Magus Elemix approached Magus Skona when an opportunity presented itself. “Magus Skona, would you be free to chat for a few minutes?”
“A few,” the gruff dwarf said. “What do you need?”
“Magus Titus recommended I speak to you about the possibility of transcribing a spell. I was hoping you might have the spell known as disguise self? It should hopefully help to mask my appearance and make it somewhat more difficult for people to track me on my upcoming expedition.”
“I do,” she replied, “what do you have to trade?”
“What would you be interested in? I am an Evocation specialist but I have some other spells such as divination, abjuration, etc. I also have some cantrip scrolls which might be of interest.”
“Do you have Flaming Sphere?” She replied.
“I am afraid I do not. For flames at this power level I use burning hands. I also have chromatic orb which can come in quite handy.”
“I have that,” she grumbled, “what about Hold Person?”
Elemix shrugged. “Why stop only one when you could stop many with Sleep? It has come in quite handy for me. Let’s see, other than what I have previously mentioned, I have mage armor, magic missile, shield, unseen servant, detect magic, comprehend languages, identify, and a pretty good one witchbolt. Do any of those appeal to you?”
“Witchbolt.” She replied.
“Good choice. It can be very useful.
We have a fair trade then. I shall aid you in transcribing Witchbolt, and you will do the same for disguise self.”
Skøna nodded. “The evening is drawing to a close. Tomorrow, let us do this. It is much harder to transcribe a spellbook or explain it versus a scroll in Sidonian Script. Mine is written in Dwarven Dweamorscript Modern and in code. Yours?”
“I agree the morning would be best. Mine is in an ancient draconian script. Also encoded. Until the morrow then.”
Skøna nodded. The next morning Elemix and Skøna met early (before dawn) before the first session to exchange spells, taking several hours to do so. By 9, they joined the conclave and shortly later the meeting came to order.
Elemix was surprised at this announcement and that it was even a topic of discussion having already discussed the Aquila thoroughly. But he stepped forward regardless and stated his case.
“My group and I found the Aquila. Though it was shattered when we first encountered the Tyanites in that cave, I gathered the pieces to investigate and I have done so thoroughly relying on experts. Experts whom I have sought out personally, putting my life on the line on several occasions to hold onto it and keep it out of the tyanites hands.
I wrote a paper on the Aquila and reviewed that with still more scholars who added to it and on the basis of what we discovered of its nature, power, and history, I submitted said information to the academy. They in their wisdom agreed to sponsor my comrades and I on an expedition to find what is hidden and bring it to Thalassa.
A single mission that will add to our knowledge of this time period and keep any powerful artifacts or magic that may be there out of the hands of fanatical tyanites who by both the academys estimates and those discussed in this room are on a grander mission to bring chaos to our society.
I do this not for riches or glory, but for knowledge, and for its benefit to all of Thalassa. For it is our reverence for knowledge first that built this society and it is only through knowledge and it’s practical implementation that this society will continue to grow and prosper.
To those that may think us incapable of success I would ask how do they know? There are many unknowns before us in this expedition, but what is clear is that my comrades and I have already held the Aquila safe against the tyanites and their hired professionals for several months – having defeated them in every instance and we are still here. Stronger now I may say then when we first came across the Aquila and the tyanites, both as individuals and as a group.”
Elemix said nothing out of passion or with raised voice. Instead everything he had said was in a matter of fact and we’ll reasoned tone. He looked at each Wizard in turn as he completed his statements, then waited patiently for their response.
Magus Calvet spoke first, “I would like to know who the academics were who helped you? Are they not all family?”
“To that point, I am wondering who knows about this?” Magus Xavier added, “and that you are going.”
Elemix responded to each in turn.
“Many of the academics I worked with are family but then I happen to come from a family that has many noted academics. Not all of them are family mind you. The noted Dr Brun for example and the panel of academics that reviewed and examined our paper.
As for who knows we are going, aside from those in this room, those who assisted in writing the academic paper, and those who reviewed it, my family, Sister Jocelyn of the temple of Arith, Arch Magus Revan, and the Baron of Uzec.”
Magus Sigolene asks, “we do not know how they are tracking you. How do you intend to get ahead of the enemies that are after you, especially as you are leaving the League and its protections?”
“I intend to go incognito. I shall change my dress and even make use of some illusion spells to change my appearance or become invisible from time to time. I have also recently learned the fly spell. I could lose a tail by going invisible and flying away for example.
Once I meet up with my group we will investigate what they could possibly be using to track us. In general however we intend to do our best not to stand out and go undetected where possible.
To date we really haven’t done anything to mask our travel. Doing so now should work to our advantage as whoever is tracking us may not anticipate such a change from us”.
“Hrrumpf!” said Max, “Magus, they know you are a wizard. They may anticipate more than you think and it is absolutely, positively, inconceivable that they wouldn’t. In any event, how is flying a disguise? You may as well paint a target on yourself that says ‘shoot me, I’m the wizard.’”
“I thank you all for your thoughts and advice on this. I shall take it to heart. We shall be as careful as possible.
This expedition is about getting there, finding what we seek, learning as much as possible in the process, and getting back to civilization. All while avoiding making many waves or being noticed so as to evade those that are trying steal whatever we are searching for. To that end we shall do our best.”
Elemix wasn’t sure what she was implying by that. Did she think any of them might move against him or his group. Surely not. She probably felt it best for Elemix to disappear before it became clear the conclave was ending to anyone who may be watching outside.
“My thoughts exactly Magus,” replied Elemix. “I’ll get word to you when I can.”
“Never mind that. I’ve made arrangements to get you to Portreaux. Those who stalked you likely have allies, including the pair you met at Calder Keep. Tibault will meet you at your room in short order. Others such as Magus Xavier and Skøna need to leave this afternoon as well, so your departure will not be out of the ordinary.”
Elemix was surprised at the assistance. “Thank you,” he said. “I am ready.”
Seeing his surprise, she added, “I am not doing this for you, but you are welcome. In fact I could care less about the Aquila. I have learned that Lady d’Uzec is going with you. I cannot stop her, but you must deliver her safely back from this mission, completed or no. It would be easier to just let you go on you merry way and get ambushed, but then the Aquila would be lost and Emmeline would wish to avenge you, taking Lady d’Uzec to a far more dangerous place. No, you being alive and even on this mission is the best-case solution. Not ideal, but certainly better than the other scenarios we gamed out.”
“I might add that there are those of us who wish you success regardless.” She added.
“Well thank you anyway,” replied Elemix not knowing what else to say. With that he gave her a sincere look. One that said he would be back, and then turned and left for his room.
After he had packed Tibault arrived wearing a back pack and a staff, similar to a wizard’s. He said, “I see that you are ready Magus. I, Tibault, am at your service. Our mistress and host, Magus Gillian Alix Tribune of the North, wishes you to be conveyed safely to Portreaux. And that I will do. She she also bade me to give you this.” He handed Elemix the staff.
Elemix inspected the staff. Odd he thought for her to give him a staff. He wondered if it was a way for her to track him.
Elemix was dressed much differently than normal. He wore a common brown travel cloak a light tunic and weathered yet comfortable brown pants. These were his travelers clothes. He had rarely worn them. He had also let his beard grow unkept as well these past several days, and he looked dramatically different. In truth he was going for average.
“Why this staff,” Elemix asked as he inspected it? “Did she happen to say anything about it?
“It is an old Staff of Power, of the Order make. It is burnt-out beyond repair without any of its old powers save two. First it can still serve as a great focus for a wizard, but second and most importantly it can summon up a retributive strike if it is broken in half. If you and yours are cornered, escape is not an option, death is at your door, and this is literally your only choice – then break the staff. According to legend perhaps half the time you and your allies will be teleported out. If not to safety, at least to somewhere else. In theory, this is what Brynnius did in the Dwarven silver mine up near Calder Falls.”
“Hopefully I won’t have to find out if it works,” Elemix half jokingly replied. “Be sure and thank her for me when next you see her. Now where to.”
Elemix was ready to travel.
The next couple days were a hard overland ride on the east side of the river along the hills leading down to Faou. Elimix’s horse, a rouncey, had a hard time of it compared to the palfrey he once had but lost in Arissey. Nevertheless they continued. The second evening, the redcap awoke Elemix. “Magus, we may have been discovered. There are several forms coming at us from the north and there are signs of at least one scout from the west.”