ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign


Oh my gosh, yes. It will take some time to get there as I'm currently still in the middle of adventure 5 and we had quite the intermission afterward. But everything regarding "that guy" (even the corresponding parts of Auryn's background down to the finer details) turned out to be a perfect fit since adventure 1.

log in or register to remove this ad


Scoundrels, scoundrels

Next, Auryn wishes Carlyle a pleasant evening as she has to discuss lending a ship with her friend Dawkins. She then heads to the Rear Admiral's estate to tell him all about the threat of the terrorist dawarves, the death of Ekossigan and the dangers of the Bleak Gate all while sharing a good glass of brandy. Morris thinks that strengthening and renewing the seal of Macbannin would be a good idea under these dire circumstances, so he'd schedule a secret meeting for the next midnight.

Auryn also explains that she'll take Carlyle and Asrabey and travel to the Bleak Gate as soon as they find a way to get there. This way, she hopes to prevent the coming of Nevard's prophecised second darkness. In addition, Morris agrees to lend the Khalandurrin to the RHC for their operation against the Bezna.

The next morning, we meet up again to search Stanfield Canal for hidden ways to bring cargo to the Bleak Gate. To our surprise, we find iron rings worked into every bridge of the canal which means that they could interact with fitting amulets or the like. We question all workers who are working in the barge transportation system around the canal and who match up with Hammrton's descriptions of Kell guild contacts for any clues on what the hell might be going on there.

Fortunately, some of then can tell us that they did ship large crates through the canals which lost much of their weight in the process. They don't really know how this would be possible (besides the obvious “it's magic”), but all these crates had some strange, rusty-red symbols painted on them. So it seems like we finally found our way to the Bleak Gate. The only thing that's still missing is the
rusty paint itself.

Then it is time to finally strike against the Scoundrel's theater. So we team up with Asrabey once again, take our remaining police force and perform a cunning pincer maneuver against the building. This way we hope to prevent any rat from fleeing the sinking ship. Thanks to the dreadnaught, the scoundrels pose little threat to our police as many of the Kell guildies are simply too scared to fight the fearsome guy with the whip-like flaming sword. The three of us also have little problems with their witchoil golem. Inside, we find a lot of Kell's accounting books and a sample of the rusty paint. Carlyle says that he'll surely find a way to reproduce the material. We also find clues that the Guild was involved in smuggling and shipping tons of high quality material to the Bleak Gate over the last few years. So whatever they are building in there, it is most likely a gigantic project.

Unfortunately, there is no sign of Kell. Nor of Augst. So we do try to verify our suspicion by checking up with Jules' logistics and Sechim's shipments over the same time span. And it is as we already guessed: the Obs are working on something huge. Something that needs masses of Alkahest and other chemicals, as well as adamantine and steel.

Next, we meet Harkover Lee once again as he promised to bring one of the dwarves under his spell. Literally. He manages to dominate the terrorist with ease, and then orders the guy to spill everything he knows. To both our shock and relief, he knows about three mode bombs which are placed in the harbor offices, the backside of the danoran embassy and the Navras Opera house. All of them were placed by Soknik's when they got hired to do some refurbishment. Needless to say that Auryn is furious as two of the bombs endanger something or someone she holds very dearly. So we make sure these bombs get defused as well before anyone can get to harm.

Regarding the “big blockbuster”, we manage to calculate the timing of the countdown and compare it to the subrail's velocity and distance traveled and are shocked to find out that they actually plan to detonate the bomb while the train is underneath the Aurum. So their target is less likely Stanfield and more likely the whole danoran and risuri peace delegation, including our King and Principal Minister.

(Okay, so this turns Zubov's plan into a V for Vendetta meets 9/11? I mean... Bomb in a subway train and fanatic suicide bombers who try to destroy the city's iconic twin towers. Especially if you consider the staged hostage scene that happened afterward.

We also had a few jokes about who the designated survivors of the delegations might be “just in case” and came to the conclusion that adding devas, like Stanfield, to the team might be sufficient. Could be quite hard for the danorans though.)

Meanwhile, Team B is charged with guarding and escorting our two VIPs to the harbor where they welcome Bishop Rivaldo from the Clergy of Crisillyir. As Brakken already managed to book a table at the Sunset Beach for lunch, the group heads there directly after Rivaldo's ship has landed. Inside the restaurant, both Brakken and Team B immediately recognize the striking amount of Bravuras who guard the area. Most of them are working as waiting staff though, so neither Steffan Eberhardt nor Rivaldo take much notice.

After they just started to place their orders, Team B recognizes two additional guests who enter the Sunset Beach. And it turns out that these two are none else but Augst and Spinning Wheel. Unfortunately, they appear to be guarded by two additional guys who appear to be affiliated with the Kells, so neither of them seems like an easy target and they are all on bodyguard duty themselves on top of that.

So they secretly decide to tell the Bravuras about their targets (“Carlyle wrote that they hate the Kells as much as we do”), so Gaethan agrees to go to the barkeep to give him the news about their rivals. The Bravura seems to understand and hands Gaethan a fine bottle of wine, making elaborate gestures to describe the exquisite taste while also telling the half-elf that they'll take care of them without disturbing their guests.

“Ah. Nice wine. Thanks.” says Gaethan, before murmuring “....so...did I really order that? Guess it's drinkable...” which leaves the Bravura (who really happened to know a good deal about wine) speechless.

(Yeah, Gaethan tends to forget what he just talked about and he doesn't know jack about wine. Poor Mr. Carlyle, he'd mourn the loss of such a good bottle.)

While Gaethan is busy, Serena takes her messenger feather and heads to the restroom. She then uses the feather to send a message to Auryn and Carlyle about the news that they found Augst and Spinning Wheel but have their hands bound as they have to accompany the VIPs and don't really wish to drag them into combat yet again.

During all of this, the three guests of honor start exchanging experiences and views after they finished their lunch. It turns out that the Bishop is both xenophobic (poor Dima) and seems to have rather strange fetishes (in a hindsight: poor Brakken). Once Serena and Gaethan return, they all notice that someone is setting up a stage and it turns out that none else but Rock Rackus is scheduled as today's act.

Carlao turns all fangirl when she hears about it “Gosh, I'd LOVE to see Rock. His music is so cool!” she exclaims before reminding herself that she cannot possibly dictate her guest's schedules. Serena agrees and they kind of decide to go to his next gig together.

After a while, our team arrives at the Sunset Beach, but we decide to stay in the background first. The two Kell lieutenants slowly realize that this restaurant is not what it used to be, so they pay and decide to split up and leave. The two of us leave Spinning Wheel in the care of the Bravuras and take care of Augst and the two bodyguards. But when we are happy to have finally found Augst, we find out that Augst was merely an illusion spell worn by Spinning Wheel.

So we take this guy and his goons to the RHC all while we are still wondering who the other Spinning wheel might be. We find out that Spinning Wheel was only tasked with organizing the Guild's smuggling activities, so he pleads for mercy and offers to spill everything. We agree to get him charged for a severe case of smuggling, but not high treason. In return, he can get us more intricate information about the materials he had been smuggling for the Guild: in most cases high priced metals like mithril, adamant and specifically treated steel, but also acids. He's been doing this for three years now and yes, we can totally have that rusty amulet that's needed to take the route through the iron rings in the canal to “that other place”. He's a bit proud when he tells us that he stole that thing from Kell's pocket.

Regarding Augst, he can tell us that the lawyer vanished and that “this guy Norm” convinced him to stay and keep their contacts alive. Even if he was scared to the bone and simply wanted to leave the Kells after having heard about the charge of high treason. So this sounds all suspicious as hell as Norm is the one Cippiano called his inside job in the Kell Guild.

Shortly after, we get a pretty badly beaten “Norm” delivery who turns out to be another smuggler called Slylyx. He tells us that Kell found out about the real Norm weeks ago and turned him to fish food.

(Isn't that usually how the Familia handles things?)

He basically tells the same stuff as Spinning Wheel, but he's a bit more self-confident and almost proud. But he knows one intricate detail Spinning Wheel didn't: If one wishes to stay in the Bleak Gate for longer than 5 minutes after transitioning, then one would need to use a magic wand to make the transition permanent. And he happens to have one of these wands inside his home. He also had a magical amulet, but it was a one-time use amulet only and he used it up while trying to flee the Bravuras. However, if we got a hand on the rusty paint, then this might suffice as well.

So it seems like we got all we need to go to the Bleak Gate once Carlyle finishes his alchemical reproduction procedure. But there's still unfinished business as we still have to intercept the Bezna. So we take the hint of Team B that Kvarty Gorbati might have been the shooter at Soknik's and find him in an inn in Central. He's terribly sorry that he didn't know these guys down there were no attackers, but RHC agents and he also didn't know that his employers were followers of Grandis Komanov. We accept his apology and offer him a chance of redeeming himself: We'd like to intercept another shipment of the terrorists and he might be our backup shooter on the Khalandurrin tonight.

Kvarty is glad to be of help after that embarrassing situation so we plan to meet him in the harbor at the Khalandurrin's dock in the evening. A few hours later, we find ourselves and the dwarf aboard the mighty steam ship and drive large patrol circles through the Flint bay area. As the sun sets and the stars rise, we get a bit anxious that the terrorists might have just played us a second time. And we both know that the Vekeshi will be meeting pretty soon to re-empower the seal of Macbannin.

At midnight, we then suddenly spot small ripples on the ocean surface, indicating that there might be a ship driving closely by. When we see no corresponding lights on the sea, we come to the conclusion that this might just be the Bezna, driving without lights to avoid getting caught by our harbor police. So we ask our captain to head to the supposed ship's general direction and flash the Khalandurrin's lights brightly so that Kvarty can get a perfect aim.

As we already guessed, we can see the Bezna as soon as we put our lights to maximum. In reaction, the drakran ship accelerates almost immediately as they try to outpace their pursuers. We fear that these mad dwarves might just try to kamikaze-run into the harbor, so Carlyle takes Auryn's hand and teleports the two of us onto the deck of the Bezna.

The dwarves who appear to be just as bald as our Komanov terrorists are pretty shocked to see two people appearing on their deck and so they sound an alarm and try to fight us. They don't pose much of a threat, but soon after the alarm is rung, hatches open and several grotesquely deformed and mutated bulettes emerge from the decks below, ready to attack anyone who stands in their way (including some of the remaining dwarves).

We are soon surrounded by these abominations and agree to leave the Bezna via teleportation should we get totally overwhelmed. Thankfully, Kvarty throws in some well-aimed shots from his sniper position on the Khalandurrin to distract the beasts a bit. We're also pretty relieved to see that, while the mutated beasts are pretty resistant to our standard tactics, they are quite vulnerable to von Recklinghausen's rapier and time-space-based attacks.

(As I took it, Tiz used the bulette as basic creature and added some nasty random templates to them. If I remember correctly, one of them got turned into an ooze, another one was a bulette swarm, the next one was part construct and one was a multi-headed/hydra type. Whatever happens when you throw a normal monster into the Malice Lands I guess :D )

After a long and tedious fight we manage to slay the beasts and come out alive. Being already strained and tired, we then receive a call from the Old Stag to gather at Macbannin's seal. So we take a little time to thank Kvarty for his help and then excuse ourselves as we got another important appointment tonight.


Chaos at the Station, or: Sleep's for Sissies

We make haste to get to the Nettles and the Mayor's estate. On our way through the forest, we are joined by many different, colorfully clad spirits who head towards the same direction. There's also the occasional Vekeshi elder in person, like the Ursa or the Wolf. When we reach the estate, we are quite surprised to see the front door open and all its inhabitants, including Dame Jillian, in a strange trance. We get that the Fey and Old Stag put that kind of enchantment on the Green Knight and her fellows, so we can empower the seal without interruption.

We spend the rest of the night channeling our powers into the diminished seal of the late Mayor and manage to strengthen the barrier between the planes to a safe level. As dawn is about to break, we are all more than just exhausted and tired. One by one the Vekeshi leave and we, too, try to get at least some sleep before the Grand Opening of the Sharon Baker Station. As Carlyle needs only two hours of sleep to be fully rested, Auryn volunteers to go to the station right now so she may gather some information in advance while he can take a short nap.

On our way back, we suddenly get a hasty message from Delft that the Green Knight has been attacked and she doesn't know what happened on the estate so we may wish to help her out. We answer that we'll discuss this with the King via feather and promise that everything will turn out fine. Then we explain Aodhan what actually happened with Macbannin's seal and that Fey and Vekeshi were in need of an undisturbed ritual place, so “someone” must have put a spell on Dame Jillian and her fellows. Aodhan seems kind of amused that some fey actually managed to trick his Green Knight and thanks us all for our effort to keep Cauldron Hill safe.

At Sharon Baker, Auryn is quite happy to see that her dear colleague Margit has already arrived at the station. After telling her about our late night mission atop the Bezna and her severe lack of sleep, Margit casts a refreshing spell on Auryn which at least suppresses her acute exhaustion. The two women check all security measures at the station and try to find signs of a trap or something indicating an imminent attack. We find that everything seems just fine, so we decide to wait for Carlyle before we continue checking the surrounding tunnels for terrorists and explosives.

Once Carlyle joins us, we venture down into the tunnel system and head towards Pardwright first. We only find one (bearded) dwarf who's busy cleaning up the rubbish. He didn't see anything suspicious and we can sense no lie in his words, so we follow the tracks until we reach the campus and find a group of eladrin security who are patrolling the area and who haven't found anyone suspicious yet.

(yeah, they are part of the same company that got hired by Michael Carlyle to guard the Aurum. Seems like our friend upped the security levels after the dwarves' previous attack as Fordren Industries invested a lot of money in the new arcanoscience building. Thanks Carlyle!)

We continue our search and reach an area with maintenance tracks. There we find a maintenance engine and four bald dwarves who are busy trying to get the engine running. A quick look at their equipment (lots and lots of rifles) indicates that these might just be the terrorists we're looking for. So we use a sleep spell to send them to the realm of dreams, then tie them up and place them on a draisine so we can get them to the police. Unfortunately, they don't have any explosives besides their gunpowder, so the bomb is still out there somewhere.

We head back to the station and hand the dwarves to the police so they can arrest them while we continue our search for the blockbuster. As more and more guests and dignitaries arrive, we decide to check each of them in a quick talk for possible connections to Zubov, Komanov or Soknik. Unfortunately, they all appear to have a clean history regarding the radicals.

So we follow the tracks to the opposite direction, towards the Aurum. Just when we arrive at the next underground station (having found nothing but more dust), we hear the quiet echoes of fired shots coming from the Sharon Baker Station. Carlyle doesn't waste any time and performs a teleport spell that brings us closer to the station. (which was risky considering the fact that he didn't have time to memorize the spot) Then we turn invisible and try to get a full picture of the situation.

Back at the station, we find a terrifying situation: 10 dwarves managed to gain control over the whole bunch of people on the platform, including Lord Vantrys, Cecilia Fordren, the Carlyles and Governeur Stanfield. They are all pointing their guns at their hostages, so simply attacking them is not an option. As desperate times call for desperate measures, Auryn takes Carlyle aside and asks him to put all his mental resilience together so she may try to freeze almost the whole station in time. She then moves to the center of the platform and utters a single, sharp and perfect note that leaves everyone stunned. Well, everyone except Carlyle and one of the dwarves, the one who's threatening Lord Vantrys and his fiancee.

But Carlyle finishes off the dwarf before he can even know what hit him. As Auryn is unable to do anything else but keeping up her note, it is up to Carlyle to take care of the rest.

(Yeah, Frozen Note is a really powerful spell. But it affects everyone in the radius and the caster is unable to even move while keeping up concentration, so you need a partner with an insanely good will save to make full use of it. Fortunately, Carlyle is a master of resisting Auryn's spells. Fun fact: she's totally aware of it and knows Carlyle would be her worst and probably deadliest enemy should he ever switch sides)

Just when Carlyle drops the last dwarf, we suddenly hear some desperate gunshots coming from outside the station. They soon die off and we hear the familiar roar of a lion's shield, indicating that Asrabey did remember that we wanted to discuss our further plans after the grand opening. One could almost feel sorry for the dwarves outside...

Next, we hear some heavy steps coming from the tunnel which leads to Pardwright campus. We assume that they might belong to those involved with the still missing bomb, so we decide to intercept them before they can even get close to the station. Our assumption turns out to be correct as we see six heavily armed dwarves carrying a massive object towards the station. We put them to sleep as well after scaring their leader (who turns out to be Zubov) so much that he accidentally shoots his own foot.

Carlyle then asks Auryn to tie up the dwarves while he tries to check up on the bomb. While he carefully removes the upper parts of the bomb, Auryn finds a letter, written by Zubov that says that he claims to be speaking for Grandis Komanov who, going by the letter's contents, seems to have some beef with Price-Hill after his campaign against the necromancers in the Anthras Mountains. Still we know that this letter and the whole taking hostages plan was simply a distraction for their true target, so Auryn takes it back to the station to explain the whole situation to Stanfield and the police.

However, there is still chaos at the station and the Governor is currently unconscious as he's been struck down by a dwarf after trying to stand up for his people (or so one witness said). Auryn takes this as a perfect excuse to take a closer look at Stanfield's rings to find out whether he might be carrying an OB ring. To her surprise, he doesn't! But he does carry one ring with the mayor's sigil on it, giving Auryn a quick laugh.

(Unfortunately, this joke doesn't really work in english: The ring reads “Oberbürgermeister Stanfield”, which just translates to “head mayor Stanfield”. But the really common abbreviation for Oberbürgermeister is OB. So yeah, an OB ring indeed.)

She then calms down the panicked guests and asks them to help her gather the injured so she may heal them all up with her soothing song. The people, especially those who know her better, thank her for all her help, but Auryn takes a sorrowful look at the tunnels and says that it is actually Carlyle who deserves this praise as he's the one who took out the dwarves and who's still busy with the dangers deeper down in the tunnels.

Just when she finished speaking, Carlyle emerges from the tunnels and says that everything is under control now. What he doesn't say is that he finished diffusing the bomb, brought the separated explosives to the RHC labs (store them SEPARATELY!!!) and then returned to the tunnels. Auryn is very much relieved to see him unharmed and together they take Stanfield aside to tell him the truth about this attack.

The Deva doesn't understand at first as he's sure one of the dwarves insisted to see Price-Hill and said dwarf claimed that their leader, Zubov, wanted give him their manifesto. We insist that the terrorists wanted to use this distraction to get their bombing team the time they needed to set up the bomb and blow up the Aurum. Considering the fact that this building is a no-teleport zone, it would have been a death trap for everyone in there, including the King and Lee. Stanfield is horrified at this revelation and then quickly mutters that someone should give us a medal of honor or so for saving everyone without causing a panic. We reply that we're just doing our job, so no need for special honors.

Then we meet up with Asrabey to thank him for taking care of the attackers outside. He says that this wasn't a big deal and he got pretty much caught by surprise, so this turned a bit messy. He's also glad that the “small flower” made it out of this hell unharmed. Auryn returns that she wasn't really in danger as Carlyle was the one fiddling with the bomb. And while we promised Asrabey that we'd go to the Bleak Gate as soon as possible, Auryn is still deprived of sleep and needs to regain her powers for this potentially dangerous trip.

(for her, this was the same “day” as their attack on the Scoundrel's Theater, the capture of Slylyx and Spinning Wheel, the Bezna incident and the Vekeshi gathering. So Auryn was basically out of everything, even if Margit countered the exhaustion with her restoration.)

Asrabey seems to understand that and he adds that going to the Bleak Gate unprepared would also pose a risk on his mission of rescuing Kasvarina. Just when it seems as if we all got one happy agreement, we receive a message from Delft via whispering wind. He explains the the Danorans suddenly changed the schedule of the peace conference and are about to arrive this very same afternoon. We also got a letter in advance from Lya Jierre and it seems as if she's asking for our presence at the welcome banquet in the Aurum. So, to put it in Delft's very own words, it it time for us to put on our best garments and get our sorry selves presentable.

This news mean nothing but a catastrophe for the still tired Auryn who now, sincerely upset, has to explain to Asrabey that he needs to wait even longer till we can go to the Bleak Gate.

“I'm... I'm so sorry. I honestly don't know what to do. I desperately need some sleep, the Danorans just shipwrecked our plans by enforcing their own schedule – though I honestly got no nerve for their stupid power play right now – and their Sovereign's niece personally asks for our attendance at her party. It is as if fate's threads are tightening around us every passing hour. So Asrabey... if you'd just wait a little longer and... maybe take care of Isobel for me? I promise, no, I swear that we'll go find Kasvarina as soon as the ceremony is over.”

Asrabey seems a bit disappointed at first, but seeing the desperation and sadness in his grand-grand-grandniece's eyes, he cannot resist her plea. So he takes her “oath” and promises to be her humble guest until the diplomatic business is finished. Carlyle then offers to attend to the welcome ceremony for the Lux Profectusque alone should Auryn need more time for herself.

“Just go home and take care of yourself. Dress up, take the time you need. I guess I can manage the arrival of that one danoran ship by myself. If not, then the Chief Inspector will surely help me out with his supreme charme.”

Carlyle puts on an almost roguish grin and calls for a carriage to bring them all back to Stray River. Auryn then goes to sleep while Isobel tries to warm up to Asrabey. Meanwhile, Carlyle puts on his best suit and gets himself ready for what might be the biggest diplomatic gathering he's ever attended to in his whole life. He then takes a long stroll to the harbor, musing about what may or may not happen this evening.

I actually recall when I was tooling around Sächsische Schweiz seeing a poster for someone running to be Burgermeister, which is just a funny word to American ears.


Haha, right. As streetfood is currently really trendy and people over here love puns of all kind, they actually use Burgermeister as a name for their burger bars. Some sell Meisterburgers and some even big Oberburgermeisters. :D

And don't get me started on the madness that is "Hamburger Bürger" and the like.


The grand banquet

(As a pre-emptive note: Some of the upcoming parts of the conference dinner may seem as if it was majorly Auryn doing the talks. This is not because Carlyle's player wasn't interested in the dialogue, but he had to do a bit of work during the second half, so we agreed that I use the spare time to talk to various NPC with Auryn as this would let him join in again later without too much hassle. Sometimes it sucks being an IT guy ;) )

Auryn wakes up early enough to realize that she just might make it to the arrival of the Danorans in time. So she puts on this gorgeous gown she got as a gift from Don Cippiano, receives a quick hair-do from Isobel and then hurries to get a carriage. To her surprise, she runs into said Mr. Cippiano who is just about to leave his cafe. When he sees her, he looks positively surprised as if he'd just see a perfect plan coming to fruition.

“Oh how wonderful! Marvelous! I knew that dress would suit you perfectly. So it is to your liking, I guess?”

“It is very beautiful indeed. Though I fear I can never repay you adequately. This was... so much more than just coffee cans and tea pots and herbs. But maybe you'll be happy to hear that even the Danorans might be speaking about it after tonight.”

“No, no. You're not indebted to me. It was a gift and seeing this perfect pair right before my eyes warms my heart more than thousands of gold pieces could.”

Seeing that Mr. Cippiano seems genuinely happy, Auryn performs an elegant volta in front of him before feigning a courtly bow with a smile on her face. She then says that she, unfortunately, doesn't have much more time to share as she's already running late for the arrival of the Lux Profectusque. This coincidence surprises Cippiano as he explains that he just called for his private carriage since he'd like to see this important social gathering, being a fan of such grandiose events. So he'd really be glad if Auryn would take a seat and accompany him. As she sees no reason to decline his offer, she gladly accepts and so the two of them manage to arrive just in time.

(Well, it seems as if Cippiano's love for haute couture is even bigger than we thought. As much as we always suspect that he might be up to something, he again and again turns out to be a likeable, kind person. As long as you're among his buddys that is. But he had all the reasons to be in a good mood after we basically eradicated the headquarters of his biggest enemy the morning before.

Oh and did I already mention that Don Cippiano is among our all-time favorite NPCs? He usually has the stronger bond with Carlyle, but this little scene was totally adorable.)

As the Lux Profectusque arrives in Flint harbor, we witness how the Danorans, most likely the ambassador, managed to set up a perfectly timed show of raw military power and rich splendor. King Aodhan and Sovereign Han Jierre just shake their hands as the danoran anthem reaches its climax and the Sovereign proclaims that he appreciates this precious opportunity to make peace after so many years of war in the Yerasol Archipelago. He is flanked by Lya Jierre and also accompanied by Eloise Duffet, the minister of war.

Once the ceremony is over and King Aodhan asks the delegation to accompany him to their temporary residence in the Aurum, Lya Jierre turns her attention towards us. She guesses that we'll most likely be curious about her personal invitation and explains that after our last “crossing of blades” in Vendricce she got thoroughly impressed by our determination and force. She also realized that there have been misunderstandings about the nature of the society she belongs to and she wishes to explain her point of view so we might just clear up all of the issues of the past months.

We reply that we'll gladly take this opportunity to discuss the Obscurati and also hope that her brother, Luc, is doing well in Cherage. Lya explains that her brother is quite the introvert and a difficult character but besides that, yes, he's doing just fine.

(we kind of feared that the Obs might have liquidated Luc and/or Ottavia after they had been our guests and helped us with understanding the Lantern. Especially after we were pretty sure to have left an impression on the two. As for the "crossing of blades", we had to laugh quite a bit at Lya's over-exaggeration as we put her to sleep after she drew her rapier. Even if there would be quite a lot of people who'd love to see a swashbuckling duel between the two female scions. One day, maybe.)

Then we just split from the group of dignitaries as we'd like to do a last minute check on the security details in the Aurum, especially in the banquet hall and every room that's somehow involved in the grand dinner tonight. We find that everything seems just fine and Flying Spark tells us every little bit about his routine as well. Carlyle's gut feeling about a potential disaster can't be stopped though. Still it can't be helped right now as it is already dinner time and we're required to meet up with the rest of the invited guests in one of the antechambers.

We're quite surprised to see so many people with so many different backgrounds together in one big room. We identify most of them as various industrialists from both Risur and Danor, as well as politicians, nobles and members of the military. Among the guests are Lord Vantrys and Cecilia, Heward Sechim (Vantrys and Sechim seem to be getting along pretty well) as well as Francis Fordren and Brakken Heffanita. Milena Dawkins turns out to be the Master of Ceremonies this night and she asks everyone to form a line after welcoming everyone to the festive peace banquet.

Carlyle is already used to such societal gatherings and so he explains that your place in the line is actually representative of your social standing and your connection to the host. He seems quite touched by actually waiting in such a line himself, so Auryn asks him whether everything is alright.

“Oh yes, I'm more than just fine. It's just... I've always been asking myself what it would be like to actually be part of these spectacular events, rather than just standing at the sideline. This is like a dream come true.”

Seeing her partner genuinely happy for a moment puts a smile on Auryn's face, and she squeezes Carlyle's hand briefly.

“Then enjoy this evening. You've earned it. And I'm sure this won't be the last time we'll be asked to attend a grand banquet.”

Just when it seems like Carlyle is utterly struck with societal bliss, he turns around to take a look at the other attendants and spots Lord Vantrys, who's stranding far behind him among the other nobles.

“Oh no, but this isn't right. How can I possibly be introduced before Lord Vantrys?”

He shakes his head in disbelief before he realizes that we're actually personal guests of Lya Jierre, which is most likely the reason why we've been placed right behind the risuri and danoran ministers. Even if this seems quite unusual indeed. This awkward situation for Carlyle only intensifies when we are then seated right next to the danoran dignitaries, leading to a lot of eyes staring right at the rather unknown guests of the Minister of Outsiders.

(Auryn was quite astonished to see Carlyle put such an emphasis on where he was standing in the queue. Or that he was actually standing there at all. Seeing that the spheres of service personnel and guests/nobles are that much separated that even standing in a line feels as if one is part of another world is something she's yet to get used to. And she just realized that Carlyle can be really touched or confused by such small details.)

Fortunately, dinner starts soon after and both King Aodhan and Sovereign Han Jierre express their hope for peace and their desires to make the upcoming conference a success. After Governor Stanfield offers a few warm words where he welcomes both delegations to his city and stresses out that Flint will have much to gain from such an unprecedented peace treaty, it is time for someone else to give a toast as well.

As the seconds pass by and no one actually says anything, Lya gives the two of us an encouraging wink which leads to Carlyle deflecting the arrow to Auryn. So she raises her glass and first thanks Lya Jierre, a true friend of Risur, for the opportunity to be here tonight before stating her hope that this conference will bring an end to the hostilities between their two countries as the path war will only lead to suffering and pain while peace may allow old wounds to heal in time.

(She was a tad bit uncomfortable as she was kind of speaking for the foreign delegation and also had to draw everyone's attention in the presence of Fordren. It's always the personal stuff that unnverves her.)

The first part of dinner goes down smoothly with lots of smalltalk and little interference. Only Eloise Duffet, Minister of War, almost causes an eclat by hinting at an orphanage that got supposedly bombed by King Aodhan himself during the third Yerasol War. When she also tries to make a fuss about the soup, Lya Jierre quickly and diplomatically diffuses the explosive situation and explains that no one in this room will be truly innocent and that the poor farmers of Shale will not have murdered any Danoran by growing tasty vegetables.

During the first courses, we get the impression that Lya is trying really hard to keep up the diplomatic atmosphere and is genuinely striving for peace first and foremost. Then we all take a break and get the opportunity to stroll through an art exhibition on the sky bridge. Shortly after, lovely music starts to play and Auryn gets totally overwhelmed with joy as they got the actual hurricane violin for their string performance.

(She's quite the Navras Opera House nerd, so she took this as an opportunity to tell her hapless conversation partner all about the violin and its past. Also, Hurricane Violin and Fable of Seaquen. Well played ;) )

Meanwhile, Carlyle tries to ease his gut feeling by patrolling the sky bridge and looking out for any sign of danger. But it turns out that his guts were wrong this time. Once the musical performance is over, Eloise Duffet takes the time to talk to us and ask us about our opinion on the events on Axis Island. We explain that we're pretty upset about Duchess Ethelyn's betrayal and remind the Minister of War that we Risuri took great lengths to end her rebellion and give the Island back to Danor. We add that many risuri lives were lost these days and we hope that it wasn't for naught.

Carlyle then says that Axis Island was one of many errors that happened in the past regarding our two nations and, having seen the face of war far too often, he hopes that one day generations of Risuri and Danoran children will grow up knowing nothing but peace.

Minister Duffet then claims that there's been too much chaos in Flint the last weeks, with security issues being so severe that she feared for the delegation's safety. Auryn gets that she's hinting at the terrorist's attacks and explains that these acts were committed by foreign elements whose only goal is bringing suffering and the end of the world. She says that they didn't specifically target Risur, but rather the peace conference, no, the whole concept of peace itself. Fortunately, the RHC was able to lock them all up in time and so they can pose no threat anymore. She concludes that these radicals would have tried to strike Cherage as well had the conference taken place there instead.

Taking another try, Eloise Duffet then changes the focus to the many protesters in the streets of Flint, claiming that such chaos wouldn't be possible in Cherage as the police would manage situations like that with ease. Carlyle laughs softly at this comment before saying that the Dockers and all the other protesters simply express their love and care for their city and community. The citizens of Flint always strive to make their lives better, so they use – legal – protests as a means of venting their frustration or issuing their problems in a peaceful manner.

Then, with a disarming smile on his face, he asks Mrs. Duffet whether she's ever fought a guerrilla war. Because he did and fighting against people who are desperately trying to regain what they've lost and who are fighting for their homeland with everything they got is the most horrifying experience one could imagine as a soldier. He then asks her to imagine a city like Flint, full of passionate people, being faced with military-like oppression.

“There's only one outcome I can see in this scenario. You'd have a guerrilla war in this very city. Fighting your own populace is futile, Minister, and it only causes suffering that will take centuries to heal”

We then return to dinner and are treated to some of the best dishes from Danor, Ber and Risur.

I like how your group has expanded the circle of power players and made a bigger deal of the high society. I admit it was a bit of a weak point of my own writing as I often focused on the plot and mystery over politics and courtesy.


Originally, it was just a coincidence as NPC like Lord Vantrys and his staff or Francis Fordren were part of our character's backgrounds and yeah, of course being a 500 years old ex-butler means you know and care much about society. And then we just happened to connect all of these people with those already present in the adventures.

I don't necessarily see it as a weak point as I'm pretty sure politics and intrigue and courtesy are not that much fun for every player. So every group will have their own focus and ours neglected getting more involved with technology or the criminal elements of Flint (we never developed a personal enmity with the Kells, for example).

But I guess you will enjoy reading the second part of the banquet then. And the intermission between adventures 5 and 6 :)


Diplomatic matters

Before dessert, there is another break and Lya Jierre turns to us to talk about the “misunderstandings” we had. We sincerely ask her what these “misunderstandings” might be as she's probably already talked to her brother Luc. She says that she's quite adamant that the Obscurati are a group of people who are working towards making the world a better place. As it is a multinational society, keeping their existence hidden is only natural as the occasional war would make cooperation almost impossible. For herself and Luc, bringing the magic back to Danor is among their top priorities which is why Luc developed the Lantern and tried to conduct experiments on planar energies. Without magic, she insists, it will be hard for Danor and Risur to be on equal terms now that Risur takes great leaps in terms of industrialization.

Carlyle replies that while he understands this noble goal, he cannot trust an organization that's so desperately trying to stay hidden at all costs. This sort of intransparent secrecy can easily lead to dark paths, especially when one considers the fact that this Nicodemus figure is the only one who's keeping all the different strings in his hands.

Regarding Nicodemus, we explain that his malicious, raging attack on us during the Vendricce convention should be enough evidence that he's not the nicest character. Also, we know that he's directly involved in the Macbannin incident and the Bleak Gate factory we've unearthed. We then add that her very own brother uttered his fear that someone might be able to gain world domination by abusing his Lantern technology.

Lya answers that she's sure the Lantern will turn out to be a tool like the steam engine. Potentially dangerous, yes, but with so many opportunities to be used in a peaceful manner. Carlyle again stresses out that the steam engine wasn't developed in secret and also no one tried to use lethal force to protect it from seeing the light of the public. Still we do believe her regarding her and Luc's own altruistic intentions of trying to make the world a better place.

Auryn then tries to remember her about the evidence we've shown to Luc. She talks about all these horrible acts that the Obscurati committed in Flint, stressing out that Macbannin, a genuinely good-natured man got tricked into endangering those he cared for the most (the citizens of the Nettles). She adds that we got evidence that the guy who's responsible for this, Leone Quintal, might still be conducting research at some dark place. Research that might, again, endanger the lives of thousands of innocents.

As Lya has a hard time believing us, we then suggest that she might ask her fiancee, King Aodhan, whether she could take a view at some of the OB files and the speak to Luc again to check whether these reports and his own experiences after his visit of the witchoil factory match up. Carlyle stresses out a second time that he's more than concerned by the cell structure of the Obscurati, especially considering the fact that an altruistic individual like herself didn't know that one of the other cells is up to something malicious. We only hope that she's now able to understand our point of view and our skepticism as our first contact with the organization was directly tied to preventing mass murder.

Still we can understand how someone wishes to improve life on this beautiful yet terrible world. But we'd never risk so much collateral damage or use unethical methods for reaching our aims.

Last but not least, Auryn asks Lya about her stance on slavery as this still seems to be a custom in Danor. The tiefling replies that she's no friend of serfdom, but it might be hard to change this system from one day to another, so changing this might take a while.

(Haha, what an euphemism. Lya is surely one master diplomat.

All in all we got the impression that we got her thinking. Like Luc, Lya seems to be benevolent and idealistic at her core, but she's far more cunning than her brother. And she's far more convinced that the Obscurati are the well-meaning secret society they'd like to appear as.)

We are then called back to dessert and get to taste some of the best sweets from both Danor and Risur. This concludes the formal part of the dinner and most guests use this opportunity to split into smaller groups and do some private talks.

We return to Lya to continue our talks with her. She doesn't know too much about Bergeron besides the fact that he's an archaeologist and she suspects that he might have tried to spy on her brother. When we link him to Macbannin, she supports the thought that this whole group might have gone rogue under the influence of Quintal. Auryn mentions that Bergeron seemed to have been a caring individual in life whose letter indicated that he simply wanted to attend to a “business meeting” - probably with the Obs.

She then asks Lya why Danor is trying to use technology to solve their problem with magic as this seems a bit antithetical. In her eyes, the anti-magic zone is more likely a spiritual problem or the result of a goddess' dying curse. So the most logical way to approach this problem would be to ask those people whose goddess has died for help.

“To put it bluntly, have you ever considered... doing penance? History tells us that it were the clergy's Hierarchs who first got turned into your people, the people who founded Danor. And it were the Hierarchs who were responsible for Srasama's death and the near annihilation of my people. Yet your people did nothing to reconcile with the surviving Eladrin. On the contrary, your rich citizens still torment us to this very day and prevent us from being whole again. I cannot see how this divine curse can ever be lifted if you don't change your ways.”

Lya seems pretty surprised at Auryn's proposal as this is clearly an idea that never occurred to her before. She then says that the Eladrin's approach is surely fascinating, albeit a bit esoteric for her taste. Still, conducting research about divine curses might be an interesting thought. Auryn on the other hand isn't really sure whether Lya actually understood what she was trying to say.

(Yeah, this was her basically saying “you'll never have magic if you don't make peace with Elfaivar and acknowledge that your ancestors did wrong. Oh and let my people go!” and Lya responding “this is not science, but thank you anyway”

The two women's ways of analyzing and solving problems is so completely different even if they both are highly logical creatures. But while Auryn was born with the gift of magic and close to the Dreaming, Lya probably never approached magic in any other way than distant, scientific equations.

Auryn is also trying very hard to getting people to sympathize with the struggles of “New Elfaivar”, even if this might be hard in the case of the Danorans. Still she's ready to fill the gap should the King put his attentions to other possible allies after the Obscurati troubles regarding the Danorans and Lya.)

As it is time for private talks, we see that King Aodhan and Sovereign Jierre retreat to one of the separate chambers, leaving Harkover Lee pretty much alone. So Auryn takes him aside to one of the the many balconies of the Aurum to discuss their planned trip to the Bleak Gate. She tells the Principal Minister that we'll take Asrabey with us, as we do hope to find and rescue Kasvarina there. But we still haven't made up our mind regarding Grappa. We'd also take our friendly neighborhood dragon tyrant with us, so Flying Spark won't be able to guard the King from now on and Lee will be on his own again.

This leads to Lee giving her a heartfelt laughter as he asks how that tiny faerie dragon possibly earned this fearsome title. She answers that Flying Spark occupied her garden the moment she offered him to use it as a base to explore Flint. And as it seems, he has a fondness for Matriarch's daughters, who are not the princesses of old faerie tales, but share enough similarities to qualify.

Auryn then turns to Lee and asks him cautiously who he truly is as she's pretty sure that he's lived longer than 50 years. Lee blinks a few times as the question clearly irritates him and then asks her about her own guess without denying her assumption. Auryn replies that she thought he was a Fey Lord for some time, but then had to dismiss this thought.

“This doesn't seem too far off, does it? So why do you think I can't be one of your kind?”

“Well, I don't wish to offend you in any way, but, you see, your knowledge regarding the Fey is so convincingly basic that I can rule this option out. However, your magical prowess is beyond anything I've seen so far, so you must be quite powerful.”

Harkover Lee turns quite stern at Auryn's logic and stares at her with growing interest. He then asks her why this would matter to her at all as he usually isn't the most interesting of people.

“But that's not true at all.” she answers. “You are a truly fascinating person. Regarding my motive, I'm merely curious and interested in knowing more about the King's best man and most loyal guardian. There might be a time when we all need to combine our resources in order to protect our King and, in my opinion, making plans is much easier when you know all about your possible options. So please, don't take my curiosity as a sign that I don't trust you. Because I truly believe that the King and Risur could have no better Principal Minister than Harkover Lee.”

After a few seconds of silence and continual stares, Lee clears his throat and then excuses himself as he's pretty sure someone just called for him and “this War Minister” needs a watchful eye. Just when Lee is out of Auryn's sight, she receives a mental message that sounds cold as ice and dead serious:

“Do NOT inquire any further, young lady. Take this as a warning.”

It takes a few minutes and Carlyle finds his partner still standing on the balcony, her skin slightly paler than usual. He asks her how her talk with Lee went as, judging by her posture, the Principal Minister must have scared the hell out of her. Now Auryn gets that Carlyle meant this as a joke to break the ice, but she replies that he did just that before telling him about their encounter. She adds that she still trusts Lee, but there's something mysterious and powerful about him and he surely has this killing intent when it comes to keeping his secrets.

(Uh yeah, regarding Lee... while Auryn only tried to express her honest feelings towards the Principal Minister, I'm still not sure whether he'd again taken her comment as part flirtation. She's naturally curious and we've been talking about the true identity of Lee ever since the Coaltongue incident. She also knows that he's loyal and trustworthy, but she also knows that she's capable of thinking outside the box like few others and would love to put Lee's true colors into the equation when making plans. Also, her name is basically "keeper of secrets", so his identity would have been safe with her.

As Lee was so totally irritated and needed a few moments to get himself sorted, I guess that scaring Auryn was his best chance of getting her off trail. And maybe she almost got him with her arguments and he realized what kind of dilemma he ended up with. Now that we know a bit more about him, that reaction was pretty natural.

Also note that Lee was totally okay with being a hypothetical Fey Lord. Something a "real" Fey Lord in disguise would have made more fuss about. But Lee surely doesn't know that Auryn is so close to one of those)

When we return to the banquet hall, King Aodhan approaches us and asks us to have a few words in private now that his talks with Han Jierre are over. The King says that Lee told him about our Bleak Gate plans and he's quite relieved to hear that we found a probable way to get there as he'd otherwise have to use a very straining ritual to get us there. We add that we're still not sure about Grappa as he could be the catalyst for a catastrophe. Still, he's the only one who can lead us to the complex safely and we might need his help.

Aodhan says that he trusts our decisions in this regard and suggests that we could simply go there, take a few peeks and return later. We explain that this won't be possible as the wand we got has limited charges and we don't know how to return once we get there. Auryn thanks the King for his trust, but adds that she has quite the hard time making a decision as she fears that she might be fated to cause a calamity. After all, Ashima-Shimtu prophecised that we'll doom this world and Ekossigan's and Nevard's visions might all be related to this fate.

“So you prefer to let a prophecy paralyze you? Don't let this demon scare you away from making your own decisions.”

Auryn nods at his advice and says that she didn't plan to not decide, it is just so damn hard to make the right decision. And if she decides, then she'll have to bear the consequences of her actions afterward. The King seems satisfied with her answer and then turns the subject to Harkover Lee as he's heard that a certain someone has shown her interest in his Principal Minister. He's sorry should Lee have scared her as he's sure that Auryn and Carlyle have only Risur's best interest in mind. But the matter of Harkover Lee's identity is something that should exclusively stay part of the pact between the King and his Minister. Which is why we should better end our inquiries.

“Well, I'm still intrigued. But if this is an order from my Matriarch, then I'll gladly obey.”

The King chuckles at her words and then adds “I'd rather be called a Patriarch, but yes, this is an order”

(I tried to translate this wordplay as far as possible, but unfortunately it lost most of its absurdity. Originally, Auryn called Aodhan “Matriarchin”, which is a feminine word and the one usually used in German. He preferred to be called “Matriarch” which would be a masculine word for a female-exclusive title, thus agreeing to her titling and simply adjusting the gender.

And yes, these prophecies begin to really unsettle her. Remember the episode in the Crypta where we simply pushed Ashima-Shimtu's "doom" aside as if it was nonsense? Times change...)

Remove ads


Remove ads

Upcoming Releases