Chapter 2.1: Om/Ohm

At last, your efforts have finally brought you to Gemini's meditation chambers. Through your journey south, you were able to prove yourself to various Marcana families and troupes, all of which seem skeptical that the Mark of Merlin is real, let alone you being the Bearer of the Mark. However, you faced their tasks and came out of them a little bit smarter and having earned a little bit more respect.

With what information you managed to get out of the families, you were able to triangulate the location of Gemini's meditation chamber. By all accounts, the building you were guided to looks innocuous and open—not some high security meditation paradise. There only appears to be one entrance to the building: a door pulsing with magic shaped in a series of gears. You understand how just no one could walk into this chamber. The gears, while seemingly mechanic in nature, exude a magical energy that only experienced Marcana could hope to emulate.

"Well… let's give it a shot," you say to Chester as you take him out of your bag and place him on the ground. Concentrating inward, you try to connect to your magic and use your third eye to figure out the mystery of the gears.

Click.

You hear a rush of air as the doors to Gemini's meditation chamber open. You open your eyes to see the translucent cogs dissolve into thin air. Chester circles around your feet, jumping in joy over your triumph.

Success!

As the entrance creaks open, you are confronted by a cacophony of scents, ranging from burning sage to the crisp smell of citrus. Despite the vast array of aromas, from a cursory glance of the room, there are no burning candles or incense to be seen. In fact, there isn't much of anything at all.

The room, save for a figure in the center perched atop a cushion, is completely barren. As you walk into the chamber, you feel something serene about the place, despite its lack of décor. The room feels simultaneously teeming with magical energy yet also void of it. You notice Chester staying at the precipice of the room, almost unable to venture further with you.

The figure, presumably Gemini, is sitting with her back to you, her posture perfectly straight with seemingly no effort involved.

"This better be important if you are willing to disrupt this sacred time." Her voice rings out to you, perfectly calm and even. You wonder if everything about Gemini is perfect.

"Uh… well… I…" You stammer out.

"Or do you think that just because you have the Mark of Merlin, you can barge in whenever you please?" You see Gemini start to stand, and the movement is so graceful you can't help but think magic is involved somehow.

"Well you see… I... uh… Robert and—," you start to explain but, as if on cue, you hear a pop in the air as Robert appears beside you.

"Quillfire." Gemini addresses Robert, a hint of suspicion in her voice. Quillfire?

"Gemini. Sorry for the intrusion. I wouldn't have asked them to do this if it wasn't important." Robert seems very unlike himself when talking to Gemini. He is now acting more serious, more on edge. You wonder what could provoke such a change in him.

Gemini lets out a sigh. "Very Well. What is it?"

"Well… we have been seeing an alarming number of unearthed graves and we are starting to worry that this is indicative of a larger issue." It's weird to hear Robert sound so… formal and sophisticated in terms of vocabulary. You wonder if he's trying to mimic Alice.

Gemini looks incredulous. "This is what you bother me with? Those Illuden are just digging in the dirt again, looking for anything they can put in their vile machines."

"I talked with another Illudo and—" Robert rushes out, though as soon as the words come out of his mouth, regret colors his face.

"You talked with one of them?" Gemini's composure is breaking down as the conversation wears on. Despite seeming the picture of calm and levelheadedness, emotion easily breaks through, especially when the Illuden are mentioned.

"Yeah.. uh…" Robert stumbles back to his normal speaking cadence, "Alice... uh… Contoso…S-she said the Illuden weren't involved and uh…"

"Contoso?" Venom coats her words. Robert gulps and fidgets. You even hear a faint squealing from Chester behind you.

"Why would you ever believe a Contoso? Playing tricks and disrespecting the natural order of things." Robert stays silent. Gemini regains her previous stone-cold aura. "This matter is resolved. This is nothing, Quillfire, and you should think well about your actions today."

"Yes, Gemini…" Robert mutters out.

"And you," Gemini remarks, turning her penetrating stare towards you, "If this is what I am to expect from the Bearer of the Mark of Merlin, a half-baked horror story from Illuden who have so easily manipulated you, consider yourself unwelcomed from all Marcana events. I can tell you still have much to learn about our people."

With that note of finality, Robert leads you out of Gemini's meditation chambers. The doors close behind you with a whoosh, and you spy the spell crawling back over the entry, sealing her back inside.

"Well… that was a bust." Robert remarks, his mood changing to its previous casual nature. He spots Chester trying to burrow away and picks him up.

"So, what do we do next?" You ask, "It doesn't seem like we will be able to get the Marcana on board."

Robert hums to himself, stroking Chester's fur in contemplation. Your familiar seems to calm down with Robert's petting.

"Ah! You should head towards the Illudo headquarters and… uh…see if Edwin might have some answers? Edwin's the leader of the Illuden. Alice talks a lot about him—seems like a pretty cool guy. I bet we could get him to help us investigate!" Robert says in epiphany. He sets down Chester, giving him a final farewell pat. "I better get going to update Alice—thank you, my furry friend!"

"Wait! Hold on, Robert—!" With that, you see Robert vanish into the air and you're on your own…again. Without getting to ask any questions.

Great.

"Which way, Chester?" you ask, looking down at the now-content bunny. He seems to have heard you, as he does a few spins and then settles on a direction, his nose and body seeming to point out the way.

You take a deep breath, wonder what you have gotten yourself into, and trudge forward on Chester's lead into Illudo territory.