You try to wriggle free of your bonds.
When you get your wrists free, you feel that you'll never have an opportunity as good as the present one, so close to the entrance of the arena.
You spin around and dash out of the arena, provoking surprised shouts from the guards and a roar from the crowd.
Rounding a corner, you get down low, taking advantage of the Magisterian street crowd for cover. You can hear the guards' confused shouts behind you.
You waste no time in stealing the nearest airship skiff and willing it to take off.
Bolts of negative energy whiz past you, but you maneuver the skiff over the city walls.
As you watch the capital recede behind you, you breathe a sigh of relief.
Finally, you're headed home.
As you fly over the Negative Sea on the way home, you can't help but notice it seems…unwell? It's odd to think that a roiling cloud of death could have a temperament, but something about it seems a little off.
You hope it's nothing.
Unfortunately, you return to the capital to discover that the Magisterians have declared war, and have already made significant progress toward the heart of the kingdom. Akriton has been conquered, and Mayor Cos has led the refugees to Edra. The queen's strategy at this point is purely defensive, but she has had little luck fighting off the Magisterians thus far.
Cos seems sleepless and frazzled because of Akriton's fate, but he still seems glad to see you.
With the pleasantries out of the way, you go to the throne room and tell the queen what you've learned about the Magisterians.
(Gained Kingdom Power.)
The next year sees a string of successes for the queen's forces, as they push the Magisterians back toward the Negative Sea.
It helped that the high magister wasted time trying to find your sunken academy, per your instructions.
The Magisterian airships are no match for your agile airships, which swarm the Magisterian dreadnoughts and fire away with their rail guns until all that is left is a crewless hulk floating in midair.
Tremors throughout the kingdom intensify, until finally one of the Crown Mountains erupts in a geyser of black-and-purple negative energy, completely obliterating some nearby hamlets and throwing purple-and-black gas into the sky. The mountain then goes dormant again. Brave explorers peering down into the caldera report that they think they can see the dark sun itself, roiling far below.
You are there in your usual small dining room when a courier delivers the news to Queen Thecla. She pales, then waves the courier away.
"I wonder what we have done," Queen Thecla murmurs. "I can't blame you entirely, Saint Zig. I have been complicit as well. I've been teaching myself negation magic to protect against assassination attempts."
Indeed, the queen's practice at the royal archers' target range is an open secret. The queen's targets are scarecrows at thirty yards, hastily constructed because they are always consumed utterly by her blasts.
1."We've both done what was needed for the kingdom's protection."
2."This is my fault. I shouldn't have embraced negation magic."
3."I await your orders as always, my queen."
You assure the queen that you were both doing what had to be done.
"Perhaps," she says, still ashen-faced. "Excuse me. You are dismissed for the day." She gets up and retires to her chambers.
You think she appreciated your support. (Increased Thecla Relationship.)
You hope after that that the tremors will stop.
But they don't, and every month after that, a new mountain erupts into a volcano of negative energy, destroying any nearby towns and hamlets.
The dark sun is not well.
Your research turns up some mentions of such disasters in the time of the ancients, especially near the end of the Great War. But the ancients, it seems, had ways of mitigating the impact of their weapons. You know of no such methods; the knowledge has been lost. Who knows how bad these disasters may get?
As the war progresses, you begin to hear rumors that amateurs are beginning to practice magic across the kingdom. But you have no idea how bad it is until Mayor Cos comes to court to report on what has been happening in Akriton.
"It's gotten rather out of hand," Cos reports to the queen. "People I never would have expected to be capable of it are now using magic, and not to particularly good ends.
"For one thing, people are always in each other's business now that they've discovered divination magic. I think they must have learned it by watching the rituals used for broadcasting musicians across the kingdom. Now everybody knows too much about each other, and that's quite a recipe for trouble. People just aren't used to seeing each other's dirty laundry like that, you know?
"Speaking of divination, people have been going crazy for these entertainers being broadcast out of the capital, and a lot of young people have started imitating their use of glamors, too. Everybody knows the words, now that they've heard entertainers say them before their performances. Philautia omnes and all that. But it's killing our young people. They want to live fast and die young like their idols, but they're too young to make that kind of decision.
"In short, Akriton could use your help," Cos concludes. "I can hardly blame my people for trying to learn magic—I've tried to learn it myself, though I've discovered I have no aptitude for it. But we need some kind of plan that will get them to use it more responsibly."
"I knew this day would come," Blessed Advisor Sam says sadly. He looks to you. "I suppose I should have pressed you a bit more to hold back, my friend."
The queen sighs. "It would seem I am once again beholden to your judgment, Saint Zig. Do you have any sage advice? How do you get a fledgling wizard to desist?"
1.Support the Church's message that magic is only for the holy.
2.Establish magic schools around the kingdom to teach people to use magic responsibly.
3.Make it illegal to practice magic without the consent of the queen.
4.Interference will only make things worse. People should figure this out themselves.
"We can't undo the spread of magic," you tell Mayor Cos and Queen Thecla. "But what we can do is try to educate them, to prevent them from killing themselves."
"More magic?" Blessed Advisor Sam says, distressed.
"If you think that's best," Mayor Cos says uncertainly.
"I admit, it may have seemed uncharitable of the crown not to share its magic a bit more," Queen Thecla says. "Perhaps our citizens will come up with some novel innovations that make life better for everyone."
You travel from town to town trying to teach the brightest citizens of each region how to teach magic themselves.
You usually find at least one person in each region who is genuinely enthusiastic and motivated about magic, and you focus on teaching that person so that they can in turn teach others.
But when you sit in on your new teachers' first classes, you find most people see magic as an imposition on their normal way of life, just one more way in which they must catch up with their neighbors or fall behind. Studying magic for these students is a chore.
You can also tell some of these students are wondering what the point of learning about the magical esoterica is when there's a war going on, especially when that magic isn't useful for fighting. And to some extent, they're right; this educational push will take time and resources away from the war. (Lost Kingdom Power.)
You expect to hear complaints from Hierophant Elizabeth about your decision, but instead, there is a silence that speaks volumes.
As the people learn about magic, they do become more careful with it. Many didn't even realize that their glamors were slowly killing them, attributing the sickness of rot to their overindulgences while glamored. Others didn't realize that divination reveals information to those spied upon; people certainly become more reluctant to use the magic after that. At least the people appreciate these warnings. (Increased Adoration.)
Unfortunately, you think this has no effect on the bigger crisis facing you. The common people aren't responsible for the major disturbances in the dark sun.
You have the sinking feeling something terrible is about to happen.
GET OUT NOW.
The voice of Seer Marie makes you jump in your chair. By candlelight, you had been studying an old tome of negation that a noble family gave you to try to curry favor with you.
(Gained Negation.) You retreated to one of the tower solaria to read it, although by now, the skylight above you is dark.
Seer Marie must be using the divination magic you taught her to communicate with you.
What? Why? you ask, bewildered. You look out the window of your study, unsure of what time it is. Night, apparently.
The dark sun is awakening! Please, get out, the palace is going to be destroyed! Get out, get out, GET OUT!
Chapter 8:The Dark Sun Awakens
What about Thecla? What about Sam?
You have time to contact one person. But then GET OUT.
Who will you save?
1.I will try to save Thecla.
2.I will try to save Sam.