After being charmed, the next thing anyone remembered was suddenly coming to standing over what looked like a quarry -- a fountain, surrounded by a forest, except that the plants got smaller and smaller the closer to the fountain they go, until the immediate area was totally barren.
Kit: "What is this, the fountain of youth?"
Bob hadn't managed to resist the charm, but he... er, she had managed to avoid having her memory erased, which was apparently a separate effect -- she couldn't really explain how it worked, and neither could Cho, but the upshot was that he was draining the consciousness of the people closest to the center of his dominion to help maintain the world of perfect order.
The party had, apparently, been acting as Vaal's adventurers in the meantime -- they were better equipped than when they'd gone under the priest's spell, with magical armor and weapons and mysterious miscellaneous equipment, although their money was gone. They had six horses and two wagons, one full of barrels of mushroom wine, the other empty. They also had an unusual number of empty wineskins -- apparently, they had been sent to get some water from the fountain, although not barrels full apparently.
Not that they had any intention of fulfilling whatever mission they were on for Vaal.
They were met by a fish, with a book -- apparently, the void-elemental-thing hadn't managed to kill all the fish after all. The fish explained that *some* of the fish had been saved by Kit's insane fireballing -- burned to ashes before they could be squished, and then the ashes eventually healed back. The rest of the current population had hatched from well-hidden eggs.
At any rate, since the party had helped 'girard' (the dragon who'd posed as a forger) drive out Mirnath (the dragon who'd been menacing the fish), they'd apparently fulfilled some deal they'd had with the fish, and in return the fish had repaired a book for Bob. The book detailed the guardians, historically, of each of the fountains, both the ones they'd already visited and the ones they'd yet to see.
First things first, though -- fountain. Kit tried some first, hoping that it would youthen his possibly aging soul (he'd felt very *tired* when back in spirit-kitsune form after drinking the Zombie, way back when). Instead, it made his physical body 10 years old. This was less of a disaster than it might have been, since he did have an all-day growth spell to use to make himself fit his armor again. Bob also tried some, since she was trying each of the fountains and wasn't too worried about something with purely physical effects, and for her it did do something to his soul and not very much to her body.
Mira revealed that there was a lingering magical effect from the water, but dispelling that magic didn't reverse the unaging (when tested on a nearby tree). The additional magic was, they guessed, an effect keeping the subject of the water youthful.
So the party decided to dump out one of the barrels of wine, fill it with fountain of youth water, and go on the road selling it (in a bunch of independant kingdoms on the way to the next fountain, guarded by 'kzzt' or some such, in an underground maze full of monsters). But first, why not stop at the Library to read up on it?
On the way, they were joined by a flitter -- apparently, the druid teleport worked by piecing together a path from bits of forest all along the route between the start and endpoints, and a flitter (very very fast little birds coveted by wizards since they doubled a wizard's mana) was almost keeping up. So Kit paused to charm the flitter, because hey, free flitter. Only it wasn't free -- it was someone's pet, with a message attached, from Girard.
Kit: "You should question the motives of your employers? I don't see how that could possibly change anything, it's not like we ever have any choice in the jobs we're forced to do. Do they even count as employers?"
Cho: "Well, has anyone ever paid us?"
Mira: "Girard did. He gave us some of Mirnath's horde."
Kit: "So he wants us to question his own motives?"
At any rate, the message was too cryptic to be useful, but the flitter was well and truly charmed (for a week) and perched on Kit's head, purring. They continued on to the library.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much useful on the fountain of youth in the library -- lots was written, but with a very high noise-to-signal ratio. But hitting the library turned out to be a good idea anyway... because Cho spotten the astral thread sent by the void-demon-monster-elemental thing, linking to something floating astrally in the library, that he was using to pull himself back to earth.
It was the destroyed information that Kit had seen while not existing in the library! Since it was already destroyed, they couldn't destroy it again, but the fish (who'd decided to stay with them, to help get revenge against the elemental that had razed their city) thought he might be able to cut the thread, if it was attached to something he could perceive.
So Kit tried to dispel the spell that had destroyed the information, and partially succeeded -- he got one page of the book it had been in, but that page did contain the specific bit of information the elemental was following right at that second.
Leen, at the party's urging, tried to open a portal to deep space in her alternate universe, like she had when she'd summoned the strange thing that had hidden away the dryad village. Instead, she got Valefor. Who was on their world. On the front line of the battle. The party had hurried to toss the paper through too quickly, though, and by the time she could tell them that...
So Kit jumped through the portal too, to try to retrieve the paper -- having the elemental anywhere on earth was a disaster. Unfortunately, battlefield. Worse, Valefor was the summon of Wind. He ordered the Flitter to fetch (not expecting it to understand, but it did), then tried to make himself weightless to blow along with the wind and hope to spot it.
He didn't... but Valefor was blowing *everything* up, so there was a chance that the paper might have been destroyed, and that maybe this time the information wouldn't stick around floating in midair... maybe. So he found a forest and returned to the library, then since it was likely that the rest of the information was similarly linkable, got together half a dozen dryad wizards to help him do an hour-long ritual to undestroy the rest of the information.
Just as he finished, the flitter flew back up to him, holding the piece of paper.
Cho: "We need to destroy it NOW, he's getting close."
Kit: "But I haven't read the book yet! This is the spell that can destroy a god..."
Cho: "He's following the knowledge. If you read it, we'll have to destroy your brain, too."
Bob pointed out that it had already been destroyed once, but that had just made it float freely in midair. They really did need to relocate the book to somewhere way the hell away from the entire planet. So Cho had Bob think about the grandmaster of the Church of the Eternal Void, and targetted the resulting astral form with a communication spell. He explained the situation telepathically, and the grandmaster teleported to the library and flung the book out into deep space, like he'd originally done with the elemental. Crisis averted... for now.
Then he and Cho started talking about the elemental. Cho had a piece of the elemental -- an astral limb he'd cut off. Apparently, it was some sort of 'astral machinery' with its true name written all over it. All he'd tell the party was that it was 'Edom' from the map... the rest of the name he would only tell to the grandmaster telepathically.
GM: "So my soul destruction spell didn't work on him, because he's not a soul, he's an idea. As long as anyone thinks of that idea, he'll exist."
Kit (offhandedly since he wasn't really understanding what they were talking about): "What if you destroyed all the souls that had ever thought that idea?"
GM: "That would work, but that would be bad."
Kit: "Well, obviously. I wasn't suggesting you do it."
GM: "But you could cast such a spell -- using Edom as the focus, he'd be linked to all those souls, so I could craft that spell." He paused, and looked at Cho. "You realize this means you have to kill me."
Cho and Kit: "WHAT?"
He and Cho talked more about it, and violence didn't break out. Kit retreated to a safe distance, not wanting to get caught up fighting the grandmaster of the church of the eternal void. But later, he cast a spell on Cho while he slept, suggesting he write down a 'note to himself' about the nature of Edom and why the GM had thought he'd want to kill him, and leave it in a well-hidden place that Kit specified.
The answers were somewhat revealing, although they omitted certain details Kit might have wanted to know, since Cho would never write them down in a note to himself. Of course, Kit can't tell anyone about them, or Cho will know he knows. [which means I shouldn't write them here until the rest of the party finds out, just in case they read this] [although I don't think they do]
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