…Our heroes were reluctant to reveal the true nature of their business with Eldon, so they stressed to Taito (captain of the guard stationed across the Treewall section of Ironguard‘s barriers) that it would be in his best interest to see them swiftly escorted to him in order to discuss the subject directly. Taito sent a runner ahead to procure masks for the group (including a falconer’s hood for their eagle) to ensure they conformed with the sole tenet of the Festival of Masks.
The motley masks suited the party well, fitting them in bright feathers, plague doctor beaks and naïve grotesqueries. The runner also returned with a key to a cabinet in the nearest tower, wrapped excessively in chains and carved intricately with clasped hands and other strange designs.
Ellissendre recognised the cabinet, but from a memory so distant she couldn’t attach it to a time or place, but she was at least certain that it had no business being in this tower. Stranger still was that its sole content was an ornate mirror, showing a half-reflected version of the room, mingled with an image of the foyer of the Palace Massive. Taito gestured that they follow him through the mirror, and the party scrambled to discern any useful details of the item before they were hurried across the threshold.
Egil decided to power through the crowd to the nearest building, a curiosity shop, in hopes of procuring a disguise to blend in with the masquers. Ludwigron saw the sense in this, and while the shaman shoved the citizens aside, the wizard nimbly ducked and wove his way unseen and through the doorway, just as the guards shouted a challenge to the shaman on the other side of the shop window.
The shopkeeper reached behind the counter and hurriedly approached Ludwigron, who just as hurriedly cast a somewhat messy version of Charm Person. The smiling merchant chided his instant friend for going about unmasked on this day of all days, and a ripple of untidy magic wormed its way across the stone of the city to the nearest arcane object…
Perspective and reality warping around them, those moving through the mirror each experienced the briefest moment of absolute darkness before stepping into the palace foyer. In that darkness, they sensed something wizardly familiar, something clearly wrong, and something watching. The guards passed word around and some of the palace staff went in search of Eldon as the bored bard struck up both pipe and tune. The witch began dancing a distraction and muttering the beginnings of a hex in hopes that Felix could slip away to find Eldon for herself.
Meanwhile, Egil hastily reached for his totem of Telakapa, and in his haste to summon the spirit of desire, Telekapa’s influence escaped his control and overwhelmed him, enamouring him and clouding his judgement of the threat these suddenly attractive guards posed. As they took him into extremely unsexy custody, Ludwigron tried to convince his new friend to help rescue Egil from the guards, but this turned out to be a bridge too far, souring their relationship.
It looked like it was not their lucky day. Egil’s face was covered, and the guards led him away, as Ludwigron slipped out the door and away through the crowd without a backward glance for his troubled partner.
Ellissendre’s hex wove the music into the smoke and her dancing swept it all into a transcendant miasma which was meant to distract the guards from Felix’s escape. Instead, it consumed only the minds of the party, and they were oblivious to the shouts of alarm as the soldiers began shouting, first to each other, then across the courtyard at Felix as she arrived at the doorstep of the Eminent Catherral. As she looked back at her pursuers, she wondered to herself about the decorated well between the two claw-shaped buildings…what was with that thing, anyway?
Egil judged by the sounds around him that he had been thrown into a holding cell, still masked (after a fashion) but unbound. In the adjoining cells, he could hear children weeping. There was a conversation beginning between the guards and some visitors.
Ludwigron made his way to the Library of Zorlac, a private collector whom he knew to be interested in the book he carried, being a rare gift from his most recent work in Morbidia for the abhorsens-in-waiting to the necromancers there. He had helped them seal the region from the realm of the dead, but the ritual had called for such broad strokes that it sealed Morbidia itself off from the eyes of most people…you just can’t find the damn place unless you’re a wizard with luck on your side.
Felix found Eldon in the front row, deep in prayer to Vorn, the grim gaunt god of iron, rust and rain. She patiently waited for him to notice her, and when the guards entered the cathedral, a tiny crack ran through the reverence of the place. When Eldon turned back from the interruption, his eyes met hers long enough for her to gesture that they should see to their business somewhere else.
Egil removed his hood long enough to take in his surroundings. The elven children were bound and hooded in the cells further down the corridor. There was one guard visible at the door, and another at a desk by the keys to the cells. The deskhand was in negotiations with a burly gentleman with a deep voice. He was leathery and hirsute around his black mask, sporting a cane and top hat.
Negotiations were not going well, despite the interjections of a sweet-voiced lady in autumn scarves. The woman gasped, drawing the deskhand’s attention to Egil’s bare face, and after a brief threat, he covered it again. More footfalls and voices joined conversation, and negotiations themselves seemed to shift from the deskhand to the newcomers. As consensus was reached, Egil heard a guard retrieve first the keys, then a single miserable child from their cell.
Ludwigron stood outside the library and considered his options for a long while. One of the fork-tongued librarians approached him, and he finally requested audience with Zorlac himself. Taken through the entrance and into the living room to wait for a moment, he made sure the book of the Living and the Dead was adequately concealed upon his person. Zorlac arrived and Ludwigron revealed that he would be happy to trade the book for Merlin’s Compendium.
Things went rapidly downhill from there, as he inadvertently revealed his recent troubles with the guards by intimating his inability to move freely about the city. Zorlac, with a mild threat about reporting Ludwigron to the authorities, agreed to take the morbidian volume as security, and contracted the wizard to acquire a rare book of psychological ailments from Lady Eshrigel. Ludwigron mumbled something about how much she loved wizards…
Eldon talked the guards down as he scorted Felix back to the palace foyer, where the enchantment was abruptly dropping from our heroes, who were rapidly coming down from their magical, musical elations, and realising what a scene they’d caused. Eldon was less than happy with what this meant for his reputation, far from the discretion he had come to expect from Felix, and Taito warned Eldon that he would not be able to delay stern justice should the party transgress again within the confines of the city.
Felix explained her plan to have Ellissendre work healing magics on Lenore, and they all went upstairs, still under some measure of guard, to assess her condition and consult the witch’s inherited spellbook for a cure. She thought back to her teacher as she turned the pages, and how she had perished brewing a potion of invisibility, trying to make herself as clear as the whisper of the western wind…
Alas, no such cure could be found, and Lenore’s condition was strange enough to consult the spirits. It was a wasting illness, but far from natural. She appeared healthy in the face and hands, but clearly weak and mildly waxen. The rest of her body was waning, losing weight in a way that sugggested magical interference, so Ellissendre asked the spirits two things:
Lenore had six days to live, and this day is half over.