Chapter 1: The Covenant Ablaze

The manor house is on fire, its massive, hungry fingers caressing the walls of the old building. The servants, apparently without leadership, are panicked. Their screams and general disorganization are muffled by the snow and the night as they run about uselessly, some fleeing the fire, some simply screaming in fear.

Jonathan immediatly takes charge of the situation as best as he can, starts organizing evacuations, assesing the situation and determines what firefighting measures can be taken, if any are feasible.

The first thing I can think of is to cast my Endurance against Heat & Flames spell upon myself and upon as many people as I can.

Francisca, despite her promise to talk to the Redcap, has dozed off on her feet in the warmth of the Mercere house. She is awakened by jostling and shouting, and shakes her head. "What's the matter, dear?" she asks, to nobody in particular. She totters outside, pulling on her coats, and looks up at the flames. "What a pretty fire..." she mumbles to herself. "But it's really chosen an awful time to move in. Where will all the little people go? They don't have coats, or a good sturdy stick." She walks over to the burning building, mumbling and muttering. When she gets close enough to it that the heat is uncomfortable, she stands there and looks up at it. "You there! Fire! What is this nonsense?" She listens to it crackling. "Ah, you don't want to talk? Don't make me angry!" She rolls up her sleeves, a her wrinkles forming the picture of grandmotherly reproach, and places her hands firmly on the side of the foundation. "You can have the building, but I want to know where the people are!"

If she sees Jonathan, she'll point him to where the remaining people are - or were, at time of casting - all the while staring fiercely at the billowing smoke and muttering angrily.

((Spont InCo (base 3 + 3 structure + 1 touch = 15): 15 in + 2 Co + 1 sta + 4 aura + 8 = 30 /2 = 15 : locate all people in a structure))

With Francisca's assistance, Jonathan's primary focus is upon saving as many people as he can. If possible, he will coordinate fiirefighting efforts and hopes to contain the blaze. But human life is what is most important to him.

As an afterthought, he will send someone with lankets and burlap sacks to the naked magi at the springs, while the two magi smart enough to not take off their clothes will battle the blaze and rescue the covenfolk.

A few moments before or after Winds' appearance, Ilmari shows at the burning covenant. Without a word, ignoring any about him, he strides forward, a naked form in the orange glow stepping in from the snowy darkness, and without comment begins to create great slabs of thick ice on every flaming surface and area in an attempt to smother the flames, and trusting that the short-lived spell will do less damage than the alternatives.

The very heat of the blaze attempts to be a detriment to his abilities, but he is a master of this counter-element, and the penalty is negligible. He tries to avoid creating the ice on any floor that would be slick to step upon, but does what he has to to crush the flames, and as they fail he moves in, walking confidently. If a floor looks suspect, perhaps weakened by the flames, he will cast the ice spell to strengthen it, then creates a massive snowdrift over the ice to allow better footing, or simply magically jump forward to beyond the potential danger.

If luck is with him, the spell he usually relies upon to cut through the effects of weather also allows him to see through the smoke on the night winds, and he is able to see where he jumps next, doing his best to calm the beast that is as hungry as an avalanche, but less well known to him.

[color=orange](Casting total is +29 before rolling the die, vs a spell of Level 20 that covers a diameter of about 20 paces with ice each casting.)

Jonathan’s leadership and Nonna’s scrying are effective at whipping the people into shape - you are able to organize the panicked few into something resembling order and get a few more out in good time, those who are not too far in.

Ilmari is generally successful at keeping the fire at bay, but it is resilient, much more than you would think a natural fire would be. Of course, firefighting is not something any of you are experienced in - who’s to say how powerful a natural fire can be? He can work away at the fire and gradually push it back, but it is difficult and slow work involving many castings, especially since he must rely on snow and cold to smother or cool the powerful fire rather than water to douse it.

Going directly into a burning building is much more dangerous, but by carefully reinforcing the structure with spells it could be done.

Ilmari cannot see through the smoke, though whether this is because the fire is supernatural or because your spell wasn't designed for that purpose, you're not sure.

Now that you’ve had time to observe, several things are clear. The fire is present in several parts of the manor, perhaps more than could be explained if it had only one origin point. One of its origin points is near the servant’s quarters. Nonna, you know there are several dozen people in that area, and you can estimate that a great many of them will not make it out alive without help.

More shocking and distressing yet, enough to make any wizard draw breath, is where the fire is spreading. It blazes strong near the library, which is a series of smaller rooms inside the manor. Yes, the library. How bad the damage is, who knows, but the building is not yet fully engulfed, so it may be that much could be saved if you made that your focus.

Ilmari finds the various unexpected characteristics suspicious at best, but has neither the Arts nor the time to investigate them more directly. If need be (and he believes the floor can withstand the weight), he casts Walls of Ice in matched pairs to create a corridor to enter or escape deeper into the structure, sturdy barriers from floor to ceiling against heat and smoke. Those he cannot see through, so a small gap between sections if he intends to cast more spells deeper within would be needed, or simply to address the situation from the end of the created hallway, and hope he can resolve the issue before the unpredictably long-lasting magic expires.

If he is aware of the threat, he will work his way to the library, and wall it off from the flames. If that is successful, he then walks and uses Wizard's Leap as he attempts to work his way back toward the less irreplaceable sections of the covenant with a combination of the icy coatings and thicker walls, plus snowdrifts that fill entire hallways and rooms instantly, which, he hopes, will crush the advance of the flames and push them back.

Only if his tactics and spells prove inadequate will he attempt a spontaneous and direct magical repression of the very Form of Ignem, which he knows will fatigue him, and so will be limited in quantity. He'll attempt it in two stages - first attempt to reduce the intensity of one section of the fire at voice range to allow him to get closer to that section, then jump there, touch that, and affect the fire as a whole, either cooling it or at least reducing its scale on a room or structure level.

[color=orange](PeIg = 24+d (+confidence?) = 30+/2 = Level 15 effects)

Winds throws an arm up to sheild her face from the blaze as she quickly backs away from the building, having magically leaped in too close. Now that she is here, she is at a loss as to how to help, and just stands there as Ilmari rushes into the firey inferno, his passage marked by great sheets of ice and mounds of snow. When he dissappears around a corner into the building, Winds wakes from the daze she seems to be in, and looks down to the area around her. Pushing some slushy snow aside, she quickly grabs two rocks and runs into the building after Ilmari.

Following the path the Finn made is not that difficult with all the ice and snow leading the way. She reaches him in good time, and walks up behind him, letting him concentrate on quenching the fire. Having no spells of her own for fighting fire, Winds quietly follows Ilmari, prepared to assist should he find someone or something that needs to be taken out of here.

Francisca keeps her hands on the wall, but turns to Jonathan the next time he comes out with people in his hands. "There are people in the servants' quarters who are going to be quite dead quite soon, dear." She turns from him without waiting for his answer and looks up at the licking flames. "Fire, if you would be so kind as to tell us why you've moved in so suddenly? Were you invited too?"

((InIg 10: Learn all mundane and magical properties of a fire. 20 + 7 / 2 = 13))

Jonathan has the following spells he has cast upon himself…
ReIg15 Endurance against Cold & Frost
ReIg15 Endurance against Heat & Flames:
MuAn15 Doublet of Impenetrable Silk:
MuCo25 Gift of Bear’s Fortitude: Mastered 1 (Stalwart)

There are others that make up his full regiment of protective spells, but he wouldn’t be worried about those just now. What is important is that the first three are spells he can cast upon others; granting a +5 soak versus heat & flames as well as cold & frost, and presuming many items are made of wool or some such, he can give cloaks a +3 protection value.
He also makes some flame resistant blankets :wink:
(yes, he nods and winks when he does it)

He selects the seven bravest and fittest men he can identify, casts his spells upon them (they are all low level), and gives the best inspirational speech he can muster (Pre +2, Leadership 2, Gentle Gift and Self Confident).

“Men, you are now my Seven Champions, and this blaze set before us is our enemy. We have rescued many of our fellows, now we must rescue the White Lady herself! Our very livelihoods are at stake, for this is our only home. This is where yur families were raised, where many of you were born, where many of us hope to grow old. I shan’t lie to you. Some of us may not live to see the Day. But I tell you now that sacrifice shall not be in vain, and before this night is through we shall rescue the White Lady so that we may rebuild anew”.

And with that, he distributes the flame resistant blankets, has the men wet them in the sow (he can melt some), and we charge in to save the books of the library; either by beating back the fire or simply carting as many of them out of there as we can.

And with that, Jonathan splits his force in half, four men head to the library, Jonathan and 3 others head to the servants quarters.

Jonathan, your speech stirs the souls of these men. They are not much, just simple folk, but a few of them have a spark of heroism in them, and your speech feeds that in them. If they survive this night, they will be heroes indeed.

You take your band of inspired peasants forward into the heart of the fire, toward the servants quarters. Your ward protects you from small fires, but the blaze is much more intense and the structure much weaker as you get further inside. Your ward may not hold against the full might of the fire, and if the structure collapses it will help you not at all. You have some support from the men, but the fire deeper in is getting much hotter and angrier.

A little ways into the burning manor, you hear a groan off to your left. Andrei, the young quaesitor, is sitting down in the middle of the room, holding his head. He is bruised and has a deep gash on his forehead. His eyes do not quite focus on you, and he seems unable to speak straight.

"Er, hello, shodalis..." he slurs. "We sheem to be in a bit of a pickle..."

Whatever magic he has may have saved him this long, but he is in no condition to get himself out now. Your experience is limited in matters of healing, but it looks like he's suffered a head injury. The fire licks around you and your nervous band of erstwhile heroes, the rushing of air and the popping and crackling an eerie accompaniment to your mission.

Outside, the magi fight valiently against the raging fire.

The flames near you have grown by feeding on what is around them, but they have spread recently and originate from further inside the building. The are significantly hotter near their origin point, much more than they would naturally be. You cannot detect anything from within the center of the building, or near the servants quarters or library. How the original fire was spread is also a mystery - the fire is silent on both scores, like a petulent child with a secret. Perhaps there is some force or resistance blocking your scrying spell.

You are able to press on alone if you desire, and you could probably get to the library using this tactic if you make that your primary focus. However, you estimate the blaze is much stronger in the region of the library, and your spells of snow and ice may not be as effective against such a powerful fire, allowing you to only hold it bay rather than beat it back. Walling it off directly from flame may not be an option, depending on how hot the fire is and how much it has spread, and you may not know that until you're in there and it's too late. Perdo and Ignem would doubtless work better, but at the levels you can reliably cast, many fatiguing castings might be required (and then only if the fire is just a natural but very large fire, which is not at all certain at this point). You hesitate for a moment before going in, assessing your options. Perhaps one man alone cannot a library save? You can certainly clear a path, but charging in by yourself is a much less certain course.

((Do you want to cast the spont PeIg now, outside, or rush into the library and cast it there, or both? Or something else? I just wanted to make sure you knew all the options available to you before I had you charge in. What specific action would you like to take?))

During all of this, the rest of Jonathan's hastily formed band is doing the best they can - they're not running in fear as they otherwise might, for one thing. They are good men, but their heart is not in saving the library. Without leadership, they seem too afraid to go inside.

"We'll die fer sure if we go in there, Giuseppe!" says one, a well-muscled middle aged man with a scar on his face.

"Aye, but you heard the wizard. This is our home, and we have a duty to it!"

The men continue to fight the fire, but unless someone keeps a direct eye on them, leads them, and urges them onward, that's about all they'll do.

((The Elements:
Fighting a fire outside in a blizzard, especially when naked, takes its toll everyone, even magi. Winds, you have suffered a Light Wound from frostbite; luckily, your magic prevented it from being a Medium Wound.

Jonathan, Ilmari and Nonna remain unaffected by the cold, for now.))

Ilmari finds his frustration rising as the flame seems to penetrate through the thick sheets of ice that he casts, both from within if he tries to smother the flames, but also from without to fire the untouched timber that he thought he had safely protected. As he surveys the situation and weighs his options, he notices Winds, unexpectedly backing him -

"Thees fire es no normal, es mashigal, I know. Eet benetrade my shpells, eet ligke blague, jump ant boison from woot to woot. Ligke wolfs eatink at sheeps, one ant one ant more one."

He frowns, perhaps only against the orange heat and glare, but there is certainly ample cause beyond that as well. He scans the panicked servants quarters, but he is, among other things, cold, and cares less for servants that can be replaced than some of the works of long-dead scholars and archmages, which cannot.

"We try for make savink of liprary, yes? I haf no bower for brotectink at fire, only stoppink, ant nodt good thadt here. Eef you can be makink for wardink, that es blace."

He pushes for that section of the covenant, as it seems the fire is as well, using the first magnitude Snowdrift spell in hopes that if it's a matter of penetrating a magical effect, that one will have the best chance, using finesse to place and shape it beyond his touch, and backing that up with walls and sheets to slow the flames.

Once there, or near, if he thinks it will help he will create a massive wall of ice (or several) high in the air above a section of unburnt rooms, to fall and crush the structure between the library and the flames to the ground, hopefully cutting off the access of the fire to a bridge of fuel from where it now burns to where the parchment lies stored, equally vulnerable and valuable.

If necessary, he will use Inexorable Force of Ice to rend an exit in the back of the rooms, where the texts can be evacuated. He plans that here he will make a last stand, casting as many spontaneous PeIg effects as he can, and if it comes to it, until at the very last second he has to fastcast one last Wizard's Leap to get himself to safety with whatever last bundle of texts is at hand.

Winds furrows her brow as she tries to decipher Ilmari's words. Finally thinking she comprehends him, she nods and replies. "I'm not good against fire, but I took the time to grab some Arcane Connections from outside." She extends on of the rocks to the great finn, if he is interested in it. "If we get trapped or reach the library, we can start hauling out books without going through all the fire again."

Winds watches in silence as Ilmari casts spell after spell to fight back the fire. Suddenly she remembers her pater, who should be in here somewhere. Winds turns her head, looking about her, almost as if she expects to find him in one of the rooms right off this hallway, but she knows he is in here. Her face falling, and tears threatening her eyes, she continues to follow Ilmari. Her pater treasured knowledge, and would have been upset with her should she allow the library to go up in flames. The though doesn't make her feel any better though.

Fire and ice meet and do battle as the two magi press onward through the covenant, an arrow of blue and cold extending into a nucleus of flame, and the two of you walking the boundary. As you near the library, the heat is tangible around you. The question remains unspoken: will you be too late?

You near the place, and it seems that, just maybe, you might be able to save it. The fire has not yet spread to the library proper, and Ilmari’s walls of ice and sound tactics appear to be holding it at bay as you move in, your nervous breathing overshadowed by the rising steam and movement of air around the fire.

The two of you manage to make it into the library. There is one section that appears lost, but you are able to save most of it if you act quickly, especially now that you have been bought a reprieve by icy reinforcement. You collect several of the texts and begin to cart them out through the exit made in the back wall by Ilmari’s spell.

As you begin to leave, your arms laden with books, the fire manifests itself again, where no fire should, interposing itself in your path. A huge flame, over ten feet tall and shaped like a clawed hand wells up before you. It flows out of the ground and air like a liquid, reaching out at you. Its clawed grasp is desperate, almost hungry, as if it seeks to hold you close, to murmur and crackle at you, to devour you.

Ilmari has long since abandoned any belief that this fire is spreading naturally, tho' he has neither the time nor the skills to confirm that, much less analyze it to his satisfaction.

As the flames' grip latches firmly onto the edges of the shelves and beams of the library, Ilmari confirms what Winds may already be thinking in her own mind -

"Grap all, tayk whadt you may for last - we go now!"

In a last, perhaps futile gesture of defiance, he casts a Tomb of the Glacier upon a distant shelf of of books that is moments from the flame, and then casts a massive Wall of Ice above it, by the rafters where it will fall, attempting to crush it down thru the floor and to the basement, where it has some small chance to survive, and one final Snowdrift to fill where they stand and act as rear guard to both their retreat and the fall of the ice containing the books.

He ducks thru the bent and broken rend in the wall, still rimed by magical ice, both that and the Finn steaming angrily at the intrusion of the heat. Then, from nowhere - or nowhere but the realm and endless possibilities of magic - the wall of living flame arises, in their path but then menacing over and around them.

Ilmari knows his best formulaic spells have done little but slow this opponent, and his arms burdened with precious texts, fatigued from earlier castings, and, adding insult to injury, in the presence of great heat that deters from his magic, he does not think for a moment that a spontaneous spell might provide a defense. He uses the one spell that has saved him repeatedly from sudden avalanches and falling widowmaker trees, the unexpected rush of foul creatures and the unannounced pranks of the cold faeries of winter - with a bellow, he fastcasts Wizard's Leap.

Still within the tortured walls of the covenant, he cannot see his destination, and so takes his best guess as to above a deep snowbank, and aims high, well high and beyond any solid barrier, intending to then cast a second similar spell to land him on deep snow before his fall picks up any significant speed. One, two - and with luck he's out and safely away, the texts intact - and only then has time to hope that Winds' ability with Wizard Leap proves equal to the task as well.
(ReCo 20/+17 Wizard’s Leap 500 paces (Mastery 1: fastcast)
Speed = 3 + d.
Casting Total 17 +5 aura -3 heat - +1 Booming Voice -2 subtle gestures -10 fastcast...
= 8 - Fatigue - Encumbrance, + Confidence if necessary/helpful.
Second Casting may have additional Fatigue, but is not at -3 for heat.
"Speed" for 2nd casting is simply against the time he's falling - the sooner, the shorter.

Ilmari is able to escape, disappearing in a flash with texts in tow. Looking out at the burning covenant, he notes that the intense flame in the middle of the house appears to have changed form. Rather than spreading out, the flame in that region has condensed into the pair of hands. The fires near the exterior of the manor continue to burn unaffected, but the library remains relatively unscorched… for now.

Jonathan pulls Andrei from the smoking ruin, and lays him on the ground to check his injuries. But what do I know? He looks frantacially about to see if Francisca or Korvin are nearby...

The fire crackles menacingly around her, creeping ever closer and filling the room with noxious smoke. Coughing to try to clear her lungs, she works frantically to grab as many books and scrolls as she can before the fire eats them all. Cursing the fact that she doens't have a sack with her, or even a set of clothes that could become a makeshift carrier, Winds stacks the tomes high in her arms before turning to make her way out. She lets Ilmari lead the way, since she can hardly see over the pile of books in her arms, and bumps into his back when he is stopped by the flames blocking the door.

The feeling of being caught in a deathtrap settles over Winds as she truns about, looking for another way out. Ilmari shouts to her, and his words seem to bring her out of the panic that was starting to engulf her. Fumbling a little with the load in her arms, she touches the rock she picked up before she followed Ilmari into the burning manorhouse. As the Finn throws more ice and snow about in a last attempt to save the precious texts, she casts the spell One Giant Leap, using the rock as an arcane connection that will hopefully bring her back outside the manor safely.

Jonathan attemps to spontaneously cast Bind Wound (CrCo10. Creo 5, Corpus 5, Sta +2, plus the Aura, plus as many Confidence points at it takes (I can spend two at a time for +6). It is stressful, not the optimal conditions for spontaneous magic, especially a spont healing spell.