The inside of Ingatan’s temple seemed oddly normal and humble, considering it was the resting place of a major artifact. Prayer mats were still laid out in the main meditation chamber, likely laid there centuries ago by the temple’s original monks. One of the walls displayed a perfectly-preserved fresco of Ingatan himself, here depicted as a rotund, four-armed figure flanked by elephants. Each of his hands held a differently-colored flame. Qiyet, who had recently brushed up on her religious studies after obtaining the Humble Hook, correctly identified these flames as representing periods of relative time: the distant past (grey), the recent past (red), the near future (yellow), and the far future (white).
Glancing around the length of a hallway leading further in, the party discovered a series of doorways, three of which were clouded over by colored fog that seemed to match the fresco: one each of grey, red, and yellow fog. The fourth doorway was not shrouded at all, and only led into a closet-sized space from which unusually warm air was wafting out. The group correctly assumed these doorways would lead to the trials that Lymae ve Alema had mentioned, and so began with the grey-fogged door.
After passing through the fog, everything they saw was colored in black and white. They stood on the deck of a great seafaring vessel, except the area had been converted into the site of a grand party. Dozens of guests moved about in amusement, sharing laughter and casual conversation alike. The familiar face of Stover Delft emerged from the crowd and he waved to the heroes.
“Do me a favor and go make sure the Duchess isn’t ‘sleeping through’ the king’s speech in order to embarrass her brother.”
It seemed the party had found themselves in a recreation of [[Chapter 1: Island at the Axis of the World. | Spring 6, 500 AOV]], the night of Duchess Ethelyn’s attempt to sabotage the Coaltongue and murder her brother, King Aodhan. Templeton had taken on the appearance of his good friend Arthur Pierson, while Kida now looked like Darsys, the group’s old warlock, and Talon now resembled Drew McTaggert, who would later die at the hands of Asrabey Varal during the attempt to arrest the Duchess.
Armed with the knowledge of what was about to transpire, the group (Qiyet in particular) tried to warn their old boss that someone was going to try to blow up the ship, but Delft only gave them a quizzical look and asked how much they’d had to drink that night. Failing that, the direct approach was their next best bet. Hugo and Templeton went straight to the steamship’s massive engine, where they captured two engineers they recognized as saboteurs, and Hugo was able to quickly undo what little damage they’d done to the delicate equipment. Qiyet ran into Sokana Rell, who’d caught the ranger in a nasty spell during their first encounter—she tried to get the upper hand on the ranger again, but was dropped with one blow! The party’s skills had indeed grown.
Kida and Talon made their way to Ethelyn’s room, where they had a hell of a time trying to convince the woman to come up onto the deck and hear her brother’s speech this time around. Tensions rose, and when Talon tried to take her by the shoulder and lead her forcefully from the room, she cried out, “Beshela!”
Pallid, tree-trunk-thick tentacles burst in from the portholes lining the Duchess’ quarters, grasping and slamming at the heroes while Ethelyn teleported out of the room-even through an opaque door. A kraken was attacking the ship, and its master soon appeared: none other than Beshela, archfey of the sea and servant of She Who Writhes. A battle commenced, and the two companions found themselves hard-pressed to fight a royally-empowered druid, an archfey, and her monstrous pet. Beshela could command water itself, shaping it into crushing torrents or invoking dire thirst in her enemies, and she would not listen when Talon pleaded that he was not her enemy. Indeed, Talon had become a mortal of note to her, and a proven ally of fey interests, but this Beshela had never met Talon—and Talon didn’t even look like himself, at the moment.
The fight continued, with Qiyet the first to arrive as reinforcement after hearing the commotion at the back of the ship. Again and again the temporally-displaced heroes tried to get Ethelyn to see reason: they told her that they knew of the prophecy she had heard, and they said she’d been right to fear a conspiracy. But though shocked at to hear her opponents speak of things they couldn’t possibly know about, she remained unconvinced… until Qiyet remembered she was still carrying the vision-journal of Nevard Sechim, late skyseer and trusted friend of Ethelyn’s. Kida used a hurler-snatcher to take the book from her ally and cast it into the Duchess’ hands. As it fell open, Ethelyn’s eyes grew wide in realization. The constables were telling the truth! The pages started to burn with grey fire, and then all turned to white…
Hugo ran up, out of breath from legging it across two lengths of a ship’s deck and up one flight of stairs. “Guys, I made it…” he huffed, ready to join the fight. But when he looked up, he and the whole party were standing in a bare stone room with a washing basin and five clean white robes hanging on the wall. “… What??” He was too late to help.