The Cost of Magic

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The National League of Typographers is meeting in Atlanta. At least, that’s what most people think. It’s actually a (the first?) mage convention.

Adrean wanders through the convention, having heard that some things from Second Chance Industries would be unveiled.

Jade stops by to say hello, but then goes about her exploring.

Loom and Theo are picked out of the crowd and asked to set up a table. They do so, both of them enjoying the attention. While they sign autographs, Jakob brings over a strange rock to have them look at.

It seems to completely lack space, but gives off some prime vibes. Loom tries his best to convince to Jakob to let him keep it. Jakob finally agrees to let him hold onto it for study, as long as he promises to give it back.

Everyone is called in to see the the headlining speaker, Anan Mikolo.

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Pictures of You

Everyone gathers in the main conference hall for announcements. Lantanis introduces the keynote speaker, Anan Mikolo.

Anan says,

Thank you, Lantanis. I am honored to be invited to speak at this marvelous convention. For many years, I have spoken of the need for unity among all mages in facing all of that which is coming. It was only in moments of unity that we were able to save our world from ineffable threats. However, we mages continue to be separated, not only along ancient political lines, but also by mundane lines drawn in the sand by mortals. We are, though we might forget at times, human. As humans, alone we are weak. Together, we are strong.

There will always be threats, but one has loomed highest. The Exarchs who tore Atlantis from us so many millennia ago. For a long time the Guardians of the Veil have believed that there would one day come a mage who would be strong enough to lead us all. What is not well-known outside of certain circles is that this mage is here. Among us today. He is called the hieromagus. Whether you believe it or not, the prophecy is coming true. A great time of strife is coming. The time for unity is now.

The truth, my friends, is that I am the hieromagus. I have seen what is coming. And I urge you all to stand with me as our future unfolds. One powerful archmage from the great city of New Orleans has opened the way to Atlantis. All that is left is to breach the gates and bring down the false gods. But we can only this as one body. One soul. Thank you.

Theo immediately pegs him as a liar, since he’s currently sitting next to the actual heiromagus. Anan leaves the stage and Lantanis explains that all questions will be answered during Anan’s panel.

When approached by Loom, Lantanis explains that he had no idea Anan would say that. He doesn’t know anything about it.

The group gathers to listen to Anan answer questions at his panel. He says he knows the heiromagus because the Oracle of the Arcadian Watchtower appeared to him during his awakening and she told him so.

For many reasons, Theo is certain Anan is a big fat liar. In fact, worse than that, Theo thinks Anan is working with the Exarchs. He says as much, handwriting and holding up a sign that says “Xarc”.

When pressed to talk more about his awakening and where he is getting his information, there is a sudden flash of light and Anan drops to the ground.

The room is cleared out and the group tries to attend to Anan. Using Second Chance technology brought by Adrean, they find that there is a missing piece out of his brain. Jakob and Adrean have seen how the part that is missing is affected in people who have been mind-controlled for an extended period of time.

Theo wants to see the rocks Jakob showed him and Loom earlier because he thinks they are about the same size as the missing brain chunk. He also wants to know how many there are. Jakob refuses to share anymore information about the rocks. Theo theorizes that it has something to do with Exarchs. That it happened because Anan was being asked for information they didn’t want to get out.

Then, Ekko gets brought in. Like Anan, Ekko has a destiny, but Skye swears he’s just a really good guy. There’s really no way he could be involved in anything to do with the Exarchs.

Then Liz gets brought in. The same thing has happened to her. She also has a destiny. But, obviously a heirarch would have that.

Theo and Jakob get into a pretty heated argument about the stones. Both Ekko and Liz are both missing those pieces of their brains, just like Anan. Theo wants the stones, Jakob doesn’t want to give them.

In addition to that, everyone wants to know how Theo knows Anan isn’t the heirarch and why he thinks Anan is linked to the Exarchs. Theo explains that those aren’t his secrets to tell. But the stress of keeping them and trying to get people to work together gets to him. He steps outside for a cigarette.

And he doesn’t come back. He goes to the bathroom to get high. While in there, he encounters Naltherion, a young mage with a camera that he desperately wants to keep hidden.

With the help of the rest of the group, they manage to find out that the camera is how they are putting out the mages. It sort of takes a part of the soul. They also find out there’s a hit list.

They promise to protect Naltherion, though Theo might be lying about that. He tells them who he knows that’s on the list and where to drop the camera for the next person to get it.

They make a plan to play along with Anan’s plan and make a fake camera. The next girl picks it up and goes to take a picture of, they think, Gabe. But, at the last second, Loom thinks she’s going after Theo. So, Theo acts like he was hit with it. I’m not sure what happened here, but that was wrong and she ditches the camera and leaves, knowing something is up.

But just to make sure, Theo hides out in their safe room. While he’s “out of the game”, the other characters do other stuff that I didn’t witness.

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Promises

Jakob, having discovered the contracts they signed were made with Fae magic, not mage, makes a call to Andy for help. Andy, sounding somewhere windy and nowhere near New Orleans, agrees to come. Jakob opens a portal.

Andy looks over the contract and immediately finds loopholes.

Any mage who signs this contract shall not harm any other mage within these grounds, through means either magical or mundane, for the duration of this convention.

The group, sans and increasingly frustrated Theo, try to figure out what’s going on. Andy tells them that he can tell if people are telling the truth or lying, no matter what kind of spells are on them, but he has to be very careful because he cannot lie while doing it.

He rolls an exceptional success.

They show him video of Anan at the keynote speech and his panel. Andy is able to tell them Anan is lying about being the heiromagus, wanting mages to unite, and basically everything good or nice he said.

Then they go track down a guy whose name I’m not clear on, but I guess he was in charge of security for Lantanis. They confront him about the contracts and he tries to lie. Jakob starts reading his mind to get more information.

He, Anan, Anan’s daughter Kali, Naltherion, Obsidia, and some others are actually Scelesti. The list of people they plan to take out includes Adrean Chance’s “fiance”, Theo’s son, Gabe, some girl in a Tibetan monestary, Topher something in Milwaukee, and some others he can’t really remember. He admits that the people on the list have been targeted to, at least in some cases, rile up some unpredictable folks and get them to tear things apart. People like Theo. By taking out those near to him, they thing they can get him to cause him some real chaos.

Andy suggests that someone tell Theo this. No one wants to. So, they bring Theo in to hear it from Bronnon or Ronan or whatever his name is. While going to get Theo, Stolas and Jakob encounter another young mage, Obsidia, teleporting back and forth, purposely trying to cause paradox. Jakob puts her to sleep.

Stolas let’s it slip that he found some personal effects in Anan’s dressing room. Including a picture. He shows it to the group. Jakob notices two things— One, Anan is standing with his arm around Bones and 2) in front of the symbol from when The Council of Twelve and the Illuminati were still one group.

They use the sympathetic connection provided by the picture to find Anan, who is still in the convention hall. Jakob opens a portal to him, where they also find his daughter. Jakob puts her to sleep pretty quickly.

Anan is in a wheelchair. Jakob, using mind magic, discovers that his brain is absolutely riddled with the same holes that Liz and the others have.

It turns out that they are the only thing keeping him alive. He has seen Celano with his own eyes and, without the holes, that would have driven him made. He wants to bring her back and considers Bones a traitor. Charm was a letdown for them and now a total loss. As much as he wants to bring “The Goddess” into the world, he wants to save his daughter more. He agrees to tell them how to return Liz and Ekko as long as they let his daughter go.

Theo agrees, but they just send her to Loom’s prison in Chicago.

Anan tells them they just have to destroy the camera. He doesn’t say much else because he knows he’s dead, no matter what. Theo uses Mjolnir to break the camera.

The group returns to the makeshift infirmary. Liz and Ekko are waking up. They catch Lantanis and the others up on what they found. Upon hearing that Julian might be in danger, Adrean immediately teleported out.

Theo and Gabe stuck around to hear Lantanis’s speech, closing out the convention. Theo told Lantanis that he appreciated what he was trying to do and to call him if he ever needed help. Then he and Gabe went back home.

Meanwhile, the others, with Andy’s help, get ready to go fight the Fae.

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