The party continues to investigate the mysteries of Kafka's study. Everyone talks to a raven for ages.
Hamid directs Bertie down to Kafka’s office and stays up with Oliver and Oliver to try and calm them both down. Sasha checks for traps; there are none, and the door swings open to reveal what looks like an alchemist’s room. It doesn’t look evil, per say, and seems more like a small workshop. There’s a crow in the top corner of the room, and Bertie heads over and offers some of his leftover rations to the crow.
Einstein is still rifling around the room looking for something. Grizzop recognises him, finally, and asks Einstein why they all lied to him, but Einstein doesn’t really engage with it, just says that Grizzop should have asked better questions. Grizzop keeps pushing, and Einstein snaps his fingers and two chairs appear as he starts explaining the situation to Grizzop. He says that it doesn’t matter because Grizzop is here now, but Grizzop asks why he lied, and Einstein says he never lied. Sasha brings up that Kafka is resurrecting zombies all around Prague, and Einstein stands and continues searching around the room.
Cut to Hamid: he’s able to calm the first Oliver down, and the one who had the spell cast on him is feeling better and is helping to calm Oliver down as well. Hamid instructs Oliver to take the other one to the medical wing, and head out, while Hamid heads back down to Kafka’s office.
Bertie is still attempting to talk to the crow; the crow is alright with Bertie, but the crow is a working class crow and isn’t a class traitor, so they don’t enjoy Bertie. Bertie keeps trying, offering up some birdseed to the crow. The crow and Bertie just caw back and forth at each other for a while, but then Bertie opens the crow’s cage and asks if it knows where Kafka is. Grizzop asks if Bertie thinks it's a familiar, and Bertie starts interrogating the crow as Hamid walks in the door. Bertie asks Hamid if the crow is a familiar; Hamid, who has no idea, asks if the crow speaks Czech, and Bertie says no, so Hamid says it’s probably not. Bertie isn’t deterred at all, and sets the crow’s cage on the ground as he stares at it.
Grizzop sidles up to the cage and opens the door, encouraging the crow to get out. Hamid says he doesn’t think the crow is important, and says he just wants to get on with it, to which the crow says “Steady on!” Everyone freezes, looking at the crow. The crow grabs some of the birdseed, flies back to the cage, sits in the cage and locks the door, and eats the birdseed. Grizzop sidles up to the bird and mentions that if Kafka isn’t found, the crow is going to be stuck down here in the basement. The crow doesn’t seem convinced, and Sasha offers for the crow to join their party.
The crow asks for 2,000 gold, and Hamid asks why the crow needs gold while Bertie appreciates the fact that the crow is asking for gold. The party start to haggle with the crow so that they can get information on Franz Kafka (also, Grizzop names the crow Barry). The crow mentions the riots in Paris, and Hamid asks how it knows about that. Barry says everyone knows. Eventually, Sasha just grabs the crow round the neck and asks where Kafka is. Barry says that Kafka took the book, and starts playing up that Sasha is choking him out. Grizzop doesn’t fall for it.
Hamid, who stopped paying attention minutes ago, starts searching the room while Sasha and Grizzop argue with a crow. Einstein fell asleep while looking, and is napping in a chair. Hamid finds a large tome that was down the back of the workbench (it was about a foot and a half wide), and Hamid lays it down on the workbench and blows the dust off of it. He isn’t able to read the title, but he opens it, and notices that it’s completely empty. The pages have been cut or torn from their original binding.
Sasha asks where Kafka went again, and Barry indicates that he went down to the city. He says that Kafka went a bit weird. Grizzop asks what the book Hamid’s holding is, and Bertie heads over to see if he can make out what’s on the cover. He can make out the word “Mortis” but that’s it, and points out that it’s related to death. Hamid takes a rubbing of the letters with charcoal and gets four words: “Mortis Securitas Libertas Omnium.” Bertie roughly translates it as “Freedom from death/Freedom for all.”
Sasha asks Barry what bar Kafka would be in, but he doesn’t respond, and Sasha puts him back in the cage. Hamid and Grizzop wake up Einstein and let him know that they’ve found out some more about Kafka. They show him the book and Einstein casts dispel magic at it multiple times. Grizzop asks where he thinks Kafka would be, and when Einstein doesn’t respond, Hamid says that they should meet with the wizard council. Einstein agrees, and then teleports away, leaving the party standing there slightly in shock. Grizzop says he knows where the wizard council meets, and they decide to head over. Bertie wants to search the room more, but Hamid convinces him to come along with them. Bertie is frustrated but agrees, and grabs three books at random from the shelf. They’re all in draconic; two titles he can’t read, and the third is “Mass Summoning and You: A Beginner’s Guide” by Franz Kafka.
The entire party heads out of the offices area and go toward the centre of the university; there’s a fixed point in the middle of all the buildings and staircases, and they make their way over. There’s an older building in the centre. It may have been what the university used to be, and isn’t floating around in the same way as the rest of the other buildings. Hamid notices that the architecture is the same as Bolla’s Roost. Grizzop leads the party over to the council, and mentions that they shouldn’t use magic inside then knocks. The door is opened by a butler, who then announces them as they move into another room. It’s quite small; there’s a stained glass window that depicts the magical restoration of Prague, and Bolla Smok raising the university after the fall of Rome. Sat around the table are Sigmund Freud, Einstein and Marie Curie; two chairs are empty.
Sasha says that they found zombies under Prague, and a book about making zombies, and then Hamid mentions that the council lied to Grizzop as well. The three of them at the table lean in and have a muttered conversation that none of the party can hear. They break apart eventually and Freud motions for the four of them to join them at the table. They all introduce themselves, with Sasha giving herself a fake last name (Ricketts), and Hamid explains that they’re a mercenary group.
Marie Curie explains that they do not want it getting public that a member of the university has gone rogue and is planning on raising zombies. They needed someone who could find him and report back, and then they would deal with him themselves. Grizzop accuses them of wanting to just cover up their own mistakes, and says that he’s correct, but that two of the council are already dead and that there wasn’t a better course of action to take. She mentions that the book Kafka has is an artefact from Rome, and that it drove him mad with power when he handled it.
Freud stands up and takes over for Curie, and asks the party what they know about the Harlequins. Grizzop says he has no clue, but Bertie, Sasha, and Hamid all vaguely know about them because of Amelia’s explanations to Zolf on the airship. Freud says that Kafka was a Harlequin, and extended his studies farther than he should have, getting into something he wasn’t ready for. The conversation bounces to what they’re doing at the university: they’re not really there for fighting or education, but more for safeguarding a number of items kept on the down low from the Meritocrats. Freud explains that Rome wasn’t as destroyed as people have been led to believe, and that a number of things and people made it out of Rome. They’d made some safeguards against the items being removed, but Kafka was able to circumvent the guards and get the book himself. He warns that Kafka is doing something much larger than just raising zombies. Grizzop asks for more information so that they can actually seek Kafka out and not die the second they run into him. Hamid explains that they’ll be happy to investigate on the council’s behalf, if the council wants to hire the L.O.L.O.M.G. Each of the members take off their rings - they’re identical to the rings that both Zolf and Rakefine had, and Marie says that they believe it’s time for the people to re-take their place in the world, revealing that they’re Harlequins - most likely the Harlequins that killed Bolla Smok.
- "I'm just gonna accelerate cause I can't, I can't deal with this right now. I realise that you're just now willfully hunting for NPCs to drag into your orbit."
- Bertie: "Look at me out here Mr. Crow. Flapping my arms. Look at this freedom I’m enjoying!"
- Alex: "People choose to listen to this podcast for pleasure."
- Bertie: "Look at this lovely birdseed I’ve got here Mr. Crow."
- Alex: "Some people are on the tube right now and this is how they’re spending their time."
- Bertie: "All of this birdseed could be yours!"
- Alex: "You could be learning a new language but…crow noises"
- ―Bertie speaks to a crow in Kafka's office.
- Grizzop: "Hang on a minute, do you think that he's a familiar and might actually talk to you?"
- Bertie: "Y'know I haven't thought about that."
- Alex: "Ugh, oh God. I can't—"
- ―Bertie continues to try and speak with the crow.
- "Look, it's, it's an animal. Bertie has a Handle Animal skill. If there's an animal, Bertie's gonna handle it."
- Crow: "2000."
- Grizzop: "2000 what?"
- Crow: "What do you think, 2000 chicken nuggets? 2000 gold."
- Hamid: "What do you want gold for?"
- Crow: "What do you want gold for? Goods and services. Mostly services, I don’t have need much need for goods, I don’t have thumbs."
- Hamid: "Where are you gonna keep the gold?"
- Crow: "I’ll hire someone to hold it."
- ―The party tries to convince the crow to reveal Kafka's location.
- Bertie: "You’re soon to come into money. Have you given a thought to how you might invest that money?"
- Crow: "I think I’ll offer short term loans to people who are looking for immediate purchases that are necessarily unwise but charge an extortionate amount of interest."
- Bertie: "I like this crow."
- Grizzop: "I don’t think we want to give this crow any money."
- Hamid: "No, I don’t think we want to either."
- Sasha: "He wants to be a loan shark."
- Bertie: "Loan crow."
- ―The party tries to convince the crow to reveal Kafka's location.
- Sasha: "Stigma is never funny, even for crows, right."
- Bertie: "I feel that you can't really defend crow jokes. I don't think you can really make the argument that any sort of prejudice against neuroatypical behaviour is an inherent part of crow culture, I'm not sure that's a valid defence, Barry."
- ―The party chats with a crow.
- "Council is the heart to the university therefore there are 4 chambers!"
- "Well, with the greatest of respect, it didn't quite work, did it? And lots of people have, um, been killed now. And really ... you made it sound really nice, but what you mean is, "we screwed up, and really don't want people to know about it." And I don't care."
- Ben: "So, what you’re saying is, basically, Zolf left as soon as his plot kicked off."
- Alex: "Yeah he did! It’s why I hate you."
- ―Ben refers to Zolf leaving in Prague
Dice rolls and Mechanics
Sasha rolls disable device: nat 1.
Hamid makes a diplomacy check to calm the Oliver’s down: nat 20.
Bertie rolls a perception check on the crow: 17.
Bertie rolls handle animal: 15.
Grizzop rolls diplomacy on the crow: 23.
Sasha makes a reflex save against the crow: 26.
Grizzop rolls a sense motive on the crow: 12.
Hamid rolls a perception check to search the room: 23.
Hamid rolls a perception check on the large tome: nat 1.
Bertie rolls a perception check on the large tome: 18.
Bertie rolls a linguistics check: 14.
Bertie rolls knowledge history: 16.
Everyone rolls a perception check: Bertie gets 9, Hamid gets 26, Sasha gets 17, Grizzop gets 16.
Hamid makes a diplomacy check: nat 20.