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Summary

The party explores the University of Prague. Hamid avoids his path, Bertie has a stern word with his sword, and Grizzop and Sasha focus on the mission.

Synopsis

The party is currently reeling after noticing that the members of the Prague wizard council are all Harlequins, members of an anti-meritocratic society. Bertie is the first to notice, a first for the party, realising that the way the professors are moving is more like they’re covering exits rather than just wandering about. Sasha notices as well; Bertie stands up and says that he’s ready to go to sleep. Freud is acting very nonchalant, but he’s now standing between the party and the door out. He steps a bit closer to the door but is trying not to show that he recognises what’s going on. Hamid is waiting patiently at the door, and Grizzop is standing up, vibrating slightly. 

Curie asks what the rings on the table are; Bertie lies and says they’re sleep rings, Grizzop says he has no clue (the truth), Sasha says she has no interest in them, and Hamid says he isn’t actually sure what they represent. Curie says that things have gotten out of hand at the university. She explains that Grizzop was brought in to avoid causing a panic, and that they are still trying to avoid one. Grizzop gets annoyed, saying that him knowing who the mage was would have made it move a lot faster, and that he’s under a sacred oath with the Church of Artemis and wouldn’t tell anyone. Curie asks how knowing it’s Kafka would help them find him, and, upon Grizzop saying they’d actually be able to recognise him, explains that no one has seen him. Freud says that Kafka killed two members of the wizard council, including Codswallop, the head of divination, which has made finding Kafka a lot more difficult. 

Curie says that she can trust Grizzop but can’t trust the party, as they’re rogue elements that they hadn’t expected. Grizzop vouches for them, and Hamid says that Curie would trust them if she knew what they had been up to (and adds that they can’t tell her, as it’s all classified info). Curie mentions that they all showed up after Paris basically fell, and that it couldn’t be that much of a coincidence. She asks Grizzop if he knows what Kafka took, and explains that Kafka wasn’t originally a scary man; necromancy isn’t a forbidden art. Bertie makes a joke as a vein in Curie’s forehead throbs, and then she snaps, and where Bertie has been standing, there’s now a newt. Curie is clearly way more powerful than any of them, as Hamid recognises that this is one of the most precise and impressive uses of baleful polymorph he’s ever seen. Grizzop makes sure that no one steps on Bertie, and Hamid asks if Curie will turn Bertie back. She ignores the both of them and continues explaining the situation. She says that Kafka has one of the most dangerous books in the world in his possession, and that he’s most likely trying to perform a ritual the likes of which they haven’t seen before, and that will make the zombies in the plague pits look like child’s play. She says that Kafka is most likely able to change his appearance at will, and again asks Grizzop how knowing who it was would have helped. 

He says that if he’d known Kafka was a necromancer, he would have connected the dots between the zombies and the rogue mage. Freud steps in and asks what information they could give to Grizzop that would be helpful. He says anything about weaknesses or artefacts or anything that would help them find him. Freud begins to explain some of Kafka’s particular idiosyncrasies; before being basically possessed by the book, he’d been a tidy man, but after his research went awry, all aspects of his personality had been subsumed by the book. Freud suggests that the ritual he wants to conduct will most likely be huge - city-spanning - and that Kafka is probably down in the lower levels of the city instead of hiding around the university or in the main square. He finishes up by mentioning that whatever Kafka used to be is gone, and that he’s completely insane now, before guessing that whatever ritual he will create will most likely happen in the centre of the city. Grizzop thanks him for the information, and says this would have been helpful a few days ago, and then says that they should think twice about threatening the church of Artemis. Curie isn’t impressed. 

Hamid mentions that they probably won’t be able to take care of Kafka on their own if he’s as powerful as they all say, and asks Curie for a way to communicate with the wizard council once they find Kafka, for some backup. She grabs Einstein, who has been sleeping through the entire meeting. He teleports away and then back, and Curie asks him to give some communication stones to the party so that they can reach the council. He agrees, and then teleports away again. 

Before leaving to follow Einstein, Hamid asks Curie to turn Bertie back into a person. Sasha sets Bertie on the ground (newt!Bertie had been climbing along her arm) and Curie transforms him back. Curie and Freud gesture to the door, and the party begins to file back. Hamid stops quickly and turns back, asking for a map of the ley lines in the city to see where the central point is. Curie is already ignoring them, but Freud says that he will have it sent along. Bertie tries to ask a question, but Freud shuts the door in his face. 

Bertie instead asks the butler about a nearby forge; he gets directions, and mentions that there might be a connection between the book and his magic sword. Hamid says there’s no way that there could be a connection, and Sasha asks if he’s just going to beat up the sword. Bertie says maybe, and then heads off to the forge. 

The rest of the party stays behind to start investigating. They head over to Einstein’s office, because they still need to get the communication devices off him. All of them notice on the office plaque that there’s one on the bottom of the list that is blacked out with tape. Sasha notices that Eldarion is in absentia, and not there at the moment. All of the party realise that Elizabeth (no surname) and Henrietta Codswallop are the two professors who Kafka must have killed. They head up to the top of the stairs to get to Einstein’s office, and Grizzop opens the door before Sasha can check for traps. He vanishes the second he touches the door handle, and immediately after Hamid touches the door handle as well and vanishes. Sasha realises it's a teleportation door, and sighs as she reaches out to touch the doorknob as well. 

They all reappear in Einstein’s office, and he is looking over a pile of papers on the desk. The office has stacks of papers and bay windows all around the room. Grizzop starts to walk up to poke him on the shoulder, but Einstein wakes up and asks what they need. Hamid says that they need some communication devices, and that Freud was going to provide them with some maps. Einstein sighs and calls for Gideon, his assistant, to get up there now. There’s a knock at the door finally, and right as Einstein calls for Gideon to come in, Hamid casts invisibility on himself. Someone appears in the room - they are tall and human-looking (very captain of the rowing club) - and carrying a crystal. He hands the crystal over to Einstein, and Einstein hands him an empty glass. Gideon turns to Sasha, and Grizzop and asks, very quietly, what’s going on. Grizzop gestures to Hamid, not realising that he’s invisible, and mentions that they need some communication devices and maps. He turns, and, noticing that Hamid isn’t there, asks where Hamid’s gone. Sasha notices that Gideon knows that name, and is trying to pass off like he doesn’t. He looks a bit confused, but then disappears as he goes to find the maps that Grizzop mentioned. 

Einstein hands Grizzop a sending stone, and tells him to go stand over in the corner of the room - the stones transfer messages back and forth, so they should be able to talk to each other across distances. 

Smash cut to Bertie: he’s following the directions he was given and going to look for the forge. He comes up on a dwarf wielding a golden anvil, and introduces himself. The dwarf, whose name is Stormskull, shakes his hand and introduces himself as well, before asking what he can do for Bertie. Bertie hands him Sir Everard MacGuffingham’s sword, and the dwarf winces a bit as he holds the sword and, presumably, the sword speaks to him. He hands the sword back to Bertie, and Bertie explains that he wants to see if there’s a way to basically remove the voice. Stormskull says there isn’t, and offers to purchase it off of him for 12,000 gold. Bertie asks what the sword would be used for, and touches the pommel of the sword as he describes how terribly the sword might be treated. There’s no response from the sword. The dwarf says the sword would most likely be a university showpiece, and Bertie runs a few calculations in his head. He asks Stormskull if he can pay him to destroy the sword, and Stormskull says for 5,000 the sword won’t be a sword anymore. 

Back in the study, Hamid has reappeared. The moment Gideon knocks on the door again, Hamid re-casts invisibility, and Gideon appears in the room as Hamid leans over to Sasha and whispers not to say anything about him. Gideon’s holding the maps that they requested, and dumps them onto one of the tables, stretching them out. He keeps looking around, but Hamid still doesn’t reappear. Einstein makes his way over to the map, and points out the ley lines on the map. He mentions that the ley lines got slightly shifted in the burning of Prague, and that they’re slightly off-centre. Sasha and Grizzop, who aren’t really sure what they’re looking for, mention that Hamid is supposed to be here to help look, but that he must have teleported somewhere. Einstein waves his hands a bit and looks around the room as he casts a spell; however, Hamid has stepped just outside the room, and Einstein says that Hamid isn’t in there. Sasha and Grizzop say that they’ll wait for Hamid to come back, and Einstein shows them the map of the plague pits instead. 

We cut back to Bertie, who is tapping the sword against the side of a furnace. The sword doesn’t say anything, so Bertie opens the door of the furnace and begins to slide the sword in. It finally speaks up, being vaguely threatening, but Bertie doesn’t care and starts poking the sword into the furnace. It starts glowing. Stormskull says that isn’t how it works, and says that Bertie needs to pay him to break it a bit. Says that for 1,000, the sword will be more compliant. Bertie starts counting out the money. 

Back in Einstein’s office, Gideon teleports outside, and Hamid reaches out and touches the door handle as Gideon looks around, and teleports back into the study. Sasha asks where Hamid was, and Hamid lies that he was off using the facilities, and apologises for disappearing. Suddenly, Bertie walks into the top of the tower, sheathing his sword.

Quotes

  • Grizzop: Church of Artemis ain’t really gossips, traditionally, so wouldn’t have said anything even if we did know it was Franz Kafka, which we do now, so, brilliant, thanks for wasting that time. I mean, I’m literally under a sacred oath. Literally! That’s not a metaphor. Just, sacred oath. To Artemis! To do my job! Sacred oath! Actual oath. Sacred one. With a god!
  • Bertie: I think he’s under a sacred oath of some kind.
  • Grizzop: With a god! Not an idea. Actually a god. Big lady. Likes bows and arrows.

--

  • Bertie: I mean it surprises me that a university institution this august has not heard of the difference between correlation and causation, but maybe that's just me thinking aloud, I don't know, hm?

--

  • Alex: So, where were we heading first, Einstein's study or a magical forge, to pick a fight with the sword?
  • Ben: I think both at the same time.
  • Alex: Or are you splitting the party?
  • James: You, I mean you don't want us to split the party, as the tone of your voice says, Alex—
  • Alex: So, splitting the party then!

--

  • Bryn: I see so you're killing off the female professors. Patriarchal.
  • James: No wonder Curie's so angry.

--

  • Alex: All of you are in ... the study. Literally on the other side of the door. It was the most arbitrary and unnecessary use of a doorknob teleportation ever. There was no reason for it to be there whatsoever.
  • Ben: That scans with everything we've seen regarding Einstein.

--

  • James: A moment of understanding passes between us that transcends mere words.
  • Alex: Thank goodness we didn't spend lots of words transcending that.
  • James: Discussing that, discussing that transcendence.

(note: they did)

  • Alex: Moving on from the handshake!
  • James: Stormskull understands perfectly well that Bertie's on official business and just lets him pass and use the forge.
  • Alex: Does he?
  • Ben: Looks like James in GMing now.

--

  • Stormskull: A lot of people consider an ego in a weapon to be a bonus.
  • Bertie: I don't, don't fancy the competition, frankly.

Dice rolls and Mechanics

Everyone makes a perception check: Bertie gets a nat 20, Grizzop gets a nat 1, Sasha gets a 25, Hamid gets an 18.

Bertie rolls a perform check to be nonchalant: 9.

Bertie makes a fortitude save: 18.

Hamid makes a spellcraft check: 26.

Everyone makes a perception check when they get back to the offices: Sasha gets a 23, Grizzop gets a 19, Hamid gets a 16.

Sasha checks for traps: 31.

Sasha & Grizzop make perception checks: Grizzop gets 13, Sasha gets 19.

Hamid, Sasha, and Grizzop make a reflex save: Grizzop gets a 15, Sasha gets a nat 20, Hamid gets 18.

Bertie makes a sense motive check on the dwarf: 15.

Bertie makes a will save: 5.

Plot Notes

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