Zeitgeist

Chapter 2, Act 4 part 2
Puzzling through the clues.

Having escaped the trap set by the mysterious Crisillyiri gentleman in the Nettles, the constables went back to HQ to regroup. Delft asked for an update on all they’d done, and urged them to take along a few new faces as aid for any new challenges that might await them. Templeton and Talon were recent recruits from Risur’s military, now permanently assigned to Team 1. Kaea Amata also tagged along, for lack of a fifth new available recruit on such short notice.

Together, the new Team 1 began to pore over the papers that Dr. W received from Nilasa Hume. Most of them were financial records, deeds of sale and such—most of them pointing to the fact that the recent spate of arsons were performed with the aim of making it easy for them to change ownership. The rest of the papers were reports written by Julian LeBrix, detailing a number of incidents where he encountered vials of black liquid hidden in out-of-the-way nooks in Danoran-owned factories in Flint. When he brought the matter to the attention of the consular, he was told to leave it alone.

Troubled by these findings, the party gave the records over to a secretary in the RHC’s employ, calling in a favor to see if there was anything else to be gleaned from them. They also paid a visit to the city’s fire marshal, confirming with him that the recent fires (likely set by Eberadro y Valando) were indeed intentional… and more than that, they seemed set in such a way to avoid damaging major structural features of the buildings or important machinery. As a consequence, most of the buildings that were hit in the first few fires were already back up and running (under their new owners).

To finish up the night, they found LeBrix’s house and questioned him again; he seemed more willing to talk after discovering that his address had been listed among the arson brothers’ list of future targets. He confirmed all that he’d said in the reports (though had no further insights on the nature of the black fluid), and provided a version of the events of the 1st of Summer more in line with the constables’ interpretation of the evidence. Nilasa had been stealing documents, not ceramic eggs. And she’d been killed by a blonde ex-military Risuri man that had met with the consular that morning, not by LeBrix himself. The consular had ordered everyone involved to cover things up—to present to the RHC a version of the story that wouldn’t place the blonde man at the crime.

Summer 4th.

Waking up bright and early, the party followed a canary up to the Wedding Veil, a scenic waterfall high in the Cloudwood, where they finally met face to face with Gale herself, thanks to Nevard Sechim’s introduction on their behalf. She hurriedly answered their questions about her connection to Nilasa, saying that the girl had in fact been a contact of hers, and she’d tasked Nilasa with breaking into the consulate to learn more about what was happening in the city.

Gale knew that there was a conspiracy in Flint. She claimed to have traveled to the Bleak Gate, and to have seen evidence of a factory there. After comparing notes with the constables, she believes that adamantine, firegems, iron, residuum, and other materials are being smuggled into the city’s shadow, where they’re being used to build some kind of weapon. She’s not sure who’s behind it all, but whatever they’re building can’t be anything good. The constables were wary of trusting her, but eventually agreed to accept a temporary alliance with her, on the condition that she cease all terrorist activity until such time as the conspiracy is rooted out, and for six months following.

Later, the party followed up on an older lead of theirs: Dansica Waryeye’s Apothecary. Supposedly, this was where Nilasa had (illegally) bought her elixir of invisibility, and it was also mentioned by the late woman as the place where Recklinghausen should have brought the stolen documents.

The constables came on strong, intimidating the gnomish woman into spilling the beans about her involvement with Gale. When criminal charges got mentioned, she offered to lead them into the back… but Hugo Von Gearkinson smelled foul play, and a fight broke out – Danisca nearly got away in the confusion, but she was reluctant to leave behind her husband Blander – not to mention her entire stock of potions. Both of them were taken into RHC custody for interrogation, along with their two hired guards. The three pet honey badgers owned by Blander were slaughtered. Even in death, they didn’t give a shit.

After leaning on them heavily (and thwarting an escape attempt by Blander), it was revealed that the two Waryeyes were supposed to go out on a smuggling run that night, bringing in three crates full of stolen wands from Crisillyir for various buyers. The constables planned on taking out their steam cutter for its first official mission, to stop the exchange.

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Chapter 2, Act 4
A fierce battle on holy ground.

Bruised and battered, the constables slept. While they were miffed at their failure to apprehend the suspects in the arson case, they took comfort in the knowledge that they’d prevented what almost certainly would’ve turned into a district-wide disaster. Renewed, they returned to HQ that morning only to hear that Darsys was still on sick leave. After bringing Delft up to speed, and announcing their intention to follow up a vital lead on Dr. Von Recklinghausen’s whereabouts, the Assistant Chief Inspector sent along a backup constable from Team 3, Josiah Bernewell.

Arriving in the Nettles, they found the place exactly as Lorcan Kell had promised them: completely devoid of bodyguards. Ever cautious, they crept into the cliffside church with weapons drawn, nearly scaring the poor doctor out of his skin before they took out their badges and promised that they were here to take him into protective custody. It took a lot to talk him down, but eventually he accepted that they weren’t here to silence him… though just as he lowered his sword, someone showed up to silence him.

Enna alerted the party to a strike force of five men entering the church, and the battle was quickly joined, with combatants from both sides crowding into the tiny chapel at the front of the church, creating a nightmarish melee in near-total darkness. The poor illumination didn’t seem to be a problem for the intruders, but it certainly proved troublesome for the party! Luckily they had enough sunrods between them to keep things in their favor. One among them was distinctly unnatural: an insubstantial humanoid seemingly made of gloom itself, able to hide invisibly within the shadows cast by his enemies. Wolfgang showed his worth by drawing his sword and going toe-to-toe with the monster, but everything the party threw at him seemed to only half-affect him. Eventually even that deteriorated his form enough to convince him to flee.

With the intruders unconscious and the shade driven off, the party looked toward the entrance, only to find it now blocked by thick metal bars driven into the stonework. Outside were a dozen men, led by a Crisillyiri gentleman sipping wine and idly nibbling on a plate of fine cheeses. He offered the constables their freedom, if only they’d turn over the Doctor to him first.

Immediately distrusting this stranger who’d sent armed men to kill them, the party sought a better option – using what tools they had to smash their way up through the chimney, and from there they hightailed it back to HQ. Enna threw her badge into the mud, muttering that she didn’t sign up for this shit, and walked off… never to be seen again.

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Chapter 2, Act 3
A night on Cauldron Hill.

Continuing up the trail, it wasn’t long before the constables reached a clearing surrounded by stone plinths; inside, a dozen or so humans milled about a single small tent, and two of them with spears confronted the party as they approached. They were reticent to allow them access to Nevard’s tent, but after hearing that they were sent by his nephew, and that one among them, Enna, was a skyseer herself, they decided to permit them to visit the old man.

Nevard was saddened to hear of Nilasa Hume’s death yesterday morning, but not surprised—he’d foreseen it in one of his visions. Pressing for answers, the constables asked if there was indeed any connection he knew of between the girl and the fey symapthizers around the city, and he seemed certain that the girl was in contact with Gale herself. He told them he could set up a meeting with the elusive eladrin girl, but he wanted a favor first.

As Enna well knew, the visions of skyseers had become hazy and unreliable of late, and the haze of smog over Flint that blotted out the stars as night only made things worse for them. Nevard had a slinking sense of dread that something was wrong in Risur, that something bad was about to happen… but try as he might, he couldn’t get a vision of the future to divine anything more solid than that. Too old and infirm to survive a trip far from the city, he decided the only way to get his vision was to rise above the smog for just one night – a night on cursed Cauldron Hill, in the Nettles. He asked the constables to be his bodyguards. The party agreed, provided they could get permission from the mayor of the Nettles, Reed Macbannin.

Hugo and Enna went ahead to secure an audience with the mayor, while Arthur and Qiyet remained with Nevard to help him travel. After an awkward moment with an irate messenger who complained about Macbannin’s futile attempts to help the city, they were shown by the mayor’s butler into the man’s office, joined by the other constables when they arrived. Darsys did not join them, suddenly departing for her home as she suffered some sort of allergy brought on by running around the Cloudwood.

Reed Macbannin pretended to have his feathers ruffled by the constables’ brazen request to do something so reckless, but soon admitted he was only kidding. He seemed almost too glad to help them out, gifting them with rusted iron amulets to ward off evil spirits, goat’s blood to distract the monsters, and other words of advice. As evening drew on, Pazamu (Nevard’s shaman caretaker) urged the party to make use of a ritual scroll her family had kept, recovered from the witch’s possessions after they were defeated on their hill so long ago. The Bonds of Forced Faith would tie Nevard’s life to the party’s own, making it nigh-impossible to kill him so long as the party lived, though his injuries would be inflicted upon each of them. Qiyet, Enna, and Arthur agreed to undergo the spell, but decided to keep the fragile Hugo out of the rite.

Filled with youthful vigor again, Nevard climbed the mountain alongside the constables, setting up camp on the summit just before the sun went down. Strange lights and sounds accompanied the chill wind that night, and the three who tied their lives to Nevard saw a few glimpses of what appeared to be skyseer visions. Nilasa appeared before them in front of a red curtain, warning them, “The man who killed me is coming. His face is scarred, so he hides behind many other faces.” Then she raised a featureless black mask to her own face and vanished.

Not long after, a sunrod flared on another part of the mountaintop, a shadowy being running to the edge of a cliff before stopping and hurling the light into the party’s camp, drawing all manner of shadow-corrupted monsters to try to make a meal of them. Enna was nearly slain by a vision of death itself, an ethereal being that seemed to phase in and out of the world until finally defeated through coordination and timing. Also slain were a fearsome lion with a mane of serpents, and a legless corpse with a bare skull that chuckled maddeningly.

Nevard said he’d seen enough for the night, and the five of them raced back down the hillside, staying out of the light of the sunrods they’d thrown from their campsite, each of them now surrounded by more dark creatures. Lieutenant Dale and a squad of four night-ops-clad soldiers met them with swords drawn, but the mayor assured them it was all just a simple misunderstanding, and the party had every permission necessary to be up there. Eager to leave, the four of them had the Bond dispelled and headed for Heward’s alkahest factory, following another vision: someone was going to burn it down before morning.

Summer 3, 500 AOV (before sunrise)

Sure enough, someone was milling around the building at night: a red-scaled dragonborn with a greatsword strapped across his back, accompanied by four humans unloading bundles from a wagon and using ropes to get them up to the roof. It didn’t take much questioning to find out they were up to no good, and before long weapons were drawn.

Weakened by their encounter on the Hill that night, Eberardo and his brother Valando thrashed the party soundly, but fled once they set their arson materials alight, and saw their helpers laid low. Eberardo dashed off down the street, while Valando jumped into the lake and swam away. Still having to contend with the fire, Arthur bravely marched through a fiery wall to use his Piersonian Augmentor to repulse the wagon into the water, while Qiyet chopped through a support beam of the rooftop water tower, spilling its contents onto the blaze before it could spread.

The arsonists got away, but not without leaving behind evidence – notes from their employer.

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Chapter 2, Act 2
Finding a Doctor and a Skyseer.

The party arrived in the House of Blue Birds and spoke with the lady at the reception desk, from whom they were able to confirm the cabby’s story about a man with blood on his hands entering, grabbing something from his room, and leaving via the back door just an hour or three beforehand. Curiously, a Flint police officer had already come by to ask about the incident, and had already gone up to the suspect’s room to collect evidence. Dark of hair, with a pencil-thin mustache, his name was Roger Porter, but the party would later discover that no local department employed a man by that name.

“Porter” had already cleaned out much of the suspect’s room, but there were still clues to be found. Records at the front desk identified the suspect as Doctor Wolfgang Von Recklinghausen, a scholar of medicinal studies and healing magic hailing from a minor country in the Malice Lands called Arrovia. The information they had on him (meant to establish a line of credit) included two local references:

  • Barnaby Camp, a former teacher of his, and a practicing surgeon.
  • Lynn Kindleton, a former fellow student, now a biology professor at Pardwright University.

They also talked to the cleaning lady, Mary, who went through the Doctor’s room earlier and found a rag with an odd black stain on it. The party took a closer look, determining that there were two distinct substances there. Hugo identified the first was a black substance that seemed to be burnt engine grease, and Qiyet Outrunner determined the second was a kind of oil commonly used to maintain a sword, or other metal-bladed weapon.

After stopping for lunch, they sought out Dr. Camp, who bristled at being interviewed twice about his connection to Wolfgang (Porter had already visited him), but informed the party he had no knowledge of his former student’s whereabouts. He did mention that the man had come to Flint rather suddenly, and his letters of late had cited some kind of marital trouble. Von Recklinghausen had expressed an interest in traveling to Ber, and so the party traveled up and down the shores of Pine Island, hoping to catch him boarding a boat… no such luck.

The other contact, Professor Lynn, had a similar dearth of information, but she reeked of unshared secrets – much of the party suspected she and Wolfgang had some kind of romantic history (illicit or otherwise) that she wasn’t sharing. As most of the party dined on elven hibachi later that evening, Enna returned to Kindleton’s office, hoping to follow her home on the off chance she was hiding the doctor there… instead, as they neared the Professor’s apartment, Officer Porter could be seen waiting outside the building. Enna decided that letting this impostor get a hold of Lynn would only end poorly, and so launched a series of attacks at the man through her eagle spirit, driving him off and scaring Ms. Kindleton into fleeing up the street, eventually taking refuge in the hospital she lectured at sometimes.

2nd of Summer

Arriving bright and early at the RHC office, the quintet were called to gather by a rather annoyed Stover Delft. Citing the party’s failure to do what “even wet behind the ears adventuring types” knew how to do, he procured two items from his desk drawer that the morgue had sent him, recovered from Nilasa’s body before the proper autopsy was performed. The first was a potion vial, containing traces of what Hugo found to be an elixir of invisibility (highly illegal for civilian use, for obvious reasons). The second was a bail certificate from the Parity Lake police station.

The party split up here, a few members finding Jane Doe in the Nettles for possible leads on shady apothecaries who’d be willing to brew illegal potions for extra cash, while the others went to Parity Lake to retrieve Nilasa Hume’s criminal file. The latter clue directed them to her current address: a factory owned by Heward Sechim, devoted to mixing acids of various types.

Nilasa had been like an adopted daughter, but even so, Heward had no idea what Nilasa was doing in the Danoran consulate that day. He did know that she had some fey sympathizer friends, and suspected she was trying to get into the good graces of radical activists like Gale. Nilasa kept her dealings with them a closely guarded secret from him, but Heward’s uncle, Nevard Sechim, was a skyseer of great renown and universally respected by primalists. He bid the party to visit the old man in the Cloudwood, and perhaps he could help them get into contact with Nilasa’s friends.

Before they could investigate this farther, a tragedy unfolded in the streets of Parity Lake, right in front of the party: two daring scoundrels in red scarves accosted a stagecoach, knocking out the driver and robbing the woman inside, even kidnapping her baby! All five of them charged after the dastardly duo, and only Enna stopped short of the building they chased them into, smelling a trap…

They’d been led onto a stage, and the curtain raised to show a whole audience of gun- and crossbow-toting patrons, weapons leveled at the party. A scarred man in a top hat clapped sarcastically from a box seat: the Duke of Slaughter himself, Lorcan Kell. He laughed at the party’s carelessness, and got straight to business after inviting them to his balcony to watch a “comedy.” His men were hiding Wolfgang, and he’d heard the party was looking for him… he’d give the RHC the location if they paid him a tidy sum.

The party refused, and he had a docker pushed out on stage, drunk out of his wits, and about to be beaten bloody for the entertainment of the Theater of Scoundrels. Bitterly, they paid him all the coin they had on them at the time, leaving with the location and the time to find the Doctor, but without their dignity intact.

Arthur Pierson Stopped by a tavern to pick up his friend, Baern, asking him to guide them out into the Cloudwood, toward Nevard’s henge. Just before arriving, they came upon a carriage with a handful of armed pistoleers defending a woman inside the vehicle, screaming for help. The constables sprang into action, racing up the switchback trail to dispatch the axe- and bow-wielding bandits while pulling the woman out of the carriage before it slid off a muddy cliff. In the chaos of battle, the gunmen pulled her away into the woods, but it was revealed later they were Lorcan Kell’s men, kidnapping the girlfriend of the bandit’s leader (likely because Kell was trying to eliminate the competition).

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Chapter 2, The Dying Skyseer.
It Begins: The Danoran Consulate.

Summer 1, 500 A.O.V.

Months after the close of Chapter 1, the four remaining constables in the party found themselves shuffling through the various files they had on the fey terrorist, Hana “Gale” Soliogn. A known sabateur and assassin, she has been a constant obstacle to the city’s progress. Her ability to fly seemingly without limit makes her nearly impossible to capture, no matter how much she interferes in the city affairs. The blame for a recent spate of factory fires has been laid at her feet.

On the first day of Summer, the Assistant Chief Inspector brought the party a lead: a half-elven woman named Nilasa Hume jumped or fell out of a fourth-floor window at the Danoran consulate – and since she was impaled on the fence separating its foreign soil from the rest of the city, the RHC had leave to investigate. Delft’s theory was that since the fence is a good forty feet from the front of the building, she had to have flown – and flying magic presents a possible connection to Gale.

Fence

He also sent along a new fifth member, an elven shaman named Enna. Word around the office was that she was a new recruit, hired on in the last month or so, but no one seemed to know where exactly she came from.

Upon arriving at the consulate, they were met by Julian LeBrix, the Security Chief. He seemed to only reluctantly allow the constables to investigate, and was quite eager to have them remove the woman’s body and allow his workplace to return to normal. The group decided to divide their efforts to gather whatever information they could in as little time as possible.

Qiyet Outrunner went with LeBrix to the fourth floor, where the incident took place. According to the Security Chief, she had slipped away here unnoticed after distracting the employees with a box of chocolates, then began pilfering any valuables she could find, including a jeweled ceramic egg. Following a hunch, LeBrix followed her up there and tried to arrest her, but she bolted for the window. Wanting to keep her from harming herself, he shot her in the leg, but she jumped through the glass anyway and started flying. He reloaded, hit her in the back, and then she plummeted onto the fence. A man came up to her on the street, stole something from her, and fled the scene.

Qiyet wasn’t buying it, and managed to find a few hints of the crime scene that didn’t match up to the story, including a blood spurt hidden under a rug that looked like it was the result of a slashing weapon, not a gunshot. She also noticed scratch marks on the lock of the Consular’s door; it seemed to have been picked even though LeBrix insisted Hume hadn’t been inside.

Meanwhile, Darsys Madenia did the obvious thing and summoned Nilasa’s spirit to ask the girl directly how she’d died. According to her, someone jumped her from the shadows and slashed her on the face, blinding her. She leapt out the window, but couldn’t see well enough to land, so she fell onto the fence below when her limited flight (from her now-missing magical necklace) ran out. She gave what she stole to a man that came up to her, then was shot and killed. Darsys tried to get the girl to talk about what she’d come to steal or why, but she only shook her head, unwilling to share that particular information.

Arthur Pierson clumsily tried to comfort the victim’s boyfriend, a guard at the consulate named Braden. He didn’t know much, and seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he might have been simply used by her to get this opportunity to burgle the place, but he was at least able to say that she had a job at the Thinking Man’s Tavern.

Enna and Hugo Von Gearkinson investigated a nearby alleyway, after the shaman spent a curious amount of time talking to herself while examining the bloody patch of fence where Nilasa was impaled. There, they found a coagulated smear of blood, along with a sodden document bearing the Danoran consulate’s seal: a deed of ownership for a canal barge.

The constables reconvened outside the building, helping to load the dead body onto the waiting coroner’s carriage. Another moment of self-conversation later, Enna had determined that Nilasa was wounded in the following order: a slash to her face, glass cuts along her arms, puncture wounds from the fence, then a gunshot to her leg, and one to her shoulder which finally killed her (though she likely would have died from the fence wounds, given time). The coroner, requesting his observation be left off the record, noted that her face had been healed posthumously—and whatever weapon or spell that had made the wound was charged with necrotic energy.

Before being carted away, Hugo had one last look at her with his arcane senses, reading that she wasn’t a spellcaster, but she did have a trace of some kind of potion in her bloodstream. Also, she had healing magic done upon her face (most likely to hide the slash marks the attacker left her).

Just as they were finishing up, another carriage rolled up, this one a taxi. The driver asked if anyone had seen a gentleman in his thirties with a sword at his hip and a sharp goatee; he’d been picked up from here, but never paid his fare. A small bribe convinced the man to spill more details: his passenger’s hands were covered in blood, and he was carrying a bundle with him. He claimed to be a doctor coming out of an emergency surgery, and needed to go to his hotel room for some special tools. He was dropped off at the House of Blue Birds, where he promptly disappeared.

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Under the Wheel of Stars
The party confronts an envoy of the fey.

After a round of debate on where to go next, a messenger came by and informed the constables that a makeshift brig had been found just a little southeast of the central keep, filled with Danoran prisoners. Among them were a dozen tieflings, so the party decided to check it out in case Nathan Jierre was among them. Accompanied by Sergeant Glassman and his four men, the constables skirted the fighting taking place outside the gates of the inner keep.

Nathan wasn’t there, though Darsys met a lietenant named Hessar Marseine, who asked her to let him and his men go so they could help in the fight against the Duchess’ forces. After a little deliberation with the infantryman acting as jailor, the Danorans were released and re-armed, though the civilians were allowed to remain there under guard. Later reports showed that Marseine and his men fought admirably, even after a close call of a friendly fire incident with the rest of the King’s troops.

A smoke-shrouded figure which the panicking soldiers called “the fire monster” leapt from roof to roof, leaping from the top of the brig and running to a pile of debris about 80 feet from the inner keep. It used a strange glowing white orb which changed the landscape for a hundred feet in all directions, ripping up the stabilizing iron spikes in the nearby buildings and streets and turning it all into sunlit jungle. The defenders on the wall fell to their deaths, and the figure dashed through the gaping hole in the fortress’ defenses.

The constables gave chase, and Qiyet Outrunner actually managed to catch up to the being and give it a wound to remember! It growled “Stay out of my way,” then ran up the side of the tower, ripped out the gold inlaid around one of the arrow slits, and teleported inside.

After making peace with a strange hedge-dwelling fey, the party climbed to the roof and descended inside, managing to overhear the Duchess and Nathan Jierre talking with the “fire monster,” which could now be seen as an eladrin in the better lighting of the keep.

The eladrin dreadnaught, named Asrabey Varal, was sent by the Unseen Court to kill the Duchess, thereby sending an unmistakable message that the lords of the fey did not support her act of treason. Under orders to take her alive, the constables refused to stand by and let her be slain, trying at first to reason with him, saying that she could be given over to the fey after her official trial. Asrabey countered by giving up the Duchess in exchange for being allowed to leave with Nathan as a prisoner. After quickly conferring, it was decided that defeating Asrabey was in the party’s best interests.

It was clear that his swordsmanship and magic items placed him high above the party’s caliber, but he’d sustained many wounds from fighting his way through two different armies single-handedly. He exchanged several blows with Qiyet, but also focused his attacks on Content Not Found: drew-mctaggert, seeing his ranks on his armor. Before too long, Drew went down, and a wave of fire thrown off by Asrabey’s flaming sword turned him into charcoal. Eventually, his defenses were worn down, his armaments damaged until he left himself open to a killing blow from Qiyet’s axe.

In the aftermath, Lya Jierre signed the treaty to return Axis Island to Danor’s control, and all Risuri forces vacated the island. Ethelyn was stripped of her title and most of her magical powers, then imprisoned in the Bridge Tower of Slate. Nathan was granted asylum in Flint, and is now the guest of a minor noble, effectively under house arrest there. Asrabey’s body and gear was given back to the fey. The three golden icons were confiscated by the RHC, and are now sitting in an evidence locker at the Flint headquarters; testing has shown that the stronger powers they possess are only granted if they are wielded on Axis Island.

Lya also invited the party to her wedding – it’s been revealed that she plans to marry King Aodhan, a gesture that will hopefully help unify their two nations and promote peace.

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Three Towers
Lya Jierre tests the party's capacity for a clandestine mission.

Spring 13, 500 A.O.V.

The last week was a stressful time to be a government employee in Risur.

Since the attempt on King Aodhan’s life, word of Duchess Ethelyn’s treachery spread throughout all of Flint. The RHC did its best to keep a lid on the whole ordeal, if only to prevent wild rumors from cropping up and misleading their attempts at investigating what really happened that night.

For the most part, our heroes (known around the RHC office as Team 2) were kept out of the larger investigation, their hours filled up with paperwork and low-level interviews. But even without clearance to see the latest information, there was a palpable tension in the office all week. The appearance of fire sprites on the Coaltongue suggested fey involvement, and the Unseen Court proved unreachable for comment on whether they supported or condemned the actions of the king’s sister. Of course, it didn’t help that she was the official liason between Risur and the Court…

Finally, Stover Delft called the constables into his office, introducing them to Lya Jierre, Danor’s Minister of Outsiders and niece of the soveriegn. Without so much as a formal greeting, she laid out a puzzle of magnets and rooks on the table for the party to solve. They managed a creative solution which seemed to impress her, given that there was no two-dimensional solution in the first place.

After the puzzle, Lya and Delft explained the state of affairs: rather than taking her forces onto Risuri soil and starting a civil war, the Duchess led whatever primalist military forces that would follow her to Axis Island, where she apparently caught the Danoran defenders by surprise. With the island swiftly and brutally brought under her control, Danor’s congress began pushing for an armed response, one which could very well bring about a Fifth Yerasol War even if a Risuri civil war could still be prevented.

Han Jierre had no wish for another conflict, and so sent Lya to bend the rules a bit and defuse the situation before things escalated out of control. Her plan: to use Risur’s own forces to remove the Duchess from the island, and to have the RHC officially return control to Danor within three days. The duchess would of course have to be taken alive to prevent her from becoming a martyr to sympathetic Primalists across the nation.

To make this happen with as little bloodshed as possible, a small team would need to sneak onto the island and open the sea gate that protects the harbor at Axis Fortress, allowing the King’s fleet to sail in and rain down cannonfire on the outmatched rebels. For this, Delft recalled the decorated members of Team 1 from their new positions in Shale, but he asked Team 2 to accompany them since they had the most experience with the Duchess’ operatives, thanks to the Coaltongue incident.

The party agreed to the mission (though Content Not Found: drew-mctaggert_ had reservations – he’d been on the island before during the fourth war, and seen one too many strange things happen there), and left to outfit themselves for the journey, but not before Lya asked them one favor: to look out for her cousin, Nathan Jierre, if they could. Despite Lya’s iciness toward _Content Not Found: darsys and Qiyet, Nathan was seen as an innocent in all of this, so the constables agreed to find and protect him if at all possible.

Captain Rutger Smith met them at sundown that night; he and the crew of the R.N.S. Impossible had been charged with taking them to Axis Island ahead of the rest of the fleet so they could begin their mission. Along the way, they rendezvoused with another ship and brought Team 1 on board: a four-member squad led by a half-elf shaman named Tanya.

Tanya outlined a basic plan – to go in through an underwater cave at the northwest end of the island, using a water breathing ritual to swim through into the mine beyond, trailing a length of rope. Once through, they’d give the all-clear to Team 2, and both teams would make for the fortress, where they’d storm the lighthouse by force and then defend it while the fleet sailed through the opened sea gate.

The plan went almost instantly awry when a freak cave-in caused by some kind of wild magic surge crushed Team 1 under a few tons of stone. Only Burton, a goblin rogue, survived, and Drew was forced to hastily amputate his pinned leg to free him while he screamed about purple skies and yellow frogs. Qiyet returned Burton to the Impossible, offering a simple “Sorry” to Captain Smith before returning to her comrades.

Now going solo, Team 2 decided to forge ahead on their own. They surfaced in a large underground chamber lined with wooden platforms, and were instantly set upon by an irate Danoran miner wielding strange magic, and aided by two elementals. Defeating him was problematic, since the old man was leisurely firing upon them with a pistol, well out of range of most of the party’s attacks. Eventually he was defeated, thanks largely to the athleticism of the more melee-capable members.

The miner, Nicolas Dupiers, confessed that he was no arcanist – the source of his powers were a pair of golden icons, keyed to the heavenly bodies of Nem and Urim, bestowing strange power over shadows and earth. The party confiscated them both, along with his pistol, and found a third icon keyed to Avilona embedded into a broken pillar in the center of the room.

Upon leaving the mine, the constables were confronted with one strange and unsettling scene after another. Grisly battlefields where riflemen fought against trees, strange voices that only Darsys could hear, heavy footsteps, and even a gut-wrenching moment where the entire party found themselves standing in a swamp with yellow frogs under a blue sun… for all of three seconds before warping back with their shoes still wet.

Dodging a patrol, the party used a scroll of passwall to enter the fortress, where they proved themselves to be the least stealthy individuals on the entirety of the RHC’s payroll. Somehow, they still managed to get to the lighthouse before being confronted by the rebel forces, but they were in rare form as they dispatched the collection of soldiers and casters defending it. Firing off a flare using pyrotechnics, the sea gate was opened and four separate waves of enemies were repelled before the fleet finally arrived.

Captain Smith started handing out cigars, but warned that the mission was not yet over – not until the Duchess was found and arrested. The moment he finished speaking, one of the King’s ships erupted in a horrific fireball out in the harbor. In the towering flames, one figure could be seen striding across the burning deck, waving a firey sword. Smoke seemed to coil about him as he lept to the sea wall and vanished into the night…

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Chapter 1: Island at the Axis of the World.
Act One: The R.N.S. Coaltongue.

In spring of the year 500 AOV, Flint was gearing up for a spectacular event – the launching of the first entirely steam-powered Risuri warship, the RNS Coaltongue. Our heroes, relatively new members of the RHC, were on security detail for the night. Their main duty as directed by Stover Delft was to canvass the crowd and look for individuals who might pose a threat, including Primalists, fey sympathizers, alienated war veterans, and irate dockers.

There was some difficulty among the party in performing this routine task, especially in the case of the party’s tactics specialist, Drew McTaggert. The man wasted no time in getting alcohol into his system and screaming at an innocent dock worker after pinning him up against a wall.

But he wasn’t barking up the wrong tree, at least. Careful observation and some insidious bluffing by Darsys Madenia revealed three individuals aching for a chance to introduce their fists to the face of the city governor, Roland Stanfield, who in their mind at least was doing nothing to address the issue of dock workers in the city being taken advantage of by their employers, forcing them to work 16-hour shifts for little pay. Just as the crowd of 700 people was crossing the bridge to the island shipyard where the boarding of the Coaltongue would take place, Hugo Von Gearkinson and Qiyet Outrunner caught up to the suspects and tried to arrest them… but this close to their goal, the men decided to fight rather than go quietly.

The scuffle was brief; even with the addition of a fourth man to their ranks, the dockers were no match for the no-nonsense tactics of Arthur Pierson, who proceeded to throw them off the bridge and let them swim to shore where the police would pick them up. Hugo also managed a nasty surprise for two of the men, showing off his prototype simulacrum by hiding it in a cart and pushing it into position.

After seeing their (mostly) valiant display, Harkover Lee encouraged Delft to have the constables on board for the duration of the evening. He was hopeful that no further security issues would arise, though, and indeed Delft specifically asked everyone to not cause a scene if they could help it at all.

After milling about and talking with some of the more important faces around (including Geoff Massarde and Captain Rutger Smith), King Aodhan took a place of prominence at the bow of the ship, and sensing an important speech coming on, Delft asked Darsys to go and fetch Duchess Ethelyn of Shale, who had elected to take a nap in one of the rooms below deck. Hugo accompanied her, and Arthur found his way down to the gun deck as well while on his way to check on the mechanism of the Brand—the Coaltongue’s primary weapon system which could fire a massive ray of pyromantic energy.

The door was locked, and the handmaiden seemed loath to open it for the constables. Arthur’s hammer forced an entry, but upon entering the room Darsys was stabbed in the side by a halfling assassin who had been seen posing as a cook to get onto the ship in the first place. The group made short work of him, but wondered where the Duchess had gone… until she was spotted riding on something submerged just below the water level, accompanied by some other unseen figure – she’d escaped out of the porthole in her room.

Her handmaiden, Sokana Rell was seen climbing back into the gun deck from another porthole, making a mad dash for the lower decks. Qiyet tried to stop her, but an errant wind spell held the furious half-orc in place while Sokana teleported through the ship’s grating to lower and lower floors, stopping to summon a half-dozen fire sprites in the ship’s magazine. Poor Arthur suffered a spree of bad luck while fighting them, swinging with his modified warhammer several times to no effect, while the sprites tried to carry kegs of firedust out toward him in a kamikaze assault!

Sokana made it all the way down to the engine room, where constable Von Gearkinson was fighting pair of saboteur engineers bent on driving the ship’s engine into an overloading state that would surely end in a massive explosion! Just before she was able to deliver the final part of the sabotage plot – a ritually-enhanced rod of amber that would double the intensity of any fire it was thrown into, Darsys summoned a massive hex that pyschically destroyed her.

With some quick thinking, Hugo directed the others to activate a complicated series of levers and dials, quickly calibrating the ship’s untested Brand to channel the excess heat and fire mana and cool the engine. The festivities on the main deck went totally undisturbed, as the magical blast coincided with the final note of the national anthem played just before Aodhan’s speech.

As the heroes limped above deck, glad at least that they obtained a proper amount of evidence to support their story of just what happened that night, they listened to their monarch promise his people that the Fourth Yerasol War would be the last. After years of conflict, Aodhan would seek a peace summit with Danor in one year’s time, and would even marry a Danoran to further ease the tension between their two nations.

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