The Undiscovered Country

A Dream in the Inn-house

He never came in her dreams. Not any more. Not since Yule.

But tonight… tonight there was someone. A presence. Behind her.

She turned. There, in the darkness, a softly glowing sphere. Translucent.

Within, a silhouette. A woman. Standing, arms stretched out.

Moving closer, moving through darkness, darkness that curled around her, the glowing sphere coming almost within reach.

The woman within, still, commanding.

The woman with no face.

The hesitation and the fear and then, stretching out her hand towards the sphere.

Stretching out her hand through the sphere. Passing through with no resistance.

The woman with no face, raising a hand towards her, palm outward. A hand seared by the fires of hell.

Stepping into the sphere, the shimmering glow passing over her, past her, behind her.

Looking down at her own right hand, the fingernails growing, sharpening, transforming into steel.

Thrusting her steel talons at the woman with no face. Striking soft flesh where a face should be.

The woman’s hand at her throat, on her throat, crushing her throat.

But still thrusting her fingernails forward, into the faceless flesh, surgery, butchery, slicing, gouging.

The death grip round her throat, suffocating, agonising, the woman’s death an exulting pleasure.

Locked together in the darkness, falling, falling, falling

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Season 7 Session 1

Yuletide has passed. Illyria wakes up in her bed in the Rising Giant inn and stumbles down to the bar for her usual breakfast – two straight whiskies. In a corner is slumped a grey-bearded man, dead to the world.

Outside, in the Witchwoods (for this is where the refugees from North Arnest have settled alongside the orcs and built the Rising Giant as a social centre), Sal is dancing. Or so it would appear, to anyone unfamiliar with the martial art she is practising. Krom and Drum come across her, and after some bemusement they invite her back to the clan settlement.

Indeed the entire party gathers to discuss the next move against the enemy. (Illyria is last to arrive, bringing with her the grey-bearded stranger, who turns out to be Father Miguel, and two exploitatively-priced bottles of whisky.) The meeting is chaired by Joaquin, the manticore from the ruined castle, who has assumed a position of leadership in the community.

The shadow of wings precedes the arrival on owlback of Killiar, noted warrior and prick from the elven community of Not!Lothlorien. He has been scouting, and can report that the enemy horde, more than 3000 strong, is moving steadily southwards towards the capital, Theria. Mortimer’s scrying gives him a vision of Clausis, south of Theria, preparing to move north with her force of 30 undead mages.

After some discussion, it is decided that the party should go to Theria with all due dispatch, to aid in the defence. If the capital falls, Arnest will doubtless fall. But how to get there before the enemy?

The party decides on a two-pronged approach. A bird will be sent to Not!Lothlorien, requesting more owls to be sent to the Witchwood, to allow an airborne journey. Meanwhile, a representative will fly with Killiar to Theria, in an attempt to obtain the sigil sequence for the teleport circle in the capital. This would allow travel via the portable teleport circle inside the chest that the party looted from the Tomb of Horrors. Killiar insists that he can only take one person with him, as the owl cannot carry more, and he will land a safe distance from the city walls.

Now the obvious person to send to Theria would be Jonathan – as a King’s Man, he can gain access to the court, report on the situation, and request the sigil sequence. Unfortunately, he is now a halfling, so that isn’t going to work. He does, however, write up a detailed report (as is his wont) to be delivered to the King.

Instead, Jack will go to the capital, assuming Jonathan’s original form as and when required. Mortimer manages to persuade Killiar that there is room on the owl for him as well – he is only small – and the three set off.

The rest of the party agree that it would be a good idea to launch some skirmish attacks on the enemy while all this flying is going on, and so Krom, Sal, Lubash, Illyria, Tuakiin and Father Miguel ride westward out of the woods. They come upon a group of about twenty goblins and as many wargs, and manage to sneak up close to them before attacking.

Illyria goes straight for the goblin leader, charging through the goblin troops and disembowelling him with her glaive. Several goblins slash at her as she passes – all dropping dead from the freezing shock of her Armour of Agathys. Sal joins her, smashing into the goblins with rapid unarmed blows. The two women proceed to wipe out the goblins with a flurry of attacks, helped by the goblins’ collective failure to grasp that hitting Illyria means certain death.

The rest of the party engages with the wargs. They prove to be vicious foes, far tougher and deadlier than their goblin masters. Eventually they manage to destroy all of the creatures, but not before Father Miguel is struck down and killed.

At about the same time, the owl lands outside Theria and Killiar deposits Jack and Mortimer. Jack assumes Jonathan’s appearance, and the pair make their way to the palace, where they are stopped by guards. Jack easily bluffs his way past them, but once inside they have to get past a second set of guards. These ones regard their insistence on seeing the King with a healthy scepticism, who point out that Jonathan would be wearing his official ring if he were really a King’s Man. Jack quickly manages to produce an illusory ring, but it takes an enchantment by Mortimer before the guards will finally consent to letting them speak, not to the King, but to his Vizier.

They hand over Jonathan’s report to the Vizier, and at this point Jack’s Archfey patron decides that now would be a highly amusing time for Jack’s disguise to end. Awkward. The Vizier runs off to get the guards, but on his return Jack is sitting on his seat, feet up, smoking a fine cigar. Despite all this, they are able to persuade the Vizier to trust them by telling him secrets only his son would know (such as that he hated him), and telling him of his son’s heroic death. Moved by this, the Vizier agrees to allow them to meet the King.

The King is not in the best of health, and is accompanied by his Wizard in Chief. The wizard detects the pair’s thoughts while Mortimer speaks eloquently, persuading the King to go along with their plan.

Back in the Witchwood, the teleport circle activates. The party travel through it, and join Jack and Mortimer in audience with the King. He gives a splendid speech about how they are going to work together to win this war, and begins introducing newfound allies, defectors from the Red Hand who should turn the tide of the war.

First, the battlemage Jenneth of the westerlands, who has been training Theria’s troops in magical combat.

Second, the wizard Ella Mondath, former lieutenant of the enemy and commander at the Cavern Fortress.

Finally, the man who created and commands the Harrowblades, corrupted dragon-beings that will now fight on the side of Arnest. It is Javier Asturro. The man who killed Tuakiin’s mother. The man that Tuakiin is sworn to kill.

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One For Sorrow

Like a rusted hinge yawning open, like the petrichor of the first rain of the season, like stone bricks sliding into mortar, like a great iron lock clunking into place, like gears machined separately meshing perfectly,

the world snapped into place.

For a moment you could feel it. The sharp fresh smell of the new air. The magic fits together differently here. The stars are a millennium newer! You can taste the energy here, the untapped potential, the peace before the panic of the fall, the eye of the storm, the water in your lungs,

and like a dream on waking, it dissolved into the background. Became just… part of the fabric of the world.

And with that, the rest of reality. Enderis looked around the map room at the bodies of— yes, they were his friends. Unharmed in any way apart from the fact they didn’t have souls in them any more. They looked for all the world as if they were asleep, and rather content. He caught Jack’s eye, and in silent agreement they grabbed a pair of Burne’s— well, this is Rufus’s body, and Burne isn’t in it any more— Rufus’s limbs, and started the long journey towards the church.

He didn’t stay to the end of the service. The Canon’s words meant nothing to him. What the fuck’s a ledger anyway? That, and a snippet of unusual birdsong piqued his interest. The ranger muttered the quiet words and furtively made the hand movements that initiated the spell he’d mentally labelled “Sneaky Fucker”, and slunk out the back.

He didn’t have to go far. A short walk north, and down the ledge where the cloven hill hadn’t quite met up properly, and there it was. A largish bird, the shape of the crows he knew from the battlefields back home, but with a white chest and beautiful bluish-green iridescence in its plumage. Sitting on its own on a branch, it feasted on the snail whose shell it had dashed against the trunk, and warbled something mournful-sounding at the ranger.

He sat down and slowed his breathing. The world spun for ten minutes until he opened his eyes and asked, “Why are you here?” The bird looked confused. “aaark Don’t you know the rhyme? The human chicks sing it for a reason. aarkk It’s true.”

“I’m not from around here. I don’t know the rhyme.”

arkk The air changed earlier, and the west became fire, aaarrrkk and the human nests appeared again. aaarrkk Was that you?”

“No”. He pointed at the church. “It was my friends in there. It took their life”. He was fighting tears.

The church bell pealed, just once, to signal the end of the service. The bird started, and flew away. Enderis hadn’t noticed the two others until then. As they flew, they sang. A haunting song, even if you can’t understand the words.

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth
Three for a funeral,
Four for birth
Five for heaven
Six for hell
Seven for the devil, his own self

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Time to go

They were sending her away. Her family thought there was something ‘wrong’ with her and the druids agreed. Of course they were wrong, but adults would never admit to that. Still – she’d never seen a High Elf city – it might be interesting.

The journey through the forest was long and her escort were happy that so far their charge had been acting almost normally. Surely they were right – a change of scene and wiser minds would soon have the child in her right mind.

Another day of travel and they would be relieved of their burden.

Sal awoke, senses alert. The voices had been clear – it was time for her to leave. The path to the city was not to be hers. Who knew if she’d ever see that place and its wonders – that was not to be her or her escort’s decision.

She scanned the camp, locating the watchers and the sleepers. Carefully she shifted into a crouch and with Fey’s grace, slipped into the shadows and out of the camp. Moving as quietly as she could, she disappeared into the forest, away from those who would try to stop her.

They would look for her, no doubt about it, but she was sure that they would resign themselves to her loss before long and return home in hope she would find her own way either to the city or home. In time, without news, they would assume misadventure and wonder if it had been for the best. She knew this to be true and felt no bitterness about it. She loved her family and they her, but she was not like them and didn’t belong there.

She moved quickly through the forest, her direction clear. If asked, she couldn’t have named her destination, but she knew the way she was to go. Eventually, she spied a building nestled between the trees. Creeping closer she saw it was one of several, arranged round a courtyard.

She had arrived.

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Who wants to live forever....

Mortimer ducked out as the cocktails were being served he pulled his wife into the corridor.
“How very dare you Morti, those are your ancestors, they’re the very origins of the Gnome people and you want to treat them like they are strangers, and it’s Christmas!”

Morti was duly chastised and went back out and made merry with Lilly Nisa Hansey and her friends, after all the Nisa and the Gnomes shared a cultural bond Mortimer would never ignore, it was a piece of history, a piece of modern gnomish identity…

It was… suddenly the barracks.

It was good to be back with the Free Company 13th division. All his trans-barrial adventures, he wasn’t the coward of the group any more. Dumping a ton of coin at Wollie’s wedding probably didn’t hurt, and being a divine healer certainly promoted him above the standard squad member he had been. He didn’t feel like admitting he’d delivered a lethal necrotic touch to a dragon recently… it wouldn’t play well amongst the ranks.

It had been a nice Christmas, one last goodbye, with the troops.

But that had been a falicy, once he was out he had the east to deal with…. It wasn’t his land, it wasn’t his gods, it wasn’t his magic, but it was his war. The man he had elevated as the master of life and death had caused this war, and may have never really had the answers he sought at all… For the first time in his life, Mortimer realised the immortality he sought may have been beyond any present god, or man… It may be his to claim

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Season 7 Trailer

Darkness.

Then the suggestion of roiling smoke.

Music builds as we push through the smoke, which clears to reveal a city on fire. The walls are being over-run with monsters.

It doesn’t look as good as it will in the finished show, but it’s still pretty effective for trailer CGI.

This season

All of our characters engaging the attacking monsters, fighting for their lives.

Cities will burn

Dragons swoop over the city, breathing fire and poison. Unnamed extras choke to death in the streets and are burned alive.

Kingdoms will fall

A huge hall, filled with nobles and guards. The King and the Vizier stand upon a raised dais, ready to address the crowd.

And the final battle will begin

Clausis, strides through the streets of the city. Unnamed extras rain arrows at her. None hit. She waves her hand and the extras’ heads explode.

Clausis fires a death bolt directly into camera, whiting it out.

In the seventh and final season of The Undiscovered Country

Beginning Tuesday January 10th

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Christmas Special

It is the best Christmas ever. Lille Nisse Hansi sits happily in her nisse hole, snitting some lovely presents while children play.

It is the best Christmas ever. No Name wakes up in bed with Jonathan. He is the soul of courtesy and charm.

It is the best Christmas ever. Lubash is with his family, drinking and telling stories. They are so proud of his work for the Ogre’s union.

It is the best Christmas ever. Mortimer is with the 13th Company in a great castle. All his friends are there – Corporal Skeleton, Daft Wullie, Awfully Wee Hamish and more.

It is the best Christmas ever. Tuakiin is in a high room with his sworn enemy Javier. He reaches behind his head to where he has a hand crossbow affixed to his back, pulls it out and shoots Javier, who falls out of a high window to his certain death.

In a snowy forest clearing sits a woman playing a viol. So loud is her playing that she fails to notice the manticore until it drops down in front of her. She stands and armours herself with defensive magic, but the manticore only wants to talk. He asks what she is doing, and she explains that she is a musician – Illyria de Viol by name – and she is practising in between performances. The manticore directs her to a local inn called the Rising Giant where he expects she may find an audience, and flies off.

In the Feywild, an elven woman named Tuarsalkafaesen – Sal for short – is surprised to find a large mirrored cube, thirty feet on a side. It is a most incongruous object. She attempts to interact with it, but all to no avail.

It is the best Christmas ever. Lille Nisse Hansi is so delighted when her old friend Günther arrives, and she gives him a big tankard of øl from the tun. Skål!

It is the best Christmas ever. No Name wakes up with Jonathan. She is troubled. Hasn’t this happened before? He is utterly pleasant and charming. Now she knows something is wrong.

It is the best Christmas ever. Lubash hears noises outside, and wouldn’t you know it? It is his best friend, the Bard, come to visit! They have a jolly time, singing and telling stories of their adventures.

It is the best Christmas ever. Well, it was for a while, anyway. No Name is increasingly freaked out by Jonathan’s implausibly pleasant behaviour and insists that he leaves. He eventually accedes to her demands and goes out of the door. She decides she has to leave too, but when she opens the door she reveals only a mirror filling the doorway.

It is the best Christmas ever. Mortimer is receiving delightful presents from all of his lovely chums, and beaming that heartwarming smile of his.

It is the best Christmas ever. Tuakiin is in Escapar now, with his family. His mother is so proud of him, especially when he tells her he has taken revenge on the dragonborn who killed her. Hang on…

Illyria enters the bar. It is a rough sort of place, and in her dark makeup, black leather and lace she stands out amongst the various soldiers and labourers. She buys a bottle of whisky from the bar, and the barman invites her to play her set in return for a room. Her music is loud, hash and metallic, augmented by her magic with percussion and counterpoint and an astonishing light show. Then, in an instant, all of her magic fails. She segues into a quiet lamenting melody, as if she meant it all along.

Sal punches the mirrored cube, achieving little but drawing some blood. She uses the blood to write on the mirror, in Common, Elvish and Infernal.

It is the best Christmas ever. Hansi goes out into the town to deliver presents to all, accompanied by her old friend Günther. Eventually she gets to Mortimer’s place. Mortimer is so happy with his present that he invites her to come and play hide and seek with all the children. Skål!

No Name sees writing appear on the mirror. She finds a jar of tomato ketchup and begins writing back.

It is the best Christmas ever. Lubash is having such fun with his friend the Bard. But he decides it is time to leave, and go to spread the word about the Ogres’ Union. As he tries to leave the village, his way is blocked by a wide mirror. He tries to hit it with his axe. The mirror takes no damage – but writing begins to appear on it.

It is the best Christmas ever – but Mortimer is sure something is wrong. Searching through the castle, he eventually comes to the female privy. The door opens to reveal a mirror blocking the doorway. Writing is appearing on it.

It is the best Christmas ever. Tuakiin’s mother flies him across the mountains of Escapar, past the distant shining domes of the city of Bahtriah, into the west. Eventually they reach the sunken city of Rhest, and Tuakiin has his mother land them on the top of the highest building. She transforms into dragonborn shape and they explore the deserted tower together. Eventually they come to a corridor that ends in a mirror. Tuakiin cannot scratch the mirror, and even flame breath cannot damage it. But writing starts to appear…

Alone in her room, drunk and depressed, Illyria lies in bed and prays to her Lord Asmodeus, risking her very sanity to obtain answers as to why her magic has failed. Her effort is successful, and she becomes aware that someone called Clausis is to blame, and that this Clausis is currently some weeks’ travel away with scores of comrades – and is more powerful than Illyria. Then the wall seems to open and Asmodeus himself appears. Telling Illyria there are more important things going on, he takes her with him to Hell. There he shows her an incongruous mirrored cube, thirty feet on a side, which has recently appeared. It is going to drain all the magic of Hell, unless one of the other planar kingdoms can be destroyed in order to stop it. Illyria is eager to help her lord in any way – but he unceremoniously pushes her into the mirror.

In the Feywild, the Spring Queen appears to Sal and sends her on a special mission, opening up a portal for her to travel into Hell. there she meets Asmodeus, who shows her the sights of Hell, such as they are – a sandy wasteland, uninhabited save by the demons he conjures. Many souls come here, he explains, but all eventually repent, and both Asmodeus and the one are merciful. She notes that there seem to be identical cubes in both realms, and he explains that the only way it can be removed is for one realm to be destroyed so that the others might survive. He tries to convince her to go back and destroy the Feywild in order to save Hell, but she is having none of it.

It is the best Christmas ever. Hansi is playing hide and seek. She comes into a bedroom, but can find no one in it. Eventually she opens one of the doors leading off. It opens onto a mirror filling the doorway. There is writing on it. Suddenly, a woman appears from the mirror – Illyria. She is quite confused.

It is the best Christmas ever. Jonathan is in his bedroom, looking at the mirror which is blocking the door, when Illyria arrives. He is his usual irritating self.

No Name and Sal have had the chance for a conversation, mediated through blood and ketchup respectively on the mirrored surface. Unfortunately, it seems no closer to getting No Name out. Then Illyria arrives through the mirror.

Lubash has realised that the best Christmas ever is not real, and that his friend the Bard is really dead. He tells the Bard that he will have to let him go, but he will always remember him and sing his songs. Illyria appears through the mirror, startling the poor ogre.

Mortimer is joining in the mirror conversation, by means of scrawling XML on one side of the mirror to try to find a way through. His spell to pass through solid objects seems like it might be promising, but when he passes his hand into the mirror it just comes straight back out at him. Then Illyria appears.

Tuakiin is having no more luck with the mirror than anyone else when Illyria arrives through his mirror too. While she can’t help admiring his buff torso, she is feeling a little disorientated as there are several versions of her all at once and she is aware of all of them.

Between the mirror writing and Illyria’s dissociated state, the party are finally able to communicate as a group. Illyria thinks she can get them all back using her power to travel through the planes, but that just brings them all back to where they were. Mortimer inscribes a teleport circle on the mirror, such that it appears on everyone’s mirror, but it remains inert.

This is when Illyria, seeing them all trapped in their own private worlds, on Christmas Day of all days, realises what is so wrong with all these perfect Christmasses. Christmas is about togetherness, she explains, the love and warmth of family, found family, friends all together in music, laughter and delight.

At this, the teleport circles glow. Quickly, all of the party step through their respective circles, all arriving in Hell with Asmodeus and Sal. Illyria comes through several times, merging with herself each time, which becomes confusing.

Asmodeus explains that he will soon die, and shortly after Hell itself will be destroyed. He grants the party the power of Hell in its last few moments, before dispersing into dust. The party use this power to open a portal back into their own world – to the Rising Giant public house, to be precise. Illyria, distraught and heartbroken, is the last to leave.

[Somewhere far away, Clausis feels her Wish spell ceasing. She declares to her companions that the next one will not be so easily thwarted.]

In the pub is much companionship and good cheer. No Name and Jonathan are reunited properly this time, and he comes as close as he can to expressing real feelings for her. Illyria takes up her viol and begins a new melody.

When the snowman brings the snow
When the snowman brings the snow

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Dominion

She reached down and gripped a fistful of crumpled bedsheet. The sweat was dry now, the unruly sheets the only record remaining of the night when she had spoken to her Lord, the night when He had come to her, the night when He had taken her into His dominion.

When I close my eyes
When I look your way

All gone now. Gone. Gone and yet this world remained. Her legs buckled, she fell to her knees, clutching the bed, head bowed, grief, grief hollowing her out to a fragile, weightless husk.

When I meet the fear that lies inside

He was gone, and she was lost without Him.

On the lone and level
Sand stretch far away

She had no one now. No one but the strangers she had met in the mirrors. She had preached to them then, a dark priestess with a sermon of love and family, friendship and comfort.

What comfort was there for her?

In the settled dust
Hold hold and say

To see Clausis torn asunder, limb rent from limb, head impaled and displayed to the mocking crows. There was comfort in that thought.

But what then? What now, with her Lord gone, gone forever?

Some say prayers
Some say prayers

Was there some spark of him left within her? Some faint glowing ember of His almighty power?

Or was that a fond and foolish wish? A way to close up her grief, to deny the depth of the abyss even when staring into unending darkness?

Some say prayers
Some say prayers

She raised her head. Whatever power she had, it would have to be enough. And perhaps, in time, her Lord would return. For was not the Master of all things the Master of his own death?

Some day
Some day
Dominion

And when He returned, would He not remember her?

Some say prayers
Some say prayers
I say mine

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It's a kind of magic
Collaboration Chis and Amanda

The Bard gently strummed his Lute, an old friend through thick and fine. In his hands music was a powerful tool to protect others. Something his father had never understood. The grand Vizier thought he could teach the boy to take power, he never realised ‘The Bard’ already had all he needed.
The Bard had attracted a small group of adoring fans. One more song,the most romantic in his repertoire, and there would be some fun times ahead,baring general adventuring duties.
A severed greying hand landed at his feet with a soft ‘flump’, jumping out of his skin, he looked up as the crowd fled screaming in terror. Good lungs, they’d have made impressive backing singers.

Threw the fleeing ample hips, the pintsized figure in the midnight blue robe sauntering towards him.

“I have to ahem hand it to you, you know how to clear a room” The Bard quipped, keeping a completely straight face and stared unblinking into the gnomes face who did not or choose not to hear. He put his lute to one side, he doubted the Necromancer had any appreciation for music.

The hand leapt into the air of it’s own free will and darted back into Mortimer’s bag.

“How’s it goin’ Brad? we’re gonna need you’re crossin’ amulet soon… I’ve been roundin’ up the flock, you’re my last call. We’re goin’ home… er… yours that is”

Said the unmistakably gnomish voice from beneath the hood, which was now flipped down to reveal a small pale face with ashen eyes and a shock of red hair.

“It’s The Bard” the young man said trying to keep the frustration out of his voice. Not everyone was a fan, yet. “What do you need me to do?”

“Ahhh, didn’t explain myself, sorry ‘bout that. We need to do a magic ritual with the crossing amulets.”

The corners of The Bard’s mouth twitched, his chiseled jaw clenched a little.

“I don’t do magic”

“Yeah, I know, you can’t do magic, so I just need to borra’ your amulet, I’ll return it as soon as we’re…” but he was cut off by a single raised finger from the young musician, who was looking off into the middle distance. In truth Mortimer wasn’t sure why he stopped at a mere gesture but… the man had, presence.

For a moment, Bard was back in the classroom, strict teachers trying to crush his spirit, spells were to force nature and people to your will, father smashing his instruments and burning his music, telling him he was destined to rule the kingdom, tell the ruler what to think. There was no glory in music.

“That isn’t what I said, I don’t do magic, not I can’t…”

“You do songs that mess wid’ people’s heads, it’s an impressive skill I wasn’t tryin’a…” but the smaller mage stopped there as the human had risen up at that. His leather trousers creaked at the motion, and for a moment that was the only sound to cut the silence.

“I definitely don’t do that!”

The young man said quietly, deliberately. “I do things in my own way, with music, if you need my help, tell me what you need.”

Mortimer pondered for a moment, this was one of those human interaction moments he begrudgingly accepted were part of life… he knew The Bard wasn’t happy with him, but was making an effort to be ‘reasonable’ – that was the word, but he was just stating the facts, so why should the guy get mad?

“No offence meant, I’m sure, but we need to do a spell and you just said you don’t do…”

“Spells” the young man finished. Then he reached down and took a book from Morimer’s bag, noting in passing it said “Burne” on the spine.

“You’re a Wizard, I know the type, when what you’ve got is magic, every problem looks like it needs a spell. Twist the world into enough knots, pelt it with enough power, and the problems go away…” he set the book down on the tree-stump with a thud, “…it lacks… he pinched two fingers before his mouth trying to find the word for a moment, then finished: “finesse”

“When I play i’m tapping into the natural rhythm of the universe and go with the flow. Music can’t be forced….” he trail off, struggling to explain something that was a feeling, a deep truth in his soul, meer words felt lame. Some notes would express it maybe, but somehow he felt that would be lost on the ever pragmatic gnomes. But his heart was in the right place, sticking by the party despite self interest.

The wizard frowned, opened his mouth to object but the man put a silencing finger down on his lips even as he flicked his golden locks over his other shoulder.

“What’s this?” the young man demanded jabbing a finger at an expression of eXML

“It’s represents a 46th arcanic resonance oscillation in the extra-planar concept of Air, at the 8080 circle interface…” Mortimer sighed as if he was having to explain calculus to a dog, and waiting for the obvious look of confusion.

Instead the bard picked up his stringed instrument. “I think it would sound something like this”… he plucked.

Ma Ma Ma Ma Maaaa

Mortimer’s had rose toward his face, but he stopped it at the last moment and ruffed his hair instead.

“It doesn’t sound like anything, it’s a defined variable in a spell!” the pint sized practitioner insisted sounding exasperated, “really, we just need the…”

“No, it’s not only that, it’s also an open G string…” he mused on this for a moment looking off into the distant red sun… “A favorite of mine actually!” he added with a conspiratorial wink that flew right over Mortimer’s head. Getting back to his point, The Bard turned from the wizard and added: “or, if you play it once more, with feeling, it sounds like this:”

MWAAAAAAWWAAAA!

The note thundered out across the village, two of three hedges were buffered by the shockwave of sound that rang out, stones rolled, a discarded ale bottle cracked as it flew end over end. Mortimer’s teeth rattled, a flap of ornamentation on his robe fluttered up and over his face. He pulled it away with an annoyed flick.

“I know Wizards, I chose not to do magic, not to ‘do’ spells, I make music…” at this he fished a familiar looking black amulet out of a pocket in his impossibly tight leather trousers (which seemed magic in its-self given how tight they were) deposited it around his neck. “So instead let’s start with telling me the problem, and let’s go make beautiful music together?” He suggested, turning and striding confidently off toward the horizon.

Mortimer wanted to say something, but he just opened and shut his mouth, he guessed he should follow but, his legs apparently wanted to ‘take a moment’. He wasn’t sure why.

“Well… I guess… it’s’a kinda’ magic….”

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Season 6 Session 5

It is the Great Debate.

Our heroes – most of them – are assembled with Master Burne, Rufus and Spugnoire to make a crucial decision that cannot be put off any longer. Will they collapse the barrier, allowing anyone to move freely back and forth, or will they restore it, returning Hommlet to its proper place, ensuring the barrier will be impassible for all eternity – and killing every every wizard west of the barrier in the process?

The group wrestles with the dilemma. Mortimer is not terribly keen on the idea of dying at all, while Mawgojzeta is sceptical about Burne’s claims – after all, wasn’t this barrier supposed to be impassible the first time round, yet the battle mages found a way to cross?

Burne clarifies matters as far as he can. He is confident that his new research has shown him how to succeed where his predecessors failed. Furthermore, it is only those spellcasters who have some trace of wizardly power who will be destroyed by the ritual, just as it is only such people who can assist in carrying out the ritual. This will destroy all of the battlemages, the newly returned Acererak – and the elven queen. With all of the temporal interference blocking Sending spells, there is no way to warn her, still less to save her.

Meanwhile, No Name is with Jonathan, who she has just brought back to life in the form of a halfling. He is less grateful than she might have hoped. After a blazing row, he eventually calms down, accepting that what she did was well intentioned and did in fact save his life. However much he may have preferred to go to heaven, he knows that he will still get there eventually.

Jonathan’s attempts to impose his authority on his subordinates is less than successful. Vivien and the priest openly scoff him, and he becomes near-suicidal before eventually resolving to continue to do his duty as a King’s Man.

In the debate, opinion has swung in favour of restoring the barrier, and the question has now shifted to who can survive this ritual, and how. Jack comes up with the cunning plan of banishing wizards to another plane for a minute at the climax of the ritual, thus saving them from its effects. It’s a good plan, with just one limitation: the four wizards who actually carry out the ritual cannot be saved in this way.

It is time for the most fraught decision of all: who is to carry out the ritual, and die in the process? Burne and Spugnoire both volunteer. Mortimer vows to “the finest wizards in this land” (Spugoire is particularly flattered by this) that just as they are giving their lives to save his people, so he will do his very best to fight for their land. If they notice any inequity in this arrangement, they do not mention it.

Rima enthusiastically volunteers to join in the ritual (secretly hoping to see her beloved Vani again in the Feywild). Lastly, the Bard steps in as the fourth person. He may have dropped out of wizard training at an early stage, but he’s still wizard enough for this.

The rest of the party can choose to wait in Hommlet and return with it to the east, or leave the village boundary and remain in the west. Tuakiin, not wanting to waste any more time, makes a third choice. He still has his crossing amulet, and he travels to the barrier in order to use it. As he reaches the barrier, he is caught up by Mortimer, who wants to go through with him before the ritual begins. Enderis has no wish to remain in the west, and is glad to stay in Hommlet and leave his homeland behind forever. Mawgojzeta, on the other hand, still has a mission here. With the battle mages destroyed, the enemy will be suddenly weakened and she has to ensure that her people take full advantage, establishing a new political order quickly and decisively. She picks up the 13th Company from the pub and explains the situation to them. Also in the pub, the Bard makes an emotional farewell to Lubash.

Finally, it is time for the ritual. Burne, Spugnoire, Rima and the Bard all focus their arcane energies on Burne’s incantations. Spugnoire dies, then Burne. Rima, after diverting enough energy to restore the Feywilld, also falls dead – her spirit travelling to a new existence in the Feywild. Finally, playing one last bass chord of astounding power, the Bard dies, completing the ritual.

In the citadel, Daft Wullie is in bed with his beloved queen when she lets out her last breath.

In the tower, Rufus, still in the body of Burne, is struck by wracking pain. Jack manages to banish him temporarily, just in time to save his life.

In Hommlet, Vivien dies unmourned.

Somewhere to the south, Clausis uses her crossing amulet to open a gap in the barrier, and steps through, behind her, waiting to cross, is Acererak, at the head of an immense army of battle mages. Just as they are about to come through, the barrier seals behind Clausis. Acererak and all of his army are destroyed.

Outside Hommlet, Mawgojzeta and the 13th Company watch the village disappear. When all is done and calm is restored, they move off. There is work to be done. As they go, Mawgojzeta can be heard turning to Corporal Skeleton and asking “So, how long have you been a skeleton?”

With Hommlet returned to the east and Rufus returned to the material plane, Jack hurries off to catch up with Tuakiin and Mortimer, eager to continue delightfully spreading chaos.

In the Feywild – Rima bows before the Fey Court, her oath to the Winter King complete. Wandering the forests she eventually finds her love waiting under a tree for her.

In the Citadel – Wullie searches for someone who can restore his beloved Queen to life. Luck is with him – her spirit is restored, but into a new Gnome body. They rule together for long years, their children becoming the ruling dynasty for a thousand years.

A thousand years in the future, a giant spider that has spent a millennium clinging to the roof of an ancient temple, at one with the infinite oneness of the Universe, begins to stir. Its consciousness has ranged throughout time and space, and now it has returned, a deity in spider form. It will need a new name. It decides to call itself Lolth.

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