The party finally reunites. Sasha has it out with an old acquaintance, with party support, and the crew plans their rescue attempt.
Everyone’s in Rome, where Eldarion and Grizzop are running from three giant dogs towards Hamid, who has just cast fireball at the dogs. Two of the dogs are blown sideway by its force and flee. One keeps chasing them, but Hamid fireballs that one to death.
The people in the villa wave to Grizzop, who waves back. Eldarion and Grizzop make it to the entrance to the villa. Hamid and Grizzop hug. Eldarion is relieved to see Sasha, and approaches her with a hankie, saying she’s been looking for Sasha for “so long,” but Sasha steps back. Grizzop tells Eldarion to shut up, and asks Sasha if Eldarion’s “good or bad,” drawing an arrow. Sasha says Eldarion’s “not that bad.”
Eldarion asks Sasha what she’s doing here. Sasha says she’s saving the world, and Eldarion says she’s saving Sasha. Sasha says she doesn’t need saving. When Grizzop explains that Eldarion got him to Rome, but in a way that “was desperately upsetting,” Sasha says her schooling with Eldarion was the same way.
Grizzop asks if they’ve got the hostages yet, and the others explain the situation with the portal and Ed. Eldarion asks for a word with Sasha, and when Sasha hesitates, the others immediately tell Eldarion to back off. Sasha says that Eldarion can say it here, in front of her friends, and Eldarion replies that Sasha’s had a poor history of choosing trustworthy friends, to which Sasha says that she’s never had a choice before. Hamid asks Eldarion when the last time she saw Sasha was, because she’s grown a lot.
Eldarion says she’s been looking for Sasha for more than a month, across the globe. Sasha says that while she knew Eldarion was bad at being useful, she’s shocked that Eldarion couldn’t find her, given she’s been in the papers (though Hamid notes that he’s tried to keep Sasha’s full name out of the papers.) Frustrated, Eldarion asks if Sasha’s still undead, because it would make Rome even worse for Sasha; they tell her that she’s not, because Sasha can sort things out on her own.
Eldarion asks Sasha how she’s been teleporting around the world, and Hamid reveals that it was Einstein, which further frustrates Eldarion. Grizzop, who wants to focus on the hostages, loses his patience and asks Eldarion if she’s a wizard who knows anything about portals; Eldarion says yes. Sasha ignores all this and shouts at Eldarion for lecturing her when she’s trying to save the world, telling her that she doesn’t get to talk to her like that anymore; Eldarion says this is another mess that Sasha’s made for herself, which angers Sasha and her friends. They tell her to “either be helpful or go.”
They head to Einstein, who’s in an adjoining room, having stepped into hiding during the fight; he’s drawing sketches in the dirt and rubs them out. As they walk in that direction, Hamid sidles up to Azu and asks if things are okay with Einstein. Because Einstein made her promise not to tell anyone about forgetting things in Newton’s office, Azu says there’s something wrong with Einstein, but “nothing we can change or worry about,” and she still trusts him.
Einstein greets Eldarion excitedly, saying “it’s been ages.” Einstein describes Eldarion as “great — kinda fussy but in a sort of, like, y’know, mum-way, kinda thing,” which Eldarion doesn’t like. Eldarion asks Einstein whether he’s been teleporting Sasha around (he says “maybe”) and what he knows about the portal — Hamid then explains what he knows. Eldarion says she’ll see what she can do, and everyone else needs to make sure Einstein doesn’t make it any worse. Hamid also shows Eldarion the paper with the ritual on it. Hamid says he’s going to observe Eldarion’s work, but won’t disturb her. Eldarion starts examining the portal while giving Einstein the occasional evil eye.
Grizzop and Azu scoot after Sasha, who’s left the room. Grizzop apologizes for having to use Eldarion to get to Rome. Sasha says not to worry — Eldarion is “very useful” and “not violent” so much as “just better than everyone in a way that’s like violent,” and they shouldn’t be violent towards her for the moment. Grizzop and Azu offer to beat her up and leave her in a ditch.
Sasha asks Grizzop where he went to school (he didn’t, he was educated by the Temple of Artemis), and then provides a bit of detail on her background with Eldarion. Sasha says she went to school in a sort of prison. She got “shipped to a place” where they gave her a tutor, which frustrated her, because she already knew how to do important stuff, like stabbing. She refers to the ring that Barret gave her as her “parole officer.” She says that Eldarion was “sort of” with Barret, but doesn’t know the exact details.
Grizzop updates the party on what he did in Damascus: sorting out the river with the “very exciting” shirtless orcs, Wilde’s curse and the anti-magic cuffs, threatening to execute Barret, their next lead in Japan for the simulacrum, the advance team that Wilde is sending, his talk with the Hephaestus people and how they’re “identifying some stuff.” Sasha is excited about the daggers in Japan.
Cut to Eldarion, who is doing a very competent investigation into the failed Gate spell; Hamid, with his knowledge of spells, recognizes she’s identifying planar properties. Hamid starts assisting her in an unobtrusive way, and while Eldarion initially resists his help, starts actively collaborating with him.
Eldarion asks to gather everyone together, since she’s come to some conclusions. Eldarion says Einstein can’t come, so Sasha suggests he make dinner, using the food (and wine) that Sasha has stolen from fancy restaurants, as well as Grizzop’s rations. Grizzop also gives everyone two potions of “Cure Serious Wounds”; Sasha and Azu each drink one immediately.
Eldarion updates everyone: it’s a miscast gate spell, the plane is not temporally locked but time is passing very slowly, and Eldarion can get them in and out but can’t mitigate the time effects: if they’re in and out quickly, they might lose a week. Sasha suggests sending Einstein to Wilde to let him know, but Hamid and Eldarion say that would be a bad idea, because teleportation can go very wrong.
Grizzop asks Eldarion how they can trust her. Eldarion asks Sasha if she’s ever done anything that wasn’t in her best interest. Sasha says yes, and Grizzop says that Eldarion is being “slippery” in her wording. He asks about her association with Barret, to which Eldarion replies that she’s spent a long time trying to find Barret only to find out that they already have. She apparently “spent years trying to make sure that Sasha was safe from him.” Sasha laughs at this, and says that Eldarion didn’t. Sasha accuses Eldarion of trying to teleport them to where Barret is and let him out. Eldarion says that she knows Barret’s in the Temple of Artemis in Damascus and says that “of course” she wouldn’t let him out. Sasha says that Eldarion worked for Barret. Azu and Grizzop see that Eldarion is surprised by the party’s questions and generally sense that she’s “on the level.”
Hamid asks Sasha if she met Eldarion while Eldarion was working for Barret; Eldarion says she’s never worked for Barret. Sasha gives more backstory: Sasha in grew up in Other London, where she was trained to be a thief — it was sometimes bad, but she was a good thief and had friends. Then, people told her she had to go to a house, where they left her “for a couple of years.” People tried to make her into “some posh lady” without telling her why, and she hated it: they stopped her from climbing on roofs and made her wear long skirts and talk to people. Then they put the ring on Sasha and she kept trying to get away. Azu sees that Eldarion is now crying, and but trying to hide it from everyone.
Sasha continues: Eldarion was her tutor, but eventually she “gave up and left” and Sasha got a job with Bi Ming, “who said [Sasha] was right a lot” and taught her about antiques appraisal. Then “everyone got killed” and Sasha ran away. Eldarion, according to Sasha, “had some contract with whoever it was.” Sasha had the thing and would try and leave, but they would tell her she needed to go back and threaten everyone that she liked.
Einstein asks Eldarion if this is why she was always “not around in Prague,” and Eldarion, who’s composed herself, says yes. She worked at Prague, which Hamid disapproves of, because the council are Harlequins. Eldarion confirms that she’s a Harlequin. Sasha says that clearly, Eldarion’s friends are people like Kafka and Barret, and hates Einstein, whom they like. Eldarion gives up trying to convince them that she’s anything but “a villain” and asks them what they intend to do.
Eldarion asks Grizzop whether everyone in the party could withstand a Planar Shift that’s even worse than the one getting to Rome. The party says it doesn’t matter — they have to rescue the hostages. Eldarion says she can take four people into the portal and eight (the party and the hostages) out, so Einstein can’t come with them. They remind her that Ed's in there, so it’ll be nine people total coming out. Sasha asks Eldarion if that means someone needs to stay behind and Eldarion says she’ll get back to them, and walks off.
Azu warns Grizzop not to do any magic while they’re there, because the gods don’t work. Grizzop says they do, you just really need to try — he healed Eldarion. Einstein says that maybe Eldarion’s holy since she dresses “super sharp” (because “shoulder pads are totally in right now.”)
Azu asks Einstein what he know about Eldarion. Einstein says that Eldarion’s been at the university for “ages,” longer than Einstein, although he notes that he’s the “enfant terrible” at the university. Sasha asks whether Eldarion “takes on private tutoring jobs with gangsters because the university don’t pay enough?” Einstein says no, the turoring job was for Rakefine. Sasha says that’s her uncle, and “just a Racket that’s spelt his — that put his money in a different place.” She compares Rakefine to Hamid’s family, where they take money but in an official way.
Einstein says that Eldarion “took a lot of leave for personal reasons” and he got her drunk once and asked her about it. Sasha says Rakefine is “another uncle or, like, grandfather” — she has a big family. He was “awful.” Einstein disagrees — Rakefine led a Harlequin chapter, and Eldarion thought Rakefine was a “cool guy” and helped him out and spent more and more time there.
Hamid speculates that maybe Eldarion only knew about Rakefine, not Barret, and Sasha says that if that’s the case, Eldarion’s an idiot. Again Einstein disagrees with Sasha on this one. Einstein characterizes Eldarion as “very cool” and “good with students — sometimes. They tended to love her or hate her.” Azu says that Eldarion might have been taken advantage of by Barret, so she’s not necessarily evil, but Azu doesn’t like her. They then briefly talk about Ed.
Eldarion comes back, saying that she has a solution and “can make it work.” She asks Sasha if she could convince Sasha to stay, and Sasha says no. Eldarion stresses that they need to be quick, because she’s not sure how much time they’ll lose.
The party pool their resources so that Einstein will have enough supplies until the party gets back. Einstein says he’ll wait a week and then if they don’t turn up, he’ll leave and check in once a week. Hamid writes a note to Saira explaining what’s going on, for Einstein to give to Saira in a month if they don't return.
Sasha asks Eldarion what explosive spells she can cast and how useful she’ll be in a fight. Eldarion consults her tome and says they shouldn’t worry about defending her (Einstein chimes in that Eldarion once blew up a cart.) She warns that if she turns into something, they shouldn’t panic.
Hamid casts mage armor on himself and Grizzop gives Einstein the Necklace of Sanctuary. Eldarion has everyone join hands and warns them not to let go. Grizzop tells them to close their eyes.
Dice rolls and Mechanics
- Hamid makes a Knowledge (arcana) check: 33
- Sasha makes a retroactive Sleight of Hand check to steal wine from a restaurant: 20
- Azu and Grizzop make a Sense Motive check on Eldarion: Azu gets 27, Grizzop gets 20
Initiative: Hamid (24), Sasha (17), Grizzop (17), Azu (17)
- Hamid: Casts fireball on the 3 dogs. Deals 43 damage, two of them start fleeing while the third continues chasing Grizzop and Eldarion.
- Hamid: Casts fireball again on the remaining hound. Deals 42 damage and kills the hound.