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Amherth Diaries, Session III: The Arcane Academy

We left our heroes dealing with a "hag" (maybe) and her "bargain".
They left the same night to rush through the woods and the main road in order to reach the Arcane Academy as soon as possible and find more about the research of Celemor and Morgane.

The Academy is a wonderful "town" on itself, made of various buildings, one acting as a stable, one as an inn and the main "castle" serving as the school itself, too big for the low number of students.
They stay at the inn, where young students work so that they don't forget the value of gaining money while studying the dangerous path of arcane mysteries.

They try not to grab attention, since they just wanna spend a quiet night and the inn and introduce themselves to the masters the day after. They have to make some researches in the academy libraries and ask questions about Celemor being there outside her teaching duties with Morgane (that's what they know so far).

The morning after, they discover how quickly a gossip can travel in a big place with a few people. A former Sir named Karel seems to know them and send a young student telling them he will wait for 'em near the lake. Karel is a good man, too bad it's kinda weird and on the verge of madness for a horrifying experience we'll talk about later.

At the same time, it seems that one of the masters named Jansen recognized Elowen (or maybe it thinks she is her twin sistere Alowar?), since her mother Lanathiel and Celemor are well known around there and he wants to host her and her companions.

They decide to go for the weird Karel, first.

It's a not so old boy, big body, covered up the head with a mantle, despite we're still in summer (remember, everything started with "summer's end party" at the Entertainers' estate in Tradeport). He covers his hands and brings a bunch of scratches on his facial skin.
He quickly start speaking and reveals that he worked for the Golden Helm, a venture company famous for investigating "rich" and ancient ruins. He confesses he's been paid by Lanathiel herself (Elowen mother) to investigate the old academy site, quickly forgotten, but appearently bearing a huge secret.

As he investigated, he discovered interesting and odd truths: the "official" version is that the Academy grew pretty fast and needed a new place to live in and develop their huge libraries. The place they're using now was originally built as a hunting estate for the Tradeport nobles, who just preferred to use the one in the woods and left this great building by itself.
So the Mages, unwanted everywhere, decided to occupy it.
Nothing strange...

But Karel says that the old site seems to host a few Xannen soldiers (pretty far from their current home base in full decay). Karel managed to enter into the ruins with to comrades. None of 'em made it.
One was "grabbed away" from an unknown and unidentified "long shadow" behind a corridor... The other just screamed as a deep darkness lift upon the ground.

Karel escaped, shocked and ashamed (not a good thing to flee for a former Tyr soldier who fought against the empire's armies). He went to Lanathiel and told her he didn't want to see her again. But before he left, she asked him to find someone else and that she thought her Elowen would be a good bet, since she has enough courage and curiosity... But at the same time she wouldn't do anything if asked by her mother.

Karel never stopped asking himself about what the hell lurked in the depth of the lost academy and he tried to make the step towards Elowen more than once, without a success.
Now that they're there, he decided to make it and confessed everything all at once.

Elowen thinks about it and her companions are kinda thrilled. Why the hell the Mages left the old academy? What does they hide in there? And why xannen soldiers are guarding the place?

Too many questions, very few hints. They need to talk about it a bit more, but some other matters need precedence.
They promise Karel to do something about this. He offers them a huge treasure, since he says "I'm not using it, just take it and buy everything you need to go there", as if they actually needed more money in their belts (remember, they're all nobles).
They decide to go in the Academy and look for some history books about the academy and other matters, while checking which books Celemor and Morgane were looking for, since every access get registered.

They meet Jansen, a tall, thin and serious man. It's not clear if his kindess comes from pure etiquette or real feelings, but refund the night spent at the inn and ask Elowen and her comrades to stay in the actual academy for the upcoming nights. He allows them to enter the non-arcane libraries at the base floor.

There, they discover that Celemor registered a research of 143 books, a bit too much in a single afternoon. It's pretty clear she doesn't want anyone bet which books she was actually studying. It can be even obvious she actually got access to the arcane library, a place the heroes cannot reach at the moment.
They spend some time consulting history books and discover a bunch of interesting notes:
- the only connection between the Xannen empire and the common "arcane world" starts a couple of centuries ago, when the empire signed an agreement with a dreaded group of mages called the "Black Sorcerers" to win a lost battle against the skjolde naval armies (Skjolde are pretty much vikings).

From there on, it seems that the Xannen Empire let this "black" organisation to build into it and grow, as an dangerous entity. As they consult Maester Jansen, they discover that the "black sorcerer" name is inappropriate, since he does not believe in the existance of "black magic", as magic is just a unified theory and what can be "black" is just the use you make out of it.
It's fair for what it's worth, but the fellowship is not convinced at 100% and they will investigate further,.

At the same time, they grasp some infos about the old school and face Jansen on the matter. At first glance, Jansen doesn't add anything. But it doesn't take much before he decides to trust Elowen for unknown reasons and reveal that there is an actual problem and that it's not something the fellowship should take care of.

"It's... complicated" says the maester. "There is more than one reason we have left and some of the reasons are still there. Don't think we're just watching, but it's, again... complicated. You shouldn't ask yourself too much about the matter."
Too bad the books revealed other similar "migrations" happening during the last twenty years or so: a noble family went from a castle to another, abandoning their former house with no reason... the Blackmoor orphanage, suddenly "disappeared" and became an abandoned site in the far north from Tradeport... and then the Magic Academy, where mages quickly discovered to have grown too much for such a small place and decided to leave.
Leave, leave, leave... but why?

This little step forward, let the player trust him back and they talk a bit more about the true nature of their journey. They talk about the "hag" (she is not a haaaaag!), the worries about Celemor and Morgane traveling together and Jansens kinda confirms everything. He says that he doesn't know much, but grasped something.

Celemor talked about an "item" stolen from the Morgane collection. They don't seem to know much about it, but they know enough to be worried about its disappearence. Celemor and Morgane admitted that they "prefer to let people guess a relationship between them than reveal the actual truth about their secret traveling".

    Morgane Harrow                                              Celemor Greystone

An object, stolen from the Morgane Harrow's collection (Cirice, she is her child remember, is worried since she considers her father a genius and an eternal baby), a mysterious "thief" going around with this dangerous... thing.

A long philosophical symposium follows, Jansen is a fascinating maester and the fellowship are mature enought to stand such an elegant scholar.

And the hag. Jansens reveals she is a Matroni and she is a recent threat, appearing from nowhere kind of a month ago. She is similar to a hag (but she is not a hag!!!), using illusions to attract travelers and implanting larves into their bodies (remember what happened to Shady in the session II recap?). Since they have to come back there in three moons to bring infos and get the antidote (at least, that was the Matroni's plan), they decide to organise a trap with Jansen, but they need at least a Cleric capable to remove the "curse/disease" from their body, since they DO NOT KNOW who the Matroni actually poisoned in the end.

So, here's their plan: they will go back to tradeport, ask help to Beatrice (Adventurer's Guild Master and the only Cleric they can trust) and bring her to the woods-boundaries the night after. There, Jansen will bring some help and make everyone invisible so that they can reach the Matroni's house and kill her once and for all.

Will their plan work? And will they be able to discover more about Celemor and get enought trust to get access to the Arcane Books to discover what she was looking for? And, last but not least, do the costant migration from place to place which seems to happen during the years in the area has something to do with the recent happenings?

Keep following and we'll probably discover a bit more.

Note: Remember than we are playing with "Labyrinth Lord" rules. We go basic for almost 99%. I used a bit of variations tho. I allowed Silvia, the "Elowen" player to make a pure Elf-Fighter, just using the Fighter class and removing the magic skills from the elf framework. It's kinda retrain, but she preferred to play her like that.
I use some extra rules, like dual wielding, multiple attacks for the fighter and (if you're following me from the beginning) my custom class of the "Shaman" (Cirice, played by Giulia).
If you need some insights on the rules and variations, just leave a comment here or in the google+ sharing topic and I will answer as soon as possible.


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