cats can’t use doors

we struggle with doors, cast zone of truth, find a disaster

raja: can you use your wings? the wings that got us into trouble in the first place?
bishop: my wings didn't get ANY of us into trouble
raja: your wings got ALL of us into trouble
talmage: your wings very specifically got me arrested
rocco: both of us!
bishop: *activates his wings*

on the run, the group is traveling through the forest at night. rocco is leading the group to an old abandoned building he’d seen from exploring often in the wilds. talmage notes they are being followed by some sort of large cat creature – he tells the group to keep their guard up.

rocco: should we ... go talk to it?
everyone: ?????
rocco: we're just gonna let it follow us to our super cool base??? that NO ONE knows about but me?????
talmage: i think the WILD LIFE knows where your apparent secret base is
talmage: i assume it has a DOOR we can utilize?
rocco: *gasping with realization* CATS CAN'T USE DOORS

we approach a very large, abandoned fortress. it is old & a good distance away from town. it is built into a cliff side & made of stone. a large stone gate, with 15 foot doors, blocks the entrance into the fortress and takes up about half a block. the gate is a double door, but something is holding it shut on the other side.

raja: can you use your wings? the wings that got us into trouble in the first place?
bishop: my wings didn't get ANY of us into trouble
raja: your wings got ALL of us into trouble
talmage: your wings very specifically got me arrested
rocco: both of us!
bishop: *activates his wings*

bishop flies over the gate. two large, steel beams are locking the gate. he lifts them both no problem, opening the gate with his wicked strength.

luci: is that absolutely necessary.
rocco: i think it's cool, luci!!! it's like when you do the spinning things: i mean is it ABSOLUTELY necessary?? NOT REALLY but it's pretty cool!

we walk through the gate & it closes behind us. bishop suspects someone could still be living in the fortress.

raja: maybe they took refuge here & died anyway.
talmage: ... that's kind of grim

the fortress is run-down & deserted. rocco investigates the area & finds a symbol of a four-pointed star etched onto one of the doors. talmage recognizes the symbol as the northern star of polaris, something which he saw on the covers of his schoolbooks. it’s the symbol of an old magic group that hadn’t been heard from in hundreds of years. talmage didn’t realize they were real.

the group considers the wizards could still be around, but are using illusory magic to make the place seem abandoned.

there are outdoor stairs that lead up to the towers. behind it is the main building, two stories tall. balcony on the second floor. both levels have large, stone doors that are sealed shut. we noodle around for a while, trying to open one of the doors. the full moon shines brightly in the night sky.

raja casts [prestidigitation] to create a small, gold four-pointed star in her palm that matches the polaris symbol. she presses the star against the door & it lights up. she asks the door to let them in & it slides open. before us is a dark hallway, lined with torches. we step in.

worried about a possible ambush, bishop draws his sword. as soon as he does, the torches snuff out. the door behind us also begins to close. bishop darts out, expecting the rest of the group to follow. they don’t. he runs back inside just as the door shuts again. it is dark, aside from luci’s torch. raja & luci do not have darkvision.

talmage: do you just walk around with your sword out all the time?
bishop: ... it's dangerous here!

bishop looks more pale than usual. raja casts [light] on a coin. once we start walking, the torches relight but snuff out as soon as soon as bishop walks by.

after walking a bit, the hall splits into 3 different tunnels. each tunnel is decorated with beautiful moon-themed pathway murals. one shows a waxing moon, one a full moon, and the other a waning moon. we consider walking down the full moon path because it was a full moon that night. rocco immediately assumes the cat that was following them was a were-cat & it has followed them down there.

bishop recognizes the waning moon as being significant, so he says they should walk down that hall. when asked why, he says it’s his gut feeling. raja trusts him immediately, while talmage is a bit skeptical.

they walk around the mural, unsure if they should step on it. it glows faintly. the architecture of the hall is very old & professionally-done. white marble. rocco suggests the people living here could be vampires!

rocco: i mean how many times do you just like stumble upon a secret society of magic people

at the end of this hall they find 3 doors, each decorated with a symbol of the first 3 phases of a waning moon. bishop says we should go through the waning moon again. raja goes to open it, but it magically shocks her, & when she pulls her hand away there’s a white-blue moon symbol glowing on her palm. we talk it over & consider maybe raja was the wrong person to open the door.

bishop: i can try a door, but i don't believe that i'll be the right one.
talmage: maybe your attitude is the problem here
talmage: maybe if you THINK you're the right person, then the door will let you in
raja: ... i was fairly confident that i would be able to open the door.

talmage remembers the old moon & sun symbols he’s seen all over the country. sometimes polaris is associated with the moon symbol, but the ones we are currently seeing look VERY dated. he also knows there’s a point in history that ends in the war involving the sun & the moon.

luci is hanging back, not really contributing. rocco notices all the torches lining the wall also have the moon symbol on them, each have an arcane circle drawn around them. he suggests we open all the doors at once.

raja asks if anyone is “aligned” with the moon or the sun. no one says anything. rocco tries to open one of the other doors & it also shocks him, leaving a residual moon symbol on his hand.

raja touches her hand to the door she had tried to open earlier, but this time it lights up. talmage sighs & touches the last door. but as it shocks him, the magic affects him a lot more than it did the others. it jolts through his body, his back stinging, as his body seems to reject the magic that should not be there.

talmage: ah, ow, ow, OW, you guys did NOT tell me it hurt this bad--
raja: it-- it didn't-- are you okay?
talmage: oh my GOD
rocco: i mean it hurt but not that bad! are you okay?

talmage presses a shaking palm to his door, & it glows like the others. all three doors open.

raja’s door contains fog & the sound of rattling chains.

[dee]: raja will close her door
talmage: oh it was SO hard to get that OPEN

rocco’s has a staircase leading down to a glass dome. talmage’s has a staircase leading up, with a cold breeze.

talmage: so no to yours
talmage: mine's cold
rocco: dome!!!!!

they choose to explore the dome. the top is painted with star structures & has a hole in the middle with a large telescope. it appears to be a classroom. papers are still on the desks, containing notes on enchantment spells. the chalkboard still has a lesson scrawled on it. the room is completely abandoned, yet somehow not dusty. no signs of a struggle. the date written on the chalkboard is from 7 years ago.

talmage recognizes some of the textbooks. he picks one up – it has the polaris star symbol on it. he does not put it down. rocco accidentally bumps the telescope, losing its position in the sky.

raja & talmage begin rummaging through people’s personal effects. rocco finds the name of the teacher – caelyn calledaway. bishop recognizes the last name. talmage recognizes the name caelyn herself – a teacher who visited his school, giving a lecture on enchantment spells.

luci approaches, holding the name tag in his hands before setting it back down.

rocco: do you recognize this person, luci?
luci: maybe?
bishop: ... luci, what's your last name?
luci: lucille.
bishop: luci, what's your first name?
luci: ... lucille is fine.
bishop: do you know this name?
luci: i've heard of em.
bishop: where?
luci: stories.
talmage: from who?
luci: my mother.
bishop: who's your mom?
luci: dead. thanks for asking.

the stories luci was told were about how magic isn’t as bad as people make it out to be & how he should attend magic school. bishop asks how luci gets his radiant magic – he doesn’t know. it just slips out. he tries to hide it.

talmage: ... was your mother the one who said you should go to school?
luci: oh, we're gonna get personal, aren't we?

luci explains he was a bastard child. his dad was important, but his mom wasn’t – she died very young. gidley & him ran off to the circus. he & gidley have known each other since they were kids.

rocco notices luci pocket the teacher’s name tag & lectures him about it.

luci: oh you're a little snitch aren't you
talmage: rocco, no one's using these. no one's going to be back here.
rocco: okay but why are you taking it if you don't like really know them, that's kind of weird
luci: i do! it's clear i'm lying to you, right? like, we've established that?
rocco: you're lying to us??? WHY ARE YOU LYING TO US RIGHT NOW

luci dramatically shows rocco that he’s taking the name tag. raja notices luci’s magic glows the same color as the rest of the magic in this building.

raja: why don't you try opening some of the doors, luci?
luci: figured you were going to ask eventually
[ashley]: he's been watching this whole time like, "dumb idiots"
luci: i also lied to you about my name
talmage: we figured that too
luci: just so long as we're on the same page that i don't want to tell you anything
talmage: that's fine
luci: all you shits keeping your secrets from me--
rocco: my real name's rocco!
bishop: --you haven't asked me a god damn thing--
luci: --i don't wanna know--
talmage: ... no one was questioning you, rocco

we notice that the building’s torches only light up when luci walks by them. rocco asks if luci attended this school – he confidently says no. rocco keeps trying to ask why luci knows about the school. luci says he doesn’t trust any of us.

rocco: i think he's worried we'll just sell him out ...
talmage: it's a valid concern - we're not going to do it, but i don't blame him.
luci: yeah, gidley likes you for some reason & they're a terrible judge of character.
bishop: they like you
luci: exactly
rocco: gidley has done nothing wrong--
[emily]: that's a lie & i KNOW it

we explore another room. they’re dorms, with beds. talmage closes the door, takes out his brush, & draws a line from one side of the door, over the door, to the other side of the door. he adds a symbol to one side.

rocco: what are you doing
talmage: it's ... a ward. it'll let me know if--
rocco: is it magic?
talmage: --someone comes in--
talmage: sort of. it's ink

the next morning, luci is flipping through a book that was in the classroom. rocco wants to go to the kitchen! he takes a jar of pickles & some beef jerky.

bishop: did you find anything useful, luci?
luci: *holding a big bag of stuff under his arm* maybe.
luci: can we leave? i don't really like it here.
rocco: you sure are interested in this place for not liking it ... 
luci: should i say again that magic is illegal? that digging into this stuff is going to get you caught by whoever did this horrible thing?
rocco: you're the one carrying around all the stuff that you could get incriminated with, sir!
rocco: ... sorry
rocco: if you want you can like, wait outside while we--
luci: i'm pretty sure i'm the only one getting you in & out of this place.
talmage ... yeah we do kinda need him
luci: convince me to stay. *sits down*

bishop considers picking him up against his will.

raja: i've heard on good word that you can get quite a lot of money from turning in a rogue magic user to the vale.
bishop: NOBODY'S turning anyone in
rocco: i think raja was talking about the organization!!!
bishop: ... i thought raja was threatening him.
luci: i felt threatened.
rocco: were you threatening him ...?
raja: ... yes i was threatening him.

luci suggests we all reveal secrets so we can trust each other. he pulls out a zone of truth scroll he found in the classroom & casts it on the room. bishop doesn’t think the spell worked. talmage passed the spell save & is unaffected but doesn’t let anyone know. we each get to ask one question for each person.

bishop asks if luci is a calledaway – yes, on his mother’s side. he insists it’s just a name.

raja asks who talmage’s family is.

talmage: not really relevant? i have a mom & a dad--
[shad]: they loved each other very much
talmage: --they loved each other very much, they didn't love me very much
raja: oh
talmage: do you want to know more? my mother performs, maybe you've seen her shows
luci: raja, why are you a dragon? "why."
rocco: you can't just ask people that
raja: it's a curse of some sort.

talmage asks if raja had previous relations with the vale – no, she has not had any contact with them recently.

rocco: bishop, why did you come to highkeep & fly over the waterfall & just appear one day?
bishop: i'm looking for someone.
raja: who are you looking for?
[shad]: ... damn it

bishop asks if rocco’s father has done anything suspicious or illegal when working with the vale. rocco’s dad doesn’t tell him much, but he’s never gotten in trouble for anything before. raja asks rocco if he has ever recognized any vaselle government representatives within the company – not really, his dad goes to a lot of important meetings. but rocco has seen some people entering cicero lately wearing clothes that match the ones raja is wearing. luci asks rocco if hector is REALLY his brother – yes, rocco gets grumpy. rocco then asks luci if he knows where his brother was heading – he doesn’t. hector stayed at the circus for a while before he left.

luci: gidley was convinced they'd rub off on him - make him smile
rocco: oh that's really hard to do ... i tried a lot

talmage asks who taught rocco how to fight with his “magic.” rocco explains he’s going to school to be a warrior monk & probably join the vale – he isn’t sure what he wants to do – but he didn’t know about his magic. he assumed it was because he was a tiefling – no one has ever taught him.

bishop: talmage - if magic is super illegal here, where did you learn to do magic?
talmage: i went to a school similar to this one. not quite as elaborate, but equally hidden.
luci: did this happen to your school?
talmage: ... not--
luci: i'll preface this - we've taken a lot of people into the circus who are running away from things like this.
talmage: ... yeah. yes, it was-- yeah. but it wasn't left empty like this. so that's why i'm curious what happened here.
luci: ... caelyn was my aunt. she disappeared 7 years ago.
rocco: [grinning] you didn't even ask him a question
luci: *hits him*
talmage: ... she came to my school once
luci: yeah, she was pretty cool. she tried to get me to do this but, you know

bishop is irritated that luci knows about his family but somehow doesn’t know how important the calledaway family is.

raja: i promise i won't call you by it, but what's your first name?
luci: can't call me by it. cayden? my father's last name is lucille. so everyone calls me luci.
luci: going by cayden calledaway is kind of a dead giveaway.

bishop asks how long ago raja was cursed – just two weeks. she’s still not used to it. rocco asks who cursed her – a god. to our knowledge, gods aren’t real.

rocco: if they were real it would be taught at a school
rocco: talmage, are gods real???
talmage: we're supposed to be getting closer as people-- religion isn't always the first thing you should discuss when trying to get to know someone better--

rocco asks if raja being able to cast magic is new – she doesn’t answer.

[emily]: what the fuck do i ask luci
[charlie]: ask him how much he doesn't like you
talmage: luci, you said people came to the circus who had dealt with this same situation - where did they come from?
luci: when the vale takes out a safe haven, they scatter. sometimes when we're walking through the woods, gidley points to a tree & there's a scared little wizard boy up it.
talmage: i mean, the havens - do you know where those are?
luci: the north star was bigger - there used to be more 5 years ago. but there's less & less as the vale keeps getting closer ... & our circus grows.

we talk about gidley’s family. rocco asks why talmage is a tiefling. he says he was born one & doesn’t know much past that.

talmage: bishop, the friend you're looking for? what the circumstances of your last interaction?
rocco: are they okay?
bishop: i have no idea where they are.
talmage: are they a danger to our group?
bishop: i hadn't though of it that way - possibly?
talmage: HM.
bishop: i'm not certain.

the spell dissipates & the spell scroll crumbles to dust.

luci: great. bonding

talmage asks if luci found any other spells around here – he did. luci & bishop want to leave, but the rest want to explore further. they choose to explore the rest of the school.

the room with the chains is a library. all the shelves are empty, but the locks & chains are still in tact & unbroken. it’s as if the books were magically transported away.

we discuss meeting with mr. graves. rocco offers introducing the group to him – we are skeptical. bishop asks if we know the name soulis.

luci: i have an arch-rival? that's named soul-ass?
luci: ass-imar ... are you a soul-ass?
[emily]: we brought a 13 year-old with us
[emily]: *mumbling* & i'm laughing at all his jokes

when exploring the rest of the school, we discover this half of the mountain is caved in. something impacted from the outside & took out a chunk of it. the plant life has grown back & the area is overgrown. talmage asks how long these attacks have been going on for. the first he heard of it was when his aunt went missing.

exploring further, they find another set of 3 doors. one is blown off its hinges, so we go through that first. there’s a garden on the other side. deep claw marks ruin the ground – clearly, there was a large battle. we try to determine what creature caused them. talmage is too distracted by how familiar the disaster is, falling backwards when he sees the wreckage. rocco tries to help him up, but talmage scrambles up & leaves the room. they continue trying to decipher what did all this damage. luci finds charred vale armor & skeleton remains – rocco begins to yell about the dead bodies.

bishop leaves to see if talmage is okay, sitting next to him.

raja: so the vale raided the magic school.
rocco: well, that makes sense, i guess ... you're not supposed to do magic.
rocco: maybe they put up a fight & that's why the vale were like "we fight, too!"
raja: i have a feeling that the vale initiated this conflict.
raja: not that they weren't justified, but this doesn't look like the kind of place you would choose to have a battle.
rocco: yeah, don't they just try to put people in prison first before resorting to violence? that's what i've seen!
raja: not always. i know enough to know that.
rocco: maybe these guys aren't as good as we thought ...
raja: i mean, they're doing illegal magic. how good did you think they were?

raja reveals the person she learned of this school from was not a good person.

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