The party took a teleporting detour to Slate, where they gained access to one of Amielle Latimer’s original pistols, and used it to commune with her spirit (and in the process, glimpsed a slew of magical items kept in the Royal Vault).
(Out of Game)
Talon: One free item per person per visit.
GM: Wow, there’s some really cool stuff down here.
Templeton: (laughter) Really? You’re really gonna do that to us?
Amielle’s cryptic reply: “Cannot reveal location. Glad that you contacted. Check with your sources—find Borne’s current heading. BE CAREFUL.”
Harkover immediately checked in (via sending) with a small team of mages he’d tasked with keeping tabs on Borne’s location. Recently, he’d been trudging along the bottom of the ocean toward Flint, but had now stopped, and had been stuck there for somewhere between a few hours and a day. It was normal for him to pause after Kasvarina teleported (since he was able to track her across the world, somehow), but he had never stalled this long before.
“Someone’s probably trying to redirect him,” Talon guessed.
Kida brought up the meeting she’d seen at ObCon:
“We have a plan to restore the colossus’ memories, but it requires bringing it to a specific location.” – Nicodemus
“It’s sounds like their ‘Plan A’ is to draw Borne somewhere—but where?” Kasvarina wondered.
The party asked Aodhan if Han might have some kind of power as the Sovereign that could come into play here, but the king seemed certain that Danor had no analog to Risur’s Rites of Rulership. Even Ber’s version was far weaker, and the protections that were granted to the Clergy Hierarch by the followers of the faith were not well-documented.
“So besides Kasvarina, what does the colossus want?” Talon shrugged.
Digging for a better lead, the party tried to contact the soul of Alexander Grappa, but there was no response. So either the Mindmaker’s soul had passed on beyond Nem, or he was still alive in the world, somehow. Qiyet figured that the man must have had a contingency plan in place for when Nicodemus found him out—but that still left figuring out what it was and how to get back in contact with him.
Then, the party decided to try once more to check in with Xambria Meredith, who had cut off all contact with the party after being left behind in Drakr, now inhabing the body of an Ob researcher named Thornsenkertz. Asking for a generic update, the message was successfully delivered, but she did not respond.
Kida wondered aloud if possibly Grappa had somehow put a ‘copy’ of his consciousness inside Borne, even before leaving the Bleak Flint facility with Kasvarina. So then the next idea was to send to Borne himself, either to confirm Grappa’s presence or to snap Borne out of whatever trance he’d recently found himself in. After great deliberation, they decided to have Hugo send the message, “Listen to your father.”
Borne sent back, “Father’s gone. Cannot see father. Going to mother.”
“I’m getting something,” Harkover stated. “He’s begun to move in a northwesterly direction—not towards us. He’s going to Danor.”
“They’re mimicking Kasvarina somehow,” Talon surmised.
The party decided to head to Shale to collect one more possible memory before trying to assemble a plan to intercept the colossus. This was obviously a ploy to get Borne where the Ob wanted them, and that obviously needed to be stopped—though that could at least wait until he made landfall.
In Slate, they followed Kasvarina’s lead to an otherwise nondescript home. The door was answered by an elven woman who showed no signs of recognizing Kasvarina. Instead…
“Oh! Mr. Silverhawk!” She was obviously a bit smitten with the famous war-hero-turned-constable-turned-national-figure.
“Uh… hello,” he responded, “and your name is…?”
“Susanna! A pleasure to meet you. W-what brings you here?”
“Well, we’re—I’m currently investigating a matter of national security.”
Templeton edged in. “I’m sorry, there’s a bit of a time emergency. We just need to step in. There may be some weird lights and some things you may not understand, and then we’ll be gone.”
Susanna blinked, but cautiously opened the door wider.
Kasvarina began to softly weep in the hallway, following the close of the memory. Qiyet put a hand on the back of the bewildered civilian who was struggling to understand the meaning of all she’d just witnessed.
“I take it you knew Chatwood?” the ranger asked.
“Yes, she was my good friend—until eleven years ago.”
“She went blind. She… she wouldn’t tell me what had happened, but as the days went by and we tried to care for her, she started screaming more and more about some shadowy conspiracy, some movement against Risur. She never made any sense. We all thought that she was—”
“She’s still alive,” Templeton realized.
Tears started to well up in Susanna’s eyes. “We all thought that she was—!”
Templeton’s jaw tightened. “Where?”
“Give her a minute!” Qiyet defended, stepping between them.
“There’s an asylum in town. I can bring you. I’m so sorry! We all thought that she was crazy!” she sobbed.
“Hey. There is nothing that you could’ve done. There’s no way you could’ve known,” Qiyet said, soothing the poor woman.
“Will you help her?” Susanna asked.
On the way over, Kida (being totally on the ball today with recalled information from past missions) gave the group a refresher on the prophecy that Duchess Ethelyn Lesterman received, as a result of employing a non-corrupt skyseer during the Fourth Yerasol War:
“A globe spins on its axis, and a steel ship sets off to war on a sail of shadows. The world passes into night, and blackness grips all of Risur as the stars fall from the sky. The king’s eyes turn a soulless white, and he moves as a puppet, his strings pulled by a man who has already died a thousand times.”
It was now clear that the man who had died a thousand times was Nicodemus. Kida also brought up one of Nevard’s visions:
“One man tore himself in two, and his twin selves fought over a woman, tearing her into three, who ran away. Mice skittered around them, collecting cheese fallen amid the rails of a trainyard. Then a train roared down the track past him, but it had no one driving it. In the distance it derailed, and crushed two of the women, but which of the three survived?"
The torn man was likely Grappa, and the woman was Kasvarina—the survivor of her ‘triple selves’ being some metaphor for her uncertain identity once all this memory-hunting was finally finished. The train was less clear. Perhaps it was Borne, or perhaps it stood for the march of time itself, being a symbol of progress? As for the mice and cheese, Qiyet supposed it was symbolic of the various people in power Team 1 had met on their travels, all of them fighting over worthless cheese while missing the bigger picture.
This discussion brought up yet more comparisons between more unresolved prophecies—and a parallel was drawn between Ethelyn’s prophecy and another of Nevard’s visions:
|“… Then the sky was dark, and when the sun should have risen, instead a pale glowing cloud floated in the dark.”||“… blackness grips all of Risur as the stars fall from the sky.”|
Due to this connection, a worrying question bubbled to the surface—is Nicodemus a rhakshasa?
It was only then that the party noticed that Talon had left the party, presumably right after the memory-event ended, but they decided to come back to him later. Once at the asylum, they spoke with the chief physician, a man named Mayhew Fisher, who wore a gold ring. Susanna told him that there had been some kind of horrible misunderstanding, and that she and her new companions had found the root problem behind Chatwood’s disturbance.
Fisher showed no visible response to Kasvarina’s presence. However, Susanna’s explanation sent him into a mild panic (Insight 36 by Kida). He shuffled some papers around, trying to find a reason to refuse their right to see her, but thought better of it after seeing six armed people looking at him expectantly. He led them up to her cell and left them to their privacy. Kasvarina declined to be in the room when Chatwood recovered her sight.
Chatwood looked worn down by her time in the asylum, and said nothing even as her old friend comforted her—she was clearly on some kind of sedative. Kasvarina swept in and removed the blindness she had place on her long ago, and then Qiyet’s blossoming holy powers allowed her to remove the dazing effects of the sedative with a virtuous touch.
The skyseer awakens, her faculties fully present for the first time in a while, and she breaks down into tears. After a prolonged emotional moment, Susanna tried to fill in the gaps of Chatwood’s memory. Qiyet motioned for them to leave. Fisher elected to fill out the release paperwork on the party’s behalf, thanks to a goading glare from Oscar.
On the way out, Kida used his distraction to swap out the physician’s gold ring with a mundane ring from her endless inventory. Unfortunately, there was no inscription inside, and therefore the man was not a ranking Ob officer—but that would also mean Fisher would never know that this switcheroo occurred.
The party brought Chatwood back to her home, and it was at that precise moment that Linia returned. Kida embraced her. “How have you been?” she asked.
Linia smiled. “It was productive. I think there were hearts and minds that truly changed,” she said happily. “I thank you for your consideration, and allowing me to do this. But what you do is important, and I am here to help—for I owe you a debt that I intend to repay.”
Susanna made tea for everyone, though Kasvarina made herself scarce, and Qiyet went off to find Talon, who still had his hands on the lantern that the party was relying on for classified conversations. “What’s the deal?” she asked upon finding him. “You convince me to come back to the group, and then you run off?”
“I didn’t run off in the dark and try to hide,” Talon gruffly responded.
“I’m just trying to see how you are.”
Talon cast his eyes skyward with a grim expression on his face. “Well, I pretty much just found out that I watched hundreds or thousands of people die in the war, and there’s a good chance that the Ob had us set to fail from the beginning. So my friends died for absolutely no reason. So… doin’ pretty shitty.”
“So… you went to war because you thought it’d save the world?” Qiyet ventured.
Talon shook his head. “I went to war because that’s what I felt I needed to do. And when I was there, I realized the most important thing to me is protecting the people I love. And I failed at that one.”
“So when you left, that was you reacting to what Kasvarina said about Axis Island.”
“Yes,” Talon said quietly. A moment passed; the wind whistled in the background, amid the lonely cry of a seagull.
Qiyet stiffened. “So… are you done?”
“Oh no,” Talon said, a hard edge to his voice. “I’m very far from done. I wanted to stop this all along. But now I want to dismantle the Ob piece by piece, destroy every last bit of it… find every last person that had anything to do with it… and make sure that this is never gonna happen again.”
“We got Chatwood back her sight.”
“Good. Maybe she can read the stars now and tell us what Kasvarina didn’t want her to see.”
Qiyet shifted her weight, trying to conjure up something reassuring to say even though such gentle use of words never came easily to her. “Well… I think that you were able to get me to continue working at this… so… is there any thing that I can do for you?”
“No, I have every desire to continue this. Just—when you’re faced with your memories, and then you find out that your two best friends in the entire world were killed for something that made no difference… that would mess anybody up. I needed some time and space.”
“I get that,” Qiyet nodded. “I think we didn’t want to say anything because we didn’t want to reduce what they’d meant to you. We didn’t know them.”
“The Ob reduced them.”
“As long as you continue to remember them—”
“They didn’t have to die, though!”
“No, they didn’t. You’re right.”
“That’s on the Ob,” Talon growled. “That’s where that lays. And for that, we’re gonna destroy them. Every last piece.”
Reconvening back at the house, Templeton informed Chatwood that they had every reason to believe that she was right about all the things she said about the conspiracy against Risur. “That’s who we’re fighting,” he explained. “We’re fighting them right now. We can prevent them from scrying on us.”
“If you’re fighting these people, I would like to help in any way I can,” Chatwood offered. “I haven’t looked at the stars in eleven years, but I would happily grant you whatever visions I can glean from them.”
“Oh, I think we can welcome you to Team 2.”
Chatwood was brought to Wheatley’s ship, and Kasvarina accompanied, wrapped in a cloak so as not to shock Chatwood with the appearance of her attacker. Susanna was encouraged by her friend to take a lengthy vacation (and given a written note of authority to take whatever means of transportation she required), and the RHC was contacted to look out for anyone who might be spying on Chatwood’s place.
During the middle of the night, as a fog started to roll in from the north, a ship’s lights were seen approaching from the south. Flying a Risuri flag and using Risuri signals, they requested permission to approach. Acting on a plentitude of caution, the party signaled them to immediately halt, and the vessel (the RNS Ipsum) cut its engine and drifted to a stop. Kida and Templeton immediately saw the ship as suspect, given its sudden appearance during the night, unaccompanied by sending or other announcements of its arrival, and the fact that it was seeking out the party specifically rather than the port of Slate.
Qiyet walked across the water, followed by Hugo and Oscar, all three of them making use of enchanted footwear. Being much faster, Qiyet climbed onto deck first, and caught a glimpse of someone in the crow’s nest sending out a signal. She flung out her handaxe and broke the offending lantern.
A fight broke out, and it became clear in seconds that several of the deckhands were tieflings! Though grossly outnumbered, Qiyet’s Polyhistor techniques allowed her to dispatch her foes, along with ranged support from Hugo softening up the snipers in the crow’s nests.
A submarine surface on the opposite side of Wheatley’s ship, driving a ramprow into the underside of the hull and effectively marooning it. The prow was a horned extension of a brass likeness of a certain tiefling woman’s face… the vessel’s name? Lya’s Lament.
After an intense battle, the Danorans were defeated, and Talon spitefully sunk the sub. Templeton sent off a sending to King Aodhan: “Engaged by Danoran submersible and false-flag ship. Suspect that Fifth Yerasol War has begun.”