Secrets of Mystara

Post 22 (In and out, and nobody gets hurt...)

In and out, and nobody gets hurt...


After the departure of the magi, the three spellcasters again retreat to their tent and spend the next six hours studying invisibility. At the end of that time, all of them find that they have successfully learned the spell. What follows then is many hours of waiting, as they cast the spell, rest to memorize it again, cast it a second time, and so forth.

During this time, the potion is recovered from the Magi. As fate would have it, it is a potion of invisibility. The Magi explain that the entire draught will produce invisibility for an hour (subject to the same dismissal by attack or casting), but that the potion may be drunk in portions – half of it will grant 30 minutes of effect, for example. The party rapidly incorporates this into their plan for use on the prisoner, or as a back-up should one of them have to attack.

Finally, more than a day after Ember and Wolfbane brought the first set of tablets back from the Magi, the entire party is invisible and at full spells. Morgan and Bhelgarn have taken turns on the wall, watching the Zargonite fortress. In all this time, no one has come in or out of the temple door, but several patrols have used the barracks door to enter or leave, although with no discernible schedule. As they prepare to leave the Enclave, Morgan assigns them all numbers so they can do a “count off” to find one another (they are invisible to one another, as well).

They leave the Enclave as a group, heading for the courtyard between the temple and storage wings of the fortress. All of them but FluffyKitten have their robes on over their armor and have their masks handy.

No one is about. There are lights in some of the upper-story windows of the place, but not many. Once they are across the street, the main group waits, while Thrud and Bhelgarn peel off to investigate the window of the storage room as a possible entry point.


The window is over Bhelgarn’s head, but about chest height for Thrud. Thrud boosts Bhelgarn up to take a look. The dwarf reports that the walls themselves are about five feet thick of stone, and that there are metal bars about halfway in, just out of Thrud’s reach. With Bhelgarn boosting Thrud, the barbarian might be able to reach the bars, and possibly even rend them with his great strength considering their likely age, but it would definitely be noisy. Bhelgarn stays as a lookout at the corner of the storeroom wing, while Thrud returns to the main party and reports. Thrud is then left at the corner of the temple to watch, while the others cluster about the temple door. It is thick, iron, and locked. It is the most iron they have seen in one place since they entered the pyramid.


Remmy listens at the temple door and hears chanting, but from a solitary voice. He checks the door and finds it locked. Taking his time, he slowly and carefully picks the lock but keeps the door closed. At this point, the “prison team” moves into position. The plan is for Remmy, FluffyKitten, and Iris to penetrate the prison layer – they have been chosen as the ones most likely to remain unseen even if they are forced to lose their invisibility. The rest of the party is to provide support and back-up, acting as lookouts and creating distractions as necessary. Remmy wears the knock ring in case his lock-picking fails or he runs out of time. FluffyKitten carries two extra sets of robes in her back. Iris has the invisibility potion and the communications disk.

Remmy opens the door just enough to slip inside. Immediately everyone outside is awash in the thick, cloying smell of incense. Remmy holds the door until FluffyKitten and Iris have squeezed past him. They immediately have to descend steps, for the Temple has a sunken floor. Fortunately it is lit by candles, as only Iris has infravision. The trio move out into the temple.


The temple occupies the entire width of the central wing of the fortress, notwithstanding the five foot thick stone walls. The vaulted ceiling is more than 20 feet overhead at its peak, meaning that the temple occupies both the first and second stories of the building, as the windows along the walls of the barracks indicate that floors are about ten feet high. To the left of the trio are steps up to an altar, upon which are set the illuminating candles as well as braziers with incense. Behind the alter is the robed figure of a Zargonite priest. His mask depicts a large central eye surrounded by four tentacles. He bows his head and moves his shoulders as he speaks in a monotonous and seemingly never-ending chant.

There is a clear central aisle in the temple, but on either side of this are wooden pews. Stylistically they are the same as the pews in the Great Temple on the lowest level of the pyramid, but whereas those were dry, cracked, and worm-eaten, these are well-oiled, glossy, and in excellent condition. It is as much wood as they have seen in one place since entering the pyramid. In the frontmost pew a figure lounges in full bronze plate armor. He appears to be a guard but is more dozing than on-duty. The wall behind the trio is bare stone, but the wall across from them has a huge, full-length tapestry from floor to ceiling and front to back. The tapestry depicts an enormous, monstrous creature with a single eye, central horn, and numerous tentacles. It is surrounded by dozens of worshippers, mostly human though some are humanoid. Its tentacles reach into the crowds of adulants, grabbing people indiscriminately and drawing them to its maw to be devoured. The rear of the temple is shrouded in darkness as the only light comes from the altar candles.

Iris moves back to the door. The thickness of the walls means that the door is deep in a recessed alcove, and opening and closing it are unlikely to be seen by anyone not directly opposite it in the room. She opens the door and whispers the situation to Morgan, then returns to the central aisle. Morgan follows her in, but remains in the recessed alcove of the door, watching the priest and his guard.


Iris, Remmy, and FluffyKitten proceed up the central aisle to the rear of the temple. They go slowly and cautiously, trying not to make noise on the stone floor or bump in to one another. Iris is in the lead, as she can see even as the candlelight fades. She and FluffyKitten both notice, as they proceed, that there is an unpleasant oder, as of rotting flesh, underneath the heavy incense.

Across the entire back of the temple are several steps up, bringing the floor beyond level with the ground outside. Above, flush with the second story, is a railed balcony. Iris is continuing forward when she collides with a soft upright body. It moans lowly and shifts its weight. Iris recoils in horror, but the zombie does not pursue. Heart beating wildly, Iris tries to see if she can go around. The body is the same temperature as the air, so she cannot see it, but it is somewhat warmer than the stone wall behind it, so by moving left and right she can get a sense of where it is as a silhouette blocking her view. However, the more she looks left and right the more bodies she sees – it appears that a row of zombies is completely blocking off access to the stairs in the back of the temple. Worse, the more she moves in front of them the more she seems to be attracting their interest, as several are now tracking her movements and moaning though not leaving their position on the stairs.

Iris whispers “zombies” and retreats, with Remmy close behind her. FluffyKitten has taken refuge underneath the closest pew.

Having anticipated that the prison trio would be advancing through the rear of the temple, Morgan, Odlief, Ember, and Wolfbane have all entered to back them up. Remmy and Iris collide with them upon their retreat and there are several moments of confusion. Morgan hears enough of what is going on to decide that it needs to be discussed, but not here. She leads the party back outside the temple. A quick sound-off reveals that Odleif and FluffyKitten are missing – presumably still inside. Morgan does her best imitation of a chirping cave cricket and brings in Thrud and Bhelgarn for the conference.


Morgan and Ember have a quick conversation. Ember believes that the zombies aren’t moving because they have been ordered to stay in one place or to guard the stairs. Ember believes that she can force the zombies to give way long enough to let the prison team through. But she doesn’t know, and Wolfbane doesn’t know, and no one thought to ask the Magi, whether Ember turning back the undead would count as an aggressive enough action to end her invisibility. Ember presents another conundrum: if she turns the zombies, and they are under the control of the priest, he might be able to feel or sense her meddling. On the other hand, if they attack the priest, the zombies might have been previously commanded to attack anyone who attacks the priest. So she doesn’t know which opponent to tackle first.

Morgan considers the options and makes a decision – Wolfbane will be sent in, to sleep both the priest and his guard. With luck, once the priest is removed the zombies will be directionless and will not react. Even if they do attack, Morgan prefers to fight them without the priest active.

While this conversation is happening outside, FluffyKitten has crept forward, right up to the very line of zombies. She knows they are slow, but wants to see if they will follow her. She pokes one in the leg; it stirs and moans. She pokes it again, and it begins to shuffle forward, out of its place in the line. She dashes back to hide under the pew.

Wolfbane is sent in, with Bhelgarn next to her as protection and Ember just behind to watch the zombies. Wolfbane casts her sleep spell, making sure to target both the priest and the guard.

The priest, lost in his own droning prayer, has not heard her. The guard is alerted by the sound, but it takes him several seconds to come to out of his torpor before he can act. Odleif, however, responds instantly. He had been close to the base of the pulpit stairs. Upon hearing Wolfbane’s voice, and recognizing the sleep spell, he is afraid of being caught in its effect. He runs straight toward Wolfbane’s voice, figuring that would be the safest place. Unfortunately for him, he collides violently with Bhelgarn, and both warriors are sent sprawling to the ground.


Wolfbane completes her spell – she is now visible. The priest slumps over the altar, in complete slumber. The guard leaps to his feet, but then stands there woozily reeling, fighting for consciousness. Bhelgarn and Odleif struggle to their feet. Odleif moves to protect Wolfbane while Bhelgarn charges up the steps to the altar.


The guard draws his sword and turns to face Wolfbane. Odleif decides to wrestle the guard to the ground, hoping that this is “non-aggressive” enough to not spoil his invisibilty. As he lunges forward, however, he becomes visible. With excellent combat reflexes, the guard turns and positions his sword between himself and Odleif. The woodsman suffers a nasty stab wound and collapses. This has given Wolfbane the chance to cast her shield spell, but as the guard turns back to her she does not feel secure. He takes a step forward and swings, but before he can connect, Morgan strikes him from behind.

Bhelgarn reaches the sleeping priest, rapidly binds and gags him, then props him up behind the altar so that he is not visible from the temple proper.

Hearing the sound of combat, FluffyKitten stays hidden beneath her pew, watching for the zombies.

Thrud charges in as Wolfbane fades back. Odleif regains his feet again. Thrud, Odleif, and Morgan surround the guard. He is both tough and skilled, but surrounded at three-to-one he eventually succumbs to their blows. His mask was of an eye surrounded by eight tentacles, ornately carved. This was split in two by Thrud’s final axe blow that claimed his life, however. After he falls, Morgan pushes his body under the front pew. He is bleeding out all over the floor, but might be missed from far enough away. Odleif and Morgan note that although he is wearing bronze plate armor, he does not have grieves as the other zargonites did. Rather, he is wearing knee-high leather boots dyed forest green. These look different enough, and very well-made, so Odleif takes them for later.

As the noise of combat fades, FluffyKitten comes out from under her pew and announces her presence. Most of the party are listening hard for any signs that they have been detected, but the only sounds come from the increasingly distressed zombies, moaning and shuffling, but still in place on the stairs.

With Thrud, Odleif, Morgan, and Wolfbane all now visible, and Ember on hand to watch the zombies, Bhelgarn goes outside the door to stand guard invisibly.


All three members of the prison insertion team are still invisible, so they approach the zombies. The undead, however, are clearly reacting to their presence and growing more agitated at their approach. Wolfbane suggests that since the invisibility spell is an enchantment that affects the mind, and the zombies are mindless creations, it may not work on them.

Ember collects the trio behind her, then approaches the line of zombies as closely as she dares before holding forth her holy symbol and calling on the power of Glöð. She is not seeking to drive them completely away, just force them back far enough to create an opening for the trio to move through. Indeed, the foul creatures are repelled by her holyness and back off on one side long enough for the elf, halfling, and man to slip by.

Beyond the stairs a wide corridor leads down a hallway to the left to a closed door, while just ahead there is a stone archway to a narrow alcove whose far end is blocked by a hanging drapery. The trio make for the alcove. At first, the zombies slowly pursue them, but then return to the stair once the trio passes beyond the archway.


Emboldened by their success, Ember makes a temporary passage for Odlief and Morgan to slip by as well. They are hoping to set up a line-of-site relay to communicate from the team out to the temple.


The trio slip through the central slit of the curtain. To their left is a stone stairway leading up, to their right a long open room. At the end of the room is a large wooden table bathed in candlelight. Three men in plate armor sit around the table. They are talking and drinking, but not drunk. Arched recesses line one of the walls in the position that the Magi’s map indicated as cells for novices.


Odleif whispers to Iris to give him the potion; he drinks about half of it and disappears, then returns the flask to her. The trio slips noiselessly into the room and past the men at the table. The novices’ plate armor is bronze and they have the bronze “faceless” masks of low-ranking zargonites. The stairwell down is open without a railing to separate it from the room and the trio have to be careful not to fall into it in the dark. The top of the stairs is nearly against the far wall, so they pass the men at the table, turn, and begin to make their way down the stairs, led by Iris as she can see. Odleif stays half a room behind them, and as they descend the stairs he takes a position in the corner, near a closed portcullis that appears to guard the entrance of the entire storeroom wing.


Iris is about halfway down the stairs when her footstep triggers some sort of trap. The entire flight of stairs folds into a smooth slide and all three of the team tumble to the bottom. Iris manages to roll out of the way and sprawls across the dungeon floor, but Fluffy slams into the wall at the bottom of the stairs and, a half second later, is further injured when Remmy collides with her. Everywhere else the walls are flat and well-fitted stone, but here at the bottom of the stair the stone blocks have been deliberately left with irregularly projecting surfaces and edges for maximum damage upon impact.

Odleif hears the sound of the stairs and the trio falling, as do the three men at the table. They leap to their feet and rush over to the stairwell, each carrying a candle with them, but fail to see the body of Remmy covering that of Fluffy due to their invisibility. They call to the cells behind them and a few moments later two men emerge in robes and faceless masks but without armor.

In the dungeon, the trio stand and Iris tries to get her bearings. There is a large, open central room with the bulky shapes of numerous items of furniture. The near wall has a row of several iron doors, each with a barred window at face height and a food slot near the floor. Iris checks the first one and finds it empty, but the second one contains a man.


On the floor above, Odleif watches as the men argue a bit, then one of their number moves to the head of the stairwell. He presses a stone on the wall, though Odleif does not see which stone, and the chute resets to stairs with a grinding sound. He begins to descend, calling to the others in Cyndicean as he goes.


Iris holds the disk in her hand and whispers to the man in the cell, “Are you a Magi or a Brother?”

He rises from the bench on which he was sitting, and turns to face the barred window. His movements are slow and deliberate, but unfocused, as if he is in a daze. It does not look like he is confined within the cell. He mumbles something, but Iris does not hear his response.

She tries again. “We are here to rescue you – hold up one finger if you are with the Magi, two for the Brotherhood.”

The man raises his right hand, but is holding up no fingers. He looks at it, as if he does not recognize his own hand, and then holds up his left hand, with the index finger alone.

Iris turns away from the cell and hisses, “Remmy – he’s our magi – get this door open!”

Remmy moves to the cell door, takes out his picks, and tries to open the lock on the door, but does not have any luck. He knocks softly on the door with his ring-hand and there is a satisfying “click” as the door is unlocked. [first use of knock]

Iris opens the cell door, calls FluffyKitten over, retrieves the robe and mask from her, and tells the prisoner to put them on. He does as she tells him, but his movements are agonizingly slow. Iris closes the door.

Remmy hears the footsteps of the novice descending the stairs. He moves to the corner by the stairwell, ready to backstab.


As the man reaches the bottom step, he shouts up to the novices above him, and they down to him. Remmy decides that now is not a good time to silence him. Instead, he listens carefully, and falls into step behind him. The man enters further into the dungeon, looks about, but does not see anyone. He moves to a sconce on the wall, takes down a torch, and lights it with his candle. He again looks about the dungeon, but does not see anything amiss. In the light of the torch, the trio can see many more features of the dungeon. The bulky furniture is in fact instruments of torture, such as racks, thumbscrews, braziers with tongs, and iron boots. Several benches have ropes attached and look like they are used for tying people down. The floor is covered in bloodstains, some old, some fresh. On the walls are mounted whips, scourges, and bone saws. There is a large cask in one corner.


The novice starts toward the nearest cell. Remmy knows that he needs to buy some time for Iris, as the mage prisoner is still standing and dressing. He throws a pebble to the far side of the dungeon, where it plinks off of a cell door. The man immediately whirls about and heads cautiously away. When he is halfway across the floor, Iris whispers to the magi – “Lie down like you were before.” He obediently resumes his place on the bench.

As the man crosses the room to the far side, Remmy shadows him from behind, using his torchlight to discern more about the dungeon. Before the man reaches the far cells, he stops outside an iron door with no window or food slot and carefully checks that it is still locked, then continues to the cell.

The first cell he looks in contains a woman. Remmy can see that she is dressed in filthy, ripped rags. Most of her flesh is exposed, and she has huge purple bruises about her face and neck. Her wrists and ankles have welts as from rope burns, but she is not tied or manacled at the moment. The rags about her thighs and legs are blood-stained. She sits, unmoving, on a bench and does not even react to the torchlight sliding across her face. Remmy catches a glimpse of some sort of upright wooden device in her cell, but does not see any details before the torch-bearing novice moves on.

The next two cells are empty, and the novice looks inside quickly before continuing. The fourth cell, last along the far wall, contains two men, both large and well-muscled. They have both had their right hands cut off and the stumps cauterized. One of the men appears otherwise unharmed – he is not chained, and his simple clothing is dirty but intact. The other man is manacled to the wall and his body is a maze of marks – he has been badly and repeatedly beaten and whipped, and looks poorly-fed besides. The novice spends some time watching them before turning his back and returning to the near side of the room. As he does this, FluffyKitten moves to the large rack in the center of the room.

Remmy follows the novice with the torch halfway across the room, then pauses and lifts a scourge from its mounting off of the wall. He returns to the cell with the two men and waits for the novice to look in the far cell, at which point he knocks [second use] on the cell door and enters. He wishes to tell the unmanacled man to be ready, but he has no words in Cyndician. He simply whispers “Gorm” and places the scourge in his hand. The man stares at the weapon mutely.


The novice with the torch makes his way along the near wall, looking in the cells. When he reaches the cell with the magi, Iris backs away. He raises the torch and looks inside, sees the magi lying on the bench as he should – but wrapped in the black robes of a zargonite, not his prison rags. Immediately he turns and heads to the bottom of the stairs, yelling up to his companions. Two of them, the ones who had been on-duty in armor, move to the stairs. Odleif sees one of them press the wall, though the second man’s body blocks his view and he does not see which stone it is, and they both descend. The two novices who emerged from the alcoves remain warily at the table.

When the two novices reach the bottom of the stairs, they are met by the novice with the torch. Iris slips inside the cell and tells the magi to take off the robes. When he stands up, she helps him, as he is so slow. Standing right in front of him, even by infravision, she can see that he looks frail and emaciated, as if he were starving to death. She also notes that his right index finger has been cut off at the second knuckle.


The novice with the torch leads his brothers to the cell, triumphantly waving his arm at the magi – who at this point is sitting up on his bench but who has no robe on. The novices start arguing amongst one another – Iris, with the disk, can hear the two new ones calling the one with the torch a fearful idiot and him insisting that he saw what he saw and they certainly didn’t volunteer to check the dungeon after the stairs went off…The argument grows more heated until one of the men strikes the door to emphasize his point…and it responds to his blow by rebounding outward, obviously unlocked.

One of the novices charges into the cell, hand raised to strike at the old magi, and Iris trips him. He sprawls across the floor and his head bounces off the edge of the cell bench. Iris is now clearly visible. Reacting to the argument, the free gormite opens his cell door, advancing across the dungeon with a faltering but determined step and the scourge raised. The second novice turns, draws a shortsword, and moves to intercept the gormite. The novice with the torch stands his ground, torch raised but confused and frozen in inaction.

“Drink this!” commands Iris and she shoves the stoppered flask at the magi. He gulps down some of the potion, but more of it falls on his chest than is swallowed. When half the flask is empty, she takes it back from him and finishes it herself. By the time the novice in the cell with them is on his feet, both Iris and the magi are invisible and outside the cell.

The novice with short sword drawn advances on the gormite and smacks him across the side of the head with the flat of the blade. The prisoner collapses on the floor. The novice kicks away his weapon, drags him back to his cell, pushes him inside, and locks the door with a key on a key ring.

FluffyKitten runs, jumps, and snatches an unlit torch from a wall sconce before tumbling to the floor. She lights the torch and returns to her position at the rack. The novice emerges from the magi’s cell, holding his head.


(Back in the temple, Wolfbane’s shield spell has expired. She casts invisibility on herself)

FluffyKitten tosses her lit torch near the novice holding the torch, aiming not to hit him but to have it land nearby and catch his robe on fire. It rolls close to his foot but he does not seem to notice. Fluffy becomes visible but immediately dives under the rack before she is spotted. The novice emerging from the magi’s cell crosses the room and begins speaking with the one outside the gormite cell. The novice with the torch makes for the stairs. Iris follows him closely, the magi on her piggy-back. FluffyKitten follows at a distance, staying in the shadows. She sees which stone he presses before he ascends the stairs.

Remmy picks up the torch thrown by FluffyKitten and starts a smoldering fire burning on the rack. While the attention of the novices remains divided between that and the gormite prisoners, he uses the ring to open the windowless iron door, expending two charges as the door is double-locked [uses three and four].

Inside, Remmy finds the room is packed full of baskets, hampers, and nets. Each one contains copious amounts of dried mushrooms. Remmy tosses his torch at a particularly thin basket, hoping to start a fire, then moves back out into the dungeon.


As the novice with the torch ascends the stairs, he calls up to the other two. “There are cell doors open – one of the prisoners has escaped – call for the guards!” Odleif waits until the man with the torch has passed him, then strikes him down with an axe; Odleif is now visible. He scoops up the fallen torch. The two novices who had remained by the table see the woodsman, turn, and begin running toward the temple. Odleif pursues, throws his axe into the back of one and strikes him dead.

The second novice passes the alcove outside of which Bhelgarn waits (Bhelgarn having been recalled from watch duty, and then made his way past the zombies to take Morgan’s place). The novice starts shouting and running up the stairs. Bhelgarn throws an axe after him, but it clatters to the stone steps uselessly. Bhelgarn leaves it where it falls and joins Odleif in falling back to the temple.


By the light of the burning rack, the novices spot FluffyKitten, draw their shortswords, and advance on her. Remmy stabs one in the back, and the man dies from the wound before the scorpion venom can even affect him. The second novice and Remmy begin a deadly dance around the burning rack, striking at each other, shortsword vs. poisoned dagger. Fluffy slips nimbly out of each of their ways.


As Bhelgarn and Odleif return to the the temple, they are mobbed by zombies. Odleif slips by, but Bhelgarn goes down under a wave of them. Ember calls upon her goddess at full force now, driving all of the zombies back. She has broken their command to guard the stairs; they begin to retreat down the hall and Bhelgarn struggles free of the grasps of those who had him.


Thrud charges the zombies not fleeing, swinging his great axe wildly. Iris passes the table as she crosses the floor above with the mage on her back. By the time they reach the temple, there are no animated zombies in sight. Iris passes the mage off to Thrud. The old man feels practically weightless to the barbarian.


After several nicks and scrapes, Remmy manages to strike down the remaining novice. As he regains his breath, FluffyKitten searches the body and pulls forth a set of keys. Together, they re-open the gormite cell and unlock the manacled man. Now they can see that one of his legs is broken and he is unable to walk. His comrade begins helping him slowly limp toward the stairs.

Remmy and Fluffy unlock the cell of the maiden. When she does not respond, Remmy takes her by the hand. She follows mutely as if by rote. The three prisoners and two liberators converge at the bottom of the stairs and FluffyKitten shows Remmy which stone to press. As they pass through the alcove into the temple they can hear shouts ringing and the sounds of men donning armor and grabbing weapons on the second floor.

When Remmy and FluffyKitten appear with the men and woman, they shout to the rest of the party that these are the last of the prisoners. As Morgan begins to organize them for their expeditious retreat, Ember takes the torch from Odleif. She runs it along the length of the tapestry in the temple until it looks as though the entire wall is ablaze. Morgan begins ushering people out the door just as forms appear in the back of the Temple.

The party runs from the temple. The sound of boots and armor follows them. Thrud has returned the old magi to Iris and she has him piggyback; both are still invisible. Thrud is now carrying the beaten gormite, from behind and under his arms, while the man’s thighs straddle Bhelgarn’s shoulders and his broken leg hangs limply. The other gormite leans on Odleif for support but stays close to his comrade. Morgan leads and steadies the dazed maiden, simultaneously scanning ahead and calling out to keep contact with the others. Remmy and FluffyKitten, streaked with sweat and smelling of smoke, stay close to the torchlight produced by the invisible Ember. Wolfbane, also invisible, tries to stay with the group, though she trips and stumbles on the rough cavern floor.

When they are half the distance between the Zargonite fortress and the Magi complex, forms spill out of the temple in pursuit; zombies, warriors, priests. Shouts and curses fill the air, spells explode around the party, but no one goes down. Morgan insists that the three women still invisible keep calling out to her.

Their pursuers reach the center of the street just as the party reaches the walls of the Magi. Then the Zargonites pause, with only a few zombies continuing pursuit. As these corpses approach the walls, arrows of energy shoot out, sizzling as they pierce the flesh of the dead. One collapses, two others stop and then retreat.

The party rounds the corner of the Mages. Remmy knocks on the wall, and Iris moves to the yellow circle that appears. Carefully Iris lowers the mage to the ground, feels for his hand, then holds it out and presses his palm against the circle. No one sees him vanish, as he is still invisible, but Iris can no longer feel him nor hear his labored breathing. She considers returning the communication disk, but then decides against it. They still have the gormites with them. Ember did promise to return the disk – but she did not say when, as far as Iris knows.

The party makes their way around the back of the Magi’s complex, and then up the alley between it and the Madaruan Enclave to its front. Maidens line the walls. The portcullis is closed at first, but it is raised, fully and loudly, upon their arrival. As they enter the Maiden’s compound Iris slowly becomes visible. Transparent and ghostly at first, she is full-bodied by the time the last of them are inside and the portcullis is lowered.


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