Author Archives: prions

Final Session (novelization)

Kami was getting tired.

REALLY tired.

This was quite an accomplishment.  After all, Kami regularly took blows to the head and vertical falls of thirty feet without even blinking, but this was a long, dragged-out torture that made those experiences seem pale.  He was holding onto Olivia’s right arm as she flapped tirelessly over the White Sea, and he had been doing it for a LONG time.  They had occasionally taken breaks before they got to the ocean, but it had been a full twelve hours of open, freezing sea and this was getting very old very quickly.  Jacob and Veria were both crammed into Kami’s carrier, and while Veria’s snuggling was keeping Jacob warm, it was still a long way from comfortable, especially since the sun had already set and the wind was picking up.  Kami shot a glance across to Hunter, who was holding onto Olivia’s left arm, and he looked similarly unhappy.

Kami glanced up at Olivia, who was still flapping away endlessly, as only she could.  Her face seemed a bit more worried than usual though, as though she was thinking about something she would rather not.  Normally Olivia seemed to relish facing every possibility, but not this time.  Kami wondered for the hundredth time what was bothering her and why she wouldn’t explain more about her mentor, Swar, who was apparently an unshaped Raksha?  This was all very strange.

Suddenly, quite unexpectedly, a flash of light appeared directly in front of Olivia with no warning.  Olivia instinctively drew both her hands up in front of her in a defensive posture, dropping both Hunter and Kami (and Jacob) down towards the freezing White Sea.  Hunter rapidly activated his flight charm, On Wings of Night, and as his anima billowed around him into black wings he grabbed a hold of Kami and heaved them back upwards towards Olivia.  As they flew back upwards, they saw a blue hologram of a person (difficult to see who from this distance and angle) talking to Olivia.  They missed the first part but as they arrived they could hear a little better.

“—could only send this message 500 miles so I hope you are within range this time.  Carnot and the rest of the Technomage council have approved taking Swar, and have sealed off your manse.  I told Carnot we don’t have the right to do this but he said all sorts of awful things about you, how you want to destroy Exaltation, and how you’re working to bring Creation to a new age that would destroy us.  If you get this message, be careful.”

The message flickered out.  Kami managed to identify the technology as some sort of long-distance message projection using technology, a thaumaturgical version of Infallible Messenger, apparently limited in range to 500 miles.  Hunter, meanwhile, identified the speaker as Isabelle, one of the Technomages from Langri-Sha who Olivia had cultivated a relationship with.

Olivia glanced down at Hunter and Kami.  She put up a bit of a poker face, but she could see they were worried and let a bit of her own worry show.

“Sorry about that guys.  I wasn’t expecting any messages.  Are you okay?”

Jacob yelled up over the wind, “We’re okay!  Are you okay??”

Olivia smiled.  “Yes I’m okay.  I just got a letter from a friend.  We have to hurry.  My home is in trouble.”

Hunter peered at Olivia closely.  Shakkai had hinted that Olivia was not to be trusted.  Would she still be loyal to Hunter and Kami if she could save her home by acting otherwise?  Perhaps the most likely answer would be that it would depend whether Olivia’s home was a more valuable asset than Hunter and Kami were…

***

The remainder of the journey across the White Sea was uneventful, and went a bit more quickly with Hunter flying Kami for a bit before returning to Olivia’s care.  Once land was in sight, everyone seemed a bit relieved, but this land was much less inviting than what they had left behind.  Only glaciers and snow-covered mountains loomed ahead, and the breaks were not very restful anymore.  Regardless, they forged ahead as quickly as possible, with Olivia doing most of the carrying.

Finally, Olivia took them down to a ravine between two large glaciers.  She looked around as she landed and said, “We’re getting close.  Last break.  Once we go in, we’ll see what we’re up against.”

Kami and Hunter both nodded and stretched their shoulders.  Jacob wriggled a bit, anticipating being let out, and Kami quickly obliged him.  As Jacob and Veria started running around and playing, with Kami watching, Hunter and Olivia watched as well.  Jacob was clearly healthy now, able to run without being winded and getting up quickly when he fell over, even in the snow.

Olivia’s sharp hearing suddenly detected the sound of approaching hoofbeats.  She whirled to face that direction, and her body language rapidly keyed Kami and Hunter to draw their weapons and face the same way.  Kami also gestured to Veria, who quieted down and led Jacob around a corner of the ravine.

Around a bend in the ravine came something that all three party members saw differently.

Kami saw a large anthropomorphic fox riding a blazing stallion.  The fox had glassy weapons and exquisite armor and had flames licking from his bright red-orange fur.  His large tail was like a banner and his eyes burned with red fire.

Hunter saw a Raksha, an enemy that needed to be slaughtered.

Olivia saw the Fox Cataphract, a creature from Swar that was for a long time an extension of him but who has been gaining power.  Since he had clearly left Swar recently he probably had his own Heart Grace now and was a fully fledged Raksha.

Olivia gestured to Hunter and Kami to stand down as she called out, “Fox Cataphract!  Long time no see!  What news?”

The Fox Cataphract didn’t slow down until he was much closer, at which point he dismounted with a flourish and drew his sword, prompting Hunter to raise his Grand Daiklave again.  Olivia stepped forward to defuse the situation, affecting an air of confusion.

“Olivia!”  The Fox Cataphract cried out.  “Where have you BEEN?  Do you know what’s happened?”

“I got Swar’s message once I reentered Creation,” Olivia said placatingly.  “I came as fast as I could, with help.  What’s happening?”

“The intruders have completely sealed up Swar and the manse, and are draining his power already.  They must be stopped!  I almost didn’t make it out alive.  You must have led them here!”

“I did no such thing, at least not intentionally,” Olivia said, trying again to be placating.  “How many are there?”

“There are hundreds now,” The Fox Cataphract said, his rage still seething.  “Else I would have slaughtered them myself.  They came prepared, they knew about me and about how to isolate him.  They’re clearly magical experts.  You must lead the charge to save our master.  This is the moment you were created for!”

Olivia nodded grimly, but as she turned to Hunter, she scowled in a way that made Hunter think this wasn’t what Olivia had in mind at all.  He nodded slowly and looked at the Fox Cataphract.  “We are friends of Olivia and our loyalty is to her.”

“Then your loyalty is truly to Swar, since her loyalty is to him,” The Fox Cataphract said haughtily.  “I too have freedom now to move about Creation, but I do not forget those things that make me.”

Kami was confused.  “Swar made Olivia?  I don’t understand, she’s no Raksha.”

The Fox Cataphract snorted.  “She may as well be.  She has been alive a long time.  When she was a weeping child escaping the Great Contagion, all those centuries ago, Swar took her in and made her a weapon.  Now she will prove her worth once and for all.”

Olivia’s face was briefly shrouded, a mask hiding an internal conflict.  After a moment she seemed to settle, and her resolve returned.  She turned to the Fox Cataphract and smiled again.  “I will see if I can save Swar, but I owe him only as a mentor, not a creator.  I have my freedom now, as do you.  Pledge your loyalty to me, Fox Cataphract, or suffer the consequences.”

The Fox Cataphract laughed a deep belly laugh that trailed off in foxlike jeers.  “Obey you?  Foolish girl.  You are still just a mortal.  Watch your tongue or I will consider your usefulness at an end.”

“Funny, I was thinking the same thing,” Olivia said, her face now stern and cold.  “Is that what the fox says now?  I think we should find out what else he says,” turning to Hunter with a meaningful glance.  Hunter smirked, then as the Fox Cataphract raised his sword with an enraged grimace, Hunter suddenly activated his combo and blasted straight through the Fox Cataphract with three near-simultaneous blows that cut the unwitting Raksha into pieces.  The pieces caught fire as they flew apart, rapidly disintegrating into ashes as Hunter flicked his Soulsteel Grand Daiklave and sheathed it on his back.

The Fox Cataphract’s head was the last to combust and as it did so, his final words rang out: “You will regret this, Olivia…“

Olivia shrugged.  “That’s what the fox says.”

Kami watched with a tinge of worry.  Olivia made a point to appear as though nothing ever affected her, but this trip clearly had.  Olivia sighed and turned back to Hunter and Kami.  “Well now we know what we’re up against.”

***

Debate had gone on for a while about how to approach the manse and whether to wait for dawn, but finally the plan that was agreed upon was the simplest: walk up and ask to talk to Carnot right away.  The logic was that the Technomages were probably ready for anything at this point, having scanned all their brains a while ago, and the hope was that they could see there wasn’t necessarily hostile intent if they started with the diplomatic approach.  Kami applied Anointment of Miraculous Health to all three of them and in they went.

Crazily enough, it seemed to work.  As Olivia, flanked by the imposing Exalts on either side, approached the perimeter guards around her manse, several approached but made no overtly dangerous move.  Olivia could clearly see a wall was already under construction around the entire area, built with mechanical automata.  Interesting, as the Technomages were clearly advanced enough to have access to sorcery but they were eschewing summoned demons or elementals.

As they approached, one of the guards raised his arm and called out, “Halt!  Identify yourselves.”

Kami slipped his goggles on, and this guard was human, but he was flanked by four guards who appeared to be more automata with wire-frame illusions of humanity wrapped around them.  He whispered this information out as Olivia announced, “I am Olivia of the Guild, here with my associates Hunter and Kami.  We come in peace, free love, and capitalism! We wish to speak with whoever is in charge.”

A short delay as the guard watched suspiciously, but then one of his flankers touched his shoulder and nodded.  The guard seemed on edge still, but acquiesced: “Please follow me to meet with the field councilmen.”

Olivia, Hunter and Kami were escorted into a squat, bunker-like building that had been hidden by the rise of the hill.  Inside, they were taken through a maze of halls and rooms, and everywhere Technomages were assembling equipment and repairing automata.  They were obviously in the middle of a huge project, and the building itself had been hastily assembled from some type of factory-produced material.  Kami and Hunter wondered just what they were up to.  Olivia had no such doubts.

Finally they entered a makeshift meeting room, with three of the Technomage Councilmen sitting behind a large table made of the same material as the walls.  The human guard left but the four automata remained in the room.  Four more were already in the room, flanking the councilmen.

The middle councilman was Carnot, flanked by men with nameplates that said Gill Bates and Zuck Markerburg.  Carnot was shuffling a few papers, and as the three took seats across the table, Carnot passed some of the papers to his two peers, who started to review them.  He looked Olivia steadily in the eye.  From a closer distance Olivia could see that Carnot himself was Wyld-touched, with one long canine, pointed ears, and two different color eyes, neither of which were normal colors anywhere in Creation.

“So,” Carnot said after a short pause.  “Olivia of the Wyld, you return to your mentor too late to save him.  My question is, do you think you can barter for your mentor’s life?”

Olivia smiled a disarming smile.  “Carnot, my friend, I am a Guild Factor; all we do is barter!  I was hoping you could enlighten me a bit on why you’re here though, I was under the impression your home in Langri-Sha was sufficiently impregnable to keep outsiders at bay.  Why choose this much more desolate location?  Why come here?”

Carnot smiled.  “I’m sure you’ve figured out already that we intend to trap Swar and drain his essences to power a new city.  I would have to say that you may have guessed that Zi-Band-Ar, the unshaped Raksha below Langri-Sha, is nearly dead, his Graces holding together by only a thread, and he will soon perish.  We need a new home, especially because we anticipate that the Yozis have an 86% chance of invading Creation within the next two years.  We had originally sent Quetzalcoatl on a long range mission to capture the criminal Heinz, who knew of our existence, but also to try and find some way to extend Zi-Band-Ar’s lifespan and save our civilization.  When we found out about Swar, we knew we had a chance, one chance, to keep our civilization going.  We have survived since before the Usurpation and we hope to continue surviving long after the next one.”

Olivia nodded.  “I’m sure there are many things you could still benefit from having, even if Swar will give you all you need.  I think we can come to an agreement.”

Carnot frowned.  “We don’t need anything.  I’m going to make you an offer right now: walk through that door” — he gestured to a door in the wall to his left — “and we will allow you all to walk away freely.  I would strongly advise you to take this offer.  Frankly, you have already delayed the near-inevitability of the Yozi invasion through your work so I encourage you to keep that up.  But we here at the Technomage Council will take no chances.  Our civilization must go on.”

Olivia glanced at the door, then back at Carnot.  “An enticing offer, but I believe I can make you see the benefits of capitalism yet.  Also, I think that you are underestimating me.  If you insist on hostility, you will not survive the next two years.”

Olivia then glanced around at the guards which had subtly moved, then to Hunter and Kami.  Carnot noticed her looks and commented, “If you’re hoping Hunter of the Gloaming Truths and Kami will protect you, you should wonder if they will do so when they learn of your intentions to erase Exaltation from the face of Creation.”

Hunter shrugged.  “I myself want to erase all of a certain kind of Exalted from Creation, so who am I to judge?”

Kami frowned, but made no move away from his friend Olivia.

Olivia smiled at her two friends.  “Guys, you should go.  Just in case the negotiations don’t go the way I think they will, you don’t need to get caught up in Guild business.”

Hunter and Kami looked at each other, then slowly nodded.  They slowly stood up and left.  As they walked out the door and through the hallway back to the outside, Kami hesitated.  “Do you think she’ll be okay?”  Hunter shrugged.  “She’s a survivor, she’s made her way in the world this long, I think she’ll keep it up.”  Kami nodded, resolving to keep his commitment to Olivia’s Anointment of Miraculous Health active.

***

Olivia watched them walk out the door, then once they were gone, she turned back to Carnot with a gleam in her eye.

“I can see that you have a number of needs that the Guild would be more than happy to help you meet, particularly with regard to raw materials to which you lack access. I’m sure you’d want to keep this location secret, so we can continue using the Langri-Sha post, unless you’d like to make other arrangements?”

Carnot seemed almost taken aback by Olivia’s brashness.  “You really do think you can trade with us?”

“I know we can,” Olivia said without missing a beat.  “Should you choose not to cooperate, I will simply use my manse’s Wyld revocation to reshape the entire environment within the manse’s range to something… much less hospitable.  Incidentally, that’s a distance measured in miles.  I will also publicly disclose your identities, location, and role in the attempted Yozi invasion.  By that point, I doubt I would even need my shockingly large number of divine and Exalted allies to finish you off.”

Carnot turned white listening to Olivia casually threaten to undo his life’s work.

“That said, I’m sure we can agree to better terms for everyone. If you could simply assist with the relocation process, I’ll take my guardian force elsewhere and leave the manse to you. On top of that, you have an opportunity here to ally yourself with a mighty power. My friendship could be a priceless asset when the Yozi Reclamation comes, and until then my division of the Guild will provide profitable trade for everyone involved.”

Carnot was entirely speechless.  Gill Bates was a bit quicker on the draw, and articulated his confusion: “In all this, you have yet to have mentioned the fate of Swar.  What do you think you can trade us for him?  We need him for our survival.”

Olivia smiled.  “You can keep him.”  In one move she ripped the Bracelet of Shared Life from her wrist.

***

Kami and Hunter had just made it past the perimeter and were into the unlit snowy wastelands when Kami jerked, stunned by the release of the essence from Olivia’s Anointment of Miraculous Health.  He looked back, worried, but his attention was drawn in a moment by Hunter’s body language.  Approaching them from out of the snow was a massive unicorn with two riders.  One was Richard, bundled up against the cold but recognizable for his smirk.  The other was a female Raksha from the East, green-clad and carrying a large wooden boomerang.  Her long green hair had antlers protruding outwards with a beautiful, calming flower pinned to one of them, and her voluptuous chest was held in place by an elaborate leafy bra.

Richard waved at Kami and Hunter.  “I sort of figured you only turned me down to help your friend.  Looks like you’re done with that, interested in joining a cause now?  We really need your help.”

Kami and Hunter looked at each other again.  In a moment, the decision was made.  They both started walking towards the unicorn.  Kami shouted out, “Sure I’ll help.  Is it okay if Hunter comes?”

Richard smiled, “Of course!  We have work for someone like you!”

Hunter shrugged.  “I’ll come and go I guess.”

Kami looked back again, worrying.  In a moment, however, he saw (or thought he saw) a winged figure zip out of the city and into the frozen wastes.  Kami still had to force himself to not run back there, but he knew that with all of Creation at stake, he had to have more friends than just Olivia anyway, and Hunter was right: she was probably fine.

“Okie dokie,” the Raksha said cheerily.  “My name is Yvonne, and I’ll be your host today!  Everyone say hi to my friend Aveskzia!  She’ll be giving us all a ride back to the Bull of the North’s secret base.  We have a lot of work to do!”

“Indeed,” Kami said slowly, looking at Jacob, and realizing that curing Jacob had consumed his life for so long that now something new was bound to take its place.  “A lot more yet needs to be done.”

“Huh,” Richard said as they were winging above the clouds.  “The moon’s red tonight.  Weird.”

Kami and Hunter both started, knowing full well what that meant.  Suddenly, a spark appeared in the air in front of them, and a Vision Transmission Protocol appeared of a familiar figure: Mithril.  He seemed a bit sheepish as he said, “Sorry guys.  Mission accomplished” and the illusion winked out.  Richard was confused: “What the hell was that?”

***

In-game effects: Olivia has lost the Mentor (Swar, the City of Formlessness Constrained) background (spending recovered experience on spirit Endowments equivalent to the Immortality and Healing Factor mutations) and the Bracelet of Shared Life he provided her, and will replace her Manse with a new one in Nexus. She now also has Contacts 1: The Technomage Council.  Kami and Hunter have joined the Bull of the North.  The rules of Exalted are now fully 2.5 compliant.

Session #21

The party is in a crystalline cave with a gremlin that is housing a crazy lady, and a Dalek has just rolled around the corner, shrieking “EXTERMINATE!”  Olivia’s social attack has compelled the lady, Scars, to start monologuing, so while she’s doing that and the rest of the party gets ready for battle, Hunter casts Trolling the Dark Waters, which pulls Scars out of the soulgem she’s occupying and forces her to materialize.  Quite a natural time to roll Join Battle!

Olivia gets the jump on everyone and grapples Scars and pulls her away, as the gremlin she was occupying crumples to the ground, immobile.  Hunter, low on essence still/already, decides to see if the gremlin has any essence in it, and sure enough, it does!  As he cleaves it, it attempts to wriggle away, as it was apparently playing dead!  After two hits from Hunter it’s no longer “playing” dead.  Hunter then makes an attack on the immobile Scars which brings her to incapacitated, leaving her barely conscious.  Kami moves into a defensive position in front of Hunter, forgetting that Olivia is defenseless while grappling.  The Dalek, on its turn, has not forgotten this, and judges Olivia to be a threat, so it attempts to blast her with its ray gun, but using a combination of stunting, essence, force shields, and Kami’s health levels, Olivia takes no real damage.  The Dalek also attempts to blast Kami, vaporizing his spear, but doing no damage to him.  Facing formidable opponents, the Dalek then blasts the roof of the crystal cave directly above the three of them, and in the chaos of Kami protecting everyone from falling crystals, the Dalek snatches Scars away.

Mithril goes for a heavily committed attack using his laser-drill, pushing enough to barely touch the Dalek, which releases his axiomatic lightning attick that does aggravated damage.  The Dalek is now quite angry, and when Olivia next attacks it, trying to grapple its weapons into a useless position, it attempts to grapple HER with its suction cup rod (yes, all the innuendos were made).  Olivia narrowly manages to prevent her soul from being sucked out her bosoms and holds the weapons at bay.

Mithril has had just about enough of this silliness and, with a momentary calming of his mind and focusing of his will, brings the wind around him into a tornado-like vortex that is powerful enough to slowly lift the Dalek into the air.  Mithril then hops on top of it and starts drilling into the ceiling with his laser drill.

Kami can’t really fly so he investigates the quiescent dark god, and finds (with yet another absurd number of craft successes) that the technology in the cave is preventing anything from detecting the dark god or any gremlin-like essence.  The field does not extend outside the cave though, which was what Mithril was hoping for.  Hunter runs up the ceiling and into the tunnel that Mithril is digging and relays this info, and also attempts to whack the Dalek, with some success.  Olivia is expending essence like crazy to hold the Dalek in place, as it keeps struggling to get free using excellencies and Principle of Motion, but she estimates that they can breach the surface of the crystal mountain before it gets loose.  Right as they reach where she believes the peak is, Mithril lets go, falls below the Dalek, and with a final condemnation on behalf of Autochthon, fires his laser drill into the Dalek with Judgment’s Punishing Railgun.  The Dalek is blasted out of the mountain, into the air of the Elemental Pole of Crystal, and in the next moment is vaporized by Autochthon’s Thought Lightning.

The party collects the wreckage of the laboratory and imprisons Scars with repeated blows to the head, and Mithril sends Move Point back to get reinforcements.  The party examines the materials around further but make little attempt to actually find things out.  Mostly, everyone is really tired.  Kami does summon the energy to make a new spear from some magical materials lying around (rolling 17 successes!), but essentially time fast forwards to when Move Point returns with a team of specialists who collect the dark god for imprisonment and Scars for questioning.

The party returns triumphant and crashes before making a full report.  Kami in particular sees no reason to lie and so the entire story is told to the Tripartite Council.  The council takes everything under advisement, including Olivia’s pushing for relations between Kamak and the Guild, but makes no commitments.  They also suggest that the party be scanned.  Everyone seems to be fine (Jacob is definitely cured!) but Olivia seems to have microscopic tracking devices in her shoulder.  No one knows about these, and they’re removed fairly easily, but this leads to more questions.  Also Mithril has a new assignment and is deployed on it immediately, and while Olivia requests that Mithril be their liaison to Creation from now on, he seems to be moved off to a new mission without delay.  The rest of the party then decides to head back through the portal, which is still guarded by ecstatic Jadeborn.

When Olivia comes back through the portal, she notices her bracelet of shared life is pulsing, being turned off and on perhaps, like a distress signal.  She books it back to the Moon-Sheltered Manse with Kami and Hunter in tow, but finds everything okay there.  One of Olivia’s minions brings Kami aside into a separate room and reveals himself to be Richard, the Solar who works for the Bull of the North.  He implores Kami to come with him back to the Northeast, as the Bull has need of Kami’s skills.  Kami expresses concern for Olivia, but Richard is dismissive of her, explaining that the Bull of the North has an insider with information that Olivia won’t last much longer and she has a dark fate.  When Kami asks for more info about this project, Richard lets slip that they almost have access to the Golden Army, but they need Kami’s medical and technological skills to complete the project.  Kami wants to talk to Hunter first.

Hunter and Kami talk in a separate room, and Hunter is dubious, as it’s the same sort of thing that got them here in the first place, though at least the Bull of the North is being up front about building an army.  Kami rolls compassion and succeeds, and can’t bring himself to spend willpower to leave Olivia to her fate, so they go talk to her.  Olivia is nonplussed that she has been written off by the Sidereals and the Bull of the North, but she is resolved to go up to her manse in the far north to at least find out what’s happening.  Kami and Hunter are going with her, which means it will take longer, but they will at least be together.

Coming soon: THE FINAL CONCLUSION?!?!

Session #20

The session begins with a Join Battle roll.  Everyone except Olivia and the Pool of Death rolls poorly.  Fortunately, Olivia charges the Pool of Death as he stands on his impressive oil vortex and successfully grapples him, dealing some crushing damage and hovering in midair with him in tow.  On Hunter’s action, he leaps up and over and bears down on the Pool of Death, dealing a mighty blow of 10 lethal damage, causing the Pool of Death to cry out, “OW! My favorite kidney!”  Hunter proceeds to wail on the Pool of Death repeatedly with his full combo, blasting blood and organs in all directions while Olivia continues to firmly grip him in place.

Mithril escapes the oil grip with some effort and flies into the air, and Kami, concerned for Jacob in the carrier on his back, manages to push himself out and vaults to the nearest control panel.  Hunter continues to batter the Pool of Death, tallying a total of 120 lethal damage after two full combos, with the Pool of Death continuing to wisecrack, and the contested grapple rolls are taking all of Olivia’s effort to maintain (one roll was won by Olivia, 19-18).  The Pool of Death also tempts the DM to cheat on his grapple rolls, and he also has a massive Abyssal anima banner rolling.

Kami finds the panel is a control panel for a municipal charm that creates a psycho-social field that controls the gremlins.  The field is being used to counter the effects of the Crown of Thunders and force the gremlins back into Mossan.  Kami activates Craftsman Needs Only Caffeine, rips the panel off, tampers with the wires, and manages to hack the field and set it into a feedback loop that starts wasting essence.

What Kami sees when he looks at the control panel for the psycho-social municipal charm

What Kami sees when he looks at the control panel for the psycho-social municipal charm

Mithril, meanwhile, has accessed the central core of Erlik and realizes he still has the soul-storing gemstone containing the soul of Hunger of a Hundred Years.  He communes with the Oblivion-craving Abyssal and persuades him to try and convince Erlik to enter Oblivion, which Hunger seems excited about.  Mithril then sockets the soul stone into the control panel, and a loading bar appears.

About this time, Olivia detects the footsteps of an approaching mob, which she warns the group about.  Hunter activates his flight ability and grabs Kami and flies over.  Entering the hallway, Kami lights it as bright as noon, showing a horde of grungy gremlinized humans with weapons approaching.  Mithril flies over as well, blasting a large group with his lightning storm, then snares a corpse with his lasso and flies off with it.  Kami uses Defend Other to swat away a number of crossbow shots, and is hit by several for zero damage.  Hunter lands among them and slaughters several.

Olivia, worrying about the approaching mob, flies up to the ceiling, but hits something invisible, and warns the party.  Mithril flies back, and with his essence sight he sees another control panel like the others, but embedded in the ceiling.  He and Olivia cooperate on netting the Pool of Death and keeping him held, and then they fly out while Hunter flies Kami back into the control room.  Kami’s goggles can see a polygon-like outline of an illusion concealing the control panel.  Hunter flies Kami up to the ceiling and uses him to break the barrier.  Once through, Kami quickly finds the power control for the invisibility field, and shuts it down.

Erlik is now exposed to the cruise missiles previously heading for Mossan, so Kami and Hunter rush out as quickly as possible.  Meanwhile Mithril locates an incoming cruise missile and starts to spin the Pool of Death and Olivia around and at the right moment they let go and the Pool of Death careens into the path of the cruise missile.  Built with a void-essence-suppression field, it deactivates his Devil Arm in his chest that regenerates him, and with a final scream about Narrative, his worst enemy, he is blown into a million pieces.  Mithril’s essence sight confirms nothing remains.

The party regroups and watches cruise missiles pour into Erlik, rapidly laying waste to the gremlin city.  The central core soon detaches and flies away like an escape pod rocket, causing everyone some concern, but Mithril watches with smug satisfaction.  Sure enough, when they meet up with Move Point again, he charts Erlik’s course as heading towards Oblivion.  The day is saved!  Mithril also corrects Move Point when he says his name: he is now Mithril the Railgun.

Move Point is still worried about something else: Erlik’s course brought it very near the Elemental Pole of Crystal, and he wants to go check it out.  Most of their Aerial Skiffs were badly damaged but one needs only a few hours of skilled work, which Kami completes by himself at a leisurely pace.  Soon the party is zooming away towards the Godhead itself.

While on the way, Move Point asks about the Pool of Death and what he was after, and whether he had any companions.  Remembering he was accompanied by a strange spider like gremlin, Move Point expresses concern that this other enemy may still be around.

The Elemental Pole of Crystal is a massive, glowing spire of crystal ringed with hills of crystal.  Mithril and Move Point are concerned at the absence of guards, and Olivia spots one of the mountains has blackened scars around it.  There is also an entrance hidden away.  Move Point stays with the ship while the party investigates.

Inside are piles upon piles of rubbish, junk, and equipment of various kinds.  In a makeshift lab there are two things to see: a large purple glowing essence of some kind, contained in a magnetic field; and the same gremlin from before with the soulstone still installed, projecting a hologram of a very crazy looking lady with a Glasgow smile.  She greets the party politely and claims she is just doing harmless research, but Olivia’s Measure the Wind reads that the machine contains an Essence 5 Ghost and that the other thing is an Essence 6 God, stripped of most of its awareness and power.  As Olivia mutters this to the group, Hunter starts shaping a Necromantic spell and the others prepare for battle.

Olivia uses her persuasion to force the lady to explain herself, and she claims her name is Scars, or that’s what her name is after she sold her real name when she was still alive.  She says her research has been in corrupting gods and she hopes to corrupt Autochthon himself, using one of her new servants.  Around a corner rolls a tall, domed cylinder with an eyestalk, a probe and a weapon protruding from it, and Olivia’s Measure the Wind reads it as another Essence 6 God.  It shrieks hatefully, “Exterminate!”

Some hilarity:

  • Louis: “I’m going to use a Rear Naked Choke on him”  (He helpfully provides a link that everyone is very hesitant to click on)
  • Louis: “I’m going to attack Deadpool.”  DM: “He corrects you, “It’s the Pool of Death actually””.  Louis: “Of course.”
  • The Pool of Death, variously: “OW! My favorite kidney!”  “Oh if you were here [in Olivia’s grasp] you wouldn’t want to leave either!” “Hey DM, come on, tell them I succeeded, they won’t know!” “Noooo! NARRATIVE!  My only weakness!”  Also at one point the DM claims there is more blood floating on the oil than there is volume in the Pool of Death’s body.
  • Eli: “I don’t want to be a dick about it.  I flip Kami back around, we kiss, as we slam into the ceiling.”
  • DM: “Oh yes Move Point’s actual name is (∂x/dt,∂y/dt).”  Everyone else: “…” DM: “Because he’s a moving point.”  Everyone else: *facefault*
  • DM: “Okay Kami you’re hit, what’s your lethal soak?”  Debbie: “A ton.  Uhm…. 31.”  Eli: “If the Pool of Death had that soak I would basically give up, no point to it.”

Session #19

Hunter, Olivia and Kami have all regrouped back at the Moon-Sheltered Manse, trading equipment and stories and congratulations to Kami for curing Jacob, who is running around looking like the littlest chemo patient with his day’s growth of hair on his head.  The fun and games, however, are interrupted by Blade, who has been missing for a while and suddenly shows up in a bit of a panic about Mithril.  One of Olivia’s minions confirms Mithril left a message saying he was going to Rurk to complete the portal back to Autochthonia, and Blade insists they stop him.  Lacking any long distance communication, the party packs up and heads out to the Jadeborn cavern that leads to their underground city along the Frictionless railway.  Soon they have arrived at the city, finding it abuzz with technological work.

Blade sprints ahead into the main building with the party close behind, and just as they enter the central room they see Mithril push a giant red button, and an archway suddenly lights up with electricity, some of which courses through Mithril’s body.  As he staggers and glows brilliantly with electricity zapping through the room, a portal opens through which can be seen another laboratory similar to the one they are in now.  Mithril continues to shimmer and crackle for a moment, then turns and greets the party cheerfully.

All eyes turn to Blade, who awkwardly declines to explain why the portal shouldn’t have been opened, but Olivia turns on the persuasion a bit (barely any essence though) and Blade cracks, explaining that she had stolen the plans for Kami’s Void Essence Suppression Field and given it to the Alchemical back at the Yugash embassy.  Seems she belongs to a group called ARCO and they relayed information back to her that Kamak was under attack and that ARCO would deal with it, and it wasn’t safe to go through yet.  The party doesn’t want to stand by and do nothing, though, so Kami goes through first, followed by the rest of the party.

Once through the portal, the sounds of battle and chaos are echoing through the hastily abandoned lab.  Jadeborn come through to secure the entrance with Blade, but as the rest of the party exits the lab, which is a Municipal charm of an Alchemical city, it becomes clear they are in serious trouble.  The city, which Mithril identifies as the Patropolis of Mossan, is being swarmed over by gremlins of all kinds, from human wastelanders to giant robotic monsters.  In the distance, an absolutely enormous shadow seems to be crawling through the darkness with two gigantic red discs for eyes trained on them.

Mithril tries to lead the party to the core of Mossan, which is close, but fails to account for the panicked crowds of civilians trying to get into the cafeteria between the lab and the core.  Five monstrous gremlins approach the crowd intent on murder, so Olivia tries to reason with their leader, then brainwashes it as Hunter destroys another and Kami and Olivia then deal some damage, the brainwashed gremlin slays another, then Mithril activates his Axiomatic electricity and deals aggravated damage to the gremlins through his spiderweb lines (and bashing damage to Kami, who fails to actually take damage as usual).

After entering the core, the party finds a holo-projection of Mossan’s face on a wall, spazzing out Max Headroom style due to the severe damage he is taking, and also Move Point, one of Mithril’s teammates, badly wounded and near death.  Kami heals him while Mithril tries to get more info about what is happening.  Turns out Move Point had followed Mithril and saw what he did not see: that the way they got into Creation in the first place was through a gremlin Alchemical city, the apocryphal Erlik, which it turns out is a very real thing and is not too far away.  However, when the party brings up that it is nearby, Mossan has no knowledge nor ability to sense Erlik, despite backup scanners still being functional.

This has barely sunk in when the city rocks from an explosion, and Mossan reveals there are missiles incoming targeting the gremlins but that are also dealing collateral damage to his systems.  Move Point tries to get a fix on these missiles and finds they have incorporated a Void Essence Suppression Field to make them invulnerable to gremlin technology, but they don’t seem to be targeting Erlik.  The party moves outside trying to adjust to the new problem, and Olivia activates her powers to the maximum to move as much of the horde of gremlins as she can towards Erlik.  Kami and Hunter protect civilians and follow Olivia’s lead, while Mithril resolves to get a missile to hit Erlik, hoping it will allow the others to lock onto it.  After an extravagant number of virtue channels, he manages to track an incoming missile with his telescopic vision, lasso it, veer it off course using his armor’s air manipulation and a feat of strength, and then ride it as close as he can to Erlik before letting go.  Unfortunately, it explodes right on the border of Erlik, causing no major damage.  In the flash of the explosion, Olivia sees something everyone else misses: the Pool of Death is on Erlik, and had caused the missile to explode prematurely.

Olivia calls out to Kami and Hunter about this development, then she and Mithril pick up Kami while Hunter rides atop them as they head into Erlik.  There appear to be some defenses but they are easily avoided.  Mithril manages to identify the core and the party flies onto the roof of this charm, whereupon Mithril uses the drill with his beamklaive to dig directly into the core.  There, they find themselves on a platform, slightly above a lake of some kind of (nonflammable) oil.  The core itself is in the middle, a mass of grime and wires and electricity.  Around the edge of the room are other control panels, each for a Municipal charm.  Mithril flies to the nearest panel one way, while Olivia flies Kami another way.  Right as Kami gets to the first panel, finding it the control station for a charm for producing food, suddenly he gets a feeling that something is above them.  The Pool of Death tries dropping onto them, but Olivia weaves out of the way and then Kami asks to be dropped onto him.  Unfortunately, the Pool of Death hits the oil and sinks straight into it, while Kami splashes in, failing to get a hit and then is pulled under.  The Pool of Death then arises from the oil in a magnificent vortex, as arms of oil reach out and grab at the other party members, successfully pulling Mithril under.  Cackling, the Pool of Death gloats that Autochthon has completely different elements.

TO BE CONTINUED!

Did ya miss me??

Did ya miss me??

Session #18

This session was essentially another downtime session.

Olivia spends more time making trips out to her Factory Cathedral to provide herself and the circle with various upgrades (including Exceptional Great Coats of Solidity), while also equipping the circle’s minions with Sentinel Defense Force Armor and Shock Pikes.  She also takes advantage of the portal to the Moral Ambiguity to spend time in Nexus building her powerbase in the Guild, and establishes key Contacts for her future bid to become a Hierarch.

Kami works to cure Jacob using a combination of Craft (Magitech), Craft (Genesis), Occult, and Medicine (full story here).  After some heart-stopping setbacks and a lot of late nights and essence-fueled rolls, Jacob appears to be cured!  This is the culmination of like two years of real time work on Debbie’s part.  Olivia returns to the manse to find Kami Dragon-Ball-Z-ing as his Essence increases from completing his motivation.

Hunter, meanwhile, has made it out to the Skullstone archipelago to try and secure a Monstrance of Celestial Portion.  He initiates a meeting with his spy, Kraig Kelm, still operating in the bureaucracy, who notes the Monstrances are probably in the main palace somewhere, but doesn’t have any other real leads.  The war is creating a lot of chaos, so Hunter asks to be taken to where there was a battle recently.  Once there, at a tavern still damaged from the previous day’s fight, Hunter activates an investigation combo and scores arbitrarily high successes from a single glance.  He recognizes a Lunar came here looking for information, was ambushed by guards, fought his way out, and is still nearby as a seagull.  Hunter meets with this Lunar in a back alley, and recognizes him as Miller Ennium, the Falcon-totem Lunar from the pack he met earlier.

Hunter manages to secure Miller’s help, promising to aid him in his quest for revenge against Ebon Siaka, the Abyssal who murdered his pack mates.  Hunter says to do this they need to know where her Monstrance of Celestial Portion is, so Miller uses his shapeshifting to scope out the palace, and returns with the information that they’re in a heavily guarded room in the lower area.  There is a back door which is not locked but is guarded, for kitchen staff access.  Hunter has his spy leave so as not to attract suspicion to himself, then goes down to the lower access door, kicks it open and calls the guards to attention.  They scatter their deck of cards as they rush to attention, and Hunter rapidly murders them all.  Then it’s through some winding hallways, and to the locked and barred door behind which the monstrances are secreted.  Hunter indicates that this is Miller’s job, so he turns into a centipede, slithers through the bottom of the door, then a moment later the door is thrown open and the guards inside are desperately trying to catch the crazy monkey that is jumping around like crazy and crapping on the guards.  Hunter slips inside and locks the door behind himself, and after a brief scuffle, ghost blood ichor oozes out under the door.

Now the getting the Monstrance out part.  First Hunter peers into each one, finding several new Abyssals still lost or in training, one who is having an angry meeting with a non-cooperative contact complaining about “the Clown” not being ready, and Ebon Siaka herself, who is brooding at the bow of the Silver Prince’s flagship.  To remove the Monstrance, Miller transforms into a Yeddim and drags it out with Hunter’s help.  Once they’re out of the palace, Hunter realizes he doesn’t have a plan past here, so he scribbles in the journal the date and the coordinates for a boat, and lo and behold, there is a ship right where Hunter had asked for one!  The ship is a strange mechanical one of some kind, crewed by robots and with a partially mechanized Sidereal for a captain.  The man introduces himself as Hesperos, and has his robots load the Monstrance before taking off.  He notes that Miller does not have clearance to enter Yu-Shan, and Hunter claims he’ll get back to him soon about how this will help him with his revenge, sorry!

Hunter and Hesperos chat a bit, Hesperos is particularly interested in any and all info relating to Hunter’s Alchemical friends, since Autochthonia is his assignment.  Apparently he was captured by Yugash, tortured and experimented on, but is now back in Creation as a Sidereal charged with learning about his former captors and their movements.  The news that the new Alchemicals are from Kamak is fascinating to him, and he asks about how they got to Creation, noting that only a Municipal charm could have breached the Seal of Eight Divinities.

Once in Yu-Shan, they rapidly return to the Forbidding Manse of Ivy, and some divine servants drag the Monstrance up to Lytek’s lab.  Lytek is still busily working away on The Bro and Navrali Tova, but getting this Monstrance is very exciting for him.  He also wants the Abyssal who it matches, but suggests he knows a Sidereal with a secretive black ops squad that can collect her.  Hunter is unnerved by Lytek’s continued casualness with which he treats living things and leaves as soon as is polite.  He is dropped off back in Nexus and quickly gets power-hugged by Olivia, excited to see him.  She’s apparently in Nexus making friends of all kinds, a power play designed to ultimately become a Hierarch of Nexus.  Olivia is also having thaumaturgical enchantments placed on herself to obscure anyone’s attempt to read her mind.  And getting her nails done, because that’s the kind of girl she is.

Session #17

(Note: This session was shortened due to DM madness, and the following session will be sans Mithril on the 27th)

The party has regrouped and is making a list of things to do before and during the Yu-Shan trip.  The first order of business is to interrogate the Sorceress, Navrali Tova, further and then the Martial Artist, The Bro.  However the interrogation does not go according to plan.  While she reveals some minimal amount of information (including to not awaken The Bro under any circumstances), she seems to be struggling against her Urge to destroy her enemies.  Olivia tries using her full-power combo to persuade her to ignore her Urge, but all this does is trigger her Torment, which affects everyone in the room to fly into a berserker rage.  Olivia manages to avoid it by focusing on her lust for this hot piece of ass, Mithril and Hunter use virtue channels to avoid succumbing, but Kami is overtaken and immediately stabs Navrali with his sleeping potion needle before Olivia corrals him and uses her persuasion ability to get him to stop.  Since her Crown of Thunders power is already active she is also able to restrain the berserk rage of the minions who are standing guard.

With the interrogation a bit of a wash, the party is now ready to turn over the Infernals and the Bell to Heaven.  A portal is summoned and the party is escorted into Yu-Shan by the plain-clothed Sidereal, Verrance.  Upon entering the magical supercity, everyone is completely blown away by its majesty, of course.  Instead of streets, the buildings have canals running between them with superfast boats that rapidly brings the party to the Forbidding Manse of Ivy, center of secrets in Heaven’s Bureaucracy.

The party meets another Sidereal named T.J. and then is brought to the office of an ordinary looking man who seems to have limitless patience and is completely unflappable (and is also Essence 7).  Even when Kami dumps the Infernal on his desk, he seems mildly interested and directs them to bring the Infernals to Lytek, God of Exaltation, while the bell is taken away to be stored in a secret vault and misinformation to be dealt to the Silver Prince’s spy in Yu-Shan.  Meanwhile, submission of the bell turns out to involve paperwork that Mithril fails to complete on his own, so Olivia helps him while Kami and Hunter bring the Infernals upstairs.  Olivia, meanwhile, is also relentlessly flirting with every Sidereal in line of sight, especially the Instructor whose office they’re occupying.

Kami and Hunter meet Lytek, a wild-haired scatterbrained savant who identifies Kami by his Exaltation number and Hunter as an object of some curiosity.  He also takes the Infernals with a keen interest, putting them on tables for study and at one point casually extracting the essence from the Bro’s chest in a rather messy display of essence vivisection.  In this room, all essence is solid, and he begins molding it to understand it better.  Kami and Hunter try gaining insight into how to reverse Hunter’s condition but the leads are limited, and they are also somewhat put off by how casual Lytek seems to be about actual human lives.  Exaltations are his business, after all!

Olivia and Mithril finally finish filing the paperwork for the bell and head upstairs, Lytek is distracted from his work by the sight of Mithril.  Some interrogation follows, after which Lytek pensively returns to his work.  Olivia asks, as a favor, to never be exalted, which Lytek agrees to with mild surprise.

Mithril is also accosted at one point by T.J. who suggests that if a portal to Kamak is opened, it will need allies on the Creation end for trade and for protection, and that he knows a group of Solars who would be willing to be that ally.  Surprised to find that Mithril has already met some of them, T.J. encourages him to pursue this relationship further.

Olivia has asked for Heaven’s help in masking their actions from view by the Loom of Fate, which it turns out is difficult to do and also probably won’t help since most of their enemies are outside fate, but promises are made about restoring the Moon-Sheltered Manse’s fate-shadowing powers.  Olivia also asks about a way to keep in touch with Heaven, which T.J. can also provide.  He produces a seemingly normal journal but insists it is a powerful artifact and that if you write the date on the top of a page, he will know everything that is on that page.  Mithril can’t seem to absorb this “artifact” into his Technomorphic Integration Engine, and T.J.’s insistence on its power leads the party realize it’s just an ordinary journal, but somehow T.J. will be able to read its contents.  They are escorted back by Verrance, who impresses upon Kami that his work is important and he is fated to succeed.

Once the party is back at the Moon-Sheltered Manse, everyone has work to do.  Mithril flies off to check on the progress of the portal with Kamak and then collect the last artifact from the Solars in the Northeast.  Hunter schemes how to get his Monstrance out to Heaven for further study without winding up a lab rat himself, and ponders capturing an Abyssal for Heaven’s study and possibly getting in touch with his last spy in Skullstone.  Olivia makes several trips back and forth to her factory-cathedral to have the soulsteel ingots manufactured into power armor and weapons for her minions.

Meanwhile, after a good deal of effort Kami manages to get the sequence of DNA that produces the virus.  Kami then designs and creates a new version of the virus with an enzyme that can remove the sequence, and tests it on a tissue sample he took from Jacob.  He finds it works somewhat, but after a while it stops working before the cells are fully cleansed.  Turns out some of the viral sequences have been injected into the telomeres (tips of the chromosomes) and there isn’t enough DNA on both sides for the enzyme to remove the sequence.  Attempts to isolate the enzyme telomerase don’t seem to go so well, so Olivia steps in and digs into the Guild archives, finding a reference to a “telomere” in the summoning incantation of the God of Cancer.  Olivia promptly arranges to have a summoning conducted, where Kami is also present.

The God of Cancer shows up, a wizened, cranky old man who seems to be used to mostly being asked to inflict cancer on people (since Solar medicine can normally cure cancer).  Kami asks about telomeres, and it turns out the God of Cancer has two incantation strips, one that can lengthen telomeres on any designated tissue and another that can shorten them.  Olivia arranges to have these purchased for a fair price and have the Bureaucracy of Heaven bribed in his favor for the trouble.  With these strips, Kami believes he may now be able to finally cure Jacob once and for all.

Amusing notes:

  • Lytek: “Well let’s have a look at his essence shard.”  *Casually extracts it from his chest, as it beats like a heart a few times before stopping and the body writhes and then lies still*  Hunter and Kami: “………….”
  • T.J.: “Take care of this precious artifact!”  Someone: “…It’s just a regular journal, isn’t it…”  T.J.: “HUSH!”
  • Olivia: “I try flirting more with this Sidereal.  Does it have any effect?”  DM: “He likes you, but his conviction is really high…”
  • “The God of Cancer? Does he look like a crab?”
  • God of Cancer: “Ughh, you think this job is easy? Always making people wither away and die painfully, it’s a tough job.”  Soon, Olivia: “I’m going to see if we can bribe the bureaucracy of heaven to have him reassigned since it seems like he hates his job.”

Session #16

The party has won the battle, can they win the war?

Olivia is quite gleeful at the thought of taking three powerful Exalted and bending them to her will.  She and Hunter collect the martial artist and sorceress and drag them into the basement of the Moon-Sheltered Manse, tie them up in separate rooms, and keep them under heavy guard by Olivia’s minions, who are instructed to keep hitting them in the head to keep them unconscious until such time as they are ready to interrogate them.  Alex explains that these are the characters who recently broke into Yu-Shan and hacked the Matrix of Reality, and she followed them while staying hidden using Sidereal Astrology.  She had been using some special power to keep the masked man from detecting her, as his mask could let him see through all illusions and see into the future.

Kami and Mithril go outside to collect the third Exalt, the jet-pack guy, but they can’t find him, probably because Kami botched his tracking roll and leads them in circles for a while until Mithril figures out they’ve gone in circles.  Eventually they find where he crash landed and footsteps leading away towards the edge of the forest, and when they get to the cliff they find none other than Mika, covered in blood and carrying a blood-drenched jetpack.  He claims he found the guy trying to make an escape, killed him, and threw his body to the sharks.  Mithril tries to retrieve the body but sees only sharks.

Mika asks to come along and see Olivia again, and apparently he had been attempting to track Olivia but had failed until recently due to some mysterious force preventing him.  The party explains that the effects concealing the manse are not working anymore and that is probably why.  Kami and Mithril return with Mika to the manse and Mika is happy to see Olivia again.  Reunion!  Mika is introduced to Hunter and to the various minions.  He wants to stick around because it looks fun here, and he wanders all around for a while.

Kami and Mithril inspect the strange magical staff that the sorceress was wielding.  It is very similar to the AK-47 from before, in that it has a demon soulforged into its core and has technological parts coming out from that core.  Kami consults his literature and discovers that the demon is probably a second circle demon named Gnirut, a creature of information and betrayal.  Alex identifies this as the device that was used to hack the Matrix of Reality.

The time has come to interrogate the sorceress.  They awaken her and ask her about their plans, but the sorceress reveals little until her willpower is spent.  Finally, with her will breaking from repeated Presence checks from Olivia and Investigation checks from Hunter, Mithril steps in and uses his Motivational Vocoder to change her motivation to “Worship Autochthon.”  As this takes effect on her, she is overwhelmed by her feelings, then slowly manages a strangled warning: one of the hidden changes they made when they hacked the Matrix of Reality was to change the energy requirement for the fusion of nitrogen atoms into silicon, which means that with enough heat, one could ignite the atmosphere, killing Gaia and Autochthon in the process.  As everyone absorbs this in blunted horror, her second warning comes out haltingly: the Infernals had in fact tortured Mika to death some months ago for information.  This is quite a butt-puckering moment for everyone, then Olivia knocks her out again with another blow, sets guards all around her, and they go running to find “Mika.”

Unfortunately, at that moment, the power starts to flicker and alarms start to sound.  Kami and Mithril run into the control room, finding that there is some other entity attempting to take control of the manse computers.  Olivia tries to encourage M.I.R.I. to not turn evil but it doesn’t seem very effective.  Hunter tries to leave, but finds the door stuck, and even a massive blow with his grand daiklave only dents it.  Kami tries unplugging things, but this only starts a countdown of one minute to releasing the neurotoxin, so Mithril does the desperate move and surges his electricity into the system to overload it and shut the manse down completely.

Now the lights are out and the doors don’t really work, and a skittering sound starts to echo through the manse.  Olivia registers this right away and screams for everyone to run to the back entrance to the underdark immediately.  A crush of minions sprints that way with Hunter running along on the ceiling, and just as Olivia gets there, the two minions guarding the door are opening the door, though they seem to believe they are closing it, and that they had been instructed to open it by Mika.  A purple spider drops from the ceiling onto Olivia’s head and so she starts to close the door, but Hunter gets there and sees she is actually opening it.  Olivia expends willpower to battle the illusion long enough to pull the spider partway off her head, and Hunter slices it neatly in half, after killing the other spider that was still on the ceiling.  The rest of the group and the soldiers arrive and close the door as quickly as possible, while Olivia chucks a pyromantic grenade through the door to keep the surging spiders back until it’s closed.

As the party runs back, expecting this was a diversion, two of the guards report that an armored, blond-curls man tried to push past them onto the teleportal but it failed since the portal was drawing power from the manse and is currently off.  The soldier had run away, so the guards are instructed to gather around key areas (Jacob, the portal, the control room, and both of the prisoners) while the party searches for him.  Finally, a ruckus comes from downstairs, right by the martial artist, and the party sprints down to find three mercenaries unconscious and iced to the wall, one on fire yelling that they went down the hallway, and no martial artist.  At this point everyone is suspicious as hell of everything so Mithril keeps an eye on this soldier and when he starts to run away, Mithril doubles back to question him.  Kami and Hunter also double back while Olivia keeps heading down the hall.

The soldier answers questions effectively but the party is still suspicious, so when Olivia opens a door and finds the martial artist and the same soldier everyone is talking to, both unconscious, she knows it’s a trap.  Mithril reaches out to shake the soldier’s hand but when he tries to electrocute the soldier, he dodges perfectly, his hand turning to sand as his disguise falls away, and then makes more perfect dodges against Olivia’s attacks.  Kami leaps onto him just as he’s about to activate his jetpack and disables the straps using Craftsman Needs Only Caffeine, causing the jetpack to spiral away into the air.  Mithril then lassoes the jetpack, and, using exceptional thrown skills and some lucky rolls, manages to arc the lassoed jetpack right onto the top of his head, crunching his skull.  He seems to recover from it very quickly, but this leaves him without his perfect dodge and in the brief moment available to him, Hunter cleanly cuts the Infernal in half, and after a moment he slides apart.

The martial artist and sorceress are collected, and the sorceress’s staff is found abandoned in a hallway.  While Mithril is in the room with the sorceress he finds a celestial prayer strip, with a hastily scrawled note that Alex left to warn Yu-Shan about the “ignite the atmosphere” change, but she would send backup.  Soon, as Mithril reports this to the party, two people seem to have come out of nowhere.  One is a tall Northern fellow with golden gauntlets, ready for a fight, while the other is a retiring, sarcastic man dressed in unremarkable black clothes.  He writes some notes in a journal as a way to send messages and says that they can all make a report to Yu-Shan, which is where the party is hoping to dump the bell.  Hunter and Kami go through the teleportal (Kami has brought the manse back online) and collect the bell, and as Hunter comes back, the quiet man greets him and says he admires his work, and he feels they have things in common.  Hunter is slightly perturbed by this.

The backup says they can summon a portal to Yu-Shan when the party is ready, but there are some things they want to take care of first (downtime!).

DM’s Notes: Holy moly that was fun.  Yakkity Sax would have been so appropriate.  Also don’t think I forgot about the demon wards, the charm that the bad guy was using specifically says it’s a shaping charm that literally fools a Pattern Spider into thinking you’re who you’re pretending to be.  Pretty sure that would fool a demon ward.  It definitely fooled Olivia’s Measure the Wind and M.I.R.I.’s internal scanners.

Some funny things:

  • Olivia: “Hunter, can you search for things?”  Hunter: “…inside of people, sometimes.”
  • Reference was made to the subtle art of not quite beating someone to death.
  • “Don’t botch!”  Taylor: “If I do, I’ll screenshot it.”
  • Louis: “Don’t worry, Olivia’s used to being covered in goo.”
  • Debbie: “I’m going to use my new combo, Craftsman Needs Only Caffeine.”  This was after the DM pointed out that disabling a jetpack would normally take 1 minute but with a charm that lets you work at 12 times normal speed it would only take 5 ticks.