The Aegis of Yggdrasil

Returning to Alexandria
You can go home again, if you don't mind harpies

You continued your journey back to Alexandria from Navarre. The Albatross was heavy with passengers:

  • Leah, a physician from Tristram with an interest in magical maladies
  • Thessaly, a witch from outside Tristram who was hired by Vannay, the King’s Mage, to deliver a magical artifact/ritual. The ritual has something to do with time magic
  • Greta Flintback, famous Digger’s Guild researcher and expert on the Imperium and the Calamity, along with her research staff
  • Gill Gunderson, an attorney, of sorts

You set down on the mainland near a forest so that Guyver and the grad. students could upgrade the ship’s engines and armor. With a day and some lumber, it became far hardier, faster, and more maneuverable than the old freighter had been in years.

Over dinner, Greta took your questions about her work, the Lucari, the Calamity, and the Imperium:

  • On the arcane construct, Nidhogg: constructed at the height of the Imperium’s power, he was a research and archiving tool adapted to run facilities as an emergency measure. Not truly alive, but far more than a machine. Has three arcane hearts, arcanum fixing him magically to this world. Two have been replaced with parts of the soul of Guyver. Nidhogg has been manipulating all extant Imperium ruins as part of his programming to preserve life.
  • The Calamity: An ongoing catastrophe stemming from an experiment to release Midgard’s “stored” energy by harvesting tzadikim en masse. Apparently the Lucari helped the Imperium find tzadikim. The energy released caused earthquakes, broke continents, created the Wound.
  • Lemuria: Original city-state of the Lemurian Imperium. Greta got the coordinates for where it ended up after the Calamity: the Wastes on the far side of the Spine of the World. She is eager to see and study Lemuria, for what untold magical and scientific lore could be hidden there. If there is knowledge about how to save the world, it is likely there, along with Nidhogg’s last arcanum.
  • The Wound: A permanent whirlpool and storm in a sea created by the Calamity. Greta’s interpretation of data recovered from ruins and Nidhogg suggests the arcane construct has been funneling magical energy from extant Imperium ruins to the center of the Wound.

You took off and headed for Alexandria. As you flew over familiar territory, you saw the signs of Galbadia’s march: fields trampled, and the city of Kirkton razed and still burning. As you neared Alexandria proper, you spied the siege, Galbadia’s army and extensive artillery (magical and otherwise) encircling the city. And there was a smudge of dark cloud hovering nearby, not moving with the wind.

Finn and Thessaly wove an illusion spell to cloak the Albatross while Scruffy took the helm, with Daelwyn. Maelgyn transformed into an eagle and flew ahead to try scout the dark cloud. Daelwyn readied his song blade and cloak. And Guyver stood ready in the engine room. It did not take long for the troops on the ground to see through the illusion, and soon the ship came under artillery fire. Scruffy was no combat pilot, so Finn took the wheel.

Meanwhile, Maelgyn alighted on the deck to report that the dark cloud was a swarm of harpies and heading right for the ship.

The chaos that followed can be summarized in flashes of action:

  • Daelwyn in a whirl of blade and cloak, awing the harpies with song and stature
  • Guyver coaxing great efforts from the engine for feats of aerial acrobatics
  • Finn tying himself to the helm as he forced the ship into a barrel roll to avoid more blasts of magical energy.
  • A giant, ravenous harpy with glowing purple eyes clawing its way onto the deck
  • Maelgyn charging the great harpy in bull form, forcing it back to the edge of the deck
  • Guyver’s blast of robotic gunfire and the Albatross’ trajectory making the great harpy flee, and Daelwyn latching chains to it, trying in vain to drag it back for more punishment

You arrived in Alexandria, battered but whole. The city below had been transformed by refugees and siege, with people crowding every space and supplies beginning to grow scarce. Docking at the Royal Palace’s aerodrome, you were swept to Vannay’s tower and a reunion with Owen, Leena, and Isaac. Owen and Leena have been feeling cabin fever, while Isaac has been worrying and pacing since the word of peace talks with the Galbadian’s in 2 days time.

But there was little time to catch up, as Vannay swept in and managed to be short with you in the less than 5 seconds he focused on you before pulling Greta into a side chamber and slamming the door. Maelgyn eavesdropped as best he could in pigeon form outside the chamber’s outer window. He heard talk about dire decisions, about a seed that is a tree, dwindling time, “is it our right?”, the final two tzadikim nistarim, and the coming of “peace” talks with two ambassadors of Galbadia.

Left to your own devices, Finn spent an evening whoring (she was fantastic). Daelwyn went to see Tick Tock about information on the siege and peace talks. The criminal underlord was making the most of the situation, and offered everything he knew if Daelwyn would remove an obstacle in the path of Tick Tock’s price gauging: Sister Gabriela, a priestess overseeing food distribution amongst the refugees. Maelgyn tagged along in Daelwyn’s pocket. Guyver nagged the engineers repairing the Albatross. And Leah finally got a chance to examine Owen (yay live specimens).

The following day you were still being ignored by Vannay. Maelgyn began snooping, and saw Vannay was even twitchier than you remembered as he went about his busy schedule. Greta, looking long and purposefully at Finn, suggested the halfling go check out his ship. Aboard the Albatross, Finn found Beatrix, princess of Alexandria and Captain of its flagship, the Bernholdt II. She expressed admiration for the party’s daring siege-breaking, wishing she could be out fighting in grand battles to save her people, and confusion over Vannay’s extreme protectiveness about her. Sure, he had known her since she was little, but she was an adult who could make her own choices now.

Meanwhile, Maelgyn investigated Vannay’s private study. He found notes speculating on many things, but always returning to a tree, the tzadikim, and the Lucari, who apparently could not be truly killed (only forced back to the void where they must find another way back into your world). The notes confirmed the previous day’s eavesdropping: there were apparently only two hidden righteous ones left, and this fact was accompanied by a dire forecast for the world. In addition, Maelgyn found a wondrous music box, clearly of ancient Imperium make, with an engraving “To V, with love: may your days be long and fruitful”. Startlingly, the engraving appeared to be as old as the music box, suggesting that Vannay is older than the Calamity, and perhaps a citizen of the ancient Imperium!

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Adventures in palatial Navarre!
Because Greta Flintback had to be somewhere...

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.

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Tristram Denouement
Ain't no party like a Tristram party...

In the lower catacombs, you found that the villagers who had mindlessly chased you were restored to sanity. Ascending all the way up to the town’s small cathedral, you found many of the assembled townspeople trying to piece together what had happened. The Mayor, Vickram Holus, was eager to demonstrate his control of the situation and pin the blame for the town’s ordeal on you, but Samuel, the innkeeper, stood up and would have none of it (it helped that Nicolette barged in to provide a distracting villain too). As the crowd dispersed, you found the more substantial remains of a Digger’s Guild camp in the corner of the cathedral and with it the journal of Greta Flintback.

With the help of the heroes of the hour, the town threw a huge party in the central square between the cathedral and Samuel’s inn. Daelwyn was in rare form as entertainer-in-chief, while Siggrun retreated to her room for solitude and meditation after her recent brush with divinity. Nicolette approached several party members, trying to pry the secrets of what happened beneath Tristram. Guyver proved amenable, provided that Nicolette divulge secrets and initiate him into her order in turn.

Finn was enjoying the wonders of an open bar, when one of the “right kind of people” made his acquaintance. The nondescript fellow offered a laundry list of items that Finn and his party members might sell to the newly awakened black market of Tristram. When it became clear that the party had an airship, the nondescript fellow changed tacts, saying he had an important customer who needed passage out of town ASAP and could pay well upon reaching her destination.

Meanwhile, Maelgwn wanted nothing to do with the crush of people in the town square. As he slipped away, he noticed a late-middle-aged woman also departing the festivities. He followed her back to her house in cat form. She was apparently a doctor and apothecary. Maelgwn watched her treat a patient, read, and wistfully stare at portrait of a younger version of her and another man before slipping away to the woods to sleep.

The party wound down, Finn retired to his room with an attractive dwarf lady, while Daelwyn had a casual orgy with 8 of his closest groupies. Finn’s evening was interrupted when a cloaked woman knocked at his door inquiring about her passage out of town. He blearily got her a room next door and got back to his business.

The next morning, the party received an officious request to vacate the premises from Mayor Holus and a group of upright citizen-lackies. This received the response one might expect from a hungover fighter and post-orgy bard. Finn and Daelwyn then met Thessaly, the woman desiring passage out of town post-haste. Thessaly was a witch with a mission, and a mission she was a year and a half late on completing. You agreed to provide her with transportation, though no mention of payment has been made thus far.

Afterward, Guyver, Daelwyn, and Maelgwn approached the doctor, Leah. She treated Daelwyn’s hangover, and revealed that she does research on the treatment of magical maladies. When you mentioned you knew a werewolf, she got really excited and agreed to come with you back to Alexandria.

Your new passengers in tow, you departed Tristram (which is a much sunnier place than when you arrived). You headed east toward the first location that Thessaly specified as vital to her mission, which turns out to be something to do with placing markers/signs at key leyline points (all of which have shifted somewhat during the year and a half Tristram and its surroundings were cursed). In the down time, Guyver started upgrading the ship’s engine and defenses.

Daelwyn began examining Greta Flintback’s journal. It was heavily ciphered, in ways only a paranoid genius might write. Greta appeared to have been making notes on the connections between various Imperium ruins. She heavily suspected the existence of an entity like Nidhogg, but had not proven it yet. Her obsession has been determining the location of the Imperium’s fallen capital, Lemuria. Greta had narrowed down the location to somewhere past the Spine of the World mountains, in the Wastes beyond. She also had realized that nearly all the active Imperium facilities she had uncovered were diverting most of their arcane energies to another location. While her journal made no mention of the Lucari outright, she had gathered notes and records about mysterious Advisors who seemed to appear and influence the Imperium’s leaders heavily in the time leading up to the Calamity. Beyond that, Greta seemed to hold the curious belief that the Calamity was an ongoing event that had never really finished, and that the world was in great danger while its nature remained a mystery.

Finally, Daelwyn noticed that Greta had devoted a whole section of her journal to taking notes on the positions of the great roots of Yggdrasil found all over Midgard. She thought they correlated roughly with the locations of deposits of yggdrium and even hypothesized that leylines (although mobile) shifted in relation to the roots. Greta had even gathered a series of myths and legends predating the Imperium about the roots and Yggdrasil.

But all too soon Thessaly returned on her broom, looking harried and telling of harpies at the site she visited…

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Of wicked things and cracks in the world
Costco should really carry chaos ooze by the tub

You approached the black containment vault’s heavy metal door, the sounds of mayhem from the rest of the facility fading. The door was protected by 3 lines of yggdrium runes, and only the outermost glowed with power. Maelgwn tried to cross the line first only to be struck by overwhelming terror, blinding his senses and unnerving his mind, and his frightened bat-form was retrieved by Daelwyn. However, Maelgwn’s proximity did open the door to the black containment vault, a gigantic subterranean space floored by a sea of shifting rainbow chaos ooze. The central feature of the room was a dodecahedron hanging by massive chains over the ooze, with a walkway leading from the hallway to it. To either side small platforms hung on other chains above.

While they pondered how to proceed, the party was suddenly aware that Siggrun was standing behind them. She walked calmly to the edge of the runic line, extended her hand, and spoke words that resonated with hidden power but were impossible to understand. A blinding flash filled the black containment vault and the overwhelming terror was pushed back. A moment later, Guyver came barreling down the hallway, panting, his constructs at his heels.

Free to explore the black containment vault, you found the side platforms contained laboratory stations focusing on different experiments, all drawing power from whatever lay within the dodecahedron. One was focused on transmutation of matter and was covered in gold and platinum coins. The next was focused on capturing energy “stably” in arcane boxes. Another was covered in cages full of dead animals, both natural and heavily modified. A last contained pylon like devices.

As you explored, an otherworldly scream emanated from the dodecahedron. A door opened and a writhing mass of tentacles and black sludge crept forth. Guyver fired projectiles at it, but to minimal effect. Maelgwn and Finn hurled arcane boxes at it, blasting it around to the underside of the walkway. With some fancy flying (using the Hermes boots he found in the facility), Finn dove beneath the platform on which he was standing, drawing the black sludge’s attention as it shot out a tendril to reach for him. Flying low, the sludge missed him and plummeted into the chaos ooze, where it evaporated into nothing. In the process, Finn got a little too close to the excitable sea of rainbow ooze, which splashed up and coated his left leg, which promptly turned into broccoli, boot and all.

Above, the party approached the dodecahedron’s open door. Inside they saw a raised dais flanked by arcane tuning pillars maintaining what looked like a tear in reality. The whirlwind of sound and air filled the dodecahedron. Tentacles grew from the ceiling and walls, obscuring an array of technical equipment. Siggrun was grabbed by one of the writhing tentacles while tossing a piece of metal into the tear, only to see the parts of the scrap metal that touched the tear cleaved apart and disappear.

As you watched in horror, another black sludge began squeezing through the tear. Finn had had enough of this and, in an attempt to take the fight to the enemy, leaped into the tear. A pile of his clothes landed on the far side of the tear in the dodecahedron chamber.

Meanwhile, Daelwyn courageously lured the latest black sludge down and off the suspended walkway while flying a jetpack, causing it, too, to fall into the chaos ooze. On the way up he got clobbered in the face by the sludge however, requiring some rescuing by Guyver.

Maelgwn tried to experiment by throwing a cage with a dead “animal” through the tear. The cage was sheared by the tear and the animal corpse disappeared.

In a world without space or substance, Finn found himself naked and without any items but his magic sword and the strange power armor he had found in the Imperium facility. He quickly climbed into the now shimmering cloth-like power armor. Behind him, some kind of mutated possum emerged from the tear and began scuffling around the strange space (clearly confused about its reanimation).

But the darkness began to coalesce around Finn and the possum; there was clearly some force attempting to enter the tear and it wasn’t friendly. The possum began to make choking sounds as tendrils of darkness strangled it.

Back in the black containment vault, Siggrun and Maelgwn prepared to enter the rift by getting naked (spring break!). They leaped through to find Finn, a dead possum, and a gigantic alien sea urchin with one glowing eye-mouth preparing to do battle. Siggrun’s staff, previously an other-worldly black rod of metal, began to glow and shift in this non-space, while Maelgwn transformed into the very essence of a bull. The three began a strange battle of wills with the creature.

Meanwhile, Guyver began scheming how to use the tear to draw power, and how to close it. He charged a pylon from the floating laboratory platform and found that the blasts of energy that they could fire could melt through matter like the edges of the tear. Daelwyn decided to be helpful and accidentally fried the arcane tuning pillars making it impossible to close the tear by technological means. Seeing there was no further way to help in this world, he leaped through the tear. While he, too, found himself without most of his clothing and items in this place, his cloak of chains and flute of dischord both survived the trip, and Daelwyn’s will, already a thing of great strength within the world, blazed forth through his song and cowed the giant shadow creature momentarily.

As the beast recovered, it lunged for the tear, latching its claws onto the edges. Guyver was waiting, and blasted it back with the pylon. In its disorientation, the rest of the part leapt to action, tearing the spiky monster to pieces.

The party re-emerged into the black containment vault, reclaimed their possessions, and pondered what could come next. Guyver had an idea: from the consoles and documentation, it looked like the whole dodecahedron could be dropped into the chaos ooze as a last ditch method to contain the tear. The party cleared off to the hallway, and Guyver blasted the chains suspending the chamber with the pylon. The dodecahedron dropped, a horrible screeching sound filled the chamber, and the party ran.

Back in the central bore of the facility, the mayhem of automated arcane security and released experiments continued. You fled up the shaft, and a good thing too, since chaos ooze began bubbling forth from the black containment vault and started to slowly fill the lower levels of the shaft. Grabbing a few more aeronautical goodies, you fought your way out of the facility and back into the lower catacombs.

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Beneath Tristram
Spoilers: It isn't a puppy daycare

There you stood, staring into the dark hole beneath the abandoned academy, the building surrounded by mad townspeople, Nicolette looking at you expectantly. Nothing for it, right?

Guyver did some quick architectural assessments to learn about the fire traps in the floor tiles of the chamber below, and the party descended carefully into the catacombs, torches, bucklers, and shock gloves aglow. You proceeded down a number of hallways, all lined with alcoves, a decaying corpse or skeleton in each. After several turns, you came to an intersection rigged with trip wires.

Finn thought he would toss a skull at the wires to trip them, but when he reached out toward one it awoke and bit his hand. Apparently the catacombs were chockful of bone bugs, ethereal parasites that dwell within and mindlessly animate the bones of the dead. And wouldn’t you know it, this was a doozy of an infestation. The catacombs came alive with a chittering rattling noise as the bones of all the corpses began rattling and rolling, trying to assemble to claim a fresher meal.

Finn was equal to this challenge though, taking “Diplomacy” to all the nearby skeletons. This didn’t solve the tripwire problem though. The party finally just snapped the wire manually, and watched the floor of the intersection drop out to reveal a pit full of bones all beginning to assemble into something…bad. Queue fireball action. You crossed the pit on a bridge of Guyver’s mechanical creations and proceeded as quickly as possible in the direction of the lower numbered corridors.

…until you reached a large room with embalming equipment, stairs leading up, and a big platform covered in bones rapidly assembling into a gigantic amalgamated skeleton. Maelgyn transformed into a bull and charged right through the creature, smashing its legs, but the legion creature immediately began to reform. Daelwyn began singing and weaving about with his sword, his songs a bright light in the darkness of the catacombs. Finn charged forward maintaining a dispel magic bubble, and where it touched the creature the bones fell to the floor, inert and ready for smashing. Guyver fashioned an acid sprayer from the embalming equipment, and soon the room was full of smashed or dissolving bones.

The party had only a moment to congratulate themselves, as down the stairs (from the church above) came a steady stream of implacably menacing townspeople. As the bone creatures cleared the platform, Daelwyn noticed a circle of inactive magical runes indicating some sort of trapdoor to the lower catacombs. Finn dropped his dispel magic bubble and the runes flickered back to life, and he was able to activate a descending stairwell. The party fled downward, pursued by the murderous mob. The lower catacombs turned out to be a gigantic cavern full of unorganized bodies/skeletons. You also found the recent remains of a campsite (and it appeared to have been occupied by at least one dwarf!).

At the far end of the cavern, you discovered a metal, oculus-like door, clearly of Imperium-origin, labeled “Nidhogg Vault 1”. Examining the panel told you that the area beyond was under some sort of partial containment. Magical seals had been turned off, the power diverted elsewhere, and the facility’s life support (oxygen) had also been deactivated. With some diversion of the magical energies, Guyver unsealed the door and brought life support back, and a hologram of the AI construct you met near Murat popped up to say hello.

The construct (named Nidhogg) objected to your entry, claiming you were meddling, lives were at stake, and that the facility was operating normally. You disagreed and inquired as to why containment was off and what could be causing the problems in the village above. Nidhogg wasn’t forthcoming, as you ran into blocks in his programming preventing him from even speaking about certain information.

You proceeded into the facility, finding a huge bore-like multi-tiered complex, with oculus-like doors on every level. Each was labeled things like “Aeronautic Devices” or “Sonic Warfare” or “Dangerous Xenomorphs”. Before going too far you encountered security constructs, magic powered crystal and metal devices that shot disabling rays at you. Daelwyn used his Flute of Discord (obtained from the bowels of Queklain) in the ensuing scuffle, setting off an alarm claiming that “A breach of the BLACK containment vault has been detected. Initiate containment protocols. Personnel evacuate.” After examining several doors and a map, you realized several things:
-The black containment vault is near the bottom of the facility, and seems like it could be the source of the problems Tristram is experiencing.
-At the very bottom of the facility is an arcane dynamo that serves as both the power source for the facility (and whatever it is being funneled off to) as well as part of the brain for Nidhogg.
-The current lockdown prevents you from entering the vaults; lifting the lockdown will allow you entry but also will unlock all the vaults.

Faced with the decision to gain cool stuff at the cost of unleashing madness or creeping cautiously through the locked facility, you opted for madness. Guyver rearranged the mana streams and voila, every door opened. Creatures and tentacles swarmed out of some doors, while others revealed repositories of items, ancient advanced and awesome. And arcane beam eyes popped out of the ceilings all over the place too.

Everyone except Maelgyn (who felt the whole place was just shudder-inducingly unnatural) grabbed what they could: Guyver grabbed some sort of leyline-linked jetpack (and threw one at Daelwyn too) as well as a Fire Stone (congealed magical energy capable of applying an elemental effect to equipment); Daelwyn raided a musical vault, gaining a song that may allow him to turn back time, using words to find a way (or some such nonsense), as well as a perforated scimitar labeled “Song Blade”. Finn dove into a chamber marked “Department of Defense”, and grabbed a halfling sized suit of shimmering “power armor”.

Loot in hand, you flew out into the central bore to find horrifying black ooze creature(s) ascending the complex. They shot clingy dark shit at the party, which paralyzed and continued to eat away at the body parts it touched. The ooze seemed to react and defend itself as a single entity when Finn shot a fireball it, but repeated shots made the creature(s) disappear. As giant tentacles thrashed and other unidentifiable creatures fought the facilities magical security, you dove down to the lower levels, where Guyver led you toward the arcane dynamo to try and do something about this mess.

The dynamo chamber contained a mass of spinning crystal and floating runes, aglow with the power of a leyline hub. Nidhogg appeared again, chastising you for making a mess of the facility and again importuning you against touching the dynamo or changing the routing of the energy. He claims that the fate of a village or some slaves is nothing when the world is on the line, but could give no more elaboration on what he meant. Guyver seemed particularly intent on not leaving things be, but Nidhogg mentioned that the Fear, the phenomenon or creature responsible for Tristram’s state, is over in the black containment vault. While it is not within his power to destroy it, perhaps you could try/die doing something about it?

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Cal Bolgar and Tristram
Dwarfy shenanigans and a cursed town

The night after freeing the slaves from the orcs was a cold one, and everyone huddled around their campfires in the snowy ruins of Murat. Guyver put meat on the menu by killing a moose with a great show of mechanical sportsmanship. You all questioned Melvin, a human member of the Diggers Guild who was a member of Greta’s expedition. He told you how they were taken by surprise by the orcs, and how the rest of the expedition dropped everything and ran for the airship while he tried to salvage equipment and was left behind.

Meanwhile, Maelgyn was having a surprised reunion with 3 of his former villagers. Elyk and Elya, siblings who worked at the tavern, were overjoyed to see another neighbor alive and well. They were out gathering firewood and herbs in the woods when the town burned and knew nothing of its fate. Gregor, a hunter from the village, was silent. Later he approached Maelgyn and told him in a low voice that he had been returning to Murat as the catastrophe struck. The catastrophe was a giant beast, and Gregor was convinced it was Maelgyn gone berserk in animal form. He told Maelgyn to leave and never come back.

The following morning, you took off in the Albatross with Melvin, setting sail for Cal Bolgar, a dwarven city not far from Murat, to seek help for the freed slaves. Arriving there, the party split up. Maelgyn went to drink and contemplate what he had learned, in the process meeting a very decent bartender. Sigrun followed Maelgyn and spent most of her time fending off unwanted advances from a dwarf bro. Finn and Daelwyn tried to con Cal Bolgar citizens by using magic to convince them an ancestral spirit wanted them to give money to Daelwyn. It worked. Daelwyn also met a man convinced the bearded spectral Finn used to deceive the dwarves was a relative of his.

With help deployed to the freed slaves, the party set off for the nearer of the two remaining expedition sites, a small village called Tristram (ominous background music). As they approached the tiny village, the rains, mists, and gray skies seem almost oppressive. A large number of farm fields seem almost untended.

The few streets in the town seem nearly deserted, so the party goes into the one tavern they find in the main square. The three patrons of the bar don’t respond to their entrance. The bartender wouldn’t respond except with grunts and glares.

To investigate, Finn attempted to detect magic. Immediately an overwhelming atmosphere of magical influence was clear to his senses. And just as immediately, the bartender and his patrons began advancing on Finn in a very menacing way. The party attempted to restrain them while Finn mustered a dispel magic spell. This created a bubble clear of magical influence around the halfling. You were able to question the bartender in the minutes of clarity Finn’s spell bought. He appeared to believe that it was a bit over a year ago and described a song coming from the ground that he couldn’t get out of his head, then everything got fuzzy.

You restrained/stunned the bar occupants, but peered out the window to see that in every window in the square a villager stood, staring unblinkingly and menacingly toward the tavern. As you exited by the side way, villagers began to pursue you, slowly, silently, and implacably. You raced through the town, with Maelgyn carrying Finn as he desperately tried to maintain his anti-magic bubble. Your destination was the second “church” spire, an abandoned academy that seemed as good a place as any to hole up.

You arrived at the academy to find its doors and windows boarded and locked, with a crowd of silent villagers glaring and waiting outside of the bubble’s range. Maelgyn transformed into a rat and slipped under the closed door to find a humanoid figure with a club waiting for anything that might open the door. Outside, consultation with Vannay through Daelwyn’s flower proved fruitless. You were just about to break down the door when a voice from inside spoke; the figure on the other side of the door was an old woman and still had her wits.

In the safety of the academy kitchen, you became more formally acquainted with Nicolette, a priestess of the same goddess of secrets that Sigrun worships. But she reacted with disgust and anger at the sight of Sigrun, saying the dwarf was an exile and oathbreaker, and that the very fact that her companions knew her faith so freely was evidence of her further culpability. In exchange for food, Nicolette reluctanty agreed to share some of her more pertinent secrets.

The church of secrets had heard tell of a secret Imperium ruin, deep beneath Tristram. The contents were unknown, but it was thought to be some sort of storage facility, and it was suspected that access could be gained through the disused catacombs beneath the town. The abandoned academy appeared the perfect cover acquisition, and Nicolette came to use it as a base for ventures into the dark. But then the town went insane, and she has been surviving on scraps and forays into neighboring houses ever since. She showed you the excavated hole in the basement which was the extent of her explorations, and wished you well in discovering whatever mischief had caused the present situation.

Now it is time to go into the dark.

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Murat: Can't keep up with you young adventurers
Let me explain...No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

At a village north of Alexandria, you caught up with the Ruah. After watching them put on a tragedy, you found Owen chained inside a wagon, with his father Isaac lukewarm to the idea of his son being taken to the big city. You definitely persuaded Leena though (damn city shopping). After Daelwyn got some D from a botched pickpocketing attempt, you settled in to sleep the night before taking a more human Owen in the morning.

However, the imminent arrival of the Galbadian army interrupted your sleep. Tebas rallied the Ruah to make a hasty exit, promising to go north east to lead any pursuers away from the south and the village. You rigged Owen’s wagon, collected Leena and Isaac, and rolled out for the Albatross to make your exit.

Back in Alexandria, you left Owen, Leena, and Isaac with Vannay, who sent you off to find Greta Flintback as quickly as possible, with a magical rose in Daelwyn’s pants that can be used as a communication device.

You departed Alexandria and traveled north to the mountain village of Murat, Maelgyn’s former home. The burnt village was covered in snow, but you discovered a more recent campsite buried in the snow. A trail of dwarf/human scents led up the mountainside to a cave.

Inside, Maelgyn scouted down a waterfall to find a clan of orcs mercilessly driving slaves to excavate something in the depths. Above, you encountered 3 orcs on guard around a cooking fire. After dispatching them, Guyver stayed behind to hold the choke point and allow the group a modicum of stealth. Maelgyn, Daelwyn, and Finn proceeded down the winding forking tunnels, arriving at a landing guarded by orc acolytes. They tangled with the dark magicians, which brought the orc spiritseeker, Festril, from his lair.

Festril had no interest in further squabbles and beckoned Daelwyn into his chamber to parley. Daelwyn quickly surmised that the shaman was in no mood to brook a reasonable deal and was obsessed with conquering a “demon” in the form of a holographic construct projected from a metallic strut protruding from the cave’s. The construct informed Daelwyn that the party had to hurry, that the orcs were about to breach the final seal of a facility beneath the mountain. Daelwyn rushed out, ignoring the sputtering orc, to find his companions.

At the same time, a patrol had encountered Guyver, who destroyed them handily with his mechanical defenses. Gunshots echoed down the tunnels, bringing the party back to the choke point and a platoon of orcs charging up to them. Maelgyn transformed into a ferret and slipped past the platoon to investigate the lower chambers undetected. Guyver’s mechanical constructs slew orcs as they attempted to enter the chamber, and the orcs fell back to rework their strategy. Daelwyn used his flute and natural charisma to enrage the orcs past reason, and they mindlessly charged the chamber. Right into Finn’s fireball, roasting most of the orcs alive. Alas, the blast caught Guyver as well, who spent a few life-changing moments at the Gates of Awe before coughing his way back to life.

Ferret-Maelgyn found the excavation chamber, with all the slaves and masters gathered at the far end around a large metal plate set into the stone floor. Before he could catch anything, a magical surveillance spell homed in on him, forcing him to flee back up the tunnel. Festril awaited him at the landing, sniffing for whoever set off his spell. Maelgyn was diverted into the spiritseeker’s chamber to avoid detection, where the AI projected itself again, urging Maelgyn to hurry, that it was vital they stop the orcs but without specifying clear reasons. Maelgyn rushed back up the tunnel as a dog past a confused Festril, rallying his compatriots and making haste for the lower chamber. The orc shaman was no match for the whole group, and retreated, intimidated, to his chamber (only to find that Guyver was already there, arguing with the construct and trying to dismantle it).

Just before entering the excavation site the whole mountain shook. The party entered to see smoke rising in the midst of the crowd at the end of the cavern. Daelwyn used a rousing tale of the lay of…someone…to incite a slave riot. The orc slavemasters were overwhelmed quickly, but up from a hole in the metal plate climbed their warchief, Rasgoth. Rasgoth and his personal guards renewed the fight against you, but you brought him low. In rage and desperation, he reached into his cloak to touch the voidstone he found in the vault below. A blast of purple light bloomed outward, and Rasgoth and the cavern were transformed.
A bubbling pit of tar-like shadows covered the metallic plate, and from it rose a dais on pillars of living stone crafted in the image of writhing slaves. A half orc, half vulture demon stood atop it; Hashmalum of the Lucari. He immediately transformed several slaves into shadowknights and began trying to exterminate you all.

Daelwyn turned a shadowknight’s attack on its brethren, discovering that, aside from overwhelming force, a strike to the hollow face of a knight would kill it. Sigrun hopped into a crane, delivering blasting powder barrels to the fight. The party hurled the barrels at the pillars of the dais, and Finn blew them up with his fireballs, destroying the pillars. Hashmalum responded in kind, blasting the party with fireballs of his own before using projecting chains from his cloak to ensnare Daelwyn and injure others.

After much struggle, the party forced Hashmalum from the dais, dowsed him in blasting powder, and set him alight. With a fiery shriek, the vulture demon was gone, leaving an inert voidstone, a cloak, and the knowledge that the AI construct had engaged “omega protocol”. The slaves, hobbled by their chains, would never reach the surface. Daelwyn drew his flute, and with a burst of melody inspired the very locks to decay and rust away. The slaves cheered, and everyone ran for the surface. Outside on the snowy mountainside, you could hear the rocks fall, the cavern sealed behind you.

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Alexandria, part 2
Peddlers gonna peddle...

Whipping up an impromptu coffin and gurney, the party trudged out of the sewers and back to Alexandria, to find the city in the midst of a transformation. Guards were numerous, barricades under construction, and cannons were being hoisted and aimed atop the walls. War was brewing, and it wasn’t hard to figure out who the enemy might be.

Delivering Nessa’s faceless body to Scylla, you received the Chief’s terse commendations and official acceptance into the Hunter’s Guild (commemorated by receipt of your Hunter Signet rings). Additionally, the poster of the job wished to meet you personally (to discuss payment, you hoped). Scylla gave you a slip of paper with an address and instructions to meet there at noon the next day. Overnight, Finn transferred the sword-a-rang enchantment to his favored blade (no, the longer sharper one. heyo!), despite not knowing the word of command that activated it. Maelgyn revisted the grad student who helped him with the translation of the Lucari myth. She was taken aback to find that the story she translated could be true (but alas, she was still in grad school…). Daelwyn paid Tick Tock a visit, and received the forged writ of abatement (complete with signature and seal) that will get Guyver back into the University’s good graces. Of course, the document cost a future favor that Tick Tock will certainly call for at an interesting time. Meanwhile, Guyver constructed his latest “friend”, a medical bot that will soon be penetrati…examining from a respectful distance all vital orific…attributes of potential patients.

Midday found the party at the specified address but there was nothing there. Nothing except a blank factory wall, children’s chalk/graffiti, and a crazy peddler, who was thrilled to see customers in his deserted street. The peddler unveiled his wares, offering each adventurer a single item of their choosing (no questions, but no examinations either) in exchange for a story. After careful consideration,

  • Daelwyn chose a child’s wooden duck on a string, which appears to always give its holder a rapt audience for whatever story they tell.
  • Guyver chose a small metal rod, with a red button at one end and a blue one at the other. Pressing the red button seems to suspend the rod, suddenly immovable, in space, while the blue one releases it.
  • Maelgyn chose a squeaking burlap bag, found to permanently contain 5 ferrets. If ever one is removed, it behaves like a normal ferret, but when it runs off, there are still 5 more ferrets in the bag.
  • Finn chose a crowbar, bearing the inscription “Diplomacy” in fancy script. To his disappointment, the crowbar appears to resist any attempts at disenchantment, but it does give its wielder a lot more umph when breaking objects.

Upon completion of their purchases, the peddler began to cackle. He stood up straight, shouting “Petrichor!”, and with a flash, Finn’s beloved sword flew from its scabbard into the peddler’s hand. The peddler laughed again, then did hopscotch down the sidewalk and disappeared into thin air. The startled party followed suit, finishing their hopscotching in a stone chamber apparently at the base of a tower, with a spiral staircase winding its way up the wall.

Using ferrets and “diplomacy” they investigated the various chambers as they ascended, but they appeared to be storerooms, bedrooms, and workrooms. At the top, a door lay open, with the golden glow of firelight pouring through it into the hall. But the scene through the door appeared to be a deserted and dusty room (the one that Maelgyn saw atop the King’s Mage’s tower previously). Stepping through the door a curtain seemed to part, and the adventurers found themselves in the very alive and occupied study of the King’s Mage, Lionel Vannay.

Vannay greeted them with generously spiked tea and proceeded to explain all the things. Some of those things included:

  • his theory that the tzadikim nistarim legend was real, and the world’s continued existence hinges on their preservation
  • the Calamity and the fall of the Imperium was a direct consequence of the research and experimental destruction (not killing) of a large number of tzadikim
  • the Lucari are beings from outside the ’Gard, attempting to end the world so chaos can devour it
  • the voidstones, the stones the Lucari/Seekers dropped when slain, are somehow connected with the Calamity
  • if only he knew what Galbadia had discovered about the Imperium (and how they made contact with the Lucari), perhaps it would be clear could be done to stop the Lucari

With these things revealed, Vannay lay out his plan: discover what Galbadia might have learned about the Imperium by seeking out the world’s premier Imperium scholar: Greta Flintback, a dwarf and one of the Digger’s Guild’s prime researchers. The catch being that no one had seen or heard from Greta since she left on a long research expedition. Vannay handed you a map (of most of the currently civilized world) marking the sites where Greta was supposed to have been doing her research, and the key to a refurbished airship, The Albatross. It is your task to find Greta, bring her back to Alexandria and use what she knows to stop Galbadia and the Lucari, and save the world.

Oh, and retrieve the werewolf, Owen. He’s a tzadik (though don’t tell him that, since they don’t really have the capacity to accept their identities). Maelgyn tree-ported through the Dark Forest, discovering that the Ruah had left its bounds. Rather than hopping throughout every tree on the continent, he flipped the Ruah coin Isaac gave them upon their departure into a puddle. The reflection quickly changed to Isaac’s surprised face, who told Maelgyn the Ruah were performing in a village 3 days north of Alexandria (by wagon).

The team set off in The Albatross (after greeting its sole crewmember, Scruffy, the Captain) to retrieve Owen, and do all that other stuff. When we parted, they had just landed outside a village with the brightly lit wagons of the Ruah in sight…

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Kirkton Sewers
It's not the smell. It's the after taste...

Scylla briefed the adventurers on their mission: continue the investigation that the three faceless, dead hunters began, namely rescuing or retrieving a little girl from the Kirkton sewers.
You were directed to the airship docks of the royal palace, to be hurried on your way by none other than the Bernholdt II, the flagship of the Alexandrian Air Brigade, captained by the decidedly-not-standing-on-protocol princess Beatrix. After Finn finished pissing over the railing and Guyver finished pestering the ship’s chief engineer, you arrived in Kirkton.
Kirkton’s officious Seneschal was an asshole, but he did direct you to a guard captain who gave you the key to the sewers.

You descended into a maze of stinking tunnels, and found yourselves twisting, turning, and jumping down slick stone shoots into pools of “water”. Maelgyn’s tracking skills and Siggrun’s stone-speaking abilities soon put you on the trail of the sewer-folk. In the process you discovered a lost little sewer boy (whose name only Daelwyn knows, but for now, let’s guess that he is called Toby). Toby ran, but he was caught by Maelgyn in adorable kitty form. The party interrogated Toby, finding that his friends and family fled some unspeakable terror but were blocked by Stinky, an unpleasant denizen of the sewers. Also, Guyver’s robot and Maelgyn’s horse-cat competed for Toby’s affection. I don’t remember who won, but Guyver did give Toby a tinfoil “thought-protection hat”. So…draw?

Toby led the party to Stinky’s lair, a giant intersection of pipes where Stinky, an ogre whose smell managed to edge out the general funk of the sewer for dominance, reclined on a bed of filth over his pet boars. While Guyver attempted to parley, conflict proved inevitable. Magic and garbage missiles flew, but in the end, Finn’s sword went snicker-snack through Stinky’s genitals (ball slashing, our game’s most longrunning theme), and Stinky was fed to his own boars. Finn also picked up a smelly helmet from Stinky’s pile o’ crap, and a magic sword with the power to return when thrown (but the magic word to call the sword is unknown).

Some quick engineering estimates revealed that the chamber acted as a valve for various sewer “materials”. The party turned the valve, and from the ceiling poured a steady flow of rats, right into the boar pit (feeding time). After exiting, several hours of tracking the sewer people led to a hauntingly familiar whirlpool containing chamber, at the deep edge of the map of the sewer. There, a wall crumbled away to reveal a huge dark cavern. Finn threw a light-infused stone, revealing the cavern’s size…and also dozens of humanoid figures staring off into the darkness. A little girl’s cry for help forced the party to investigate further to see if it was Nessa, Toby’s friend (and likely the little girl at the center of your mission). Maelgyn, in owl form, surveyed the cavern, finding a little girl whose leg was impaled on a stalagmite. With some shenanigans involving robots, the party cleared the way to the little girl, only to find that she was an illusion.

A beautiful not-woman in priest garb strode out from behind the stones, introducing herself as the Lucari, Lanfear, once Tyria, a Seeker of the Church of the Final Atonement. Lanfear vamped, exulting in the seeping madness of the void that suffused the cavern, and gloated about devouring Nessa, one of the tzadikim nistarim.

As diplomacy broke down, Lanfear’s true form was revealed: a gigantic centipede that wrapped the party (and the now faceless sewer people) in a circle of carapace and claws. You all sprang into action in different ways. Finn leaped onto the centipede’s back from the cavern mouth above and began climbing toward the head. Bim ended up mostly beneath the bug, stabbing its less armored underside. Siggrun found her staff almost ineffective, but called divine protection down for others. Maelgyn was a bear…rawr. Daelwyn sang songs of courage and protection, while being mobbed by fans (the part of fans being played by maddened faceless sewer folk who desperately wanted to touch Daelwyn to death).

Guyver directed his mechanized helpers, until he was grasped in Lanfear’s pincers and looked deep into the ever changing face of the demon. His body fell to the ground, faceless and unconscious, while his spirit awoke in a ruined mansion holding a candle, painfully aware that he had no idea who or where he was and that the candle was his only hope of finding the truth of the place. Seeking answers from the darkness he began uncovering shadow creatures and memories that were not his, finally coming upon a dark moment from his past. Accepting it as his own, he regained his identity, and began being able to follow haunting organ music that filled the mansion. Along the way, he met another man searching for his identity. Guyver aided him in recovering who he was, and realized that this was Toby’s father. Together they found the source of the music, a giant organ that seemingly played itself. When Guyver and Toby followed the organ inscription instructions (playing the devil’s tritone), a floating stone shaped like a flame revealed itself behind them. Together they smashed the stone.

Meanwhile in more material planes, the party raged against Lanfear. Finn went on a face stabbing spree, Maelgyn mauled centipede legs, and Daelwyn continued singing. Lanfear, realizing that it was only a matter of time until the energies of the void healed her wounds, retreated to the ceiling of the cavern. But Finn and Bim held fast, and with some well placed stabbing, Bim sent the giant bug plummeting to the ground again. It was as the party continued stabbing that Lanfear exploded in a whirlwind of light and shadowy ectoplasm, leaving Guyver, Toby’s father, and a book of infinite usefulness behind. In the far corner of the cavern, a glamor dissipated to reveal the faceless corpse of a little girl.

After a heartfelt reunion between father and son, you picked up Nessa’s body, and began the climb back to Kirkton.

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Alexandria, part 1
Shenanigans. Shenanigans as far as the eye can see...

The giant mechanical metropolis led you all off in different directions.

Finn initially tried to lead some thievery with Bim, but his attempt at magical mischief ended with a failed spell. Presumably he is off drinking and brawling his gold away.

Bim set off to make contact with the local thieves brotherhood. His contact in the Rat Market set him up with a standard “prove yourself and you’re in” mission: plunder Lady Grantham’s ever expanding jewel collection without bringing the heat and you’ve got a meeting with Tick Tock, the head honcho of the Alexandrian thieves.

Sigrun and Guyver headed to Guyver’s workshop, a sprawling warehouse space full of inventions in various states of completion, some brilliant, some banal. Guyver schemed that he could get back in the good graces of the University and/or the Tinker’s Union using his good deed back in Kirkton. Then he’d finally be able to fix up the flux capacitor he found in the Imperium ruins (he needs a ultra-hydrospanner, and those ain’t small or cheap). He set about making a new invention from a spare holy symbol of Sigrun’s, and ended up making a secret spouting blimp, which cruises around the room spouting scraps of “secret” information (in the case of the workshop, technobabble).
Guyver and Sigrun head to the University to attempt to gain admittance to the library for some research, but the librarian rejects them; neither of them are members of the University and Guyver still has a black mark on him. Even talking to the Registrar and Dean got them nowhere. The only way to reverse the black mark would be to get a University Pardon document (and the Dean doesn’t see fit to give you one of those). But forgery may be an option.

Maelgyn wanted none of the crazy workshop sleepover, so he opted to sleep outside the city and head to the University to dig up clues as to what could have removed the faces from the Hunters in Kirkton. He ended up in the office of Prof. Slzzizsksn in Classics and Mythology. The professor couldn’t immediately recall anything about creatures that could steal someone’s face, but said a few religious texts might prove useful, so come back later that day. When Maelgyn returned, a poor poor grad student handed him a transcript of two separate texts which may prove helpful in finding the cause of the 3 dead Hunter’s condition.
Maelgyn’s further scouting of the city revealed that the King’s Mage (royal vizier and magical confidante position), Vannay, had been a recluse and impossible to find for nearly 2 years. Despite the light that shown every night in his tower, no one has seen him. Maelgyn’s flight past the tower in bird form revealed dust over every surface but with a trail of footprints suggesting someone lighting the lamp each night.

Daelwyn decided to check in at The Firelight, an inn/tavern for musicians and artists where performers could receive the critiques or praise of their peers. The barkeep and proprietor, Bergen, set him up with a time, but either due to travel or nerves, Daelwyn’s performance wasn’t stellar that night. He left the stage to polite applause, but didn’t “earn his pipes” (the equivalent of professional recognition at The Firelight).
The next day, he was turned out of his room early by housekeeping, storming out of the inn in a huff. Daelwyn decided it was time for some good old fashioned therapeutic grifting. He set up a table in Serpent Market and began parting fools and their coin, and after getting caught and chased off a few times, had made some nice coin. Wetting his whistle afterward, he made contact with a shifty individual who alerted him that there could be a lucrative opportunities with the city’s underbelly…if he did a job first for Tick Tock. The job was rigging a mechanical gladiator match at the city’s bot colliseum.

The party reconvened, and determined that A) come morning they would finally go to Alexandria’s Hunter’s Hall and convey their news, and B) getting in good with Tick Tock may be a way to get forged documents which would get Guyver into the University which may yield information about many things and also provide him access to equipment. So robot fight rigging remained on the menu. Some investigation at the Coliseum revealed that the match to rig was a free for all championship; all entrants welcome, last bot standing wins. The only two entrants and reigning champs were the Burning Beetle and the Crushinator, and with some sleight of hand Daelwyn discovered the location and engineer in charge of the Burning Beetle. Further subterfuge by Sigrun, Daelwyn, and Guyver got them into the workshop of the Burning Beetle, where Guyver strategically weakened the armor of the battle bot (with help from his secret-mining blimp).

Before bed that night, the party finally visited the Hunter’s Hall. Daelwyn had been by earlier and become well acquainted with the receptionist, Janine (heyooo). You showed her the old innkeeper’s ring, and with a gasp, she dashed into the office behind her, quickly beckoning for you to come in. Inside, you met Scylla, Chief Hunter of Alexandria; she seems old but strong, all steel gray and battlescarred. She questioned you thoroughly about what you had seen and how you got the ring, and then with a sigh, asked whether you wanted to save the world.

I think you said yes. Or something. It probably wasn’t that important anyway. I mean, if it was important I’m sure we’d get back to it.

NEXT TIME, ON AEGIS OF YGGDRASIL: SAVING THE WORLD

Ah, well then.

Interlude:
The day of the robot fight came and 3 robots entered the arena. The Crushinator, with its hulking armor, mallets, and chest cannon in one corner. The Burning Beetle, with blazing red chassis, pincers and flamethrower. And Mr. Handy, an unnerving multi-legged lion-faced chariot with a cheerful disposition. A fierce battle ensued, as Mr. Handy (piloted by Guyver) attempted to take advantage of the Burning Beetle’s sabotage. Amidst flame and rubble, a clear shot to the weakened joint collapsed the Beetle’s armor. But Mr. Handy was badly damaged in the process, and Guyver, unwilling to throw in the towel, kept up the fight against the Crushinator, whose pilot, a man who looked suspiciously like Isaac Hayes, brutally slagged the poor bot.
But this succeeded in rigging the match just as Daelwyn planned (and delighting Finn, whose dislike of Mr. Handy was considerable). Daelwyn went to The Gearminder, a tavern in a less traveled part of town, and found a winding backroom path that eventually led him to a clocktower. There he met Tick Tock, the strange, top-hatted, begoggled master of the thieves of Alexandria. Payment and compliments on a job well done were had, and an open invitation to return should he need any work, or help (for a price). Daelwyn (and the uninvited Finn) returned by other paths, since the tunnels and passageways of Alexandria’s back alleys are myriad.

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