Chiaroscuro and Envoy go to the College Esoterica to task Isstan about mind mages, and end up getting into more than they bargained for. July 9
(Chiaroscuro) (College Esoterica) (Envoy) (City of Hands) (Paradys Lost) (Perchance to Dream) (Rephidim) (Spheres of Magic)

The meeting place arranged is an old, dusty laboratory that looks as if it has not been used in ages, except for a few spots on some of the tables that have a slightly thinner layer of dust. There are no windows, the only light provided by a few lamps placed in strategic positions about the room.

A Naga in dull brown robes reclines on his coils in one corner of the room, awaiting his visitors.

Chiaroscuro opens the door from the hallway for Envoy, standing behind it. keeping his view away from the snake as best as possible.

Envoy pokes her head in to make sure it's really Isstan, then disappears for a moment to convince Bem to stay in the hallway.

Envoy finally steps into the laboratory. "Hello, Isstan! Remember me?"

The snake in the corner fidgets with his hands constantly in repeating, meaningless cycles, his head bobbing slightly, his body rocking just as slightly, his gaze dull and focused on nothing in particular. He appears the part of someone in deep contemplation … or lost in a world of his own creation.

Envoy whispers aside to Chiaroscuro, "Did you drug him?"

Chiaroscuro whispers back to Envoy, "No. This is as the other mage I received directions from said he would be, and how he was during the first meeting."

Envoy hmms, unsure whether it is safe to interrupt the Naga's trance. "Did the other mage know what Isstan was doing?"

Chiaroscuro shakes his head. "She just said he would be acting in a 'curious fashion'… "

Envoy decides to take the risk, and goes over to tap the ophidian on the shoulder.

Chiaroscuro closes the door, firmly, and stands with his back against it. He rises on his toes, going fully digitigrade, and crosses his arms in a 'bodyguard' stance.

At least it does not appear (to anyone who might know of such things) that the Naga is involved in any sort of ritual. There is no magical circle inscribed on the floor anywhere near him, although an engraved circle of some sort is on the opposite side of the room. At Envoy's approach, the snake snaps out of his trance, and turns to gaze at the alien, his tongue flicking toward her.

The thick door's closing serves to shut out what sounds previously filtered in from the hallway. It is a thick door and apparently built with the intent of preserving quiet in this chamber so as not to disturb experiments.

Envoy freezes, then asks, "Isstan?"

"Yes," answers the Naga, with only the barest traces of a hiss on the "s".

By all appearances, he is indeed the same mage who went on the expedition to the City of Hands, only in much more modest robes … and looking a bit different about the eyes.

Envoy says, "Are you alright? I'm not intruding on anything important, am I?"

There is something else as well … something about his stature. He doesn't seem to have that regal, proud bearing that is indicative of almost any Naga, even in the lowly Garters. The Naga answers, "Nothing is so important."

Chiaroscuro stays silent, and as motionless as a mongoose can manage. His eyes stay coolly fixed on Isstan.

Envoy sits down on the edge of a nearby worktable (careful not to knock anything over, of course) and asks, "I was hoping you could help me track down a particular mind mage. One that would perform illegal activities."

The snake asks, "What sort of illegal activities?" His gaze is still fixed on the position where Envoy was a moment before.

Envoy says, "He imprinted a false personality and set of memories on a friend of mine, against his will. It was to provide a false trail for those pursuing the Captain Astromancer's assassin."

The snake says, "That sounds fairly impressive. That would require a true master of the Sphere of Mind."

Envoy grins, "And there are only a few of those, correct?"

The snake nods. "And most of them are dead."

Envoy blinks, "Dead? Are you sure they're dead?"

"Death is a curious thing. So is life. Are you alive, alien?" the snake asks in a distant-sounding voice.

Envoy hmms, "Technically, yes. I suppose."

The snake nods. "Technically, you say. Death can be technical as well."

Envoy rubs her nose. "I was more concerned with the possibility that one of the deceased mages had actually faked it and gone underground."

The snake answers, "Perhaps. Perhaps. But if any such trickery has taken place, I have not been made aware of such."

Chiaroscuro smirks. . o O (A snake not knowing of trickery. There is something new.)

"Can you tell me more of this crime, the criminal, the victim?" asks the snake. "Names, perhaps. Names are often useful."

Envoy says, "So, do you know of any living Mind Mages that would do work for criminal elements. Or for crooked Inquisitors?"

Envoy says, "The victim's name was Zephyr, and the personality and memories that were imposed were those of Shadowspite the assassin."

The snake pauses some time, then says, "It is no secret, truly, that less than reputable elements find great value in the powers offered by the Sphere of Mind."

The snake adds, "As for Shadowspite, that one is truly legendary. He can only be contacted by way of the Faceless Men."

Envoy blinks, "Faceless Men?"

Envoy says, "Do you mean the K'hu'an?"

The snake slowly shakes his head. "It only matters that they have no face. They are the means the Assassin's Guild has of contact with others – on their terms."

Chiaroscuro seems slightly unnerved with the talk of Assassin's guilds and Master Mages. His glance flickers back and forth between Envoy and Isstan, instead of its former steady stare.

Envoy hmms. "How many of the master mages are still alive?"

The snake ponders, then answers, "Who can tell? There are many Guild Halls. Perhaps you could find some in Babel and Nagai."

Envoy blinks, and hadn't considered that they might import a mage to do the job.

Envoy says, "Is there a master registry of the members of your Sphere that I could see?"

"No," answers the snake.

The snake fixes a dull gaze on Envoy, turning to face her directly again, as he says, "And, after all, can the College contain all who practice our Sphere?"

Envoy says, "You mean someone can become a master mage without attending the College Esoterica?"

"I said no such thing," answers the snake, shuddering.

Envoy blinks three times, and looks to Chipper.

Envoy says, "You just don't keep track of your mages, then?"

Chiaroscuro walks with a measured step to Envoy's side.

"You may believe what you wish," answers the snake.

Envoy blinks again, "What makes you think that?"

"Perhaps a spell," answers the snake.

Envoy blinks again, "You are under a spell? Is it because of what happened at the City of Hands?"

The snake looks to Envoy, then glances over to Chiaroscuro. His eyes seem to clear up just the slightest bit. "Be careful to speak of the City of Hands."

Envoy cocks her head, "Why?"

"If you do not know why," answers the snake, "then there will be no end to the trouble."

Envoy blinks, "You speak as if you know what happened, but you were unconscious when the Priest-King was put to rest."

"Ignorance is bliss," answers the snake, "but bliss is no more."

Envoy blinks yet again, "Bliss is no more than what?"

Chiaroscuro grits his teeth, growing frustrated at all the snake's verbal evasions of Envoy's questionings.

The snake responds, "No more than nothing. It slips away. It is but an illusion – as is so much we take for reality. I have seen much since we last parted."

The snake quickly adds, "And here you shall ask what. But do not bother."

Envoy closes her mouth. Then asks anyway, "Can you show me instead?"

"Show you?" responds the snake, a flicker of emotion showing through the haze.

Envoy says, "You can transfer memories still, can't you?"

"You wish my memories, then?" asks the snake.

Envoy says, "I need to know what has passed, if I am to understand the danger of the truth."

"You ask for something of mine. What do you offer in return?" asks the snake.

Envoy hmms. "I can show you what really happened inside the Palace of the Priest King."

The snake's head jerks back a bit at this, and something unsettles about the folds of his neck, but he regains what composure he has. "That would be a reasonable exchange," he replies at last. "Bear with me, while I make preparations."

The Naga looks about the room, and starts to move toward one of the tables which has several candlesticks of varying degrees of previous usage.

Envoy nods, and looks to Chiaroscuro. "Do you think I'm doing the right thing, Chipper?" she whispers to the mongoose.

Chiaroscuro leans over to Envoy, whispering. "I do not trust him, Envoy. He is hiding knowledge from you, even as he offers other knowledge. Yet… there is a lack of… attempt to deceive. That is a frightened snake."

Envoy hmms, and whispers back, "After the exchange, he may try to kill himself. Would you stop him if he tries?"

Chiaroscuro's jaw drops. "Wh-what?" His voices tightens to a whisper. "You want me to *stop* a snake from dying?"

Chiaroscuro looks into Envoy's eyes, confounded. Perhaps she really *is* mad after all.

Meanwhile, the Naga continues slithering about, gathering supplies, most of which look as if they've been sitting here for years or even decades – hardly something that had been gathered for just this occasion. He slides some debris away from the runic circle carved in the floor, and begins setting and lighting candles about its perimeter.

Envoy nods to her friend. "I want to observe how he comes to terms with the information," she whispers.

Once some sort of arrangement has been set up, the Naga proceeds to make a second runic circle, this one inscribed on the floor with colored chalks, rather than using a circle already carved in stone. This takes a bit longer, given the greater need for preparation … and the difficulty in moving about without wiping out the chalk-lines with his own serpentine tail, unable to simply step over the chalk with any ease.

Chiaroscuro utters a prayer through tight-clenched teeth. "Rikshalliiiin kama duno, Reyna shalleeeen tcheeean pono… " He nods weakly. "I will see.Though I am not here to protect him, but you."

Envoy nods, and assures Chipper, "My mind is not so fragile."

Chiaroscuro says, "I know, Lady Envoy. I worry, though. You run down paths of great danger, for no reasons that I see."

Envoy just smiles and whispers, "Sometimes, one simply has to… run and find out."

The snake finishes the circle, and slithers back over to the one rendered in stone. "It is ready. Please. Be seated within the center of the circle," he gestures to the one of chalk, "but be careful not to disturb any of the lines of chalk, or the candles."

Chiaroscuro grins widely. "A truth indeed, Lady Envoy, one you have taken wholly to heart." He taps his Rikkorrel on the left hindpaw with his index finger, then touches Envoy's forehead- just below the horn- with the same finger. "Run well, Lady Envoy."

Envoy smiles to Chiaroscuro, and walks over to the center of the drawn circle.

Chiaroscuro turns to the snake, and says, "If you harm Lady Envoy, it will be your end. I will watch this all." He finds a sort of stool, and sits down, watching the ritual."

The snake doesn't look at Chiaroscuro or acknowledge him as he finishes settling himself, and begins his chanting.

Envoy listens closely to the chanting. There is undoubtedly more to the ritual than the chant and the symbols, but knowing those elements might still be useful.

The chanting continues. Minutes pass. Still the snake continues, the chant continuing onward with new and equally meaningless words which don't follow any perceivable sentence structures.

Chiaroscuro fidgets with his tailfur with one paw, combing it smooth, trying to maintain a effective watching of the extremely boring ritual.

The minutes turn into an hour. Still no sign of chants ending. The snake continues, his body swaying.

Envoy, for her part, remains still throughout. The alien's attention never leaves the Naga.

Chiaroscuro has paced around the room, half-distracted by the shiny gizmos in the laboratory, as the snake drones on…

At least the laboratory does not lack for knick-knacks to look at. All sorts of glass containers can be found, stacks of books with arcane titles, candlesticks, lamps, chalks, jars with unidentifiable components floating in viscous fluids, strange little contraptions that look as if they might be used to measure quantities… but the droning does just keep going on and on.

Envoy quietly considers the irony. On the surface, Isstan would have a much easier time… but her memory access would not be as efficient as it is at Rephidim's altitude.

Two hours. A timepiece, still functioning, is among one of the knick-knacks Chiaroscuro manages to discover during his wanderings. However, by the seeming of it, it would not be hard to suspect the device of running slow.

Chiaroscuro starts going through the book stacks, until he finds a work that is not *too* difficult to comprehend, and reads… glancing up at the ceremony between each page.

The book is a tome in fairly large type, some sort of astronomical text. By the diagrams and a perusal of the introductory chapters, it would seem the writers believe this world to be a sphere orbiting the sun (known as Primus), and to be but one of several other worlds orbiting that same sun. Each of the worlds have runes assigned to them which have some sort of correspondence with most of the Spheres of Magic recognized by the College.

Envoy wonders to herself if she'll feel anything to indicate the spell is working. How would she access transplanted memories?

Chiaroscuro reads… and reads… until after a while, boredom sets in again. He peers intently at Isstan, looking for any changes in the ceremony since the beginning.

Three hours pass. Still no sign of anything supernatural in the least happening within the chamber … unless one wonders at what reservoirs of endurance the previously bleary-looking snake might be tapping into to keep up this pace.

Chiaroscuro hmmms audibly, and removes from a pocket in his garments a small, lidded box. He opens it… pauses, taking in a deep breath… and reaches his fingers carefully inside.

Envoy continues to analyze the chant for any sort of patterns or cycles.

The mongoose is now developing a very bad headache.

More time passes … past the fourth hour … and then, a few more apparently meaningless phrases, and the chanting ceases. The Naga's eyes, which closed at some point during the ceremony, open as he stops swaying, and focus directly on Envoy.

Chiaroscuro's attention is focused still on the book… as best as attention can be focused at all, with the skullbuzz still going… not yet realizing the chanting is over.

A voice that only Envoy can hear buzzes, "You must relax. You must not resist the images coming in … nor those passing out."

Envoy doesn't blink this time, and opens her I/O channels.

Unseen or heard by the mongoose, images and sensations begin flashing back and forth between the two minds, tending to focus upon those memories dealing with the City of Hands. From the snake, Envoy begins to get a clearer picture of his role in all this…

The Naga was a master of the Sphere of Mind, a Journeyman set out to work in the service of a poodle noble named Titus haut Mikide, his tithes going back to the College to go toward paying off his own tuition. The poodle's requirements became more bizarre. The Naga served on missions to record the experiences of explorers sent to lieu of Titus himself, then to shape them and weave them and make them into memories for Titus to relive, to place himself as the hero, the great explorer and adventurer.

In the room, during all this, the timepiece does not even click a minute's time passing.

Faces flash by. Various persons employed by Titus to go on his missions. Various locales where the snake was sent to do his work – some of them hazardous environments for a cold-blooded reptile such as he is.

The memories "slow down" as they jump around and approach the expedition to the City of Hands … the elaborate staged events of the "pirate attack" against the Savan Queen on its way to the Xenean Jungle … the setting up of the base camp at an abandoned Savanite village … moving on to a new base camp within the Forbidden Zone in a remote canyon … the sight of the City of Hands itself … the setting up of fake artifacts in order to make sure that the transplanted memories would not expose Lord Titus haut Mikide to unpleasantly confusing facts.

*click* The timepiece marks a minute's passage.

Chiaroscuro looks up, with a sudden start… finally noting the end of the chanting. He looks quickly to Envoy, then Isstan, while his hand reaches towards his lidded box.

More memories sweep in while the mongoose moves. Flickers of emotion causing the Naga distress, periods of puzzling over tomes of history … finding images within the City which display Savanites in positions of power and the Nagai as mere slaves … and images of the Priest-King.

Envoy attempts to analyze the emotional context, but decides to do it later when she can devote more attention to it.

This takes a bit longer. Another minute clicks by.

Chiaroscuro's fingers reach inside the box and pluck strings, his eyes darting forth and back between the snake and his friend. He doesn't yet stand up, or make and moves to disturb the ceremony… just watching with a slowly clearer head.

The snake's body begins twitching, as images rush into his mind, even more quickly than they pour out.

Envoy's memories are sometimes difficult to isolate from the multiple links to other information. Visions of the Palace of the Priest King are mixed in with those of other, even stranger structures.

The events portrayed in the Naga's memories go to the time of those shortly before the destruction of the Palace of the Priest-King, just from the Naga's perspective; The confrontation outside the Palace, the demonstration of Kaela's power over the ashen golem. Loss of consciousness … then being surrounded in a vision by twelve strangers.


Envoy thinks, o O { This must be from an altered state of consciousness. Amazing! }

Rather than proceeding into memories of actual events in conscious experience, the Naga's related thoughts move into more dreams, though perhaps at various different points, and in an unsure chronological order.

Chiaroscuro sets the book down, closing it and setting it on the floor, all while watching intently the transfer.

They try to resolve themselves into coherent images, but often fail. An image appears of some great earthen plane, underneath a sterile, star-filled sky free of the glitter of the Procession. Many shadowy forms stand about, in communion with each other. Then, the twelve shadows appear, walking into the midst. Isstan is one of the persons on this landscape … and he is the one closest to where the twelve strangers approach. They come to him and overwhelm him.

Envoy's perpetual grin gets even wider as she begins to experience things completely beyond anything she's known. It must be a nightmare!

They are not merely his equals. They are far greater than he. But yet … they are not Nagai, not the serpent people who can be found in such abundance in the Sphere of Mind. As they seek to commune with the Naga, their physical forms become apparent.

They are Savanites. And they all look away from Isstan – who has suddenly become a separate entity in this dream-vision – and toward Envoy. They see her.

Blood trickles down the sides of Isstan's mouth, as his body convulses violently.

Envoy wonders if this is actually memory now, or if she is somehow sharing the Dream state.

Like a scattering of leaves on the wind, a burst of memories loosen themselves from Envoy's mind, flying out amongst the twelve before her, and the others standing about on the featureless, gassy expanse.

Chiaroscuro rises to his feet, moving closer to the edge of the rune-circles…

Envoy thinks, o O { These figures may be Archetypes of some sort. }

Chiaroscuro turns to Envoy… "Envoy… stop. It's hurting him," he says, not sure if she'll even hear…

Envoy's head turns slowly towards Chiaroscuro. "How?" she asks.

All of the shadowy figures draw closer, circling around Envoy. They ignore the form of Isstan, which is beginning to fade in the dream-vision. One even passes right through the space he occupies.

Envoy begins to wonder if the dream figures are real now. Perhaps members of the Twelve Times Twelve…

Chiaroscuro sputters… "I don't know! But it is, if you want him to live, Stop NOW!" His voice is almost frantic now, showing concern he'd never felt before for any snake.

Envoy whispers, "… or the Twelve themselves."

Envoy says, "Drag him from the circle… "

Chiaroscuro dives for the snake, hoping to grab him and use the inertia to bring him out of the circle…

Envoy tries to talk to the dream figures, "Are you the Twelve?"

The Savanites and Nagas and a few other species approach. The others seem not at all concerned anymore about the twelve who have suddenly joined their number, though they give them a wide berth. Envoy can see now a thirteenth spotted feline who approaches. Unlike the twelve, this one is a female. Her eyes are intent upon Envoy, and she pushes her way through, bearing straight for her.

Envoy tries to make out the Savanite's features through the dream-haze.

The thirteenth spotted feline, while it should by all appearances be a Savanite … somehow isn't. This is something else. But before anything further can be discerned…

The dream vision implodes, leaving Envoy's senses to readjust to her surroundings.

The Naga Mind Mage lies sprawled on the floor where the mongoose has knocked him, a small pool of blood forming on the stone as it leaks out of the side of his mouth.

Envoy blinks and reaches out a hand to maintain her balance, smudging the chalked circle of runes.

Nothing further happens by the smudging of the runes. The spell, by all appearances, has ended.

Envoy frowns, having hoped the dream-contact would have continued. She looks over to Chia and Isstan. "Is he still alive, Chipper?"

Chiaroscuro moves quickly to lift the Naga up, and checks him as best he knows… "Still alive, yes… hurt bad, internally somewhere… maybe the head, all the blood was from his mouth… "

The Naga is limp, unconscious, and unresponsive.

Envoy blinks, and walks over once she can stand again. "It might have been an aneurysm then. We should call on one of the life mages."

Chiaroscuro nods dumbly… "I remember where one's office is… I'll go." He leans the snake against a nearby bookshelf, darts to the door, opens it, and starts quick-jogging down the hall.

Envoy thinks, o O { One other than Latania, hopefully. }

Envoy looks over the limp Naga, wondering what exactly caused the damage. Did she overload him? Was it from being a conduit to whatever those dream-creatures were?

In the aftermath of the spell, belatedly a "record" of such of the outgoing memories as part of this exchange comes back to her … and regarding all matters pertaining to the City of Hands, they extend well beyond just that first expedition.

Envoy blinks. Isstan must know about the Twelve Times Twelve then!She checks the reptile's pupil response while she waits for Chiaroscuro to return with help.

The Naga is unresponsive to Envoy's probing, but at least he's alive – for the time being. The bleeding seems to have stopped, even though not much time has passed.

In the hallway outside, there is a commotion as the mongoose runs into some apprentices going about their business, not especially inclined to be distracted from their work, but nonetheless unable to simply ignore claims of a mage in need of assistance.

A small part of Envoy's mind begins to check for any damage she may have sustained, while other parts focus on Isstan's health and the potential problems this could cause. Maybe a Mind Mage should be called upon as well, to make sure Isstan is still sane.

As Envoy begins her self-analysis … there is a sense of Something present for just a moment, and then it is gone.

A couple of apprentices peer into the room, then gasp in surprise at the sight of the alien and the fallen Naga beside her – and the small pool of blood on the floor near his mouth.

Envoy ponders out loud, "I wonder if some part of the spell isn't still in effect."

Envoy looks up, and calls, "Get a Life Mage, quickly! And a Mind Mage if you can!"

The apprentices look to each other, then dash off into the hallway, shouting for help.

Envoy thinks, o O { Another Mind Mage would be able to tell if Isstan is still in the spell trance. At least, I think that would be the case… }

A sound echoes in the hallway outside, the sound of hoofed feet. The noise seems to be getting closer.

Chiaroscuro bursts into the room quickly. "EnvoyIfoundalifemagemaybeshecanhelp!"

Envoy looks up and smiles to Chipper, showing something akin to relief.

The snake's eyelids move a bit, and he chokes and spits.

"Bah… a Kavi fetches me. Probably one of his friends was attacked by vermites while trying to steal something… " growls a voice following quickly behind Chia. A few moments later a white Cervani pokes her head into the room.

Envoy's look of relief vanishes.

The snake shudders, and his body relaxes.

Latania stares at Isstan. "First Ones!! What happened?" She rushes over to examine him.

Chiaroscuro stays out of the way of the Cervani, panting for breath a bit from his run to fetch a Mage.

Envoy says, "He suffered internal injury during a spell. He was bleeding from the mouth, but it has stopped now. This shudder is the first movement he's made since Chipper broke the spell… "

The life mage looks up at Envoy. "Get out of here… right now." she hisses as she begins to clear away the snake's magic circle.

Envoy blinks, and goes to wait in the hallway, looking in through the open door.

Out in the hallway, there are a few more persons standing about now – apprentices who keep a distance from the door, apparently ready to gawk at any sign of what might come out … or to dash off at a moment's notice.

"You too, Kavi," the doe snarls to Chia. "And if I see EITHER of you on college grounds again I shall press charges. You are hereby banished from the College Esoterica."

Envoy thinks, o O { Latania didn't even notice that Chiaroscuro isn't a Kavi. Perhaps Life Mages don't need to know much in the way of anatomy… }

Envoy blinks at the proclamation. Is Latania threatening to set off explosives??

Chiaroscuro looks at the Cervani, half in shock. "But… I didn't do it… I… " He shakes his head. and just walks towards the door.

Envoy turns to Chipper, and says, "She doesn't know about your pass?"

Latania looks up. "He has a pass?"

Envoy realizes something, and says to the mongoose, "She thinks you're a Kavi, so probably wouldn't recognize you again anyway."

The Cervani looks to the crows of gawkers. "Fetch me my supplies… quickly. I've done what I can to stabilize him but I need to perform a ritial, QUICKLY." She looks to the mongoose. "Show me your pass."

Chiaroscuro nods to the Life Mage. "Yes, from Chaos Mage Hask-" He stops, and shakes his head to Envoy. "Never mind that now."

Several of the apprentices scramble off, not necessarily all of them to perform the errand of fetching the doe's supplies.

Chiaroscuro reaches into a pocket, finding the pass, and presenting it to the Cervani.

"Haskalah… I would figure that only that ridiculous charlatan of a Chaos mage who frightens half the council with her tricks would even allow a Kavi on college grounds." Latania says as she examines the pass. "Well, you will have to ask Haskalah for a new one then." And with that the doe tears the pass to shreds and pockets the pieces.

Envoy observes quietly, but hopes she will have a chance to ask the Cervani about the bout of hiccups she had at the Kujakus' party.

Chiaroscuro shrugs and walks out to the hall to join Envoy. It's not likely he'll have a chance to convince the Cervani, and Isstan needs to be treated, in any matter.

Latania goes back to Isstan. She shouts over her shoulder, "I did *NOT* say you were banished from this room… you are banished from my college. LEAVE right now."

This shout prompts the REST of the apprentices to scatter as well. Some sounds of running footsteps herald the returning apprentices with the Cervani mage's supplies, however.

Envoy blinks. "I can't leave yet. I don't know if Isstan's spell was closed successfully."

Chiaroscuro tugs on Envoy's sleeve. "Envoy… let us not argue with her."

Envoy frowns, "I'm not arguing. She is not a Mind Mage, and is not qualified to determine if it is safe for me to leave."

A couple of young apprentices – a Rath'ani and a fox – gasp as they hear Envoy's proclamation, approaching the doorway with the Cervani's supplies.

Envoy crosses her arms, refusing to move until a Mind Mage assures her that the spell is broken.

Latania rises back up and meets the apprentices in the hallway. She accepts her leather bag of mage supplies. "What are you afraid of if he leaves? Will he tell me something that I'm not allowed to hear? Bah… I am a mage. I have studies the spheres all my life and know more about them then you ever will be able to comprehend." She looks to the apprentices. "Escort these two out… if they do not wish to leave, then go fetch the guards and have them dragged out."

The 'coon and fox nod, then walk over to the mongoose and alien. "This way," says the raccoon, gesturing for them to follow.

Envoy holds up her hand, "My Zelak bodyguard is outside the gate, and will not react kindly towards the sight of me being manhandled. Also, it is immoral for Latania to put me at risk when she does not even know what spell Isstan was performing. The logical and rational thing to do is to summon a Mind Mage." She looks at the apprentices with what she hopes is a stern glance.

The 'coon and fox look at each other at the mention of the Zelak bodyguard … then dash down the hallway at a full run.

Chiaroscuro looks to Envoy, sighs a bit, and waits behind her. He's here because of her, and if she's staying, he should too.

"THAT IS *IT*!" The doe snarls. "Fetch the college guard… I want these two ARRESTED! On charges of deliberately sabotaging Isstan's spell!" she shouts after the retreating apprentices.

Envoy says, "You weren't here, so your accusation is baseless. Why would Chiaroscuro have gone for help if that were the case?"

Boot stomps echo down the hallway … approaching at a swift pace. Around a corner, and the wearers of the boots are visible – lupine guards of the College Esoterica. The 'coon and fox run along behind them.

Latania goes back into the room with the snake. "You may tell that to the guardsmen when they come to get you."

"There they are!" proclaims the fox as he points at Chiaroscuro and Envoy.

One of the guards looks into the room at Latania. "Milady, are you all right? … Chaos!" He looks at the fallen snake, then signs to the guards. "Take them away, immediately!"

Chiaroscuro looks up to Envoy. "Well, Lady Envoy, here is another fine mess you have gotten us into." He sighs and half-smirks. "What now?"

The lupines move to grab the arms of those they have been summoned to "escort", two to each "intruder".

Envoy says to the guards, "Take them to a Mind Mage." However, she says it in the other wolf's voice… and somehow it sounds like it's coming from behind the guards as well.

Latania begins forming her own magic circle on the ground. "I am fine. The winged one was involved in some kind of mind joining or mind transfer with the Naga. I want them arrested… take them to the temple and tell them to contact me about this whole thing. I will explain everything."

The wolves start to lead Chiaroscuro and Envoy off, and then that voice barks again (this time in the real wolf's voice), "Belay that! Who spoke in my voice!"

The wolf guards look at each other and at their prisoners, making lupine whines of confusion.

"The fox did!" Envoy says… in the Rathani apprentice's voice this time.

"Did not!" the fox says, and kicks at the raccoon.

Chiaroscuro smiles a little, then resumes a serious 'I've been arrested unjustly' face.

The lead guard pokes his head into the room. "Milady Latania! There is some sort of magick awork!"

Envoy suggests, "Perhaps the spell is leaking. A Mind Mage should be summoned to check on it."

Envoy says, "It wouldn't be good if everyone started seeing hallucinations and… hearing things."

"TAKE THEM TO THE TEMPLE!" Latania shrieks. Then growling softer, "Do as I say… if you are attacked, fight back. Do not do anything the winged one tells you. She is a cunning one. Take them to the temple, have them arrested, and then report back to me. Do nothing beyond that."

The raccoon looks severely at Envoy, rubbing at his shin. "No, it wouldn't be very good at all."

The wolf barks, "You heard her orders – And that's it! No more trickery. MOVE!"

Envoy wonders how she's going to explain this to Bem. He'll never let her go into a building without him after this, probably…

The guards set down the hallway, dragging Envoy and Chiaroscuro along, toward the entrance, where Bem still waits patiently outside.

Envoy tells the guards, "No matter what Latania claims, I was not trying to eat the Naga's brain."

Chiaroscuro shuffles along, sighing. . o (For all this trouble, I should have just *killed* the snake and got arrested for that… )

The guards give Envoy some odd glances, then pull her on out of the College entrance, and down the front steps, along with the "Kavi".

The Zelak looks up as he scents Envoy's approach. He begins following the Aeolun and the others, looking unperturbed.

Envoy says to the Zelak, "We're going to visit the Temple, Bem."

Bem nods. This is no surprise. After all, he has been to the Temple several times already in Envoy's company.

Envoy smiles to one of the guards, "Don't worry, he won't try to bite your head off from behind or anything."

One of the guards growls back at Envoy.

Envoy blinks at the growl. She was only trying to put the guards at ease, after all…

Envoy talks to Chia instead, "Do you dream, Chipper?"

Chiaroscuro pauses a moment, thinking this might be another escape attempt… deciding it's probably not, though. "Yes, Lady Envoy… about once a week, or so. Why do you ask?"

Envoy says, "How do you do it? Dream, I mean?"

The party continues along the street, headed away from the College Esoterica, toward the spires of the Temple.

Chiaroscuro says, "I fall asleep, and if I dream, I dream. If not, I do not. It is not a controllable thing for me, Envoy- nor for any that I know."

One of the wolves jabs at Envoy, and the other at Chiaroscuro. "Silence!" the leader barks. They continue, eventually reaching the steps of the Temple, and going in.

The mongoose and alien are taken along, handed over to the Temple guards, and separated, searched for any concealed weapons or tools, and eventually deposited in one of the "Economy Guest Suites" in a lower level of the Temple.

Envoy explores the cell, poking at everything.

Chiaroscuro watches Envoy's exploration, sitting on the side of a cot.

In addition to the mongoose and the alien, it seems that the guards saw fit to put the Zelak into the cell as well.

Envoy says, "This is almost the same as my room at the Bards' Guild."

Bem glances about the cell as the door clicks shut. After a long pause, the Zelak says, "The door does not open from this side."

Envoy looks at the door. "Maybe we're supposed to knock on it to let them know when to open it from the other side then."

Chiaroscuro chuckles… "A bit more spacious than my room at the Inn, Lady Envoy. I'd prefer that one right now, though."

Envoy pauses at that, and turns to the mongoose. "I'm sorry if I've caused you any trouble, Chipper. I didn't expect Latania to be so vehement."

Envoy says, "I'm beginning to think she doesn't like me for some reason."

The warrior's suspicions appear to be allayed. "Nothing must interfere with the mission," it says flatly. "When will you proceed with the next part of your plan?"

Chiaroscuro nods… "I got that impression as well, Envoy. Challenging her decision to have us leave was not something that would give her reason to like you."

Envoy says, "When they let us out of the Temple, I suppose, Bem."

Envoy blinks at Chia's observation. "But… it was only reasonable to wait for a Mind Mage. It made no sense at all to have the only two witnesses to Isstan's collapse evicted from the scene, either."

Envoy hmms, "But then, some of Latania's past behavior does suggest she suffers from a delusional sense of reality."

Chiaroscuro ahs. "But there lies one of your troubles, Envoy – reason and logic are not always the paths people follow. "

Envoy frowns, "I have noticed that. But I don't know of any other way to proceed."

Bem's insectile eyes fix upon Envoy. It says nothing, but her neck itches, reminding her that Shkarkin Queen gave it – and her – an imperative long ago.

Envoy scratches at her neck idly. She also doesn't know how to explain to Bem that it may be centuries before the conditions will be right to contact her 'hive' again…

Chiaroscuro begins grooming his armfur with his paws. "Expect occasional emotion and non-logic, and learn to convince people through that. Rik'Tik'Tav teaches what is *felt* is often more important than what is *thought*."

Envoy thinks, o O {And until I know what happened to Isstan, I can't risk having a Mind Mage simply transfer the information directly to the Queen Shkarkin… }

Chiaroscuro says, "It is the heart that brings blood to the brain, is it not?"

Envoy thinks of the emotional context of Isstan's memories. "The heart pumps blood, it doesn't bring it anywhere. It can't move from its place in the chest. Usually. I've heard tell of situations where it actually appears to lodge in a person's throat, but I have seen no direct evidence of this feat."

Envoy tilts her head, "Are these emotion-based irrationalities related to heart arrhythmia?"

Chiaroscuro lies back on the cot. "Once again, Lady Envoy, A metaphor… " He readies for another speech to explain to Envoy what he means.

Down the corridor, a wolf shouts, "Lights out!" Guards walk down the line, putting out the lanterns.

Bem clacks once meaningfully, as the last of the lantern light dies out.


GMed by Greywolf

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