Zeitgeist

Homecoming

Kasvarina's story leads the party back to Risur.

Once Hugo returned the Arc to Kasvarina, she reported feeling the presence of three more memories: one atop Cauldron Hill, one in the vaunted Navras Opera House, and one memory belonging to Talon Silverhawk, near what turned out to be his childhood home in Parity Lake.

After hearing the options, Qiyet voted to seek out Talon’s memory first, on the assumption it would cause less chaos, and therefore wouldn’t harm the party’s efforts to seek out the other two memory-events. Talon’s witty reply, “have you met me?”

“You’re chaotic,” the martial scientist admitted, “but you’re not chaotic on a global scale.” She paused. “It’s not gonna get us kicked out of Flint, right?”

“Depends on what it is,” Talon said with a grandiose shrug.

Memory-Event: Sons of Flint

Talon stopped as the manifestation faded, staring in the direction he was left facing. Slowly, he took off the Arc and handed it back to Kasvarina. The group traveled on to the Navras Opera House while Hugo recalled some of its history—he’d attended when he was a boy, due to his mother’s interest in the arts.

Memory-Event: Navras

Immediately, the party concluded that the final flicker of the event signified that Kasvarina had somehow snuck into the night of the hall’s debut, but she claimed that the last scene felt unfamiliar, as if it weren’t actually her own memory. To her, it didn’t even feel like a remote viewing of hers—like she hadn’t even spied on it with remote magic, back in its day.

Qiyet asked why Kasvarina believed she was shown the meeting with Navras at all—it bore little relevancy to the Ob or to the eladrin’s major life events in general. “I believe it’s just another small consequence that came about from the life I lived… a symbol of the tragedy I caused, and the loss experienced by myself, the eladrin, and Elfaivar itself.”

“You should write a book,” Talon cracked.

There was speculation among the group as to how Navras could’ve known that Kasvarina had slain a fellow Triad matriarch, when the details of the fight against Rilego had been lost to time (and perhaps purposefully obscured by eladrin leadership in order to prevent a civil war). They settled on the idea that his status as a performer granted him sufficient connections to learn a secret that the old Kasvarina would’ve assumed was kept safe due to eladrin politics.

Hugo made a side trip to his workshop at this point, while the rest of the party went out for hibachi. Kasvarina took offense at the incredibly inauthentic Elfaivaran cuisine, though Kida maintained that the “fortune cookie” was a post-Malice innovation, and certainly not a gimmick thought up by Flint-born elves looking to turn a profit in the restaurant business. Though forced to accept the theory as plausible, the matter of whether Kida herself believed this possibility is still debatable.

When Hugo rejoined the party, he was accompanied by a veritable clone of himself, clad in a fancy black suit with green accents. Kasvarina’s face betrayed a hint of distrust as Oscar introduced himself, but ultimately she said nothing; who was she to cast stones? She didn’t trust herself. “Don’t worry,” Oscar said, “Now that I have a body, I’ll be a ‘good boy’.” He and Hugo seemed to reach a moment of peace, at least for now.

Heading up the switchbacks of Cauldron Hill, the heroes stopped at MacBannin’s old estate, now used as the base of operations for Captain Dale and his Cauldron Hill Commandos. Qiyet gave the fellow martial scientist a piece of cherry pie in thanks for his previous instruction, and Dale looked highly flattered by the thoughtful gesture. He accepted the takeout box and sent the group on their way.

Memory-Event: Mindtaker

Kasvarina stood, and mulled over the details of what she’d just seen while the party led her out of the Bleak Flint facility. “It makes sense now, why my memories were sealed away.”

“I must say,” Qiyet remarked, “your behavior with Leone was very concerning. I’m interested to know how drawn you are to becoming that person again.”

“Or do you agree with what Grappa did to you?” inserted Templeton.

Kasvarina did not hesitate to reply. “I’m grateful for what he did,” she claimed. Qiyet was naturally suspicious of her sincerity, but sensed no overt deception (20 Insight). “I can still feel myself wavering from time to time—between holding to my original ideals, or giving in to the frustration and anger sparked by everything that’s happened since the Malice. But I believe I’m making progress toward casting off my ruthless mindset.”

“So why did you feel so comfortable with the idea of killing Grappa?” Qiyet asked. “What were you feeling at that time?”

“I didn’t go into that room to kill him,” she maintained, “but he was a security risk, and I had to at least gauge the level of threat he represented to us.”

A brief discussion followed on the importance of Borne, particularly the comment about not wanting to upset Borne “at such a late stage.” Going over their notes, the heroes recalled Tinker’s intel on the capabilities of the colossus:

…to be able to lift a flat object one hundred feet in diameter, weighing just over 14,000 tons, and hold it up with one side angled on the ground. It needed to be able to withstand truly extreme energy, equivalent to standing in a volcano, as well as to resist kinetic injuries.

It needed to stabilize its own magical energies, without having to rely on power from other planes. Tinker notes that the last refit they made before Borne’s ‘episode’ was to open a small hollow in the colossus’s chest, about big enough to hold a pumpkin, which had a pipe that could feed in some sort of liquid fuel.

It also needed to be able to function underwater for extended periods, at pressures seen only deep under the ocean.

Kida theorized that the Ancient ritual site used to change the elemental planes surrounding the world (hinted at during ObCon) must be located somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, beneath a huge golden disk. Borne, therefore, was meant to be used to lift this disk.

Qiyet frowned. “But why would you make a self-aware construct for that? Why not just build a huge lifting-machine, like a crane?”

“That’s an interesting question,” Kasvarina chimed in. “Based on what we know of Borne—specifically that he’s built to withstand both physical and magical stress—it’s possible that the ritual itself gives off a phenomenal amount of energy when activated, such that no normal person could stand near enough to make the alterations that the Obscurati desires. In that case, Grappa and I would’ve had to not only train him to understand magic, the planes, and several other topics, but also to indoctrinate him as a believer in the mission of the Obscurati.” This rang true to the constables. Colin and Linus, the two prototype golems rescued from the Bleak Flint facility, had clearly received comprehensive educations.

Qiyet followed with more questions. “What sort of emotions did you feel with regards to Borne in that last memory? Did you view him as a tool, or did you have some kind of emotional fondness for him?”

Kasvarina thought on that, her eyes turning glassy and mournful. “I did have a fondness for him,” she admitted. It was clear to the party that she was feeling conflicted about her actions once more; she likely didn’t consider her behavior or the Obscurati at large to be evil, at least not in that time or place. She was acting in what she believed to be the world’s best interests, and her judgment was colored by the fact that she’d been cut off from everyone she’d ever loved. “I remember feeling nervous, even violated at the idea that Grappa may have done something to harm our child.” Kasvarina caught herself, looking embarrassed at the unorthodox use of the word, describing a titan of adamantine, but she did not retract it.

“So would Borne have been intended to be—or was he already—a spellcaster?” Kida asked.

“I don’t believe so,” Kasvarina answered. “I feel his education in magic was mostly practical and scholarly. At most he might have been a ritualist. Why?”

“Well, it’s entirely possible, especially given the theory of Borne being meant to perform the ritual on his own, that this could be a situation in which the ritualist would be required to sacrifice themselves.” Kida held up her hands in allowance. “Granted, there’s a lot we don’t know: like why the golden disk is in place, or why the Ancients did what they did, or what they did, or what ”/characters/nicodemus" class=“wiki-content-link”>Nicodemus himself knows of the ritual. But far better for him to sacrifice a golem instead of, say, himself."

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Kasvarina said quietly.

The party switched topics, lest things get too gloomy for the chronically overwhelmed guest among them. They asked what Kasvarina remembered from this point, as it was obviously the last of her missing memories. She claimed that Grappa led her to the colossus, using his magic to alter some enchantment on the back of his head. By her description, it seemed likely he’d used the same amnesia-inducing seal that he placed on Kasvarina, though in this case it reverted the young golem’s mind all the way back to near-infancy. Grappa then made for Flint Harbor, but was pursued and confronted by Leone Quital. Eventually he was cornered and killed, in a manner consistent with Hugo’s object reading result from just over a year ago.

Leone took her back to the facility, where she was grilled about her purpose there and what she remembered. Unable to answer their questions, she was kept confined to her room for “matters of security.” Leone and a few others were among her interviewers, but she seemed confident that none had smoked in front of her.

Weeks later, during the Borne incident, she recalls seeing Asrabey Varal burst into her quarters, claiming that he was there to rescue her. She had no idea who he was, but seeing as how she was a prisoner of an unknown organization and her would-be savior was clearly a warrior of Elfaivar, she decided to trust him. When she saw the colossus and heard it cry out to her, she was afraid. Who wouldn’t be, seeing such a titan focusing on them?

Asrabey made no comment on the battle raging around them, racing with Kasvarina past the likes of Lya, Leone, and the then-constables. He returned her to Elfaivar by crossing through the Dreaming, finally bringing her to Sentosa which he thought to be safest. Athrylla Valanar called her an “honored guest,” but Kasvarina sensed from the start that this was not fully sincere. Off-hand, she yet has no idea if Athrylla was part of the revenge plot that ended in Launga’s death, but she believes at least that her former ally feels guilt—either from direct involvement or from her lack of action taken against Latika and Sor Daeron.

“There’s something else,” Kasvarina mentioned. “This whole time, encountering these memory-events has been helping me to remember the lessons instilled in me by all the training I’ve had over the last five centuries.” Matriarch and conspirator she was, but she was also a powerful Elfaivaran warmage, and she claimed she could now cast at her full strength, including the spells she’d seen in her past like lightning blade and power word: blind.

Hugo pointed out that this meant that she could now un-geas any Ob officers she’d ensorceled, but with the third death of Grappa, the party no longer had anyone within their lists of contacts whom could benefit from this new freedom. Oddcog alone would’ve had the necessary height in the organization to bear the enchantment, but he spoke as if he’d somehow wriggled free of his geas already. Amielle Latimer and Reed Macbannin were potential candidates, though they hadn’t been seen since ObCon.

“So, we have no leads,” Qiyet groaned. The one new possibility for a lead they’d turned up was visiting Amielle Latimer’s original workshop, now a themed restaurant in Cherage.

Calling in an RHC favor, the heroes had a long chat with Harkover Lee, drawing on the dragon-turned-minister’s firsthand experience of Lanjyrian history to gain a new perspective on the timeline of Kasvarina’s life and the Obscurati’s Grand Design. When asked of Triegenes and the Demonocracy, Harkover admitted that few dragons were active in the northern continent during their reign; dragonkind had grudgingly accepted that the ruling demons were not to be trifled with, though he’d heard of rare alliances between the two.

As for Skyfall (an incident originally mentioned by Pemberton; a moment in history after which dragons lost their flight forever), he was able to pinpoint its occurrence to the winter of 195 AOV… after which followed a century of largely deserved retribution from the mortal races. The wizard did not believe the event’s effects to be limited to dragonkind, but there exist few other creatures in the world who could feel the disturbance—the smaller the creature, the smaller the effect. By rough estimation, he theorized it would only truly interrupt the natural-winged flight of creatures roughly horse-sized and larger.

However, Harkover knew nothing of the source of this global anomaly; there had been no events of likely significance that year. The party naturally assumed that the change coincided with someone in the Obscurati swapping out the plane of air as a test, but the old dragon confirmed that Avilona had been in the sky for as long as he’d been alive, considerably longer than five centuries. By contrast, he and his kin were keenly aware of the disruption that occurred during the Malice, even though they were not directly affected (indeed, eladrin were exceedingly rare in Ber during that time).

“If I may,” Kida asked, “however long you have lived, and however long the dragon empires existed, was there any overlap with the civilization we now refer to as the Ancients?”

“That I could not tell you. I am old by your reckoning, but I am not so old that I have ever known an Ancient. Woefully, dragons have never been a united race, and they have not kept a written history of the world or their affairs.”

“Would you know how long ago they lived, perhaps by divinations upon the artifacts Risur has uncovered?”

“No. Divinations become less and less clear the farther back in time one glimpses, until it becomes fully unviewable. The oldest such glimpse of the past I’m aware of dates about two thousand years before Kelland’s triumph and the founding of Risur, and the Ancients’ empire was in ruin by then. Even Object Reading rituals performed on actual Ancient relics have turned up nothing from the time of the Ancients. Hugo believes this phenomenon to be sourced to a kind of ‘interruption’ in time mana that occurred in the distant past (much like a time-based Skyfall).

Harkover pointed out that contacting ‘spirits’ (such as those in the Ghost Council, or other perished Ob deserters) might be easier if the ritualist used a physical token of the deceased as a focus.

Comments

elfshire

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.