Secrets of Mystara

Post 20 (Meet the Magi)

Meet the Magi


Wolfbane (as the magus) and Ember (as a high-charisma negotiator) return to the Magi with the rest of the silver, and the necklace. When they knock, Alyria appears as before, and Iris and Pooches, who had guided the two women in the dark, retreat.

Alyria requests that the women place their palm over the glowing yellow circle. When they do so there is a jolting shift, and they find themselves in an indoor room, dimly lit. Numerous magi, all adults but evenly divided between men and women, surround them. Far from being menacing, they sit or even lounge on numerous stuffed leather cushions throughout the room. Short tables provide focal circles for their seating arrangements, and each table has a glowing rock crystal on it, providing light to the room. Each crystal glows in a different hue, providing a myriad of tones throughout the room as a whole. Numerous tapestries with abstract color designs hang on the walls but there are no windows or obvious exits. Most of the magi stare at them, obviously curious, but there is little other reaction to their sudden appearance.

Two magi walk up to them, then gesture for them to take seats on the cushions around an unoccupied table. One of the magi they recognize as Alyria. The other is an older man with a warm smile and intelligent eyes. Once Ember and Wolfbane have seated, Alyria takes out a communication disk and places it on the table between them.

Ember reaches for the disk. “Trade is built on Trust,” she begins, and the man smiles at her words. “We have brought the silver, have you our spells?” She passes the disk to the man, and it remains in steady trade for the rest of the conversation.

“Trade builds Trust,” the man says, and motions to a group of magi at another table. Three of them come over, each bearing a silver tablet roughly the size of the page from a large book. They lay these on the table in front of Wolfbane and Ember and then retreat. The tablets are a dull gray, not shiny – likely an alloy such as pewter to make them more resistant. The women can see that the tablets contain runes – not inscribed or carved, but raised, in relief. Wolfbane furrows her brow and studies the runes, then quickly realizes that they are magical symbols, ones that she recognizes and can read. There is no color contrast between the symbols and the tablet background, so it requires effort on her part to make out each one, especially the complicated ones.

“How do you read…” she begins, “I mean, I get that you don’t have much paper, but aren’t these hard to memorize?”

The man frowns, begins to trace the symbols on a tablet with his index finger, his eyes closing as if from habit. “These tablets are first-casts,” he says with just a hint of indignation. “Feel them, they are as sharp as anything.”

Wolfbane realizes that the tablets are meant to be felt rather than seen, and hurries to apologize. “I’m sorry, I meant no offense. It is just that where I am from, we study spells by reading, I mean by sight, by seeing them…”

Alyria interjects. “That seems terribly inefficient. Don’t you use up an awful lot of candles?”

Wolfbane struggles to explain. “Where we are from, in the light-void, light is all around and free – it doesn’t really limit anything, at least in the day.”

Although neither Alyria nor the man seem to recognize the word “day”, they relax and seem satisfied by Wolfbane’s explanation. Wolfbane takes her time examining the tablets, and whispers to Ember that she believes the trade is good. Ember opens the blanket, spreads the silver coin out on the floor of the room, withdraws the necklace from a pocket and places it on the table between them. The man nods at Alyria, and with evident satisfaction she picks up the necklace.

Ember waits a prudent time, then begins a new conversation. “Trade builds Trust,” she says. “We were hoping that you might wish to discuss taking common cause with us, with the Maidens, against the Zargonites.”

The man nods sagely, as if he had been expecting such a question. “Our astrologers have long had a prediction,” he says. “This is an extremely important time. Interpretations vary, but all of them recognize this time as one of great change, as one of union and one of dissolution. It is the hope of many of us that the other two factions would finally see reason and unite with us to liberate the city from the priests of the Zargon.”

Ember feels a flush of excitement. “So you have been waiting for this? Should we set up meetings between you and the Maiden leaders?”

The man holds up his hand for her to pause. “Trade builds Trust,” he says, “but Trust takes Time. We need to know that you, and the Maidens, value the Magi for ourselves, not just as your tools or pawns. Let me propose another trade, first.”

Ember nods attentively but leaves the disk with him.

“The Zargonites occasionally capture one of our members, a sad truth. Currently they hold one – a man who had been working undercover with sympathizers in the city when he was betrayed. We believe that he is currently being held in their prisons. We can provide you with the means to rescue him. If you do so, we would be willing to begin negotiations with the Maidens.”

Ember is aghast at the thought of entering the Zargonite fortress, but equally aghast at the thought of a man suffering as one of their prisoners. “How long ago was this man taken, do you know that he is still alive?”

“The Zargonites break their prisoners, but do not kill them, at least not intentionally. Their goal is to first break their will, cause them to despair through physical and psychological tortures. Once a prisoner has given up all hope, he or she is taken to the Under Pyramid, to be fed to Zargon as a sacrifice. Since our member’s capture, we have watched their stronghold closely. We have not seen the priests emerge with a sacrificial prisoner. No Zargonite force has left the city for the Under Pyramid.”

“So you know that he is still there?”

“They do not intend to kill their prisoners, but sometimes it happens. I must admit,” he says ruefully but with no trace of shame, “it happens more frequently with us Magi than the other two factions, for we are not trained to resist physical suffering as they are. If a prisoner is killed, he usually becomes another undead guard for their fortress. It is possible our man is already dead, but if so, we would value that knowledge as well.”

Ember nods solemnly. “How is it that you will be able to help us? What do you offer in trade?”

“Another spell tablet, at no cost to you. This one is Invisibility, and you may keep it. It will serve you well in this venture, and in the future. A magic ring, with five castings of Knock stored in it. This will get you into the complex, through any door, open any prison cell, release any chains. Information on the entire first floor of the building, and directions on how to find the prisoners.”

Ember looks to Wolfbane, who nods agreement with the value of the magic offered. For her own part, Ember understands the tactical significance of the map the man has described.

“Trade builds Trust,” Ember says. “I will need to discuss this proposal with the other members of my group.”

“Of course.”

Without seeing the man make a gesture, Ember and Wolfbane find themselves outside the walls of the Magi stronghold. Arranged neatly on the cavern floor around them are the three silver tablets.


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