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Jan 27, 2023 12:18 PM
Teysa Karlov in Sunless Skies
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Teysa's visit with Uncle has concluded productively, and she is returning from the mansion district to the city center. She says farewell to the ancient solifuge golem Pazapatru who guards the bridge, but as she steps off its edge and her messenger thrulls approach, something ripples. She trips on her bad leg and briefly loses sight of her surroundings.

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Here is a quiet, worn, dark yard. Spires and blocks serving no clear purpose, geometric stonework all slightly off, like you're missing something from a trick of perspective. Still, clean canals intersecting at right angles. A pale gravel path just ahead, leading towards a broad mansion half-overgrown with ivy to the left, and what looks like an empty bus station to the right.

It's oddly cloudy, thick banks of something leaving the area to be lit only by strangely diffuse light and the string of lanterns along the path. Also rather open. No large buildings in sight, save the windowless mansion.

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What did the Izzet do now?

...this doesn't look like anything Ravnican. Too artificial for Selesnya or Simic, too open for anyone else.

She looks up.

Much too open. Even patriarchs can hardly afford this much sky.

Well. She finds her feet again. "Gruggs, follow."

First, she'll check on that carriage stop.

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Open sky: There's a lot of that. Out in front of the carriage stop is a large metal structure with guide rails, for some sort of flying vehicle, a large one at that.

And a lot of open sky ahead, and below. A few stars shine faintly in the distance, between cloudbanks.

The metal landing structure seems solid, if old. The stop otherwise consists of a few iron benches and a building with stained glass windows and a pair of restrooms and what looks like an abandoned ticketing desk. Completely empty and unlocled. There's a couple dozen lanterns inside and out which give off a steady pale orange glow. One is broken, revealing a cloudy orange crystal, now lightless.

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Well. That's settled, she's not in Ravnica any more. She hazily remembers theories of "other planes" mentioned by one of her tutors... Guess she can confirm it. If she gets back.

She is tempted to send a thrull to test those metal rails, but she might need them soon. The Gruggs are good bodyguards, but not enough for an entirely new environment. Also she's missing Phleeb already.

The lights... are not quite what she'd expect from Izzet work. But it looks like some kind of crystallized mana, unstable on contact with air, which is close enough. She will tentatively expect magic artifice works the same here.

Is there any signage? She ought to be able to read anything, as long as some mind nearby knows the language.

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A small sign indicates that this place is Piranesi.

Graffiti around back scratched into the walls says 'If change is part of life, then-" the rest is illegible.

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That is not reassuring.

"...then you'd best know which change you want"

"...then stagnation is death"

"...then this is where life begins"

No, none of that seems right. Nor reassuring.

Well. Whoever is in charge around here, she won't find them here.

"Elpheb, in front of me. Bephel, just behind. We're going towards the mansion."

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Near the great broad-shouldered mansion, it becomes obvious there is only one entrance. No windows, no side doors, just acres of stonework that looms perhaps larger than it should, framed by the carpet of ivy. Utter silence aside from the crunch of gravel, not even a breeze in the chill air.

Just in front of the mansion lies a small cottage of entirely different make, that doesn't fit next to the grand and imposing structure, surrounded by a - garden? A garden, save that it seems to be cultivating things one would normally consider weeds, all scraggly stem and thorns. The curtain twitches aside to reveal a brown-robed figure, wisps of grey hair falling from the hood, who silently takes in what they can observe of the approaching group.

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She stops at the edge of the garden. It barely registers; she's seen Golgari gardens full of mushrooms and bone. (Not often but she has.)

The sign said 'Piranesi'. Not 'Piranesi Manor' or anything like that. And... That's not a manor even a sun-scared vampire would live in. Which means... Hmm. Whatever it is, this isn't a cottage for servants. Perhaps a caretaker?

Right, start this out on the right foot... 

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She gestures her thrulls behind her and steps up the door to knock.

"Hello. I'm Lady Teysa Karlov, of Ravnica, and I suspect I'm very far from home. Could you perhaps help me?"

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"...Ah," an old woman's voice replies. "Yes, Piranesi does like to try collecting the lost. Well, you may come in and take our hospitality, if you wish. Tea and explanations. We don't use birth names, we Chaplains, but welcome to you, Dire Lady."

A glance towards her followers. "And friends."

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"I will, and thank you for it. I'll happily compensate you, if you have any use for zinos, though I expect you do not."

She looks back at the two ugly misshapen lumps of grey flesh in a semblance of humanoidity that escorted her. "Gruggs, stay. For the next, hmm, one hour, do not attack anything which does not harm you first. Bephel, call for me if a threat appears." The one that was behind her nods, but twitches its claws irritably.

She turns back to her host, "They are very poor guests. And their table manners even worse."

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"No business of mine if you say so. I do admit some curiosity to what would become of them if they went in."

She disappears into the cottage with a gesture.

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She follows inward. "I assume that means I oughtn't go in unprepared? I have no inkling what, or where, or perhaps who, Piranesi is. And where I am from, there is considerably less sky, especially as you go downward."

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Inside, two more robed figures wait. A bespectacled man whose eye-sockets are blackened pits is writing in a journal, and a jovial man who smiles at her, unlike the old woman's utterly flat expression.

"Piranesi is a prison," the woman explains. "Our role is to help inmates reach egress. None may leave Piranesi unaltered, but the form that their change takes can be... Channeled. We do offer tours for the curious."

"And for those seeking things. Insights, relics, absolution," the jovial man drawls. "The tours are perfectly safe if you stay with your chaperone and follow the rules! Witnessing is a sufficient change if you're a visitor and don't linger. Tea? We've not much selection, I'm afraid."

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She takes a small cup. No sense taking much of what is scarce. "Are you chaplains of some particular creed, or is it just the title for those who help the imprisoned? Ah, and what should I call you?"

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"Whatever we were before, we are now Chaplains of Piranesi," The woman speaks in an even monotone. "I am the Grey Conformer."

"I go by the Gallant Reformer," the tired but cheerful man continues. "Adjective optional. And our quiet friend is the Glib Performer. Our last member is out at the moment. I'm afraid there's little here for you, save waiting for a locomotive to try for passage, for what it's worth."

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"I see. Where might I get passage to? I have heard of universes beyond Ravnica, but only in the abstract. Visiting is not conventionally considered possible."

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The Reformer shrugs. "You are at Piranesi, which is in the region of Eleutheria in the realm known as The High Wilderness. Whatever brought you here, it is unlikely to return you, I should say. The key place of interest would be Pan, a neutral area of sorts near the center of this slim dot of relatively less lethal sky - or perhaps Eagle's Empyrean, though they are keenly and determinedly unfriendly to foreigners. To say nothing of foreigners who reek of strange magic. They do control the only way out of Eleutheria, of course."

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"Is all the Wildnerness so dark, or is that local?"

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"Oh, no, the Halved doesn't like light very much. And most of it is dark and cold, by volume, the spaces far from stars - don't follow any captain who wants to travel the wastes without a damned good reason - but the Reach and the rest of it is brighter, at least."

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"Then I shall endeavor to overcome the Empyrean's determination at some point. Fortunately, I am very convincing. I am - well, was, you're probably right - the very best of advokists. ...I believe the closest word in this language is 'solicitors', though that feels somewhat too narrow."

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"May it serve you well. There's a great many dangerous things, but the worst are often other people. Even here, where the phantasmal and metaphorical dangers are ascendant over straightforward ones like the things in the Reach that generally simply wish to eat you."

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"I've met plenty of phantasms, but mostly bound debtors and family, I don't imagine my experience will translate. People... well, not everyone can be reasoned with. But I believe I'll manage."

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"Hmm. Well, would you like that tour?"

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"Perhaps. What are the rules you mentioned?"

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