Picking up immediately where the last session left off (again), Hunter keeps tabs on Polmala and rounds up the other cultists (who are similarly human and not very fanatical) and watches them along with Blade. Kami and Mithril investigate the destroyed teleportal and determine that most of the nonmagical materials are pulverized ash and the magical materials consist at least partially of foul materials that are unpleasant to work with. Olivia promptly gets to work taking control of the East Valley Mercenaries, as General Smoochie-Wallace was on top of the building and is now dead, and colonel Jammie-Jammie was assassinated earlier in the evening at the research facility.
Before he died, however, Silken Cowl had whispered his dying words to Olivia: “Bloodspike Mountain. Bring only those you trust. He is strong…” Olivia relays this information to the rest of the group, which gets their attention, especially since some of the mercenaries have heard of Bloodspike Mountain and have varying stories about why it’s a bad place to be. The stories seem to be standard ones, including shadowland, wild zone, and portal to hell. Hunter and Kami are more interested in getting their ship back but their only leads are Polmala, who doesn’t know where the ship is headed, and the teleportal which is currently ruined. Kami’s continued work causes Jacob to start crying at being tired and hungry, so this puts an end to the work for the morning. Olivia doesn’t need sleep, so she keeps watch over the party and continues consolidating power over the mercenaries. Mithril works on Blade’s upgrades and soon Blade is in Mithril’s portable vat getting her charm slots added while Mithril builds her charms and also his own.
The following day, Kami helps Mithril with his work on Blade, and the mercenaries are happy to supply their store of magical materials from their “secret research facility” which is in the hills (there is brief confusion on this new research facility that in fact the party definitely knows about already). Meanwhile, Olivia wants to take over the West Valley Mercenary camp and so conscripts Hunter to come with her. Her plan is simple: charm everyone including the leader, and if the leader isn’t charmed enough, challenge him/her with Hunter as her champion. This plan seems to start out okay, as the leader is the same guy they rescued the previous night from the East Valley, and he is unable to keep his army from being charmed by Olivia’s incredible wiles. When they are asked why they fight the East Valley mercenaries, the leader bloviates about how the war has been going on at least ten thousand years, and will go on forever, causing Hunter to comment, “I’m sorry, but that’s stupid.” Hunter then starts activating his scenelong charms and then deliberately approaches, so the leader tries commanding the mercenaries to attack but Olivia’s charms and Hunter’s anima banner give them pause. The leader seems to be torn whether to counter Olivia’s social attacks or Hunter’s physical ones and ultimately decides on the latter. Olivia commentates the fight for the benefit of the awestruck onlookers.
The leader seems to be some kind of supernatural being, possibly a god, and takes an initial damage across the face from Hunter who is now crouching on the side of the watch tower. He then leaps up and explodes into a massive flurry of attacks which Hunter and Olivia have seen before as Principle of Motion, meaning this guy is probably a god and probably more powerful than they thought. He explodes with three actions of three flurries, and while no single attack is excessively powerful, they take their toll as Hunter’s onslaught penalties stack up to the sky and he takes a number of serious wounds. Olivia is surprised that the endless war between the mercenary camps would rage on so long with this guy leading the West. Hunter’s anima banner by this point is at maximum and visible for miles, and Kami and Mithril see it while working on Blade. Mithril rapidly awakens Blade with an emergency protocol, meaning she can’t use her left leg or turn her neck very far. Mithril then grabs both Kami and Blade and flies over as quickly as possible.
However, it doesn’t seem to be warranted, since Hunter finally activates his monstrous combo, using his last five motes of essence to register a hit, which nets him five more motes which he uses to power one more attack, which again hits for one, and again for one more damage, at which point the onslaught and wound penalties begin to stack dramatically and Hunter’s fourth attack hits for six lethal damage. A final attack on the badly wounded deity brings him to the ground in apparent helplessness with Hunter on top of him, daiklave pinning his chest to the ground. The leader’s four main lieutenants try to reach him to carry him away but Olivia throws up a wall of force that keep them from the leader.
A moment later, Mithril, Kami and Blade arrive in a cloud of dust, only to see that not only does Hunter have the matter in hand, but it was just for Olivia’s recruitment. Exasperated, Blade shoots Olivia with her essence cannon and beckons Mithril to take her back (this is mostly for hilarity since Olivia has bashing soak and regeneration). Kami sees no one injured except Hunter and so uses Anointment of Miraculous Health on him as a bandage. After a few moments, the leader reaches up to the lieutenants, then disintegrates into a cloud of essence and dust. The four lieutenants take off running into the camp, with Kami and Hunter in pursuit. Hunter’s use of his new Crouching Gargoyle charm allows him to easily keep up with them and keep Kami caught up with him. Soon they have disappeared into a small shack in the middle of the camp, and Hunter and Kami follow, finding a tunnel with ladder rungs leading into an underground cavern where the four lieutenants are furiously attempting to complete an occult ritual.
Hunter, who is in the lead, takes in the scene for a moment, before grabbing the nearest lieutenant and burying his fangs in the defenseless man’s neck, draining him dry. Kami arrives and disarms the only one of the three remaining lieutenants. Hunter then indicates they should leave, but one of them is in utter shock and doesn’t even respond. Hunter then takes him for questioning by Olivia. Olivia meanwhile has started making new friends rapidly and asks about the leader, finding his name is Cadmius Questor, often shortened to C-Questor, and that he has regenerated before with the help of his priest-lieutenants. The mercenaries don’t know more about him, but when Hunter brings back the lieutenant for Olivia to question, he reveals C-Questor was the god of the concept “Grundelplith” which is an Icewalker word for “pointless battle”. A lot of things seem to make more sense. Olivia now sets about trying to unite the two mercenary camps, which is a bit easier since both leadership structures have been smashed, but it will still be a difficult process.
Kami and Mithril get back to work upgrading Blade while Hunter helps Olivia take over these mercenaries, but soon a new plan is formulated: move both mercenary groups to the Moon-Sheltered Manse and consolidate power there. Mithril also wants access to the resources there to complete his own charms. So Mithril flies Kami and Blade over back to the Moon-Sheltered Manse, but once there, he says he has something else he wants to do and leaves, with Kami to monitor Blade’s installation progress. While Hunter and Olivia corral the mercenaries who are uniting under Olivia’s “Army of
DoomJustice” Banner back onto the guild ship, Kami gets to work on M.I.R.I., and after almost a week of strenuous work, finally makes a breakthrough that there is a signal being received from some built-in antenna system that is suppressing M.I.R.I., so Kami disables the antenna.
When Hunter and Olivia arrive with the mercenaries and Blade awakens fully upgraded after a week, Kami asks their opinion on reactivating M.I.R.I. and no one has a problem with it (Blade does, except not really). Once reactivated, M.I.R.I. relates how he has been offline for a very long time. He indicates he knows M.A.I.R.I. is a defective algorithm, that the sealed-off area was a cargo hold the last time he was active, and that he was built by Twin-Shadowed Eagle, a famous Lunar manse designer who also helped build many other important manses in the first age.
Kami reactivates Siren, who is ashamed at being misused by M.A.I.R.I. and is reluctant to do much of anything, and says if M.I.R.I. cannot sense into the former cargo hold then she probably can’t materialize in there. The party is very curious about what is behind the vault doors, so they collect their elite god-blooded soldiers (plus two ordinary soldiers on the officer fast track for lever operation) and head down. The soldiers are told to hang back while the party investigates. A lot of preparation goes into the tactics.
Blade is the first one in, being invisible, able to see in the dark, and exceptionally tough, but not the stealthiest, as she botches her stealth roll to jump through a massive hole torn in the metal wall in the back. Now in a rocky cavern, a smooth featureless lump is attracted to the sound Blade made, but she gets out of the way as the thing approaches. It’s cylindrical and wobbles forward on four stubby legs with a big blank frowny face on its front. Blade hops out of the way and it can’t seem to see her, but as she sneaks up and tries to kill it, it starts hissing (this is the Ah Ha moment…). Blade fortunately kills it by cutting it in half before anything worse happens, and the creature leaks gunpowder all over Blade’s feet.
The party now can see three tunnels proceeding outwards through the rock, the middle one of which is larger than the side tunnels. Blade again takes the lead while the party follows, and the mercenaries bring up the rear, guarding the side tunnels and nailing torches into the walls. At a T junction, Blade peeks around the corner and sees three more green things approaching. Blade backs up to inform the party, but soon the three are coming down the hallway towards them so Blade blasts the middle one with her cannon, causing it to explode, causing the others to explode. Blade takes no damage but the ground underneath her collapses. Fortunately she was ready for this, activating her Paramagnetic Tether “Spiderman” charm. The collapsing spreads outwards, and Olivia hovers and catches Kami on a force wall while Hunter has been clinging to the ceiling this entire time. The ground has collapsed because apparently there is a massive cavern below that the see-in-the-dark people can recognize is filled with the creepy purple brain-spiders from before. They are swarming around, going in and out of tunnels, and there is definitely at least one very large one being attended to by smaller ones.
At this point the party sends back the mercenaries, and explores around a bit more, finding only more creepers who explode and make more ground collapse. They attempt to get creepers to fall into the spider cavern, and after that happens once they begin scattering and carrying away things that were in the cavern. Soon the cavern is clear, and the party wants to rest and re-prepare for what comes next.
Most Badass Moment Candidates:
- Hunter is truly pushed to the limit surviving nine skilled attacks, including virtue channels, stunting parry, and good positioning. He then completely obliterates the enemy on his next round of attacks.
- Olivia’s social combat kept the West Valley Mercenary soldiers from attacking Hunter, which is good, since Louis had just been explaining a few minutes earlier that having dozens of mortals dogpiling an Exalted would make it much easier to kill.
- Kami outputs 50 successes for fixing the computer system in four days, which is really a lot. Also at last he has willpower again!
- Blade is an ideal point person for the cave exploration, with powerful attacks, invisibility, and the Spiderman charm FTW.
Funniest Moments Candidates:
- Debbie: “So we have good cop [Kami], bad cop [Hunter], promiscuous cop [Olivia]?”
- Louis: “So we have Hunter as military leader, Kami as fixer of things–” Debbie: “People and otherwise.” Louis: “Yes, and Olivia is more of… human resources. Or public relations.”
- Eli, on Olivia’s Enchanting Features merit: “Oh god why. I want to know who wrote that so I can send them hatemail. It’s like, you can just seduce the Mask of Winters.” Louis: “No Olivia isn’t at the Mask of Winters level… yet.” Alejo, as Olivia: “He’s my idol though”
- DM: “The mercenaries are very eager to brag to Olivia about their secret research facility.” Someone: “Shouldn’t we investigate this research facility?” Others: “We already did…”
- DM, looking up some rules: “It’s nice to know what rules I’m ignoring.”
- Olivia: “The Guild has cookies! And high pay! And an excellent health care plan!” Debbie: “Am I the health care plan?”
- Eli: “It’s my fourth attack?” Alejo: “Yup. Three attacks, three damage so far, that’s how I can tell.”
- Louis: “Olivia’s gonna address the camp.” Debbie: “Olivia’s gonna undress the camp?” Others: “No that comes later.”
- Blade: “You woke me up just to add to your army??” *BOOM*
- Louis: “Olivia’s also going to interview each of the mercenaries one by one to get a sense of which ones are most useful, most loyal, etc.” DM: “Okay, this link is about how those interviews go.” *Everyone watches* Louis: “Oh man! Can these be my minions?” DM: “These ARE your minions! You didn’t notice??” Louis: “Jammie Jammie-Jammie, I choose you!” DM: “That’s the colonel that you guys assassinated!”
- Louis: “Hunter’s not left behind with you, you’re left behind with Hunter.”
- Debbie: “I say we activate all our scenelong charms and open the door.”
- Eli: “Draw the H upside down because I’m on the ceiling.” Alejo: …
- DM: “The more preparation you put into this, the more tempted I am for the door to open, the room to be empty and there’s just a kitten in a basket sitting there.” Eli: “That wouldn’t really be any better….”
- DM: “Aw man, Jason’s cam isn’t working today so I didn’t get to see the look on his face when he realized it was a creeper.”
- Blade: “I’ll just call them creepers, for lack of a better word…”
- Louis: “I say we metagame as much as possible.” Olivia doesn’t realize just how close she was to being backstabbed by an Enderman in that moment.
We return right where we left off: Hunter basking in the unholy glow of his anima banner, Kami worried about healing him and everyone else, Mithril cowering, Blade standing guard, and Olivia and Silken Cowl trying to calm the frightened mercenaries who are forming ranks against the party.
Kami activates his super combo to heal everyone, but immediately afterwards Olivia steps on a shard of glass and loses her balance, toppling over and clonking herself over the head on debris (Louis missed the session due to getting a shard of glass stuck in his foot). Olivia’s minions run over to help her, while Mithril relays to the other mercenaries that he is tracking the spy westwards and that the West Valley Mercenaries may be attacking soon. He then tries to rally them into a formation to prepare for battle against the West, which they are amenable to, but a deep, booming voice soon echoes through the camp, silencing everyone. Kami quickly spatializes the voice to be coming from the roof of one of the biggest buildings in the camp, one of the wooden buildings (as opposed to tents). Soon, appearing at the edge of the roof is the same bad guy from before that Olivia briefly met, Garmenberger the Great. He looks pissed.
Silken Cowl begins shaking in fear, as Garmenberger remarks on the scent of betrayal, and how their group had chosen Heinz (apparently his real name) to be the Warden of their group, only to betray them now. He remarks coldly that there is only one person in the world who hates that scent worse than him: “Dread” Joe Red. Kami and Mithril catch a brief shimmering glimpse of movement before a black metal pipe spears through Silken Cowl’s back and out his chest, and he falls over dead. Hunter and Kami quickly move back-to-back as battle is joined, and in the next moment another metal pipe attempts to spear through Kami out of thin air, but he activates Iron Skin Concentration to ignore the damage. He suspects a second one is incoming due to his brilliant perception+awareness roll but he sweep-blocks his torso and a pipe tries to go through his foot. Another Iron Skin Concentration prevents any damage or crippling, but the enemy is completely invisible still and moves out of the way again.
Great Garmenberger is accompanied on the roof by a second person, a man wearing the same red overcoat and helmet of the mercenaries, but with gold trim and an air of authority. At Garmenberger’s prompting, he commands the mercenaries to form ranks and kill the outsiders, while Garmenberger begins casting another spell. Great Garm is also hard to look at due to a black aura radiating around him, and his voice carries an unnatural drone that makes his words very persuasive. The mercenaries start forming up, while Olivia’s minions try to take Olivia to safety. Blade stands defiantly in front of the building and starts trying to blast Great Garm with her cannon, though he is more than able to dodge the attacks.
Mithril seizes the moment to activate his flight mode and his essence sight, revealing an invisible humanoid wreathed in essence produced by his belt that is making him invisible, weaving around Hunter and Kami. Mithril coordinates with Hunter to negate Hunter’s penalties for attacking an invisible opponent, and Hunter then leaps onto Mithril’s shoulder (still has Nimble Raiton’s Perch active!) so they can jointly attack. Mithril’s first attack slices through the metal rods the invisible enemy uses to parry, giving Hunter a clear attack which does a lot of damage. Mithril’s next attack is blocked by the enemy’s magical axe, so Hunter has to take a guess as to the exact location but still makes a solid hit. Mithril’s third attack draws blood but fails to damage the armor which is apparently also magical, but Hunter finishes the enemy off with his third attack, which also destroys the invisibility device and splatters blood everywhere. The two then pose over the invisible man’s corpse.
Kami takes cover inside the damaged nearby building while the mercenaries swarm them. Hunter does take one level of damage but mostly the attacks are suffocating and crowding, not lethal. Kami manages to get one of his attackers to kill the other using his high parry score and a stunt, but the other incoming mercenaries don’t look to be so easily thwarted. Just then, the Mercenary General, who has pulled out some type of control device, activates a control and a portion of the ground opens up into a massive pit trap, sending Blade and several mercenaries falling. Great Garm has also finished his spell, targeting Hunter, who uses Iron Countermagic to block the Flying Guillotine spell. Mithril, seeing that the rooftop has the real menace, throws his beamklave into the wall, then picks up Hunter and Kami and flies the two of them onto the roof, where Great Garm apparently has backup waiting in the form of Captain Tory (from the Guild ship) and his first mate, a Western sailor with a massive head of black curly hair and no shirt. The two attack Kami but do no damage, while Mithril uses his Motivational Vocoder to brainwash the Mercenary General to help him recover the stolen artifacts from the cultists. With his backup ineffective and his mercenary army about to turn on him, Great Garm wisely flees.
Hunter rears up with his sword ready against the captain and first mate, saying “I only need one of you alive.” The first mate’s eyes flicker, giving Hunter all the hint he needs to butcher the captain with three hits. He then grabs the first mate by the hair and drags him away. The Mercenary General has now commanded his troops to circle the building, blocking Garm’s escape, so Mithril heads down the ladder after him, and Kami soon follows. The second floor of the building is empty and unremarkable, so they reach the first floor, where a curtain has partitioned one section of the room separately. Pulling it aside, Mithril and Kami see something only Kami recognizes: a teleportal just like the one on the Moral Ambiguity, though made with different materials and lacking the Old Realm scripts on the side. Kami manages to see the code number for the portal frequency (666) in the instant before the fuse reaches the explosives stacked around the teleportal, blowing it up and knocking Mithril back for four lethal damage. Kami activates Iron Skin Concentration to take no damage, thereby spiting the laws of physics and remaining in place when the building collapses on him. He takes no damage from this either, but then he is pinned in a rapidly burning building, and manages to channel his compassion to get out before Jacob suffocates and/or burns.
The mercenary general was also killed by the explosion, but his troops were only knocked over. Olivia has now also come to and rapidly assumes control of the mercenary company. About this time, Blade crawls out of the pit dragging the massive severed head of a Wyld monster behind her, asking “What did I miss?” Also, when Mithril asks the mercenaries where the cultists’ possessions were kept, they point at the burning building.
Hunter interrogates the first mate, who attempts to feign that he only speaks Seatongue, which is of course Hunter’s native language. Once they start talking, the first mate reveals his name is Polmala, and that for the last few years Captain Tory had become involved with the Colds Winds Cabal, which reports to a higher-up organization whose overall goal is the invasion of Creation by the Yozis. When Hunter asks in disbelief why this mortal would go along with it, he states he owed a life debt to Captain Tory, and that they were promised riches, lots of riches.
Kami heals Jacob, then Mithril (while they also chat about modifying the manse), and then finally, after Olivia secures them quarters, Kami gets to sleep. At long last.
Funniest Moments snippets
- Taylor: “Now that the scarier Abyssal is dead, Mithril works up his courage to come out.” Eli: “I’m insulted…”
- Debbie: “I thought Olivia was handling them.” DM: “No, you’re thinking of the ship.” Debbie: “I didn’t mean literally ‘handling’ them!”
- DM: “Six successes.” Debbie: “No dice. Literally.”
- DM: “The invisibility device explodes because you guys already have too many toys.” Party: “Awwwww!”
- Debbie: “I use Iron Skin Concentration and take no damage [from the explosion].” DM: “Okay so you’re also not blown backwards like Mithril is because you’re negating the laws of physics, so the building collapses on you and catches fire.” Debbie: “Oops.”
- Alejo writes out “Great” Garmenberger, “Dread” Joe Red, “Warden” Heinz, and Captain Tory and Polmala. Eli finally gets the joke: “Which one was Warden Heinz again? I need to go desecrate his corpse some more.” Later: “Thanks for letting me kill some Shitsburg Squealers by the way.”