The party is proceeding apace through the underground lake, lit only by Mithril’s anima banner and guided by Mika’s tracking charm. While everyone can see in the darkness, their field of view is limited, especially by the water. When Blade reaches a steep drop-off in the floor of the river, she prudently halts, catching Mithril’s attention but not Mika’s or Olivia’s. Neither Blade nor Mithril can effectively see into the depths of the trench, so Mithril resolves to fly Blade over the gap. He dives, grabs a hold of her, and rockets out with maximum launch force. However, this massive blast of energy disturbs the creature at the bottom of the trench: a massive Pistol Shrimp, which reaches out with a massive armored claw, seizes Olivia from the air, and drags her down, knocking the wind out of her in the process. Join battle rolls all around!
Mithril flies Olivia up to one of the nearby stalactites, where she manages to cling on and then climb to a stronger position, while Mika dives after the massive crustacean and smashes the claw holding Olivia, freeing her and severing the claw in the process. The Pistol Shrimp, reacting to a perceived threat, moves its other claw between the two and snaps it, producing a massive cavitation bubble that blasts Mika upwards and Olivia downwards. The sound is deafening, and though their hardnesses absorb the bashing damage, they are disoriented and blinded by the light and sound. Unable to target the Pistol Shrimp directly, Mithril decides to instead go for the biggest stalactite that is over the monster and slice it off at its base, using it as an attack. Unfortunately, the stalactite, after smashing into the water, sinks into the water and catches Olivia right in the chest, waking her up.
(This is when Louis actually arrived at the session, by the way…)
Blade begins aiming her Essence Cannon, while Olivia swims away and then takes flight once at the surface. Mika is now alone underwater with the Shrimp and attacks the other claw, which is damaged but not destroyed and so batters him in return (which does no damage). Just a moment later, Blade, who has been targeting one of the Pistol Shrimp’s eyes, fires a blast, destroying the eye, and Mithril pulls off an epic two-dot stunt consisting of diving into the water immediately behind the essence cannon blast and hitting the Pistol Shrimp twice (note that Beamklaves do *not* work underwater, but Mithril is attempting to follow the wake of the essence blast so closely the sword will still be usable for a brief moment). This succeeds, as his initial attack does no damage but pierces the carapace of the beast, and a second attack consisting of swiping the sword through its brain causes massive damage, slaying the beast. Its tiny goby fish friend swims away sadly.
Mika, seeing that Olivia is safe, now swims down to drink the Heart’s Blood of the massive Shrimp (though (A) he doesn’t have the knack that will allow him to turn into it yet, and (B) it doesn’t have blood, but instead hemolymph). Meanwhile, Olivia helps Blade down from the stalactite and regroups the party, working to build intimacies with the Alchemicals and finding more traction this time. Mika finally returns, smeared in Pistol Shrimp hemolymph, and leads the party onwards.
The trail eventually veers back onto dry land right before a waterfall, and through a network of confusing tunnels. Mika hears faint footsteps echoing through the tunnels, but can’t tell anything more than that. The party proceeds up the tunnels while Mika marks their passage with his own urine, ensuring they can return even if they hit a dead end. The party eventually enters a large cavern. Mithril scans the room and sees that some of the rock floor is glowing with residual essence, but nothing has been left behind. The scent proceeds down one path, but two other sets of footsteps are identifiable leaving by two different tunnels, which Bubo can spatialize better than the others. One is farther away and moving faster, so the party opts to pursue the set that is closer and moving slower (the theory also goes that Mika can continue to track their original target after any span of time). After a short chase up a tunnel, Bubo identifies the footsteps as originating from right around the corner. Olivia volunteers to be the face of the party.
Olivia peeks her head around the corner and sees two dozen soldiers wearing various armors and wielding powerful magitech weapons in a phalanx facing her. The soldiers are stocky, the men are bearded, and they demand in thick Irish accents who she is. Olivia tries to make peace with little success due to their suspicion, but a concerned Charisma + Presence appeal to the leader, a tall lithe woman with glowing yellow eyes in the back, gets her to at least ask where Olivia’s “friends” are. Olivia gathers the rest of the party and brings them out, and the entire group of strangers is flabbergasted by seeing the Alchemical exalted, which they rapidly deduce are not Dragon-blooded as they initially appear to be. They lower their weapons, and then the questioning begins.
Blade and Mithril explain to the Mountain Folk that the artifacts they “purchased” were not *sent* but actually stolen from Autochthon, and they were not sent either but arrived by accident. The leader, Golden Gaze, is distressed, as the artifact she procured is what she believes may be a way to cause the Great Maker to return to them. Mithril leaves it in her care and sends her back to her city, but Olivia asks for their help and Golden Gaze deploys half her forces under the command of Blade and Mithril. They wish to find the one responsible for running the auction, as they consider stopping them a higher priority than collecting the artifacts at the moment.
The party and their platoon of Jadeborn return to the cavern and Mika leads them down after the gremlin’s trail. That trail leads downward and downward, until Mika and Mithril feel a tingle that indicates they have crossed into a Shadowland. The pursuit continues until a new tingle suggests they are about to enter the Underworld, when they reach the end of the tunnel, as it opens into a massive ravine. It is at least a hundred feet across the gap to the opposite wall, and it seems to stretch outwards in every direction. They can see the humanoid and the man-sized gremlin climbing down the sheer rock face. Deep down below is a black void, a nothingness, from which emanates only strange wind and noise. Blade is excited to finally dispense some Autochthonian justice and charges up and aims for an attack while Olivia and Mithril fly down for initial negotiations.
Olivia screams out “Stop!” but between the wind, the strange mad whispers in her mind, and the general sassiness of the man, he just turns and yells back, “What? Sorry, couldn’t hear you!” Blade takes this opportunity to blast the gremlin, while Mithril makes a lightning attack against the oxygen molecules around the man, creating ozone, then grabs him in a full nelson and delivers 16 bashing worth of electrical damage. This incapacitates the man, who starts mumbling about the tingling, and Mithril continues to deliver one-mote bashing shocks every few seconds as he flies him up. The gremlin, meanwhile, has fallen onto a force field that Olivia has projected below it, and as it turns around awkwardly it attempts to persuade Olivia to let it go, to no avail. It then tries to make a jump for it but Blade blasts it with another cannon shot, crippling it, and then the hail of Jadeborn attacks hit it as well, battering and breaking its robotic form.
Olivia hesitates for just a moment before trying to recover the robot corpse, managing to grab onto it but failing to pull it upwards against its own weight and the wind and madness. She cries out for help, but Mithril balks (failed Valor roll) before Olivia appeals to him personally (successful Compassion roll). Mithril now flies down, struggling against the same wind and same madness, but grabs onto the robot corpse and flies it up at full burn. Both Olivia and Mithril must also overcome the seductive lure of the Void in so doing, and Louis is one die off from botching that roll. Olivia’s eye is then caught by something falling off, and she goes back down to retrieve whatever it was, but as she grabs the head (complete with soulgem) that apparently detached from the body, she butterfingers it and it squirts out of her hands straight into the void (a long conversation followed this on the actual probability of botching a 6-dice roll, at which point Jason notes that we now have an exact figure on how unlikely it would be that the universe would choose that moment to dick-slap Olivia).
Mithril had deposited his human captive in Mika’s “care” and now the party pulls him away from the edge of the ravine and removes his weapons (pair of soulsteel daiklaves, pair of firewands, strange metallic weapon on his back) and his clothes. After the Alchemicals stand threateningly by and Mika forcibly rapes the man, at Olivia’s persuasion he is more than willing to cooperate. When asked who he works for, he indicates he used to work for the Silver Prince but now works for himself. When asked about the gremlin, he indicates it was the soul of a crazy lady inside a gremlin body, and he wasn’t sure how the soul got in the soulgem because it was empty the last time he was in Autochthonia. This piques the interest of the Alchemicals, and after some coaxing the man reveals he once fell into the Void, and since he couldn’t die he came out the other side. It seems Autochthon is dying and his dead part has begun joining with the Void, so anything that can’t die will fall through the Void and end up inside Autochthon… meaning the soulgem of the gremlin is now inside Autochthon, for some sinister purpose. This is highly alarming to everyone.
Blade astutely asks how it is that the man cannot die, and the man can obviously sense that answering that question honestly is going to make the conversation turn towards the worse for him. After replying that there is something in his chest that allows it, he then mentions it is about time he left, and so he activates Principle of Motion to punch everyone in the face and then sprint back to the ravine and throw himself into the void. Everyone is rather surprised to receive a punch in the face, and in the next moment hear him screaming “Fuck I left all my gear behind!” from the ravine and then he is gone.
Mithril examines the remains of the gremlin and finds many are tainted with gremlin essence, so Blade and the Jadeborn destroy all traces of it in fire. They now head back out of the shadowland into creation (since it’s daytime) and ask the Jadeborn to lead them back to their city so they may rest and plan their next move. The Jadeborn readily agree, taking them through underground tunnels to a place that will speed up that journey. They have installed rails through a long, sunken tunnel and have a number of carts with wheels and a front face treated with a material they call “Frictionless.” The party and the Jadeborn soldiers ride in these carts all the way back to their city, Rurk, a bastion of underground Mountain Folk civilization.
Once back at Rurk the party is given celebrity treatment by the entire city, but soon makes its way to Golden Gaze’s workshop, a massive magitech workshop that is the pride of Rurk. Using her previous research and resources, Mithril looks at the artifact from the Kamak expo and at her plans for making a portal to Autochthonia. He is rather troubled that there is no sense whatsoever of how the portal would affect Autochthon himself and so advises they not begin the preparations yet (which would require rewiring the entire city and repurposing its entire industrial might for months). He suggests that they prepare something that could be made inside Autochthon that would function as the other side of the gate. Golden Gaze is confused by this, but Mithril responds that he will figure out how to get there in the first place, and that they should trust in him first.
Golden Gaze is disappointed, but Olivia is there to comfort her, successfully building an intimacy in the process. They spend time together while the party rests and Mika and Blade begin learning new languages. Mithril identifies the various artifacts they acquired from their adversary at the Labyrinth, notably a pair of soulsteel daiklaves, and what is essentially an AK-47 that can also be reloaded using essence. Blade wants one of the daiklaves since it will work underwater, and Olivia collects the assault rifle since no one else has a particular need for it.
Olivia wants to go shopping, but soon finds that the Mountain Folk live in a communist, state-run society and there is no free enterprise, which she finds abhorrent. She does get some more info, in particular that one of the Rurk spies tracked some of the artifacts to the edge of Mika’s forest, where a hidden research lab has been built for unknown purposes and that is probably their best bet on where to go next.
Most Badass Moment candidates:
- Mika smashes both claws of the Pistol Shrimp and survives several counterattacks without taking any damage, all while underwater
- Definitely Mithril’s awesome stunt to kill the Pistol Shrimp despite it being underwater
- Olivia’s successful negotiations with the Mountain Folk, which were greatly simplified by having two Chosen of Autochthon there but nonetheless was a major boost
- Blade repeatedly making use of the Aim action to enhance an absurd attack that typically deals crippling damage
- Mithril targets oxygen molecules with his electricity to create ozone. Why? BECAUSE.
Funniest Moment candidates: (forgive me putting words in your mouth, I seek to capture the spirit of the exchange)
- DM: “Okay so Olivia, you are awakened by a massive rock pushing you deeper underwater.” Louis: “…. What? I thought I was just going to be away putting on makeup.” DM: “Clearly you don’t know me very well yet.” Louis: “Oh. So I take it there was a battle?” Everyone else: “It’s still going on!”
- Taylor: “Okay I’m going to go over to directly above where the crab was last and slice off a stalactite.” DM: “So you’re going to slice a stalactite off at the base with your beamklave? Okay, so it will fall some height and hit the water with some energy that I will make Molly calculate later.” (Keith and Louis find this hilarious)
- Keith: “I want to turn into this thing. Can I do that?” DM: “Uhm, there exists a knack for that, but you don’t have it.” Keith: “What?? Can I drink its hearts blood anyway?” DM: “Technically it has hemolymph, but sure, yes, you can drink its hearts blood now if you want. You still need the knack to turn into it.”
- DM: “Down below you see a man and a robotic gremlin free-climbing down the rock face.” *Jason immediately mimes sighting the cannon* Louis: “Wait wait! Let me talk to them!” Jason: “Nope, not waiting.” Louis: “Wait, let me talk to them and you can aim while I’m talking.” Jason: “…. Perfect. You start talking, I start aiming!”
- Taylor: “I’m going to use my lightning to target the oxygen molecules to make ozone.” Alejo, after eventually calming down a bit: “Oh man, now I want to make the most epic AP Chemistry question ever based on this roll.”
- The prisoner: “Oh god, worst day ever…” Mika: “Oh it’s about to get worse.”
- Louis: “It can’t be that far down to the gremlin, I’m right there!” DM: “Need I point out that it was just shot by an essence cannon and a dozen crossbow bolts. V0 is not zero here.”
- New best botch: Olivia butterfingers the escape capsule from the gremlin. Well done!
- The prisoner, to the party: “NEEEERDS!”
- The prisoner: “Well, I can’t die because of something in my chest, and I think now’s a good time to go, so I’m going to activate Principle of Motion and leave before you can do anything about it.” *Proceeds to instantly punch everyone in the face and disappear*
DwarvesJadeborn using “Frictionless” got some good laughs
- DM: “Golden Gaze has a staff of Enlightened Workers at her disposal, they’re part of it being an Ideal Workshop.” Keith: “I want one! I want a staff like that!” DM: “… What?” *After some confusion* “AH! No, no staff as in they are actual worker peoples!” Keith: “Oh! I thought you meant like an actual staff you hold.” DM: *Facefault*
- Louis: “I want to go shopping!” *Alejo then explains that there is no free enterprise here* Keith: “Oh god they’re commies! We should kill them just out of principle!”