Umbriel remains at the covenant recovering from her wounds, whilst the other magi head out to see if they can locate the magi of Ungulus covenant who have gone missing. At Ungulus, they meet with the only 'surviving' member, Sinead ex Miscellanea, who is now in Twilight and little more than a ghost.
Both spirits and undead have appeared from caves beneath the Lake District over the last few months, and most of them have been cleared. There was one particularly large cave complex though which the Ungulus magi did not return from. One of the grogs, Paul, is able to lead the magi there and fill them in on what he knows.
Most of the upper levels have been cleared, and seem to consist of low level magical regios, including a large underground garden with walking trees, burial pits and statues of various Roman gods. Several of the corpses date back about a thousand years, and seem to be Roman in origin. There is some sign of both magical and mundane fighting throughout the complex, and it seems that the Ungulus magi were not particularly subtle in their explorations.
Further down, they locate some ghosts who say they are headed for the 'world above', where there is rumoured to be a sky that goes on forever. They are from the 'world below', and many of them have left recently because a sleeping darkness is awakening. They were told of the world above by the Gentle Lady, who has come to them recently. The ghostly woman mentions that they should pay their respects to the gate keeper when the reach the world below. Deeper into the regio, there are further rooms of Roman design, plus an iron doorway that is covered with hellish symbology that feels cold to the touch. The magi leave it alone.
There is a Roman marketplace, full of living people, who seem to think that they are in Rome, though they aren't too sure. It seems to be a part of a city, but the magi are unsure about how far it extends beyond the cave. At the centre of the marketplace is a great temple, one giant stone statue and another similar one that is in pieces on the floor.
Asking around, the magi discover that another group of sorcerers came through at 'some point', and destroyed the statue. They went onwards though. They know of the 'world below', which is beyond the Halls of the Gods, where people may make requests of the gods if they are willing and able to take their tests. Beyond the gates of Pluto though is the world below, and the great lake.
Seeking ever onwards, the magi find a great hall which has five gateways - to the temples of Mercury, Minerva, Pluto, Venus and Mars. Though their grogs want to investigate the temple of Venus, which has some most explicit statues adorning the gateway, they head directly to the small dark gate of Pluto, where there are many dead bodies and signs of recent physical violence - including the use of fire.
Beyond Pluto's hall, is a stairway that leads down to a woodland glade at the foot of a cave wall. Above seems to be starlight, and in the far distance seems to be a great lake. The cave seems to be several leagues in size at least. Nearby is a stone monolith, on which is inscribed some Greek writing (which none of the magi are able to read) and there is a skeletal creature trapped beneath the stone.
The creature, who says his name is Ex, asks for the magi to free him, and that he can show them how to move between worlds if they do so. Not trusting him, Columbanus casts a Demon's Eternal Oblivion and seems to kill him. Behind them, the doorway back out of the regio vanishes.
With the path out of the regio closed behind them, the magi head towards the nearby town to investigate. It is inhabited by what appear to be humans, who call their place 'Home'. They are aware of a group of wizards who came through recently. They were rude and aggressive, and went out to one of the nearby isles where they woke the sleeping god. They are believed to have been killed.
The elders say that they have been here a long time, for many generations, and that the path through which the magi came was opened only recently. They are not the only people here however - there are also some giants and a tribe of centaurs, though they do their best to avoid these. The realm is lit by starlight during the night, and during the day the reflection of a sun appears in the Sea of Stars, which lights the whole realm.
The other recent visitor to Home is known as the Gentle Lady, who introduces herself as Adellade. Appearing as a young woman, she is a traveller from another realm who seeks to explore as much of the Magic Realm as she can, helping those in need. She is able to translate the inscription on the obelisk which the demon was trapped under, and says that it reads:
The Door Keeper is here, trapped by stone
By his gaze does the way remain open
She tells the magi some of the history of the place. The sleeping god is named Batariel, a Grigori from before the time of the Flood. He was banished here long ago, and the giants are descendants of the nephilim. Since he was woken, he has gone to beyond the Sea, and dwells near another gate at the bottom of a great waterfall.
Adellade agrees to accompany the magi through this place, telling them that there are a number of islands: The Isle of the God, the Isle of Dreams, the Isle of Tears, the Isle of Lost Souls, the Isle of Tartarus and the Isle of Skulls.
Taking a boat, they head to the Isle of the God, stopping off briefly to visit the ruins of an ancient Greek city on the shore. There are some spirits of children here, but the place seems mostly deserted. At the island, there is a great gash in the centre which still boils with lava, as well as the bodies of the magi who have been burnt to a cinder. There are giant broken manacles, statues of weeping angels and some inscriptions on the stone. Adellade translates the four inscriptions as:
- Here sleeps Batariel, the twelfth who swore the oath of Semjaza on the summit of Mount Hermon, to take for themselves the wives of men in order to beget children.
- Here is bound Batariel, the twelfth associate of Semjaza, who defiled himself with women, and who has seen his sons slay one another and the destruction of his beloved ones.
- Here is kept Batariel until the day of judgement, when he will be released from his torment of the abyss of fire after seventy generations in the valleys of the earth.
- Here is Batariel, watcher over men. If he should be awakened, kneel before his might or know the fires of his wrath.
They relieve the corpses of what is left of their possessions, and head across the Sea of Stars towards the waterfall, a journey of 100 miles, which takes several days. The current of the sea grows stronger the further they travel from shore, as it draws the boat towards the falls.
The ignore the rest of the islands save for that of Tartarus, which is not much more than a black rock with a small temple. The temple is empty save for a blood stained font, and more greek inscriptions, which read Drink of the last drop of life of an innocent from the font of seeing, and the way will be clear before you. She believes that there is a regio gateway here, but that it is sealed.
The magical aura of all the islands seems to be much stronger than that of most of the regio.
Eventually the magi reach the great falls, which is some 50 miles wide and plunges down ten miles. Beyond the falls there seems to be a great nothing. Beaching their boat on an outcropping of rock where there are some empty buildings, the magi pause to decide what to do next.
Whilst camped at the edge of the world, there is much discussion about what to do. There is a feeling that going down the waterfall to find Batariel and the way out could be really dangerous, but also that it is the only real option. At this point Vladimir informs the others that he has a voice in his head that has told him that the way through the Tartarus gate is safe, though requires the sacrifice of a person to open it. There is considerable questioning at this point, and he admits that he's had it since he was performing some experimentation on the Fire artefact. He thinks it prevented a major catastrophe at that point, and it's also helped him on other occasions. It also told him that giving the Fire artefact away was a bad idea, but he ignored it then.
Eventually it is decided to head down the waterfall. The magical aura increases considerably, until they find a set of gardens and buildings beneath an overhang some ten miles down and inside the Magic Realm. The waterfall continues flowing onwards into a dark watery void. The noise here is incredible, and the magi are unable to hear themselves speak until Shale creates a sealed stone room for them. At this point Columbanus casts a Demon's Eternal Oblivion on Adellade, but it apparently has no effect.
There is a temple here, flanked by two statues of Sleep and Death, with the words “May Her Dark Embrace Enfold You” above the entrance. Adellade says that this is a temple of Nyx, the goddess of night, and that there is a gateway beyond.
Beyond the entrance is a grand temple, the far wall of which is an image of a mountain village. The image is blurred in places, and shifting in others. Above it, resting on the pillars, is a huge black-red dragon. Adellade immediately falls to her knees, and the others follow. He speaks, and the sound of the waterfall is dispelled by his Celestial words. Only Shale is able to understand, and the words reshape his mind further to improve understanding. It is Batariel, who seeks the key to the path from this realm.
A ghostly apparition walks out from the image, a beautiful woman clad in night, a spirit of the goddess Nyx. Through Adellade she tells them that the path is hidden, but can be found through a ritual. She knows the ritual, but cannot power the ritual without vis - Rego Imagonem. Adellade tells the magi that there is a source available back at the village. The magi promise to help, and head quickly back to the top of the waterfall.
Adellade explains that the vis can be harvested from the people of the village. There were magi of old, the druids, who could harvest vis in this way, and Columbanus is capable of such ritualistic sacrifice, and she can show him how. He is strongly against the idea, though there is some discussion amongst the magi.
It is decided that before they do anything else, they need to explore all their options and investigate the other islands in the Sea of Stars fully. The nearest is the Isle of Skulls, which is a rocky island covered in the bones of dead people and animals. Columbanus and Vladimir investigate it, and discover a stone structure in the middle of the isle where some skeletal warriors animate. They are quickly destroyed, and some corpus vis collected from them.
On the boat, Shale notices that Adellade has vanished without trace.
There is no sign of Adellade, and no indication of where she has gone. On the Isle of Skulls, Columbanus and and Vladimir manage to harvest a few more pawns of vis from skeletal warriors, but their numbers seem limited. They do discover though that the casting of Corpus and Animal spells within the bone circle is greatly amplified.
The magi head back quickly to the village (leaving the two grog at the island) just in case Adellade is up to no good, with Vladimir risking the casting of teleports in the high aura. At the village, there is a group of people on the beach clustered around a body washed up on the shore - it is Adellade. Approaching invisibly, the magi here what seems like Adellade blaming them for something, and the villagers promising to protect her. At that point she cries out that “they are here”, and with a scream of pain her body dissolves into mist and vanishes.
The villagers think they are under attack, and see Shale coming along the beach. It is not hard to disable most of the villagers with magic, and the rest run off. The magi leave not wanting to get into a fight just yet.
Instead, they head to the Isle of Dreams, which is a tropical paradise island of golden beaches and lush woodland. The people here are happy and relaxed, and welcome the magi. Columbanus notices that there is some magical effect which is being stopped by his Parma Magica. Shale hasn't noticed anything, but Vladimir seems content to stay here and relax on the beaches. Investigation shows a Rego Mentem effect on the land, and both a Perdo Mentem and Creo Corpus effect in the lake at the centre of the isle.
After some 'persuasion' Vladimir is dragged away from the isle until he recovers his mental capacities.
The next island of investigation is the so called Isle of Lost Souls. It is a bare island with rock formations that look like a ruined city. Once on the isle, the magi have glimpses of ghosts and apparitions. There is what looks like a temple, and within it is a statue of a woman garbed in red, with a stone bowl at her feet. The magi try filling the bowl with various substances, which seem to cause the statue to change her posture, and for the offering to be consumed into the stone. However, the filling of it with blood seems to upset her.
Eventually, Columbanus tries to gather the essence on the statue. It splits in two, half of it crashing to the floor and the bowl shatters. Golden blood bleeds from the floor, and forms into six golden beads of intellego vis.
At that point, there is from outside the sound of the flapping of large wings, and the magi see the dragon Batariel heading in the direction of the village. Sometime later, they see the flicker of fire from that direction.
Once Batariel has left the village, the magi head down to it to investigate the remains. There are still survivors, but many of the villagers are dead. Those that live flee from the magi. After some experimentation, it is determined that none of them have vis.
Heading along the coastline, they re-visit the ruins of the Greek city, and meet the spirit of a woman. Since she only speaks Greek, they are unable to communicate a great deal. They then head to the Isle of Tears, where women are said to weep for their lost husbands.
The women are friendly, and very attracted to the magi. They speak Greek and Latin, and tell the magi that they are the wives of men of magical power, but they were banished here long ago. They invite the magi to stay with them, but the magi want nothing to do with them. Columbanus finds out that any magic cast on this isle is likely to go wrong.
Back at the prison of Batariel, they try to summon the ghosts of the dead magi whom they were originally trying to find. However, Columbanus has two Twilight experiences in trying this. He eventually determines that the magi's spirits have been destroyed, and their bodies already harvested of vis.
After much discussion, and a bit more exploration, they finally decide to go to the Temple of Nyx again, hoping that the dragon is not there waiting for them. Inside, they meet the spirit of Nyx again. Though they are unable to speak Greek, both she and Shale are able to converse in the Celestial language he'd learnt from Batariel. She says that the place is a gateway to a temple at Megara in Greece. She can open it, but will not allow anyone to pass.
She knows nothing of needing rituals or vis to open the path - the magi determine that Adelade was probably lying about that. They decide not to force the issue, and try to find their way home in the Twilight Void. The magi step off the rock, and plunge into the waters of the Void at the base of the waterfall.