Despite Finn’s objections, the party’s path led inexorably to the island state of Navarre. In the past, Finn and Bim had gone on something of a crime spree in the city, ending with the unintentional death of one of Caliph Dibella’s sacred goats and the very intentional deflowering of the Caliph’s daughter.
Navarre was a city of alabastor stone on an island with an active volcano. As the Albatross approached the island, you could see that a recent eruption had sent a river of lava down the slope directly into the city, cutting off a portion of the expansive slums from the rest of the city.
You docked the ship at a high tower bristling with airship platforms and were immediately greeted by a bespectacled clerk with an entourage of armed guards. The clerk asked for your compliance with a number of customs-type forms, as well as a brief ritual giving praise to the Earth goddess (which also had the effect of dispelling any active magical illusions), forcing Finn to quickly doff his glamors. The jig was almost up, but as a guard began to recognize the fugitive halfling, Finn projectile vomited in his face (to the amusement of all onlookers).
In the city, you each explored for a bit, getting a feel for the severe wealth disparity, the shopping situation, and the marooned Narrows (the portion of the city cut off by lava flow). Doing some research, you found out that the volcano troubles began on the same day you were nearly hanged back and the earthquake/atmospheric disturbance happened back in Lanovar. That same day, a Digger’s Guild expedition led by Greta Flintback defied the edict of the Caliph and ventured into the volcano’s sacred caldera to investigate rumors of Imperium ruins. The quake and eruption sent them back to the city early where they were thrown into the prison beneath the Caliph’s palace.
With the location of Greta Flintback finally determined, you crafted a plan to free her from prison. Finn wanted nothing to do with the prison, so he sat out with his fancy hat and disguise. The rest of the party impersonated diplomatic envoys from Alexandria and you attempted to bluff your way through the bureacracy at the Royal Palace. This was going great until an aide examined Guyver’s forged documents more closely. You were all thrown into the prison to await the Caliph’s judgement, with Maelgyn making a quick escape into pigeon form and out the window.
Guyver (and his robots, the Navarre guards aren’t terribly savvy about machines), Siggrun, and Daelwyn found themselves in an underground “Arkham City” and began searching for Greta. They quickly demonstrated their ferocity to the other inmates and as a result encountered one of Greta’s team who had been prostituted to a prison gang in return for protection. Upon acquiring the prison-bitch for themselves, they were led to Greta, a shrewd, goggle-wearing dwarf with silver hair and a sharp tongue.
Meanwhile, Maelgyn attempted to find another less-imprisoning way into jail. In mouse form, he discovered that the only way in or out of the prison from the palace was a heavily fortified magical door and chute. He went down the hole with the night’s food ration and set out to find the rest of the party.
Even more meanwhile, Finn realized his friends were fucked and set out to win their freedom in the only way an unscrupulous halfling knows how: the legal system. He sought out the services of a bargain-priced lawyer, Gill Gunderson. Ol’ Gill got an audience with the Caliph on Finn’s behalf and utterly failed to convince anyone of anything. The Caliph realized who Finn was (Finn’s confession may have had something to do with that) and threw him and Gill into prison to await their executions.
The party reunited around Greta and her diggers to plan their escape. It turns out there were two ways in and out of Navarre’s prison: the Caliph’s palace, and the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth supposedly led out to the volcano via many winding underground passages, but no one had ever made it out alive to tell the tale (and then there was the matter of the Minotaur).
You set out into the labyrinth with Greta, her Diggers, and Gill in tow. Caverns and ancient ruins stretched and seemed to rearrange themselves as you explored; the architecture of a style that seemed to predate the Imperium. You rounded a corner and came face to face with the Minotaur, a towering mechanical goliath. Its eyes glowed red and it began to charge. The party retreated quickly down a tiny tunnel, hearing roars of frustration behind them.
(In your exploration, you discovered a mysterious metal and ruby gem. It was suspended over a pedestal in typical fantasy/Raiders fashion. As far as Daelwyn and Finn are concerned, it is a Labyrinth Heart, a semi-organic magical construct that will bend dimensions and create a new labyrinth out any locale when activated.)
Finally you immerged into a huge cavern, illuminated by several cracks in the ceiling that led up to sunlight far above. Several towers rose out of the rock, with lava at one end of the cavern and a deep pool of water at the other. The Minotaur crashed through the wall of the cavern. The party engaged the creature, with Finn attempting to throw fireballs and Guyver fired his shoulder cannons. But the great mechanical monster was unfazed. Greta, Gill, and the Diggers ran for cover as the Minotaur charged. Maelgyn began distracting the creature in the form of a bird, beating his wings at its eyes.
The party eventually congregated on top of one of the ruined towers, firing abandoned ballistae at the Minotaur. It leaped to the top of the tower, and everyone but Guyver fled, as Guyver fired a ballista at the tower top’s floor. The stone gave way and the minotaur fell. The party departed the cavern as one of Guyver’s robots rushed the collapsed tower and set fire to the explosive barrels stored at its foot.
The tunnel led downward and the air became hotter and hotter. You emerged into a magma tube which ran off into the distance with no discernible path forward on foot. Two tanks hung over the flowing molten rock, one of water and another of some type of silt like mineral. When you released the mineral into the magma, the rock bubbled, and out of the river of fire climbed a monstrous glowing centipede. When Greta doused it in water, the centipede grabbed onto the gigantic Yggdrasil root at the cavern ceiling, staring at the party and waiting.
You all jumped on and held the lava-pede’s carapace as if your lives depended on it (spoilers: good call). It barreled down the lava tube and eventually emerged into a large chamber and dropped you at a large inverted tower’s lowest level. The structure was clearly Imperium in origin. Inside, you found a number of arcane machines designed for harnessing the energy of the volcano and redirecting it to…somewhere. And on the floors above you found another Nidhogg node, a set of whirling arcane crystals and runes containing the Imperium AI construct.
Nidhogg, Greta, and Guyver argued, with Nidhogg expressing extreme frustration that you mortals were interfering with his programs for prolonging the life of the world (whatever their consequences). Greta began extracting information from his systems as Guyver used a vacant crystal storage device to replace Nidhogg’s local copy with a bit of his own consciousness. With Guyver’s newfound abilities, you adjusted the facility so that it would give Navarre a few days of peace before erupting with catastrophic force (a compromise between Navarre’s needs and those of the world).
You exited the tower into the volcano’s caldera, surrounded by lava and no land path to freedom. Maelgyn transformed into a pigeon and went to get the Albatross. Scruffy rescued you from the volcano. You decided to have mercy on Navarre and inform them of the situation they were in. Using Maelgyn in the shape of a “sacred” goat, Daelwyn (suspended from a cathedral by his chain cloak) spoke to the faithful of the city, proclaiming the Earth goddess’ mercy and her wrath in three days time.
Their mission accomplished, the party soared away with Greta, Gill, Thessaly, Leah, and a gaggle of Diggers aboard the Albatross. Next stop, a besieged Alexandria.