, Samir bluntness had its intended effect.

Hasdrubal gritted his teeth, letting out a long sigh, recomposing himself.

«Alright… Let’s have a talk. Rhea… please come also.»

Samir gave a puzzled look to Rhea, who, unflustered by the altercation, kept her inscrutable mien.

The rest of the companions exchanged confused and apprehensive looks while the three mages left for a private talk…


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