1231, Spring – The Library

This week in our Ars Magica campaign, we are still down in the fiery city hidden in the tunnels underneath our covenant whilst trying to figure out where the rats came from. The city has a magical aura of 8, which is dangerously high. We are probably only surviving during to our magical protections, including our Parma Magica.

Pisciculus ex Criamon – 1231, Spring

To the north, there are three volcanoes which we can just about make out in the haze. It is mostly the reddish glow of lava that we can spot on the top of them. The buildings get larger the closer they get to the volcanoes, so we head in that direction looking for a library.

It’s not too hard to make our way through the streets, though some are blocked by collapsed buildings or rivers of lava. The architecture has quite extensive guttering, with some buildings having multiple levels of gutters. There are also clay pipes leading diagonally from the ground up to the gutters. There are no drains at the end of the pipes, they just open onto the street.

There are lots of murals on the walls, many of them commoners going about various work. Rats are heavily featured in them, and it even looks like the rats and humans are cooperating. Maybe the pipes are for rats?

There are a number of tall pillars, each with a spiral staircase wrapping around them. They are in a large circle, about 200 yards across, and many are broken. In the middle there is a metal disc laying on the floor. It looks like it was some sort of suspended garden on the disc. There are other similar discs a few miles away, plus what looks like the ruins of a building that has crashed into other buildings.

It is coming up to noon now, and we think the day is proceeding significantly faster than it would normally. About three times faster. However, our Diameter spells (which last as long as the Sun takes to move its own diameter in the sky) still seem to be lasting the usual time.

There is a clanking/rumbling noise coming towards us. We take cover in one of the buildings, as there is the sound of something crashing into a wall. After a bit, the sounds starts up again and shortly after a ‘thing’ comes around the corner.

It is vaguely humanoid, rolling on a large sphere, with arms ending in blades and hands. It is about 7ft tall, with three ‘eyes’ of light, one of which is flickering. The body seems to consist of metal struts which everything else is attached to. It looks around, then sets off down a street, crashing into another building. It seems to have difficulty controlling its movement.

We wait for it to get out of sight, then continue on towards the larger buildings. We come across a hole in the ground. As we approach it, we feel that something magical is trying to affect us, but is blocked by our Parma Magica. The whole is very circular, and about twenty yards across. There are bits of wreckage around it which have a similar effect. There are carvings of some rune-like writings on some of the wreckage.

We find a piece of metal which has some clear runes written on it, which we pick up and take for later study.

We notice that the Sun seems to have moved backwards. Then, off in the West, there is a bright reddish pulse of light. Then there is a shaking of the ground, and buildings start to shake and collapse. It passes after a few moments. Maedbh notices that from the direction of the flash of light, there is a fast wind approaching. We take cover behind walls, and a moment later there is a rush of warm air, dust and pebbles.

We come across what looks like  justice building. There are frescoes which seem to demonstrate the sort of things which are forbidden. Things like murder, theft, usury, harming rats, making friends with too many rats and other typical sins.

Checking the street signs, we find one saying “Street of the Arcanum”, so we head down that way.  The Sun seems to be approaching evening now.

Maedbh things she spots a flicker of a regio boundary, and then one of the volcanoes seems to vanish. Up ahead, is a large multi-floored palace which has a large tower on the roof. It has a metal orb floating above it which seems to be flashing light. The Sun is now closer to noon again,

As we approach the palace, we realise that the flashing light is some sort of complicated spinning mechanism of metal and glowing jewels. As we stand by the fallen gates, we feel some of compulsion effect hitting our Parma Magica. We don’t know what it is trying to do though without dropping our Parma, which none of us want to do.

A sign in corrupted Latin says “The Arcanum of the Endless City”. We find a map showing the layout of the place.

To the west are living quarters, To the east, are faculty and research buildings. Administration is in the middle, along with a temple of (maybe) Vulcan. There is also something which is maybe a ‘control centre’.

There seem to be two libraries marked, one in the administration block and a smaller one in the research area. The research area seems to have taken the most damage, possibly self inflicted.

So we head towards the central area where the main library seems to be. There are two mechanical constructs on metal balls standing outside the doors to the building. One of them seems to be damaged since it is leaning over, though neither are moving.

As we approach, their heads turn slowly to track us but they don’t do anything to stop us, so we walk inside where it is slightly cooler. There are signs pointing down towards the library, so we head that way, going down stairs to a large room full of scrolls and books. There are many thousands of books, on shelves stretching off into the darkness.

We head in, but are stopped by some sort of invisible barrier. On either side of the doorway is a iron rod about two feet high with a crystal on it. As we hit the barrier, the crystal glows red.

Allistor touches the crystal, and it glows green, allowing him into the library. So I touch one, it glows green and allows me through. Maedbh follows behind. Something penetrates our Parma Magica when we touch the crystal, which seems to be a Corpus/Mentem type of effect.

There are tubes along the side of the shelves, sized for rats. Do the rats read the books? Help find them?

Near a broken side door we find a human corpse – the first such corpse we have found. It is laying in front of the cracked door and seems to have died from excessive heat.

We locate the part of the library that has books on ‘Magic Theory’, and pick what looks like an introductory book on the subject. We each grab a book and skim through them. The magic that is described has some relationship with Hermetic magic, but it isn’t. Almost as if it started from a similar base, then went off in a different direction. The arts are possibly slightly different, with a focus on fire and earth. Animal and Corpus also seem to be combined into a single art.

There is a sudden noise, which makes us all feel really ill. It only lasts briefly. We notice that part of the library seems to have vanished. Maedbh thinks that it was part of a magical regio, and that it has collapsed. Deciding that our time here is limited, we each grab a pile of books and head out. However, we are unable to pass back through the magical barrier carrying books. After some investigation, we find a nearby desk that has a way of marking a book and allowing us to take it out. However, it only allows one book per person.

  • I take a book on Imaginem
  • Maedbh takes a book on the techniques
  • Allistor grabs a book on the Elements.

Maedbh then comes up with an idea to try and get another book out by ‘bring back’ the corpse using Whispers Through the Black Gate. So I give it a try, and use the opportunity to ask some questions. Apparently gods and magi caused the volcanoes, and we need the special permission of the Maester to take out more books. The Maester is dead, so that’s not going to work.

Before releasing the corpse back to rest, we manage to use it to register a fourth book for borrowing. The slight flicker of life in the corpse is enough to trick the system. This allows us to also grab an advanced version of the book on techniques.

Samuel Penn

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