Secrets of Mystara

Post 21 (Plans and Preparations)

Plans and Preparations


Ember and Wolfbane gather up the silver tablets, then meet Iris and Pooches to return to the Enclave. Ember tells the party about what the Magi have proposed.

The discussion is somber. None of them except Remmy shows any enthusiasm for entering the fortress of the Zargonites. But they all agree that the mission is just in its own right, and immensely worthwhile if it brings the Magi into alliance with the Maidens. They are also encouraged by the fact that the Magi are so willingly offering up assistance (as opposed to what little the Maidens did for them when they were sent to recover the cure). Iris holds forth that they need a “show of force” to earn the respect of the gormites, and there could be no better one than bearding the zargonites in their own lair, and there is even the possibility of coming away with gormite prisoners. Thus, in the end, they decide that this mission is too valuable to pass up, despite the risk involved.

After that, the talk turns to strategy – just how are they going to get in, and what role will each of them play in the operation? Wolfbane explains that the invisibility spell will last until the recipient takes an aggressive action or casts any spell. Thus, it will be possible for the three spellcasters (assuming Morgan can learn the spell) to repeatedly cast it until everyone in the party is invisible. Then, if they rest one more time, the mages can be at full spells after 16 hours of preparation.

What if they have to attack – it will be obvious they are not zargonites. And what of the prisoner, or even prisoners? They could be made invisible, but at the cost of the one casting the spell becoming visible. Morgan declares that they all need a back-up disguise. She asks to speak with the Great Mother.

The Great Mother is surprised that they are even considering entering the zargonite fortress, but is clear in that she appreciates the party being willing to do it in order to win the support of the Magi. She explains that when not in armor, zargonites wear plain black robes. Their station or rank is communicated by their mask. For example, the fighters the party slew in the ambush had simple, smooth bronze masks that made them appear faceless, for they were of the lowest rank. Morgan asks whether the Maidens have any such robes or masks, and the Great Mother says they have a store of both as they are useful for stealth missions in the city. She says that the party is welcome to as many as they need, except that none of them will fit FluffyKitten.

“Is ok, is ok!” the halfling chimes in. “Me is so good at hidey-hide!”

Morgan asks for eight robes and masks, whichever can best fit the party members, plus another two sets to give to any prisoners found.

After this, there are further tactical talks lasting the better part of an hour. In the end, it is concluded that Ember needs to return to the Magi to ask for three specific items of further help from them. Before that, however, the three mages, Morgan included, need time to study the new spells. Morgan sets great store by the web spell, for example, and the party’s tactics may change based on whether or not she is able to master it.

The three mages retreat to a single tent and hold a long “study session,” helping each other with the spells. Wolfbane has the best knowledge of spell theory, but Iris has considerably more practical experience, and Morgan – is just trying to keep up. After five minutes of trying to study from the monotone tablets in the dim light, their eyes are swimming. Morgan puts one of the precious torches onto the dung fire. Once it has been reduced to coals, she uses the coal to darken just the raised symbols of the silver tablet, providing a natural contrast that allows them to “read” it like they would a page in their spellbooks. It will need to be re-applied later, but it gets the job done. After six hours they emerge, each confident in the knowledge that they could cast any of web, phantasmal force or shield.

  • * * *

The women are taking a break, sharing food with the party as a whole outside their tents. A few “maidens” are with them – playmates of FluffyKitten, and a man Bhelgarn has asked to join them so as to work on his conversation. The maidens on the wall call down an alert, and people begin running through the courtyard.

The party moves to the gate (all except Fluffy, who is encouraging her friends to eat as much as they can before the grownups return). Outside the gate are five people, two women and three men, apparently a delegation from the Magi. They have traded their rainbow robes for plain brown traveling cloaks that cover and obscure their hands. They have called up to the maidens on the wall and now are waiting calmly and passively.

After the Great Mother is summoned, there is a good bit of conversation between them and her. Most of it is too fast for Bhelgarn, but he catches the overall tone well enough – the Mages are requesting entry to the Enclave because they wish to speak to the party, but they are doing so in a very formal and polite way that makes it clear they are asking, not commanding. The Great Mother remains perfectly poised, but the other maidens are having difficulty understanding both that the Magi would want to enter the Enclave, and that the Great Mother would even consider allowing them. It is obvious that this has never happened before, at least not in their lifetimes. All the time they speak, more armored maidens are arriving from the tower, and with none-to-subtle gestures, the Great Mother is directing their placement along the walls or in the courtyard.

Finally, the Great Mother turns to Morgan and asks whether the party wishes to meet with the Magi and Morgan nods her agreement. The portcullis is raised to barely two feet, so that the Magi are forced to crawl on their hands and knees to enter. Their faces betray no emotion despite the snickers of the maidens. The Great Mother motions them over to the party’s tents and the children who had been with FluffyKitten scatter to the winds. The magi are followed by a small contingent of maidens, while the rest disperse or go back to their duties on the wall. Morgan notices, however, that even the ones that have “left” are still hanging about in the courtyard in groups of twos and threes, while the Great Mother herself seems to be having an informal “conversation” with the Captain of the Watch.

By the light of the campfire, Ember recognizes the man she spoke with inside the Magi Complex, but does not see Alyria among the two women present. The man’s introduction and pleasantries are understood by all, and those looking for it note that he has a communication disk in one hand. After a brief and vague well-wishing, the man asks whether the party has considered their “proposition”. He chooses the words carefully, as he looks about and notices the number of maidens within earshot.

Morgan says that they have considered it, and are in agreement, although there are a few points of negotiation remaining. One of the magi opens a leather case to reveal a silver tablet, and this they pass across the fire to Wolfbane. Another magus takes a small silver ring out of a pouch and hands it to Morgan.


The lead magus shows Morgan how the ring has a pattern of five knots around it. He tells her that each time it is “used”, one of those knots will untie. When all of them are gone, it will be a simple silver ring.

A third magus hands over a small, flat sheet of silver, no bigger than a hand held flat. On it is etched in fine, delicate lines a map of the entire first floor of the Zargonite fortress. Morgan remembers asking the maidens for a map and having them completely miss the concept. Apparently the magi have retained more abstract knowledge. The lead magi makes sure she is aware of the symbol for the staircase that leads to the prison area.


Finally, these transactions complete, they ask what more the party requires of them. Ember leans forward over the campfire to whisper, and everyone present cannot help but notice how the red glow accentuates her face, how becoming it now appears, how the odd strands of red in her sable hair seem to leap and dance like fire.

“First, we will need to communicate with your man. We ask for the disk you have for this means,” says Ember.

The magus whispers back, in a voice so low that many of those around the fire cannot even hear. “I will leave the one I carry when we go. You will return it to us.”

Ember nods her agreement, then turns and pulls something out of her backpack – an ancient looking green-glass flask with a stoppered top. “We found this in the pyramid, but don’t know what it is. If you can identify it for us, it might be of use.”

The man takes the flask, turns it around in the light, twists but does not open the stopper and inhales deeply as he holds it to his nose. “In the time it takes you to read the tablet we brought, we will know what this is. Send someone for it.”

“When we leave, we may be pursued. It is closer to your hearth than ours. We request that you take us in immediately after our return.”

Now the man, who had been leaning in to whisper, sits back. He takes several long moments, eyes closed, to reflect before leaning in again. “Return our man directly to the side door. Place his hand on the circle if he cannot do so for himself. Only he will enter. But if you are pursued, will will provide you with cover and protection enough for you to make it back here.”

Satisfied, Ember nods. Each of the magi, all five of them, hold up their right palms, so that their pentacle brands can be seen in the flickering light. They remain there, arms outstretched, for an awkward moment. Then FluffyKitten slips by those seated closer to the fire and raises her own palm, placing it flat against the one of a female magi, who smiles and bows her head. Following her lead, four more of the party reach over the fire and meet the magi, palm to palm.

The lead magus hands his disk over to Ember, and then they take their leave.


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