Scales of War
Tanner - Session 7
Today started out valiantly enough with our group heading out of town to escort the refugees on our way to Overlook, where we can spread the name of Hordebane. Little enough time passed, however, when I received a splitting headache. Dear Aunt Maa’zai spoke in a sending, telling me that if I knew what was good for me I’d get my precious behind back to Brindol to help her with a delicate matter. I could only imagine that must mean Kartenix. I regretfully explained to my friends that I left the kettle on and had to return to Brindol. I mentioned my aunt and Skien got all broody and Raven Queen-y, demanding that I explain what had gone wrong. I laughed it off and departed as quickly as I could; the only explanation I gave was my aunt’s wrath. Who needs anything else? The trek back was long, the sun was hot, and although I was very tired by the time I reached Brindol. I’ve discovered that retracing your steps is one of the foot-dragging-est things. The only thing that kept me moving was the knowledge that my aunt could probably turn me into a frog or make me dance on hot coals for the rest of my life if I didn’t hurry. Once I got to town, it was still a struggle because I had to push my way past adoring fans. I finally arrived at the isolated cottage I’d been seeking all day, and Aunt Maa’zai berated me for being late. It seems that Troyas himself stopped by her house to remind her of the deadline two short days away, which she didn’t appreciate. That’s where I came in. I was to help her prepare for the ritual and essentially act as an arcane battery to keep her going throughout the long intense ritual.
The first task she set me to was finding a focus for the ritual, a blue crystal with purple inclusions that was at least the size of my fist. Oh, and by the way, worth at least 20,000gp! Theoretically worth more than my life, Kartenix’s life, and Thurann’s life combined! I am so totally going to be paying her back until I’m 50. D: I’ll have to adventure just to make enough funds to repay her! (Hush, I know I was going to do it anyway, but it’s additional motivation.) I hope Kartenix and Thurann appreciate what I’m doing for them. I should get an uncledom, at least.
In I went into the dimensional closet. I found myself surrounded by a twinkling indistinct blue-blackness in which hundreds of experiments were floating. I very luckily ignored the bubbling cauldrons and dancing flames since I was told to touch NOTHING else (they didn’t really look like they were achieving anything to me, so it was doubly easy to ignore them). In the spirit of not touching anything, I dismissed the floor that had subconsciously appeared beneath my feet and willed the void to bring forth the very stone I was looking for. Sure enough, it didn’t hesitate and showed me directly to Aunt Maa’zai’s stash of pricey treasures. At the very top of the stack was the gem I was looking for and I ever so gently lifted it from the pile with my magehand, not disturbing anything, and lowered it into the cup of my hands.
Getting back to the kitchen door was a breeze, and although it appeared high above me I was through in moments, though slightly disoriented. I stood there marveling at the beautiful gem (worth my life!), and I may even have cooed lovingly. Kartenix responded with a groan of “Thuraaaaaaann,” and Aunt Maa’zai peered around the corner to say “Back so soon?” I think I impressed her, it only took me about an hour, and I think she was expecting me to take at least a few more hours. My aunt took the gem from me and told me to get some rest because we had a long day of work tomorrow. She offered her attic, or of course I could stay at Chattren and Sons, but I had heard that Auntie Moo’haa might be staying there so Aunt Maa’zai’s seemed the lesser of two hardships.
Aunt Maa’zai was clearly pleased with my choice. I don’t think anyone ever stays with her, and I don’t think anyone besides Zerriksa usually visits her. She can entertain with style when she wants to though, because she made me the most delicious reheated mutton stew I’ve ever tasted. I ate two bowls and had to decline the third she almost forced on me, but I took the three cookies proffered and headed up to the attic. She magicked the cot to be the most luxurious bed I’d slept on in weeks, and though I had meant to write in this journal, my eyes closed before she’d descended the stairs.
The next morning I awoke refreshed. I could tell by the twilight outside that I just woke up the earliest I’ve ever woken up by myself. I was just realizing this and internally doing my happy dance when a thought occurred to me. Firstly, this cot was not so comfy, and Glad to see you’re awake, breakfast is ready. I shook my head. That wasn’t my thought, it was my aunt. She must have been nudging me awake. Curses! My joy was swept out from under me a little. Breakfast was very tasty, and it made up for it. Then we set about doing our work.
The ritual was set up: a magic circle surrounded by candles, the precious gem suspended in a wire framework in the center. Aunt Maa’zai had somehow convinced Kartenix to lie in the center of the circle. We settled in and she started chanting from an extremely long scroll. I joined in, and it sounded as if there were other voices as well. Kartenix’s voice settled into one long drone. I could see Aunt Maa’zai weaving strands of magic into a basket and stretching it down toward the gem. When the basket touched the gem, it felt like the basket expanded to encompass the entire town, with Kartenix woven into it. I slowly came out of the trance to find the room dark and the crystal blazing. Kartenix was still. Aunt Maa’zai examined the crystal and nodded, satisfied with our work.
I made some dinner for us, and a little while later she came out with the crystal swaddled better than a baby. Over dinner, she told me how impressed she was with me and that she would put a word in with Auntie Moo’haa for me, and that I should just try to prove my worth and be my best so at least I know that I am truly as awesome as I am. She also explained what we had just done. Kartenix’s tiny piece of remaining soul was now inside the gem, but there was more work to be done. We had to heal his body. Aunt Maa’zai had some errands to run, but I was to get a few hours of rest before Zerriksa arrived at midnight to assist with the healing.
Later that night, Zerriksa arrived and performed several healing rituals. We were able to remove the cold aura and healed his body, but he was still blue-tinged and dead. The first rays of dawn were breaking on the horizon. Zerriksa and Aunt Maa’zai started arguing about whether to use a Raise Dead ritual or trust that the crystal would do its job (one way would leave him blue, the other may have left him with only a tiny soul, I really couldn’t tell you which one was which though). My aunt sent me to find new clothes for the ex-zombie though. I managed to find Thurann and had him help me find new clothes. I told him a little bit about how his dad was, and he immediately begged to come back with me. I tried to be firm, but he was really too cute so I caved and brought him back with me. This way he would know exactly what became of his father, although my aunt was not terribly pleased to see him. I convinced him that it was imperative that he stay still and quiet for the final ritual and that no matter what he couldn’t leave his spot until we were done.
Zerriksa didn’t think that we could leave Kartenix blue, but I helped persuade my aunt to risk blue skin instead of a fragmentary soul. They put me in charge of explaining the outcome to the city, though. Then Aunt Maa’zai worked on the final ritual. The magical pressure built and finally a mental shockwave blasted from the center of the room. The crystal (beautiful lovely crystal, now orange and yellow) was gone. A gasp of air filled Kartenix’s lungs and Thurann could hold back no longer and ran into his father’s arms. It was a dream come true! We did it, we saved the guard captain, just as I had planned!
Exhausted though we were, it was now Diamond League Day, and I had duties to perform. I presented Kartenix to the town, explaining that the goblins had kept him in the coldest of the crypts and he’d gotten pneumonia, but that his circulation was poor as a result so he may seem blueish sometimes. (I don’t think Zerriksa bought it but most of the townsfolk seemed not to care. There was a parade, and pomp. Auntie Moo’haa seemed to be accepting all gifts more graciously than usually, though I avoided her anyway.
But Aunt Maa’zai had one more trick up her sleeve. She had me meet her at Chattren and Sons. In a room upstairs, she had set up another ritual circle, this time enclosing a bed. Once more I was the arcane fuel as she settled a magical blanket over the bed. Afterwards, she dismissed me and told me to not share that with anyone, which was all really bizarre. (it’s a good thing no one will read this until the statue of limitations expires!) I stopped at a bar that I’d never been to before for one drink (an ale was exactly what I needed after the long hard work). Afterward I returned to Aunt Maa’zai’s cottage and we both slept the next day away. In the evening after Diamond League Day, she surprised me by sending me straight to Overlook through a linked portal. Despite having backtracked, with luck I wouldn’t have lost too much time compared to any of my friends, and as a bonus I didn’t have to trudge for miles and miles! (trade-off: being an arcane battery for two whole days.) But now I’m in Overlook and I’ll hopefully catch up with my friends shortly!
PS let me just reiterate how awesome my time with Aunt Maa’zai was. It was draining and complicated but I helped with a crazy high-level ritual and achieved one of my personal goals of saving Kartenix and reuniting him with his son Thurann! I’m not even a ritual caster but I don’t think my aunt could have done it so quickly or smoothly without me there. I can’t believe my family members won’t visit her. I think she gets a little lonely, which can make her crabby, but judging by the way she treated me she’d make a pretty good host. (Unless she’s just warming to me because I’m a black sheep too. Wizards. No, they are definitely missing out.) We pulled it off! Achievement unlocked!