March 28 2013

We start at Graelys' house where Arthem is having dinner with Gwendolyn and Graelys. He got there a little late (due to dungeon shenanigans.) He is clean but beat up, wearing a red dress uniform he borrowed from Typher (which is decades out of style and looks like it belongs to Sgt. Pepper.) Over the course of dinner, Arthem questions Graelys to find out more about Lumious the Magnificent (he disappeared 200 years ago, he was a prodigious summoner with innate talent, no one knows where his home is.) Arthem tries to play it cool, but clearly tells Graelys more than he intends. At the end of the evening, Arthem obtains a wood-bound book from Graelys, to use as a scrapbook, and Gwendolyn walks him home.

Meanwhile, Sparrow returns home. Mama Octavia notes her improper attire, but only after assuring herself that Sparrow is OK. Half an hour later, Mama Elyse returns home (what have Elyse and Dreching talking about?!) and has some choice words for Sparrow about her lack of clothing and her taste in older men. After an angsty argument, both moms agree: Sparrow needs to avoid Dreching. Sparrow asks for a reason, but the only reason the moms give her is "Just trust us." Sparrow stomps upstairs in a massive sulk (because now she can't follow her heart without betraying her moms.)

Soon enough, Arthem returns home, walking on air from his date. On the walk home, Gwendolyn reassures him that Graelys knows about his relationship with Gwen, and isn't angry. Hooray! Arthem greets the moms who are excited that something has finally happened between Gwen and Arthem, but the mood turns more serious as they ask Arthem to get Sparrow and meet them in the living room for a serious talk.

Arthem goes upstairs and quickly pastes some mementos into his new scrapbook, before stashing the book on his highest shelf and the box of mementos under the floorboards. Sparrow greets him with surliness, but then congratulates him that things are going so well with Gwendolyn. She tells him how she feels about Dreching, and how unfair the moms are being, and how things never work out with nice guys. This comment reminds Arthem about how heartbroken Heron looked as he watched her dance with Dreching, and he makes a few connections. "You broke up with Heron??!!" "Is that what he told you??!!" And one more of her secrets is out. Arthem feels compelled to talk to Heron about this, but Sparrow feels that it's over and done with. She threw her heart at his feet only to be rejected, never to know the reason why, but that was over a year ago and now someone else has caught her interest. Talking to Arthem calms her, and they go downstairs to confer with the moms.

The moms have one of the three keys to Lumious' prison. They appear to be torn about whether Lumious should be freed. It would violate Elyse's responsibility to give Sparrow and Arthem her key, but in the end, they leave it in plain sight, and leave the room, knowing full well what will happen. Arthem tosses Sparrow Elyse's key, and they make plans to put the box beyond Valkyria's reach. Just then, Thieves' Guild ninjas attack!

Arthem fights three at once as Sparrow races to make sure the moms are safe. Just as Sparrow, Elyse and Octavia return, one of the thieves tears the necklace with the key off Arthem's neck and another thief stabs him in the head with a stiletto. Sparrow takes off after the two thieves in Arthem's vicinity in hopes of recovering his key, as Elyse heals Arthem from the verge of death. Eventually, the thieves split ways, and Sparrow must choose one to follow. She takes an arrow to the shoulder, but doesn't let that stop her from tackling the thief. She has trouble finding the key, and can clearly see Thieves' Guild backup on its way, and so she demands that the thief (who serves the greater darkness) give her the key. "It's mine. Return it." The power of Sparrow's shadow compels him, but…"I do not have the key, Mistress."

Sparrow doesn't have time to be freaked out about this, though she almost certainly will later, and many more thieves are on their way, so she races back home. Things are under control, Arthem is doing much better, and Octavia heals Sparrow's arrow wound (Incidentally, Paladin healing requires the paladin to take the injury up themselves. Unsettling.) Arthem is concerned that if the Thieves' Guild is after him and Sparrow, they may attack the Red Guard post, so he and Sparrow hurry over.

Babbage (a previously unknown NPC) is guarding the gate. She challenges Arthem to state his name and business (even though he lives at the guard post and they've known each other for years.) Things are getting a little ugly (he calls her "Babbs" before finally acquiescing) but just as he passes Babbage, Sparrow has a horrifying realization. "There's nothing they want here… Dreching!" She takes off into the night, concerned for Manas' safety. Arthem definitely needs his sword, so he sends Babbage to tail Sparrow and keep her safe until he gets there. After he grabs Archaeus, he asks Typher for some help, and ends up heading over to Dreching's manor with Vicar (another previously unknown NPC).

Things are very wrong at Dreching's manor. The beautiful library is on fire, and though there are some people milling about on the lawn, he's nowhere to be seen. Sparrow suckerpunches a guard and leaps through defensive wards and a broken window to check the library and make sure no one's in immediate danger (especially Manas Dreching, ahem.) As the flames spread towards her, she sees his valet Bates lying unconscious in the middle of the library and (with some singeing) carries him to safety on the lawn. He comes-to and tells her that Manas is on the second floor, in his bedroom. Sparrow scales the side of the mansion, and enters his bedroom through an open window. The glass case holding the book has been shattered, and one thief has lost his hands, but the box is nowhere in sight. Manas is down, with a dart sticking out of his neck and blunt force trauma to the head. Sparrow carries him outdoors to safety, and tries to wake him, but in the end, she has to admit that there are things that need doing now. She and Arthem gather up some of the Red Guard (Babbage and Vicar) and head out.
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