After the battle for horses, the crew leaves Bob and Johnson on their own as Johnson rides into the forest in an attempt to unsaddle Bob.
As the group is walking towards Podol Plaza to learn more about Razmiran, Sippele catches up to them (she left her one dinosaur by the entrance to the city to hunt for itself) and joins in. Charlie and Sippele suggest that everyone goes to the castle, and since they had no other leads, they all go together.
Inside of the castle walls there seems to be tents and small camps on the grass. The party attempts to simply go straight to the front door of the castle but are stopped by a glowering guard. He has long, dark hair, and a metal circlet to match his black armor. His face softens slightly at the sight of Charlie. “Welcome home, your Majesty,” he says. “And you are her guards?” he asks the rest of the group.
“Yes,” Sippele says instantly. The guard naturally believes her.
After Charlie tries to persuade the guard to let everyone into the castle, they learn about the university and simple university cards that give them access to the underground, the castle, and the library. They have to pass a test of knowledge about Razmiran to get the cards, and could take the test in the Laughing Goblin, Nat Wyler’s, or if they could get into the library, they could take it there.
After multiple conversation with local historians who claim to be professors of some kind, including a demeaning-looking general and a calmer-faced woman, the entire group goes back to Nat Wyler’s to take the test.
Before getting their papers, the group sits for a few songs played by the renowned Bard. After closer inspection, Charlie realizes that the Bard is indeed their old friend Elias. He winks at Charlie and continues playing, eventually joined onstage by a cellist.
The party then takes the test in the back part of Nat Wyler’s (except for Princess Charlie).
Everyone barely passes the test, and, after a check of Corrona’s answers, everyone receives a simple card with:
SIMPLE UNIVERSITY CARD FOR THE CITY OF RAZMIRAN.
It includes a line to be signed by the holder, and all the cards are signed.
Charlie tries to buy Nat Wyler’s from the bar maid and only gets a promise to talk to Nat Wyler himself when he wakes up.
Sippele buys a single mug from the barmaid for 25 gold, and when the barmaid turns around, Corrona steals all the money back and gives it to Sippele, essentially stealing the mug and the money.
Charlie asks where the nearest stores are, and she finds out that there is something called “the underground”. To get to it, the bar maid at Nat Wyler’s tells her, all you have to do is say “I want to go to the market” to the statue in the middle of Podol Plaza, do not push the button on the statue, and a doorway will open with a ladder downward.
After they are all down the ladder, they came across an elegantly decorated room, complete with a gem chandelier, fine paintings, a white-bear rug, and a lit fireplace. Cal quickly hurries to the other side of the room where stands the only door in the entire room.
Outside of that door is a whole other city, though it seems to only be made of weapon and armor stores.
Once stocked up with weapons, mugs, and clothing, the six team members go back up the ladder and towards the castle once more.
Presenting all their cards, they are lead into the castle itself by the same guard who denied their entrance earlier. They come across a shattered statue of what looked to be someone representing peace, or justice, and the guard avoids the statue entirely.
He leads them, at their request, down a hallway and towards the bedroom of late James the Fourth and leaves them there to return to his duties.
Inside of the room they meet the pompous and feather-laden Prince Jonathan. His blond hair flows into an extravagant white feather boa and as he steps out of his walk-in closet, he squeals at the sight of Princess Charlie.
“Ooh, cousin! It’s soooo great that you’re back!” he says, almost jumping around. He looks to be the same age as Charlie, though he twirls around unprofessionally and childishly.
A long conversation ensues and the group finds out that there was something going on with the Mage’s council during the time that Charlie was gone. The King and Queen had nothing to do with it, and the group also finds out that Jonathan makes a lousy Mage of Air. He does, however, give Corrona as many feather boas as she can carry.
They check out the King and Queen’s room before leaving. Sippele makes some patched together and slightly blood-stained costumes for everyone in the party.
The group walks back to Podol Plaza, Charlie in the lead and Jonathan in the back. They all go down the ladder and take a seat, finally seeing all five of the core Mage’s council Mages. Darren is standing at the front, and they learn the names of the rest of the Mages from Jonathan.
There is Darren, the High Mage; Jonathan, the Mage of Air; Cysteffor, the Mage of Earth; Amelia, the Mage of Water; and Zuko, the Mage of Fire.
There are a few other people in the room, but the adventurers simply take their own seats without asking any more questions.
“We are hear to speak about the events of a few nights ago,” Darren begins the meeting. “Including the event at the advisor’s– or the under-professor’s– Gael’s house, in the woods.”
“Well, I walked out there after some citizens had reported from abnormally strange noises. I went to check it out and saw the house was basically ransacked. I also found this incredibly dark thing in the house, and it attacked me… So I attacked it, and it grabbed Gael’s diary, so I just took it back, and slammed its head against the wall, and then dragged it out to the coast. I guess it’s left already because we keep getting refugees…” Crysteffor looks over to the five ‘guards’ who brought Princess Charlie home before sitting back down.
Flekt stands up and reports about the diary pages that they found, and Crysteffor confirms that those are the pages that the dark thing was trying to steal. About half way through her report, Darren excuses himself and a few of the secretaries in the room follow him, along with Corrona who sneaks behind Darren in plain sight.
She finds out that the pregnancy mentioned in Gael’s notes is Darren’s. Darren thought that he was the only one who knew about the child besides Vendara, but supposedly Gael knew too. And now Corrona knows. And now the entire party knows. Darren threatens her to not tell anyone else about it, and if she does, she will regret it.
When Corrona returns to the council room, everyone is talking amongst themselves, the meeting having ended when Darren left the room.
Why did Elias wink at Charlie? Will Charlie get to buy Nat Wyler’s? Will Bob get to keep Johnson? Why did Darren have a child with Vendara? Where is the child now? Is it alive? Who is it? Who attacked the house in the woods for the notes? What else happened to the council while Charlie was away?
Find out during the Books & Battles,January 2, 2016.