Hunter and Olivia have concluded their business in the West. Olivia attempts to persuade Vae to accompany them but Vae has pressing matters to attend to still. Olivia and her entire squad of minions now pile back into the Moral Ambiguity, which can barely hold this many people, so most of the minions are sent back to the Moon-Sheltered Manse. The trip to the embassy is estimated to be another week along the river, so Blade stands guard, Mithril keeps watch, Olivia flies overhead and wards off all attention by claiming the ship is guild property, and Kami takes the Void Essence Extractor back to the Moon-Sheltered Manse for some experimentin’. Thanks to the Craftsman Needs No Tools charm, Kami is able to completely disassemble and reassemble it and believes that while the tool itself is unsafe to use on people, he can copy the core idea to make a Void Essence Suppressor Field that can prevent Jacob’s cells from producing death essence. Kami’s plan to heal Jacob is now looking like using this field to prevent Jacob’s cells from producing death essence while they die and/or are cleansed, but he still needs some way of removing the viral sequence. This will require further research.
On the sixth day of the upriver journey, after sailing past Nexus and Great Forks and heading into the more forested areas upriver, a small town catches Mithril’s eye as having a tall, perfectly cylindrical spire jutting from a building. He identifies it as a long-range scanning municipal charm, meaning they have found the Yugash embassy. Mithril flies away immediately, and Veria runs back through the portal to warn Kami while Coznesster Smiff runs below decks to alert Hunter that Mithril has left. Olivia notices it as well and flies around to scout while Smiff docks the boat and Blade, Kami and Hunter disembark. Mithril meets several guards outside the embassy who are suspicious but send a runner to carry Mithril’s request for a meeting. Olivia rapidly finds Guild contacts who claim that the Autochthonians are open for business, tending to buy unusual things from all over Creation and refusing to sell things of military value but parting with unusual trinkets and wonders such as Talkie Toasters.
Olivia joins with the rest of the party as they arrive, and they are admitted to meet their diplomat. In the large, hastily constructed warehouse there are only two things: a massive, forty-foot-tall blue head with a massive soulgem in its forehead jutting out of the ground, and a black and silver twenty foot tall spiderlike warstrider-colossus which is apparently the Alchemical in charge. This Alchemical greets Mithril and Blade in a flat emotionless tone, and after some pleasantries and explanations are exchanged including verification that Mithril and Blade are from Kamak, Mithril’s request to send a message to Kamak is granted, using Vision Transmitting Protocol routed through the Patropolis who is the bridge between Creation and Autochthon. Mithril’s message, which is lightly encrypted, makes mention of the recovered artifacts and is addressed to Move Point and/or Last Order. The Yugash Alchemicals transmit the message and estimate if a response is sent it will be received in an hour.
The party randomly meanders and checks out the marketplace, with Kami bringing Jacob around to look at stuff and Blade at one point tries all the free samples of everything. Olivia also sends a message through Guild Mail (gmail) updating her superiors of the deal reached with the Lunars. The party reassembles in an hour, to find that happily, the message has been received. Move Point (whose real name is apparently a mathematical equation involving the derivative of position) has received the message and has suggested that if Mithril can gain access to a large amount of power and resources, the Warp Manifold from the expo could be used to create a stable two-way gate between Autochthonia and Creation. If Mithril agrees, Move Point will send frequencies and activation codes for the Warp Manifolds. Mithril sends a return message acknowledging the plan, and so another hour wait is in order. The colossus scans the party and suggests they rest in the available officer quarters of the barracks, so one of the guards leads them up and assigns five rooms, one to each party member, with the Alchemicals first and Hunter dead last. Several people seem to be troubled by the tone of the assignments, so Hunter wanders around instead of entering his quarters, while Kami heals Jacob, and Blade goes to have another message sent to Kamak, this one to her superior informing them of her status.
Around this time, Hunter and anyone else outside notices that the moon is blood-red tonight, similar to a Lunar eclipse. Kami and Hunter don’t know much about this but somehow Mithril has, during the course of his time in Creation, picked up that the moon is intimately tied to the maintenance of the cycles of Creation and that something may be changing. This is disturbing to the party but they have no other way of immediately finding out what’s going on. At one point, an elderly man who is only moderately crazy raves about not having seen one since he was very young.
Once the hour is up, Mithril receives the message from Move Point with the encrypted frequencies and command codes, and they’re all good to go. As they’re leaving, the colossus notes that Kami’s essence is unusual and requests permission to scan him, which Kami agrees to. The scans are inconclusive, however, though the Alchemical does say he has met Solars before, so Kami’s not sure what it could be.
The party gets back in the Moral Ambiguity and sails through the blood-moon night and through the next few days. As they approach Nexus, Olivia suggests they put to port there since this is her power base. As they take a docking port reserved for Guild Factors, two Guild agents are present, one of whom expresses surprise that Olivia is alive. Olivia brushes him off, since her messages have clearly been getting through. Her mercenary force has been credentialed and her alliance with the Lunars is in effect. She requests and receives access to the Guild files containing top-secret information, and finds that a Blood Moon occurs on the night after any alterations are made to the Matrix of Reality, which is in the bowels of Yu-Shan and contains all programming for the physical laws of reality. Since it was created by the Primordials, who did not believe in making mistakes, there is no undo function and no find last change or revert changes functionality, so whatever happened is likely to stay that way.
Kami goes back to the Moon-Sheltered Manse and asks MIRI about the Blood Moon. MIRI knows about the Matrix of Reality but is not sure what has been changed. MIRI has, however, detected a number of minor changes to reality, including the 30th digit of π is now different, which suggests the changes may have been made by someone hoping to cover their tracks. Another change has invalidated the Moon-Sheltered Manse’s geomantic warding that makes it impossible to find through standard navigation and astrological detection, meaning the manse is now exposed. This is a serious problem, and MIRI is not certain whether this can be compensated for. This alerts the party that the changes may have been made at least in part to target them, so everyone piles back into the Moon-Sheltered Manse to stage its defense.
Olivia also reports in with her Hierarch, who is pleased with her work and grants Olivia’s requests for warding at the manse. She is also pressed into a meeting with Quellison Thornshadow, the Hierarch who she met at the very beginning of the campaign. Quellison is distraught that Olivia failed in stealing the convoy and preventing the auction, but Olivia soon relates that though the auction took place, she has spent the last few months undoing the damage done by Creation’s enemies and has also forged an alliance with the Lunars of the West. Quellison is genuinely impressed and expects a full report from her soon, and also commits two of his Dragon-blooded warders to help protect the Moon-Sheltered Manse.
Around this time, Kami notices that he has a lot of experience points, and somehow his charm list and combos seem different. He can’t really put his finger on it, but he’s not sure how he survived falls of great heights and taking direct unguarded blows in the past. A chill runs down everyones’ spine as they realize “Iron Skin Concentration” is not a charm and never was one, though no one else’s charm trees seem to have been affected. The party has been preparing for three days when MIRI’s alarm warns everyone that a Haslanti airship is approaching at high speed.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Some funny stuff:
- Someone: “What’s Yugash’s relationship to Kamak?” Alejo: “You’re at the bottom of their shit list.”
- Alejo: “Craftsman Needs No Tools, He Needs Only Caffeine”
- DM: “So quite frequently in this part of the river you pass another ship with a ton of slack-jawed sailors staring at your warship.” Debbie: “I have Jacob stand on the deck and wave.” Alejo (whilst laughing): “The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s budget has really grown lately!”
- Louis: “Guild-Mail, or Gmail I guess…”
- Guard: “Here are your quarters.” Jacob wants to find a gumball machine to spend the quarters at.
- Olivia: “Most of the artifacts have no commercial purpose.” Debbie: “Yeah like turning gold into Orichalcum, who would want that?”
- Debbie: “You broke my character!” Eli: “Your character was broken to begin with.” Jason: “The break that sets the bone.”
The party has now split up. Hunter and Olivia take the Alchemical Sorcerer north to try and locate Vaelynith and secure the Void Essence Extractor, after which they will return to Hunter’s manse and use the teleportal to catch up with the rest of the party, which is headed east in the Moral Ambiguity.
Kami has the most information about the North and East. Kami, Mithril and Blade ultimately decide to skirt the Realm entirely by sailing through the White Sea, down Malice Bay, and upstream through the River of Tears, which should bring them to the Northeast where the boomerang-wielding fighter was probably located, then continuing upriver to the Yellow river which should lead to the general area of the Yugash Embassy. The sailing to the White Sea is fairly easy even at maximum cruising speed (which is increased by Mithril creating a slipstream using his armor’s new air manipulation), so Kami takes some time to train a few of Olivia’s minions to also sail the ship.
Once they’re in the White Sea they slow down to avoid the icebergs, but still soon enter Haslanti League territory. On the second day of their passage through the White Sea, Mithril spots an air boat overhead, suspended from some large cylindrical gas bag and with an unknown crew. He runs around the ship as quickly as possible and forms a fog bank that obscures the ship, but after a bit when Blade cloaks and climbs up the flag mast to poke her head out above the fog bank, the airship is circling overhead. Apparently he didn’t pull it off in time, so they allow it to dispel and the air boat slowly lowers itself down to be next to the ship. As the airboat settles into the water and its captain calls over for the party to state their identities, Blade, still cloaked, takes aim at said captain. Kami and Mithril try diplomacy, to which the captain Arcturus is somewhat receptive, and though his ship, the Heavy Crane, is on a transport mission, he agrees to arrange for a patrolling warboat to escort them through Haslanti territory and keep Mithril on board as a goodwill hostage. The airboat takes off and moves into a slow spiral pattern. The escort’s patrol route is supposed to bring it within range within a half hour, but much more time than that passes, before the Heavy Crane sends off flares with colored smoke. Still nothing happens. Mithril flies up, asking Arcturus where the ship is, which they don’t know. This also provokes a comment from Arcturus that this explains why Mithril was so willing to be on an airship (since he’s now flying alongside the ship).
A storm cloud is rolling in, and Mithril fails a valor check when asked to check it out. The cloud approaches ever closer, and suddenly a large, heavily armed and armored airboat bursts from the clouds with a massive ram on its prow, trying to ram the Heavy Crane. Mithril, thinking quickly, uses his air manipulation to compress the gas in the Heavy Crane’s gas bags, causing its buoyancy to decrease and the ship falls, nearly dodging the enemy warship. One of the gas bags is still punctured, so when Mithril releases the pressure the Heavy Crane coasts down into the water with a resounding thud, while the warship circles around for another pass. The warship appears to be crewed with demons, and has several large demon wasps flying alongside it. Mithril launches lightning at its left gas bags to get it to alter course, while Blade uses the Moral Ambiguity’s laser ballista to puncture one of the gas bags and cause it to sink. This assault causes the ship to crash into the water, though it doesn’t seem to sink. Kami has gunned the Moral Ambiguity’s engines but he makes a pass by the Heavy Crane and Mithril uses his spider webbing to tow the Heavy Crane, while Blade shoots down the demon wasps. The party makes its escape with the Heavy Crane in tow.
Once they’re all well underway, Kami heads over to the Heavy Crane to treat injuries, using his combo that allows him to multi-heal people that also makes everything glow golden (“It’s definitely the head trauma”). Mithril also heads over, and they get directions to a secret air boat base with a dry dock and make sail for it, since it’s less than a day’s sailing even with the Heavy Crane in tow.
During the night while keeping watch, Mithril’s use of essence sight reveals some strange demon-dolphin trailing the Heavy Crane. He attempts to subtly capture it in a web net, and when that fails he awakens Blade and Kami to discuss what to do next. Since it’s probably dematerialized, Kami suggests pure essence, such as from Blade’s essence cannon, should still affect it. Since Mithril hasn’t upgraded iBot enough to share vision enhancements and Blade’s goggles don’t show dematerialized things, Mithril flies above the demon and uses his air manipulation to create bubbles that Blade can target. This works, knocking the demon into unconsciousness and rematerializing it because these mechanics already don’t make any sense.
They drag the demon (which is like some weird dolphin-monster with colorful feathers on its tail) aboard the Moral Ambiguity and Mithril activates his interrogation powers, since it speaks Old Realm. They question the demon, and apparently it works for that same warship, under the command of Captain Gyrfalcon, performing locust deliveries and generally causing mayhem. When they ask about Quetzalcoatl it is confused, and asks who that is, prompting Blade to terminate the interrogation and the demon. Kami immediately goes back to bed.
The next morning, they have arrived at the secret facility. The party is invited to a meeting with the Haslanti sky fleet commanders, who are interested to learn that Gyrfalcon is the captain of the ship that attacked the Heavy Crane. Apparently he is a former Haslanti sky sailor and commando known for his recklessness, and he has intimate knowledge of the patrol routes that the warships use. The Haslanti are now going to account for this and are determined to bring this menace down. There is also the question of what the demon meant by locust, but the connection is soon made to the locust oatmeal that the Cold Winds Cabal was feeding its soldiers, and reports that other Yozi-worshipping cabals in the North have similar access to this strangely addictive food. This mystery seems to be in the process of being solved then! The Haslanti are grateful and send a warship to escort the Moral Ambiguity to Malice Bay and promise to keep them up to date. They also provide a map of their territory and provide the latest info on how to find Solars in the Northeast who work for the Bull of the North.
The Moral Ambiguity makes it through Malice Bay and up the River of Tears without incident, though definitely attracting attention. Once somewhat upriver and at a good location for finding the Solars, they hide the ship with Olivia’s Minions and set off on foot. By late afternoon, Kami has the impression they’re being followed, and Mithril flies up to find two scouts on their trail while Blade casually starts chopping trees down. They can’t speak Skytongue or Old Realm but have a very heavily accented version of Riverspeak, and deny any and all knowledge of any Solars in the area. The party starts making their lives miserable, so a voice calls out to leave them alone, they’re just doing their jobs. Behind them is the very same man they’re looking for, a young Solar with twin orichalcum boomerangs and a cocky smirk. He is highly evasive on basically everything including his name (eventually identifying himself as Richard) but acquiesces to the party’s knowledge of his presence at the auction and takes their request for the device seriously. He claims it’s in use but can be returned once their project is complete, and they can come to the base camp, since his friend is giving rides. His friend soon shows up in a huge warstrider named Scrap Iron, and Zeke, the pilot, has an amusing conversation with Mithril, involving its construction and the AI it contains.
At the base camp, the party meets other soldiers who work for the Bull of the North, though only Zeke and Richard seem to be Solars. Richard allows Kami to use their technology to find the nanites in his body, and a metal detector reveals they have embedded themselves in the connective tissues of his left arm. Kami removes them with ease and keeps them for further study. Richard claims they need the device for a couple more weeks, but it will be returned to them after that with no extra charge. Richard also tries to recruit Kami, sensing that he has always been alone and that with them, he would be among trusted peers at last. Kami is noncommittal but intrigued.
The party heads back to the Moral Ambiguity, preparing for their next stop: the Yugash Embassy!
A few quotes:
- Jason: “Darn, I’m with the ethical party members…”
- Captain: “Is this your ship?” Kami: “It is now…”
- Blade is aiming at the captain when Mithril says to him: “I don’t know about that, I’ll have to ask this ship’s captain.” Jason’s face lights up, then Debbie starts to answer and Jason is disappointed it wasn’t a signal to shoot the guy.
- Blade, shooting Wasps: “One down, x-1 to go!”
- Richard, to Blade: “I like you, I think we have things in common.”
- Zeke, to Mithril: “I like you, I think we have things in common.”
The party has just captured Quetzalcoatl in Mithril’s net and set about looting him. Removing his gear, the belt and the feather cape seem to be of particular interest, while his bow seems to be made of some unusual magical material. After a bit, Mithril remembers that someone in a diving suit shot a trident at him, and dives underwater, finding no diving suit but finding a handle on the underside of the ship. Olivia stays behind with Blade while Mithril, Hunter and Kami then head down into the hold of the Moral Ambiguity. There they find the guy in the soulsteel diving suit trying to pry the bulkhead open that has the power source (infected coma guy) inside. Hunter deliberately sticks his daiklave through the helmet, and it comes out with blood and brains on it as the guy falls over limp. This seems a bit suspicious, so Kami examines the body and finds the body has actually been dead for some time but was prepared in some way to appear to be alive. Hunter recognizes this as a fairly common tool used by Skullstone ghosts, so he starts saving up essence.
Olivia asks Blade to wear her goggles while looking at the equipment, and finds that the vest has some kind of illusion over it. She removes it and sets it aside. She has Mithril and Kami examine the belt, which is some kind of illusion-projector, and determines that the bow and the cape are not useful and are probably suspect due to their demonic nature.
Once Hunter’s essence is saved up he casts Trolling the Dark Waters, revealing that one of the bodies of Kami’s sailors in fact had a Skullstone ghost hiding inside it (who is now visible and tangible). Olivia plays good cop, Mithril (using his Intimidation powers) plays bad cop, and Hunter plays worse cop as they extract information from the ghost, who is some kind of elite commando with the Skullstone military. His assignment was to be a failsafe for Hunger of a Hundred Years, the Abyssal, and the Nephwrack who he evidently doesn’t like and refers to only by patronizing nicknames. The soulsteel diving suit has a special device in the boot that can take a blood sample, sequence the DNA and broadcast it over a long distance back to the Silver Prince. It was supposed to be for sequencing the coma guy’s disease so that the Silver Prince could finally get his hands on a contagious version of the disease he needs to power his fleet, as without that disease he is losing the war and may lose within three months. The combination of Wavecrest, Coral, and the Lunars is far too much for Skullstone to deal with, and this was apparently his final gambit, which is why he was willing to trade away the bell that has a third circle demon soulforged into it. The bell is somehow important to the Yozi invasion of Creation, which the Silver Prince definitely wants to avoid, but he had no choice as he is now utterly desperate. Hunter decides this is now an excellent time to taunt the Silver Prince by having the boot’s needle sample his own blood and send its message. He then executes the ghost.
Olivia wants to go collect her mercenaries from Langri-Sha and have them help pilot the ships, while they plan their next move. However, when she, Blade and Kami go through, they find elite Langri-Sha soldiers preparing to deactivate the portal. Olivia manages to persuade them to wait while she talks with their boss, and then has them bring her to the head of the Technomage Council, Carnot. When the party is brought into his office and reveal they have captured Quetzalcoatl, Carnot immediately demands that they return him to the NSA for interrogation. The party replies that they are prepared to conduct their own interrogation, which Carnot cannot allow since Quetzalcoatl is in possession of sensitive information, as he has been on the Technomage Council for a long time. Olivia delivers a massive social attack to change Carnot’s mind, but the best he can do is a compromise where the NSA can perform the interrogation on the party’s ship. This is agreed upon.
The party reconvenes in a small side room in the hold of the Moral Ambiguity, where Quetzalcoatl is tied to a chair, and a nerdy NSA technician brings a large suitcase and sets it down behind him. Mithril demands that Quetzalcoatl be asked about his time infiltrating GROUP, which is added to the list of questions that will be subconsciously asked. Once everything is ready, the technician opens the suitcase, and a purple tentacle-spider with electrodes attached all over it climbs up and wraps itself around Quetzalcoatl’s head. The technician programs the questions through his suitcase, and Quetzalcoatl begins revealing everything:
“My name is Quetzalcoatl. I was born in Langri-Sha. I became a member of the Technomage council. I was sent on assignment to capture Heinz, a dangerous criminal who discovered the secret of our existence. I pursued him to the east. I exalted as a Solar, then I became a Green Sun Prince in service to the Yozis. I captured Heinz and sent him North to found the Cold Winds Cabal and become its Warden. I stayed in the East to prepare the invasion of the Yozis, but the other Green Sun Princes were all killed by a group of Solars, though we were successful in bringing through a Third Circle Demon who was dematerialized. I escaped into Autochthonia through the Yugash embassy. I met the soul of my Green Sun Prince commander, Scars, who was in a soulgem attached to a gremlin. I infiltrated GROUP and plotted the theft of the materials from a technology expo. I reentered Creation along with Scars and met up with the Pool of Death, who already knew Scars and also gave me the plans for the teleportals. I conducted the auction…”
Quetzalcoatl seizes up when being asked why he conducted the auction, using the shining gems in his headband to keep that information concealed, using its power to force the purple spider to stop and trying to wake up. Olivia resorts to physically attacking him until the headband’s power is depleted, then the spider forces him to reveal: “I conducted the auction so I could use Langri-Sha magitech to spy on all the auction’s participants!” In the next moment his voice changes: “I have tired of this servant,” and his neck snaps.
Carnot has the body taken back to Langri-Sha for examination, and Mithril goes with him as they search Quetzalcoatl’s office. The man who had been spying on the council was already interrogated and had revealed all of Quetzalcoatl’s servants in Langri-Sha, so they expect no surprises. When Mithril and Carnot find a key code to a classified laboratory, they go in to find nanite tracking technology with four screens still active. One is tracking Golden Gaze, one is tracking one of Olivia’s minions back at the Moon-Sheltered Manse, one is tracking a Lunar traveling through the West, and one is tracking a participant in military maneuvers in the East working with Solars. Mithril realizes the data is being recorded and scrolls back to the very beginning, showing the auction. The Lunar is an arctic-fox totem who purchases a Void Essence Extractor, and the Solar is a cocky young man with two orichalcum boomerangs purchasing a Gold to Orichalcum converter. These are the last two items from the Expo that Mithril is trying to recover.
Once the party has reconvened and Olivia has retrieved her mercenaries from their hiding place outside Langri-Sha, everyone figures out what to do next. Olivia first flies a large quantity of the magical materials to her hidden Factory-Cathedral in the far north, making a number of artifacts and upgrades for herself (including using Yasal Crystals to give herself Spirit Charms) and upgrades for Mithril’s armor and Hunter’s sword. Since the Technomage council wants the teleportal out anyway, Mithril flies it over to the Moon-sheltered Manse and installs it, so when Olivia returns to Langri-Sha, she realizes it’s not there anymore and heads back to the Moon-Sheltered Manse. Now the party has three portals: Hunter’s Manse, the Moon-Sheltered Manse, and on the Moral Ambiguity.
The final plan is that Hunter and Olivia will take the Alchemical Sorcerer to try and find Vaelynith and retrieve the Void Essence Extractor while Kami, Blade and Mithril take the Moral Ambiguity to the East to find the Solars and also to investigate the Yugash embassy.
A few quotes:
- Eli: “Not like Doctor Dre, he’s an actual doctor.”
- Taylor, in response to suggestions of how bad things can get: “Don’t say that, Alejo can hear you!!”
- Olivia: “Yes Mithril I guess I can be good cop and you can be bad cop.” Hunter: “Can I be worse cop?”
- After it is established that Olivia regularly drinks the tea that lets you see ghosts, including when people die, Eli: “Wait, so you see this every time we kill someone, which is often?”
- Taylor, on hearing Olivia is making the Crown of Thunders: “Wait, I know what that is, why are you letting him do that? Don’t let him do that!!”
- Someone, in response to Louis’s epic powergaming moves: “…What just happened?”