ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign

Lylandra

Adventurer
Session 53
Go all the way to the tower...


We leave the small town near Chearge in a seemingly abandoned motor carriage we found on a street. We then discuss means to enter the city and abruptly cancel our plans to sneak in disguised as local people since we don't have any papers to support our identity. So we switch to our beran identities as Senor and Senora Fernandez. Kasvarina agrees to turn invisible as soon as there is trouble on the horizon, and we just have to hope that her magic remains strong enough in this null-magic zone to do so.

As soon as we reach Cherage, we see that the city is very much blocked off and secured, just like we thought. Amira and Hector approach the front gate and are instantly rebuffed and ask to wait for sunrise when the gates open for those who wish to enter or leave. As there are already several more people waiting outside, we return to Kasvarina and tell her about the situation. So she turns invisible and we return to the gates as soon as they finally open.

The guards at the gate ask us where we're headed and we tell them the name of one hotel as we're tourists who wish to see the splendors of mighty Cherage. The guards write down all we said which leaves us with no choice but to rent a room in the hotel we just mentioned. Meanwhile, Kasvarina follows us in silent invisibility.

Inside the hotel, we chat a bit with the locals and learn that many of Cherage's citizens have joined the Danoran forces as “volunteers” as they fear an imminent attack of Risur. What is really strange though is the fact that these recruits are being sent to Methia and not to a fort near the coastline.

We reply that this sounds strange indeed as the Risuri won't just sneak into the Danoran mainland to attack one ruined city. But then we are being told in hushed voices that Methia is a prohibited military area and also features a military training ground. So it would be a potential target, albeit not a likely one.

We exchange mentally about this strange concentration of forces and discuss whether this might just be a distraction to seemingly normalize the growing military presence at Axis Island. And once our minds are drawn to Axis Island, we both get the gut feeling that going straight to that place might maybe be our best chance to disrupt the Obs with their ritual preparations that are obviously already in motion. Still Kasvarina's knowledge might be crucial in being able to understand and stop the ritual for good.

So we and Kasvarina walk through Cherage in search for her memory. Fortunately, we score a hit just when we walk past by a tavern called “Amielle's Gun Shop”. Amira and Hector laugh in silence at the obviousness as we're pretty sure who we'd be seeing there.

We wait till all of the staff take a break for lunch and sneak into the barroom. Kasvarina dons the Arc and the room turns to an actual gun shop where Amielle, still alive at that time, meets with Kas and Nicodemus in yet another body. Both Kasvarina and Nicodemus ask Amielle to help Risur with their witch problem in Flint so they can become aware of the powerful and ever-evolving danoran technology. Amielle agrees and the vision ends. And now we know the true reason why Amielle came to help King Lorcan in the first place.

“Not sure it worked like they planned”, Auryn says, pointing out that the Fey and their pact had a much larger part in defeating the witches than Amielle. Even if it was a nice gesture.

As we haven't learned anything substantial, we agree to dare take a look at Methia and what the Danorans might be up to. Especially as this is the place where something really dramatic had happened to Kasvarina and Miller. Problem is that the place appears to be guarded really well, which is why we'd need a good plan on how to get there.

We take the rest of the day to gather information and accumulate opportunities from both the Dockers and the odd member of the Familia. We learn that military and food supplies are being shipped upstream while new recruits are carried there by either boat or motor carriage. So we ask the Familia to find a way for us to get to Methia and they offer to get us three uniforms of danoran soldiers and fake marching orders. This way, we could play new recruits and get shipped to Methia.

(We kind of forgot we could call in favours all over the globe at that point. Previously, we had only used them in Risur. Tiz gently pointed out that with our knowledge, we could easily spot a Docker or maybe even Bravura down at the docks)

We gladly take the offer and tell the Familia that we'll make sure our dear friend in Flint will be told about their good deeds.

Joining the recruits isn't as difficult as we thought and once the officials see our marching orders, they make sure that we'll end up in the right place. It takes quite a while to get to Methia. But when our carriage finally halts, we are surprised to see that the place is very much still a ghost city that appears to be half crumbled and half intact. We hear gunshots and realize that they use the urban environment to practice a partisan war in an urban environment. Which gets us really alarmed.

The more experienced soldiers welcome us all, give us a short introduction and also point to the famed “Lance of Triegenes”, a formerly gigantic tower of the Clergy that's now half collapsed. Every now and then we hear the sound of controlled explosions. And when we ask what they'd be mining there, the others just talk about a huge machine that fires bullets with the size of dogs. Which raises our alarm level even more as we fear that all of this might be just one big training ground for an all-out invasion.

We take a bit of time to get accustomed to this place and find the best places to safely search for Kasvarina's memories. But neither do we spot many openings nor does the Arc tingle. Just when we come to the conclusion that we might have to climb that forsaken tower after all, we feel one massive earthquake shaking the ground. And this time, our fellow danoran comrades are worried as well.

More and more seismic waves hit Methia and we soon see the source of all these earthshaking events: We see Borne approaching the city slowly but steadily, each step leaving a heavy impression on the ground. We're quite confused why and how he could have left the Dreaming, but once he gets closer, we see that he is quite translucent and somehow walking barely on the other side of the mirror plane. Needless to say, the other rookie soldiers panic while the more seasoned try to rally a defense against the walking Colossus.

Kasvarina remembers Borne, and we get the gut feeling that it could be her he is looking for. Still we need to seize the opportunity to get closer to the tower with all the panicking going on. After the vision, we all agree, we would leave in hope to lure Borne away from the city.

So we move closer to the island on the river where the Lance of Triegenes is located and find that it is still heavily guarded by soldiers and the metal tech monster with the dog-sized bullets. Meanwhile, Borne moves closer to the same river while still being behind the veil. He stops right before the river and we feel and see why: We have now entered a total dead-magic zone where maybe the Dreaming doesn't exist at all.

While we search for a good spot to get to the tower, we see a fast carriage approaching Borne. It stops close to him and, to our surprise, Lya Jierre and a group of Porteurs du Mort leave emerge from inside. We all agree to hurry as Lya might spot and identify us despite our efforts. So we sneak upstream, jump into the water and let the current do the rest. This way, we get carried over to the island and move around to be completely out of Borne's and Lya's sight. Then Auryn hurries to the tower to climb the first wall and throw a rope for the rest. But she's way too wet to get a good hold and falls down immediately.

(Nat 1 on a climb. Ouch. Auryn is good at climbing, but not that good.)

Carlyle realizes this mistake and he takes the time to get out his grappling hook to assist the climb. This way, we manage to get up to the outer stairs of the tower.

(And this is when I was getting anxieties thinking about the poor people who used these really dangerous stairs. Like with all these scifi or fantasy shows where they have these bridges and walkways over seemingly endless chasms and somehow did not build a balustrade or railing for some reason. They just want people to fall down... and I'm terribly afraid of too large heights with seemingly fragile security measures. Looking at you, StarWars!)

We walk up the stairs until we come to an entrance blocked by a long-collapsed door. But before we can start thinking about ways to clear the path and look into what may be behind, the Arc resonates and the tower reacts strongly to its magic. But unlike all other instances where the Arc of Reida simply provided Kasvarina insight into events of her past, this time the tower appears to be rebuilding itself without drawing Kasvarina into a memory.

We all are a bit surprised by this strange magical resonance, but take the opportunity to walk further upstairs. After a short walk, the spirit of Nilasa appears all of a sudden in front of us. She smiles at Gabriel and Auryn and thanks them for their help. She then says that she cannot stay much longer and that “the others” won't be as kind as her. Then her spirit fades away again.

Kasvarina is very much confused seeing somebody totally unknown to her. We tell her that Nilasa was someone whose true cause of death we helped uncover and guess that the Arc must have some effect on our memories as well. Without worrying too much, we all continue our climb.

A few steps further, two other people from our past appear pout of thin air. This time, it is the Dragonborn arsonist brothers we arrested when they were trying to set fire to Sechim's factory. They unleash their fiery breaths, but we all are quick to dodge the attack. Then they vanish as quickly as they manifested.

“So they were executed for their crimes after all. We've never checked up on them after their arrest...” Gabriel mumbles, which is enough of an explanation for Kasvarina.

We advance further and the tower appears to repair itself just as we're getting higher upstairs. Then the next spirit manifests in the form of Cillian Creed who is fully covered in Witchoil. He then transforms into the monstrosity that confronted us atop Cauldron Hill before he explodes and leaves a puddle of Witchoil. We feel sorry for the man as we believe that all he did was follow Macbannin's orders.

“I'm glad that we could at least save Macbannin.” Auryn says. Kasvarina rubs her head and says that something is tingling in her head and that she might have known someone with that name, but she cannot really remember who he was. We quickly tell her that Macbannin was the mayor of the Nettles who was being misled by the Obs, died to save his home and form a barrier to the Bleak Gate, then was resurrected by the Obs, played the role of the Ghost council's cruel lackey before he revealed his true colors, killed Vicemi Terio and hopefully dissolved the Ghost Council resurrection circle. All before being reinstated as mayor of the Nettles and Guardian of the Hill. Kasvarina is very much impressed by this biography.

A bit higher up, we meet the next haunt of our own past: Lady Saxby. Who commits suicide in front of our eyes. Her death is yet another tragedy, albeit a self-induced, we explain. Auryn adds that Saxby was maybe the first time that she was being misled by the true nature of someone who appeared to be like a Matriarch while Gabriel mentions that he somehow never liked her and her elitism. Which sounds strange coming from someone like him.

(That is some really strange Arc magic for sure. But is was also a sweet recap of our past Shenanigans)

Before Kasvarina can ask any more question, the Arc's magic suddenly works the usual way again and draws us all into a vision of one of Kasvarina's memories. She walks inside on of the tower's interior rooms to meet with Han Jierre and Nicodemus. They appear to be doing an inner-circle Obscurati meeting where they discuss the progress of the different Obs cells. Kasavarina reports that Bergeron will soon have found the last Ziggurat and therefore seal so they will have all the needed information in their hands.

Han Jierre talks about his niece Lya and lauds her as a really bright and smart student who he's going to initiate very soon to lead the golden cell. Regarding the development of the lantern, he explains that his researchers have encountered some difficulties. He is fully aware that the lanterns will be crucial for focusing the ritual, so he will increase their efforts in R&D.

Then Kasvarina tells the other two about the progress in Borne's construction and training. She mentions Alexander Grappa and his seemingly emotional connection to the golems. She is worried about the lessons he's giving them. After all, the golems are tools for saving the world and have to know exactly how to act in which stage on top of being utterly loyal to the Obs and their cause. Which would leave little room for free thinking and their own personalities.

Lastly, all three of them discuss the potential threat of the King of Risur as he might be the biggest obstacle for their plan's success. They appear to know quite a bit about his special powers and guess that he might be able to resist the effect of the ritual and with him, the whole nation of Risur might also be unaffected. The trio discusses on how to deal with him and suggest either abducting him, brainwashing him or killing him off entirely. Which would be easiest, but they'd also risk having a successor and no effect at all. But should Risur prove to be too much of a problem, then they could either remove all that pose a threat to the Obscurati in Risur or invade the nation altogether.

(wow... that is some machiavellian scheme here. And before you ask: No, we were not given the Stanfield hint. I guess Tiz was afraid that we'd find means to warn Flint in advance and prevent much of the hassles of the upcoming plot. Which has some really awesome moments in itself :)
Not like we haven't suspected Stanfield to be an Ob before...)
 
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Lylandra

Adventurer
...find out the secrets behind...

Before we can fully leave the memory behind and properly understand what we just witnessed, the Arc resonates again and conjures the next memory on top of the fading images. The Obscurati trio is meeting again and they appear to be approximately the same age. But this time, Kasvarina appears to be quite happy as she talks about her and Grappa's progress in training and building the golems. She casually mentions that the process was sped up by quite a lot ever since they installed the gates in Stanfield canal. Nicodemus is slightly confused about Kasvarina's good mood and she explains that she just found joy in training the wee golems who call Grappa father and her mother. Nicodemus meanwhile looks strangely annoyed by Kasvarina's unusual cheer and the vision ends again.

Gabriel and Auryn both look at each other with both a knowing and worried expression, but before anyone can dig deeper into the scenes, we hear a commotion at the foot of the tower. It appears that the Porteurs du Mort who arrived with Lya managed to reach the tower and are now starting their way up. We are not entirely sure whether they managed to spot us yet, so we make haste to get more distance between them and us.

Kasvarina casts a few spells to damage the path right behind us so the Porteurs and Lya will be hindered should they up get to this point. As we expect more visions that may halt our progress, we agree that this is a sound plan and so Carlyle sprinkles some alchemical oil onto the steps as well.

Then an earthquake strikes the whole area again and we see Borne taking a step over the river, causing him to ripple the barrier between Dreaming and Waking, and also rendering him tangible from the Waking. The Danorans are quickly to react to this change as their giant war machine begins firing at the Colossus.

We know that we won't have too much time till either Borne or the Porteurs reach our current position, so we rush further upstairs. Meanwhile, we try our best to mentally talk about the two visions and wrap our heads about what we just witnessed as Gabriel expands his telepathic power onto Kasvarina and Auryn. Auryn and Gabriel agree that Ethelyn's vision and the Obscurati's original plans for dealing with the royal obstacle are directly connected as she heard about the king being made a puppet. We believe that maybe Nicodemus even planned on abducting and possessing Aodhan, but Kasvarina doesn't know enough about this plan to actually confirm it.

And then we point to the elephant in the room: Kasvarina being very obviously fine with killing a lot of innocent people, and even invading a foreign, peaceful nation for their plan.

“I wonder when your old you stopped viewing people as people and started seeing them as mere obstacles instead...” Auryn wonders with a sad undertone in her thoughts.

Kasvaina appears to be honestly unhappy about her past self and her and Nicodemus' exchanges. Going back to Risur, we ask her why no Obs officer ever thought about actually trying to talk to a Risuri king or Queen. After all, at least Aodhan is a pretty open and unconventional monarch who generally only has the best interests for his people in mind. Kasvarina can only guess from what she has seen and felt so far that the upper ranks were too much afraid to have a Risuri monarch rejecting their ideas. And having a knowledgeable opponent would have obstructed their plans too much. This much Gabriel and Auryn can understand, but this doesn't explain why they would have risked their plan getting spoiled by opening up to a Jierre. Kasvarina doesn't know about the reason for this either, but her gut tells her that both she and Nicodemus thought that Han Jierre and his family were trustworthy.

While we continue upstairs, the next ghost of our past emerges to haunt us yet again. This time, it is Elanor Yanette who screams at us, trying to curse us before falling to her doom. A few steps further we also see Boone who gets turn to shreds. Gabriel fixates this one with disdain and he doesn't hide the fact that he's actually glad to have Boone out of this world.

“These two got what they've earned... ” he whispers.

“A murderer and a slaver”, Auryn explains briefly without going too much into detail.

It doesn't take us much longer to come to the next opening in the tower's structure and to have the Arc show Kasvarina another one of her lost memories. The trio meets again, but this time, it is not Han Jierre but another Jierre sovereign with Nicodemus (in another host) and Kasvarina. The Jierre apologizes that the third Yerasol war wasn't enough to convince Risur that it would need to invest in technological progress as their magic was just too strong. Nicodemus and Kasvarina asren't too happy about the way the war turned out, as they seriously need a basis to build their Colossus and Witch Hill would be just the prefect place. But getting all the needed tech to Risur without having them actually invest and build technology on their own would be far too difficult.

Nicodemus brushes the trouble off in the end as he has yet another ace up his sleeve: Some allies and friends in the Risuri government who could pull a few strings here and there if they are given the right opportunity. So he asks Jierre to have his newly built steam vessel get captured by the Risuri navy so the Risuri are easier to impress by seeing the tech upfront. Of course, Jierre isn't too happy at the prospect of factually betraying his own nation and losing a good investment, but he agrees in the end.

The vision ends and we are very much surprised to see that the great coup that earned King Aodhan and Duchess Ethelyn gain their notoriety and position was actually just another Obscurati plan. We're also worried about Nicodemus' friends in our government as this cannot possibly mean Katharina Romana, who wouldn't have been born at that time. But whoever that might have been, he or she would likely be dead by now. Still, we get the feeling that Romana wasn't the end of Obscurati in positions of power.

We continue upstairs and see Borne approaching slowly but steadily. Lya and the Porteurs are also on their way up, but are heavily hindered by our obstacles, just as we hoped. So we sabotage the tower even more and continue.

The next vision strikes us soon thereafter. This time, Kasvarina reports that she managed to find the ziggurat of air on a floating island in the realm of a dragon tyrant. She then tried to conduct the planned ritual, but something must have gone horribly wrong when she tried to relocate the portal behind the golden seal. Her magic backfired in a huge magical explosion and then all flight magic failed after just a few minutes. She is glad to make it out alive, but this turn of events meant that the (still floating) island and its ziggurat are now out of reach. In conclusion, the ritual was faulty. Nicodemus doesn't see fault in his plans however and curses Kasvarina for her failure.

And now we realize that we just found out the truth about the fall of the Dragons. We don't see it as too much of a catastrophe as this helped the oppressed tribes of Ber to defeat their former tyrants and form a nation of their own. Auryn and Gabriel secretly agree to never ever tell Gradiax this truth even if he appears to have settled with his new life.

After the vision has ended and we're on the run again, another ghost appears in front of our eyes. This time, the figure looks like a mechanized version of Kell. The moment the ghost sees us, he draws his weapon and tries to dismember Carlyle. Who instead blasts the spirit with a strong force evocation.

Well, now we at least know what happened to Lorcan Kell and can be sure that he won't come back anytime soon. Another good riddance.

(I guess this is the second-most underwhelming death of a notorious NPC in our campaign. Number one is not too far away as well. Stay tuned. But hey, not all baddies need to go off with a bang or be killed actively by the PCs ;) )

As we are at quite the altitude now, we begin to wonder how high this tower might end up once it is finished constructing itself. Still we go on and are drawn into yet another memory of Kasvarina. She turns pale and stoic while Nicodemus tries to comfort her. We get that this must have happened shortly after the death of Launga as Nicodemus states that he would have tried to protect and save Launga had be been there, by her side. Kasvarina stays cold and shows no sign of emotion, even though we realize that she's doing her best to suppress her pain. She says that she doesn't need empathy as she left grief behind long ago. All that is left is her focus on their mission. Nicodemus seems to be satisfied as he explains in detail all he has learned about Skyseer magic and their knowledge of the planes. Knowledge that led him to believe that they could manipulate the planes themselves.

“That dirtbag of a man! How could he so sleazily try to crawl back into your life after he just caused Launga's death!”. Auryn spits out, holding back her disgust no more. She then points out that her great-grandmother was most likely “sacrificed” by Nicodemus because he was sour that Kasvarina didn't want to hear his “grand planar ideas” when he met her in Ushanti and tried to enthusiastically get her on board again.

Kasvarina stays silent for the moment though as there is too much to unpack here and she needs to process getting back so many memories in such a high frequency.

“Life means nothing to him. He lost all humanity likely a long time ago”, Gabriel comments silenty.

(Before you wonder whether the PCs will talk more about Nic: Soon. There is a lot to unpack and the two do some heavy dissection based on how Nic acted towards Kasvarina and the Jierres.

Also, this must have been a really exhausting walk up the stairs for the Obs and the Hierarchs who used the Lance of Triegenes before them. So I'll just leave this random bit of funny gameplay here which reminded me of the Spire and vice versa :D

And they had only 60 floors... )
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
I imagine the hierarchs had a local teleportation pad, but that the young servants got some really fine leg muscles.
Never skipping leg day, eh? ;)

Truth

We continue on our ascent and manage to gain a bit of distance to our pursuers. Problem is that Borne is still advancing steadily and we're not really sure what the Colossus might do once he reaches the tower. But it doesn't take too much time for the next memory event to unravel at the next indoor platform.

This time we see Nicodemus and Kasvarina and what must be one of the first, if not the first Jierre to rule Danor. We get the impression that this is a very early memory, but all of the attendants are in fairly distraught situations. Most stressed is Jierre who is very upset about the fact that he has to build his new nation of Danor in a place void of magic. He talks about a pocks epidemic that would be easily curable had they just access to divine, clerical magic, like before in the times of grand Crisillyir. This is why many of his new citizens try to flee to places like Drakr and what is still left of Crisillyir. Nicodemus thinks about the troubles of Jierre for a bit and then asks Kasvarina to send Balu to Drakr to kill the local healers and clerics so no one will be able to provide better health care than Danor, including the fleeing Danorans. Meanwhile, he will create more monsters in the Malice Lands so the Danorans won't be able to flee east as well. The only one who appears to have a heart in this messed up situation is actually Jierre, who curses Nicodemus for his utilitarianism as he'd rather be able to help his people than to imprison them.

The vision ends and we are even more shocked by this ruthless behavior of Nicodemus, especially as this is a rather old memory which must have happened shortly after Miller's transformation. Seeing him exert oppression and terror over what might have been innocent and terrified people, Jierre's own people on top of that, all for the sake of keeping the population in one place is just the icing on an already cruel cake.

“You were right, Gabriel.”, Auryn says, “Life doesn't matter to him. People don't matter to him. He would walk over all the bodies in this world if that was the only way to reach his aim.”

“I... I remember now. He called it 'his burden' that he had to bear. He didn't enjoy seeing people suffer, but felt that this was the only way, the only choice”, Kasvarina explains.

“Oh how grand and noble.”, Auryn responds sarcastically. “Thinking about the sheer audacity, the hypocrisy to call using your people, your allies and confidants as mere tools a 'burden'. All while being the only one who can act completely without any risk because you are a spirit who can just take any host you like. It makes me sick.”

Gabriel agrees wholeheartedly. “And you should add in the fact that it might be likely Nicodemus who caused more war, death, destruction and suffering than any other person after the Malice. How many more have to die for the sake of a 'better world'? And would this world, could this world even be considered a 'better place' if it was bought at such a high price?”

(And here I just realize that, at this point, the Obs leadership was sitting right in a return-of-investment trap...)

We also add the point that while even a few centuries of deprivation and suffering might be a fair price to pay for a paradise to be formed if you are either long lived (Kasvarina) or immortal (Nicodemus), these centuries will translate to many lifetimes of regular mortals who will never live to see that paradise. Especially if they had no say in this plan. Gabriel mentions that this is why he prefers the system of Risuri leadership, as the powers of a monarch are given by the Risuri people and not taken by force.

While we continue walking upstairs, we turn to Kasvarina who appears to be confronted by seeing the logic behind her past deeds without wanting to embrace them again, especially as she is now fully aware of Nicodemus' true colors. We talk a bit about Kasvarina's own relationship with Nicodemus, and how he had manipulated even her, who had been his first ally from the start. We share our impression that Nicodemus, or more likely Miller, might have loved her in his own, strange way. But that he also was very susceptible to jealousy whenever he wasn't the focus of her actions. All in all he only showed affection to her when she submitted herself fully to the Obs', his, cause. Which would be a sign of him wanting total control over her will and aims, even going to extreme methods to bring her back in track.

“I've never thought about it that way...” Kasvarina sighs with a certain sadness in her voice. “A part of me now still, or rather again, has fond memories of Miller. But now I see through his constructed reality, his puppet-play.”

“Don't feel ashamed, Kas.” Auryn says while grabbing Kasvarina's hand to comfort her. “I know he can be charming and oh, so convincing.

(Dare I say that we just diagnosed Nicodemus as a highly intelligent macchiavellist? He also got a few other Dark Triad checkpoints due to his “not having to fear consequences” ;)

But yeah, for us, the last bit of Miller's true humanity died on that Pyre in Pala)


In reaction to our view on Nicodemus, Kasvarina reflects on her own manipulations and now, in hindsight, regrets having used all her husbands after Pillai as mere tools as well. She talks about Asrabey who has only shown her total loyalty and whom she had treated coldly. She opens up a bit and shares that she released Asrabey from his oaths during their picnic in Flint. She had thanked him for his support, but didn't want to abuse him any further, especially as she didn't know where her path might lead her to. She also admired his loyalty and faithfulness and admitted having had feelings for him in the past.

We return that we fully understand her decision and suggest to make up her own feelings once she is being whole again.

(and now we know why Asrabey stayed behind after meeting Balu in Drakr. Seeing his predecessor was enough to give him the need to think about his own path.)

After what feels like an eternity, we see that the tower does have an end. We reach the top shortly after, just when Borne has arrived at the foot of the tower. Another memory forms and Kasvarina enters a room decorated with an amethyst and a topaz. And we see another meeting of the Obscurati triad, but we see that this must have been the very first time these three came together in that fashion. Jierre is wary about his transformation, and Nicodamus and Kasvarina thank the Tiefling for his strong courage “last time”. Together they forge their covenant and vow to withstand the corrupting influence of the fanatical Clergy. They also swear to be always faithful and honest to each other. As proof for this vow, Nicodemus puts forth three rings made of stone. He explains that these can be used to locate each other and get a clear vision of what the other ring-bearers are doing right now. To use this power, one only needs to use “In Methia, in the Lance of Triegenes, we were forged in secrecy”. Then they swear to stand together against the oppressors and to forge a new nation in the place now known as Danor.

“So much for Nicodemus' vows of honesty and loyalty...”, Gabriel remarks, but the vision is succeeded by another one before anyone can react.

Kasvarina is now fully entranced and pulled toward the uppermost platform of the Spire while we see that Borne is on the verge of climbing the tower. The crown resonates heavily while being still placed on Kasvarina's head and it takes a while for the artifacts' magic to engulf the whole tower and then finally all of Methia.

We follow Kasvarina quickly only to see her and Miller being chained to the platform by guards of the Clergy. We also see a holy warrior of the Clergy and several materials that would be needed to perform the Ritual of Apotheosis, so we get the impression that the plans of Kasvarina and Nicodemus seem to work just as planned: Hierarch Silvestri, who appears to be the leader of the Clergy at that time, seems to be fixated on summoning a god of war. But before he conducts the ritual, he turns to his two prisoners and congratulates both of them for being official traitors now while he will soon eradicate all of his enemies. He then orders his guards to torture Kasvarina and Miller and we stealthily heal up Kasvarina before her wounds turn too brutal.

Then it appears as if he's actually starting with the ritual. But he doesn't involve the holy warrior at all. Instead, he turns to Kasvarina and tells her that he is fully aware that the two of them tried to trick him into performing the ritual. He orders to bring another prisoner, and we see that it is no one else but Dala. Kasvarina despairs the moment she sees her daughter who appears to have been tortured as well. She cries out to her, but the guards drag her to the ritual circle and prepare her for the Ritual of Apotheosis instead. One Clergy wizard dominates Dala while the other acolytes finish the final runes for the ritual. Then they take Kasvarina's blood and use it to transform Dala into Srasama and push her through the portal leading to Alais Primos. We can see her growing massive in size behind the portal while Silvestri forces Miller and Kasvarina to watch. The Hierarch casually reminds Kasvarina that all of his warriors know her name.

Meanwhile, Miller tries to call out to the other Clergymen present and to our surprise, one of them takes a dagger and tries to stab Silvestri, who is warded by spells. He looks much like the human version of the first Jierre we saw. An open fight breaks out, while the Clergy is fighting Srasama at the other side of the portal. And in the moment Srasama dies and all the world is echoing with the screams of thousands of women screaming with her.

This causes enough distraction so Kasvarina and Miller can get up and tackle Silvestri who nearly falls over the balcony, but manages to cling onto Kasvarina. Miller seizes the opportunity and jumps through the portal, but in that very same moment the magical backlash of Srasama's death comes clashing through the portal and erases all trace of Miller.

The same moment, Nicodemus, still inhabiting Andrei's body, arrives at the scene and pulls Kasvarina back up onto the platform, casually lifting Silvestri along. Silvestri and all of the present humans are suddenly transforming into Tieflings due to Srasama's dying curse. Kasvarina uses this moment to decapitate Silvestri before she snaps out of the vision to turn to Nicodemus.

(That guy was one massive sadist and got what he deserved. Good riddance. Rarely hated an NPC so much. Almost called the chapter "Death of the biggest jerk in ZG history")

Kasvarina understands that this Nicodemus is current-day Nicodemus, so she feigns switching to his side again. But when she comes close enough, she grabs Nicodemus and signals Auryn and Gabriel to go get him.

(Can we just admit that this move is very, very brave considering the fact that Kasvarina knows about Andrei's super strength?)


Both of the duo unleash a barrage of blows against Nicodemus while confronting him with their own thoughts. Gabriel promises that he will take three things from Nicodemus: Firstly, the body of his dear friend Andrei, secondly, his centuries-old, people-trampling grand plan, and thirdly the divinity of Srasama that keeps his spirit alive.

Auryn declares that she won't let Nicodemus harm either Kasvarina or another member of her family ever again.

Despite Andrei's regeneration, we manage to knock Nicodemus out quite quickly. As soon as he's unconscious, we use only a bit of fire magic to prevent his body from regenerating. But by reoving the interference from the memory, Kasvarina also gets caught up in the Arc's magic again and jumps right through the portal where she ends in a circle of six blazing embers. The portal closes the same moment, and we see Nicodemus' spirit leaving Andrei's body.

“Nicodemus... I know that once there was goodness in you. Don't you see that you have strayed too far from your path? That you became just like the Clergy you rightfully condemned? Do you really see those who cared for you as mere tools? Do you really not care for all the suffering you cause?”, Auryn tries to plea with the weakened spirit.

“You have seen and felt the atrocities of the Clergy firsthand. And still you chose to cause even more suffering, war and death over the last centuries than any of them. Is war really the right path to achieve peace? There must have been, and there surely still are, alternatives to your methods”, Carlyle adds.

Nicodemus stays silent for a moment. As he starts burning, he finally makes a stubborn statement of his own: “Many adversaries have killed me countless times. But none were able to stop me. Believe me, there is only this way to open the eyes of the world to our bright future. I am the essence of this plan, this idea, and you cannot kill an idea.”

“You are right. But one doesn't have to kill an idea, only to not follow it. This world doesn't need your plan, your path or your idea if this inevitably means forsaking the meaning and worth of peoples' lives in the process. I know what you originally wanted, and this is a noble aim. And I promise to not stray from this path, to not let go of the belief that we can forge a better future for all of us as this is what Vekesh taught us.”, she returns.

“Foolish Eladrin! Your kind has been destined to die a long time ago and maybe it is about time you go extinct.”

“I will never let that happen. Remember my promises, Nicodemus...” Gabriel adds with a firm voice while the last bit of Nicodemus' presence turns to insubstantial ash.

(just adding another musical cover from a series that played that losing and regaining magical memories card really hard, which also (the music, not the series) covers the themes of our campaign quite well Hear our Prayer from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles
Yes, the series is even stranger than most manga/anime. CLAMP are masters of derailing themes and past stories on purpose)
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
Epilogue: Tower going Tarot

The next thing we sense is the tower shaking violently and we don't know whether Kasvarina's disappearance through the portal or Borne climbing up the structure would be the reason for it. All er know is that the situation is turning more and more dire by the second. Gabriel collects Andrei's body to bring him to safety while Auryn uses a spell to look like Kasvarina so Borne might be soothed.

It doesn't take much longer and the gigantic face of the Colossus appears on the edge of the platform. We rush towards the portals while Borne looks at Auryn and says “serve without regret” (that doesn't fully translate... in German he said “Ohne Bedauern dienen”, as if reading the inscription on an OB ring)

We reactivate the portal and jump right through it, hoping to find Kasvarina at the other side. The moment we enter the portal though, we see the whole tower collapse and the portal closes.

(And this, my friends, is the cause of the most underwhelming death of an NPC in Zeitgeist, just as promised. Hope you know the person I'm talking about. It will come up again later in the most ridiculous way possible and we kind of regret not taking a bit more time to climb the tower. Things would have gotten really interesting ;)

Also, this ends adventure 8 though the session not yet over. It was really a long ride. And while it felt like a big history lesson at some points, we really had the opportunity to give it a personal touch due to our connection to Kasvarina. We enjoyed the inclusion of Asrabey though Carlyle doesn't hold much love for the Dreadnaught. Even if this meant we didn't recruit Balu. The arc surely allowed both our characters to come more to term with their roles in the larger play, with Auryn reflecting on her agenda and desire to help shape new Elfaivar and Carlyle being able to reflect on Srasama's true fate and nature after seeing so much of Elfaivar. The Bonds of Forced Faith mini-adventure also had a lot of foreshadowing in that regard.

I hope that our in-character dissection of Miller/Nicodemus did not miss the mark and that him being shades of grey from the beginning was intended. I'd love to hear your own take on him and his personality some day, especially regarding his relationship to Kasvarina.

We felt that the "Mental Stability" subsystem was a bit clunky, as it was pretty random at the beginning but once you reached a certain point of stability, is all went smoothly (but maybe that meta-game aspect was the totally intentional?). We unknowingly included so many safe, familial memories at the beginning that Kas' stability never was in any way really threatened.

This adventure also marks the very first appearance of Carlyle's long-term goal as a deva and we will see more in that regard in the upcoming plot line.

I am unfamiliar with this anime, but man, CLAMP. Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Magic Knight Rayearth. I feel like I'm in high school again.
Regarding CLAMP and Tsubasa: It follows their trend of taking a series with a set premise and turning it upside down somewhere in the middle of the plot. TRC starts as a crossover fantasy story in the Sakura/Clow Reed Universe with characters that resemble Sakura and Syaoran from CCS, who go on a dimension-traveling quest to regain Sakura's lost memories. But it turns dark. And they meet some other CLAMP characters along the way. The anime is a hot mess though, and only the manga makes sense in the end. It has a beautiful OST though :)

And Rayearth is one of my favorite series as well, with one of the most clever conclusions at the end.

Also, don't worry: I'm already working on the next part. Just wanted to finish this adventure properly)
 



Lylandra

Adventurer
After jumping through the portal, we fall quite uncomfortably onto a grassy underground. As we open our eyes, we see that Kasvarina is nowhere to be seen and that the atmosphere is...different. There appears to be turmoil around us and we're quite happy to see Andrei opening his eyes and asking us what had happened.

Before we can answer him, our landing place turns into an actual battlefield as several fey engage in open warfare. Utterly confused, we run to take cover as to not get hit by spells or artillery. By the cries of the combatants, we conclude that the opposing factions must be the Hedgehog Court and the Unseen Court, which also means that we're somehow managed to transition to the Dreaming. Which is bad news, as Asrabey needed enormous efforts to leave our mirror plane.

We rush through a wild mix of forest and clearings which resemble a chess field and dodge warriors of the Wild Hunt chasing fox riders throwing with mushroom bombs. We almost stumble across a scavenging fey, who introduces himself as Rambilion and who suggests that we better flee from this battlefield. We agree, and ask him for the nearest mushroom circle where we might try to cross to the Waking. But Klauswald, the caterpillar-fey who loves smoking herbs will surely know. So we let Rambilion guide us toward Klauswald's place.

As soon as we managed to get to relative safety, we take the time to try contact Kasvarina via sending. In our message, we tell her that we landed in the Dreaming but cannot find her, so we ask her for directions. However, the message doesn't make it to the sender. When the second attempt fails as well, we're pretty sure that Kasvarina didn't end up in the Dreaming, but most likely, the Waking. Still, was everything working as usual, the chances of having a trans-planar sending fail had been next to impossible. And in turn this magical anomaly would also mean that we'd have no chance of contacting our allies in Flint or Slate.

So we head straight to Klauswald and tell Andrei that Nicodemus had possessed and used his body for his own gain. Andrei is very much shocked, but he does remember that one time when he managed to protect his dear friends. He is more worried about Isobel than himself, and we assure him that everything is alright in Flint, especially as Flying Spark is still around.

Klauswald appears to be a large, weed-smoking caterpillar, just like Rambilion said. He is in the company of a few other fey, who have some sort of weird tea party and are busy watching the battle.

(I sense massive Alice in Wonderland inspirations here)

We are hailed by Mista Nyves, Klauswald's servant, an ettercap and we introduce ourselves as people from the Waking who got stranded in the Dreaming by accident. Klauswald is quite the hospitable fey, and so he offers Auryn an apple as a welcome gift. She is too polite to refuse the offer, takes one bite and is instantly struck with hallucinations. When she starts talking about the beautiful butterfly wings of Carlyle, he asks Andrei to make sure nothing strange happens to her while he's busy getting more information from the Fey.

Carlyle has a really tough time trying to wrap his head around Klauswald's ways of conversation, but he manages to gain some insight on what is happening in the Dreaming right now: Both the Unseen and the Hedgehog Courts are conducting their battles on the chessboard fields ever day, and these battles are properly scheduled. As for why the courts are now in an open war-like state, Klauswald suggests that the death of Rock Rackus will have likely something to do with it, as both Olazdor and Thisraldion, Lords of their respective Courts blame each other on being behind the Rock's premature demise.

(Dead? Really? This would be too good to be true in Carlyle's eyes)


When he asks the Fey about a way to the next faerie crossing, Klauswald mentions that all of those known to him ceased to work for some unknown reason. Oh, but at least Copperhat made it back to the Dreaming before the gates shut down.

These are not good news at all, so Carlyle decides to go to the Unseen Court to find more reliable sources of information, and maybe even someone who might know the location of a still-working portal to the Waking. As he doesn't know the directions, both Mista Nyves and Rambilion offer to give directions, but both for a price: Rambilion asks for a kiss of the “fair maiden” while Mista Kyves seems content with regular payment in gold. Needless to say that Carlyle goes for the gold.

And so Andrei carries applestuck Auryn while both he and Carlyle follow the Ettercap's directions. Turns our that Nyves is a pretty bad guide, and the whole group ends up falling into a water-filled ditch. Fortunately, Auryn recovers from the shock of being tossed into cold water, and we take the opportunity to talk about what Gabriel has learned so far. Auryn is as anxious as Gabriel about the prospect of being trapped in the Dreaming while Borne is running free in the Waking and Kasvarina is gods-know-where. But she remembers that we actually found something useful when we banished Nicodemus from Andrei's body: The Ring of the original Obscurati founders. So at least there might be one way of gaining information on what the Obs are up to.

We recite “In Methia, in the Lance of Triegenes, we were forged in secrecy” to gain an image on Han Jierre and are happy to see that the ring actually works. But what we do see is very shocking to say the least: It appears as Han Jierre is giving a rallying speech for his army, which he plans to send to war with Risur. He declares that Risur started this all with their uncalled invasion of Methia alongside the Colossus and the toppling of the Lance of Triegenes, where his dear niece Lya was killed in the collapse.

(See? I bet no one had Lya dying in the collapsing Lance of Triegenes in their campaign :D
Wonder if there was any group which had her come out of the campaign alive)


“So she didn't make it out this time. What a wasted potential.”, Gabriel comments with a heavy sigh.

“She could have come with us if we waited... but then again, it was her choice to follow us blindly to the top of a magically constructed tower”; Auryn adds.

“Anyway, this is really bad news. And I doubt that King Aodhan knows anything about these events, or Han Jierre's conclusion. We need to warn him immediately.”

(And just like you surely already guessed, this ring would be one of the most useful items regarding information on the Han's proceedings)

So we hurry to get back on track. To not be spied upon ourselves, we place the ring inside the Absurdist's web. But as night is falling already, Mista Nyves suggests that we'd better find a nice inn for the night. Fortunately, he does know about one nearby etablissement. We follow the ettercap and are surprised to find a cozy place made of sweets and sugary icing. Nyves prefers to sleep in the stables, but we agree rent two rooms for the night.

We're being served cat pastry for dinner, which Auryn refuses. Instead, being very unlike her usual self, she takes a break of the railing (which is made of gingerbread) and leaves the table early. Gabriel sees that his partner is still very much in turmoil over the last memories of Kasvarina and the threat of war with Danor doesn't make the situation any better.

Still he stays a while and listens to the chatter at the other tables while trying to have a normal conversation with Andrei. He then dares to join some of the other guests, but has to deal with absurdities like being served a guppy in a bucket full of water. He does manage to get some more random information, like were-humans living nearby or that someone set a huge reward for the person to bring back Rock Rackus' famous golden pistol. Some fey talks about Beshela being a nasty sea witch again as she tore her own prophet in two, which led to the poor woman crawling around bleeding in Clover. Gabriel is honestly surprised that someone might suffer that fate and manages to live on. Also, there is the rumor that a couple illusory eggs got stolen with the help of a hypnotizing serpent. But how would someone steal an illusion anyway?

Then the rumors turn spicier, as the fey also discuss poor Rock's fate. There appears to be a consensus that Rock did indeed have a romance with Thisraldion. Meanwhile, he also had several conversations with Olazdor, so that the guests are torn on their opinions about the real murderer of the famous singer.

Carlyle has heard enough Rock news for one day and so he finally returns to Auryn, who is sitting on their bed in silence while halfheartedly chewing on the gingerbread railing. She apologizes for leaving early, but she couldn't just push her grief and turmoil about Hierarch Silvestri's crimes aside. Up till now she had always thought that Srasama's death had been a tragedy, but now she knows that it was planned genocide. Even if she is fully aware that the most important task would be to return home as fast as possible, report to Delft and King Aodhan, and warn them from the impeding attack of the Danorans.

“I feel the same, even if it doesn't look that way. But I forcefully pushed aside everything regarding Kasvarina's last memory to bury that part for now.”, Gabriel admits silently.

“And I must confess that, for one moment, I seriously considered jumping through that portal when she died. Just so I could take in more of the goddess' essence.”

“Really? It could have lead to your death, or worse, a fate like Miller's”, Auryn interjects.

“I know. Which is why I tamed that urge. But now that I can think more clearly, I understand our connection even better. See, if Dala was the one to become Srasama, and Dala was the daughter of Kasvarina, then I truly became a part of your family the moment I left my mortality behind.”

Auryn smiles slightly, but still honestly in response.

“You have been part of my family for quite a while now.”, she adds.

Knowing that he managed to drag Auryn out of her hole to some degree, Gabriel agrees to what she had said when they were all still climbing the Lance of Triegenes: That he, too, believes that Miller only loved Kasvarina for as long as she was available and open for him and his plans. And that this was no foundation for true love although he might have romantically thought he'd loved and admired her.

Auryn agrees that Miller must have harbored and grown a pretty distorted image of himself for a while now as he also believes to be a burdened martyr who has to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. And while she knows exactly how that might feel, she also adds that one must never lose the compassion for those inhabitants of the world you like to protect or improve. Also, by not bearing any risk for his plans due to his in incorporeality, he might have simply forgotten how it feels to be alive. To live a life. To be fragile.

Concluding these thoughts, she promises to be fully operational the next day as she, too, will manage to reschedule the topic of Srasama's death to a quieter time.

(There you have it, the roots of Carlyle's new arc are growing strong. And who would have thought that he'd be such a good and efficient emotional support? Also, a bit of an encore on psychoanalyzing Nic ;) )
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Session 54
An alluring dragon


We go to sleep early. But when Carlyle wakes up after his regular two hours of sleep, he is suddenly grabbed by a shadowy arm and disappears.

(He's still wearing that ring of sustenance he got from the Vantrys family all the time)


He does manage to exhale a quick cry of surprise, which in turn also alerts Auryn. She is very alarmed that her partner is nowhere to be seen and starts looking for him immediately. Then, a shadowy figure ambushes her from behind and stabs her side with an equally shadowy dagger.

(see? There is definitely a pattern with stabbing Auryn)


The shadow assassin manages to land a precise hit right through Auryn's ribs, leaving her seriously injured and bleeding. Fortunately, she is able to swiftly grab her own weapon and illuminate the room with a quick command word that makes her rapier shine brightly. This helps her parry the shadow's attacks more easily and also enables her to finally spot Gabriel.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Carlyle found himself underneath a fairly enlarged bed wrestling with a gingerbread golem. As soon as he realized that it is actually he who got shrunk, he teleports out of the golem's grab to get a better view on his surroundings. This very moment, the room is illuminated and he sees a giant Auryn in combat with a similarly gigantic shadow.

“Down here!”, he tells her telepathically.

The golem is still keen on combating Gabriel, but being actually gingerbread-sized, he is no match for Auryn who picks up the creature and breaks it in half with ease. This breaks the spell on Gabriel who returns to his regular size. The assassin is not as easily defeated though and he mercilessly utilizes the fact that Auryn focused some of her attention on the gingerbread-golem and not her original adversary. Another quick stab leaves another deep wound that nearly sends her to her knees.

“He is locked on me, but I cannot do this much longer...” she telepathically returns, entering a full defensive stance. Now it is Gabriel who returns the favor as he teleports straight behind the shadow and unleashes a barrage of blows on the creature. Auryn resorts to riposting the incoming attacks and so they finally manage to slay the shadow assassin who transforms into an old doll after being defeated.

Now Gabriel is very much alarmed as there could be more deadly surprises waiting for us in this inn. He first tends to Auryns wounds and then casts a spell of truesight to spot possible threats. He doesn't find any, but is very much baffled to see that the whole building is in quite a miserable state. Everything is made from rotting wood and even Auryn's gingerbread railing turns out to be made from moldy planks. He keeps his posture, simply raises his eyebrows and collects a bucket, which he places in front of his partner.

“What's this for?”, she asks curiously.

“You'll understand when you see what I am seeing with your own eyes.”, he replies dryly.

Then Auryn casts the spell herself, sees the railing and feels sick immediately.

“That is what that bucket is for. No need to get even more messy.”, he states while Auryn vomits all of the rotten wood she had eaten previously.

We then go looking for Anrdrei and find him sleeping peacefully as no one has tried to attack him yet. We wake him up and tell him what had happened to us. All three agree that this is no safe place to spend the rest of the night, so we pack our stuff and leave immediately. Lastly, we visit the stables to pick up Mista Nyves.

Reasonably unhappy with the proposed inn, we ask Nyves to lead us to a more safe resting place, but he doesn't know any. So Auryn uses a lay of the land spell to scout the area.

(Tiz gave her the ability to use lower-level druid spells due to her connection to the Dreaming)

She finds a cave on the top of a nearby hill and we agree to move there to get some sleep. When we arrive at the hill, we are quite surprised to see that someone must have planted some sort of garden there. So we assume that the cave could be inhabited. The cave smells of citric acid, so Carlyle cautiously sneaks out to look for occupants. And our suspicions are soon confirmed as he sees a sleeping, feathered dragon.

We haven't heard of any such creature yet, but as we know dragons to be intelligent creatures, both Gabriel and Auryn agree to have Auryn proceed slowly and call out to the dragon as she would be seen as the most natural inhabitant of the Dreaming. Said dragon turns out to be no tyrant, but a rather friendly female joy-dragon called Aluriel. She explains that she watches over the area, making sure there are no evil Fey roaming the area. Auryn tells her that we were attacked by dark creatures in a nearby inn and are only looking for a safe place to sleep. Aluriel can sense no ill intention in Auryn, and so she agrees to help us out.

One by one, Gabriel, Andrei and Mista Nyves come closer and introduce themselves to the joy dragon. Aluriel agrees to let them all sleep in her cave this night, and she transforms into a scantily-clad elvish looking woman for easier conversations. Before we go to sleep, we tell her that we urgently need to go to the Unseen Court as soon as possible because the Dreaming could be in great danger.

After Auryn and Andrei have fallen asleep (he doesn't really care about Mista Nyves), Carlyle keeps watch, as one a late-night surprise would be very much enough for him and the team. Aluriel notices his anxiety and talks to him about the issues that are bothering her. She talks about dark shadows cast into the Dreaming by Waking technology and the Fey going mad hearing the noise of the grinding gears. In this regard, she seems to be more on the Hegehog Court's side, even if she states that she doesn't want to take sides. Carlyle explains to her that if we don't make it back to our world in time, these shadows would be a relatively small problem compared to the imminent catastrophe. After all, the Danorans have a lot more technology than the Risuri and the Obs are literally playing around with the planar configuration, which could shatter the Dreaming...

The next morning we release Nyves from his contract and give him a decent salary (though he factually wasn't of much help). After that, we ask Aluriel about a reliable way to leave the Dreaming, since this would be the most direct way to prevent a catastrophe. She tells us about a nearby portal in the werehumans' thicket that she knows will open soon. Other than that, she also knows that the Court and Clover are only a few miles from here, so we could also possibly get more help there.

“Unfortunately, the portal my mother used to visit my father has long been shut off.”, Aluriel says with a growling sigh.

“Visit? Your father was a dragon of the Waking?”

“A majestic, but ever-curious wyrm called Gradiax. She always talked fondly of him. But I fear that he is long dead, at least from what I've heard about the fate of the dragons of the Waking.”

Auryn's eyes open wide in response, but she tries to not give any more hints at a possible connection to said dragon.

“I see. But to put things into perspective, the Fall of Dragons was caused by people trying to manipulate the planar configuration. And not all dragons died in the aftermath. In fact, I have a faerie dragon living in my backyard.”

Aluriel laughs at the thought of a “gardening dragon”, and she seems to understand that helping us out would be in her best interest, too.

(When I read the Adventures in ZG book I was honestly surprised to see that dragons in the Dreaming are actually a canon thing. Tiz thought it would be cool to have some of them enter the Dreaming, just like Eladrin, and turn more fey-like in the process. And yep, another damn sweet secret that could be useful someday.)

We use the quiet morning preparations to spy on Han Jierre one more time, who commemorates the fallen and Lya Jierre in particular as he is standing in front of an iron plaque. After that, we try to contact Old Stag through our shared connection to Srasama and send him images of an attack on Flint and Shale symbolically led by Han Jierre. We then receive images of a bombardment of Elba in response and get the impression that he is on his way with a fleet to put an end to the attack.

We're a bit confused as Han Jierre would certainly not have the capacity to muster and command a fleet all the way to Elba in a single day, but we have no choice but to trust our information.

Aluriel offers to take us to the werehumans' thicket, which we gratefully accept. Unfortunately, it turns out that the portal is indeed inactive. The aggressive werehumans confirm to us that it has been this way for quite a while now as their mother is on the other side of the portal. So we return to Aluriel and explain that there probably won't be any transition anymore and ask her to give us a lift towards Clover.

Aluriel drops us off a few miles from the capital, as she doesn't have a particularly good relationship with the Unseen Court. But we can easily follow the road and learn that there is a big rush for the Rock Rackus memorial concert. We avoid the path over the bridge (and the expected bridge troll) and walk past a "contaminated spot" where we assume the location of a windmill in the Waking.

(we, too, were baffled by this strong influence as a windmill isn't actually modern technology. We assumed it would be turning gears that are somehow toxic to the Fey, but that would indeed lead to insurmountable problems even with the most basic of technologies, like spinning wheels or archimedic screws.)
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
Somehow, my notification didn't pop up that someone replied to my thread. Strange.

Thanks for the question! Our game has long finished, though I still plan to write the entire story. Covid struck my then-group hard (we had a lockdown and stopped meeting), then I found another one, switched to online until we all got too busy with work and uni. I still hope we'll get together again, as I really wanted to DM yet another round of WotBS with some story-tweaks to keep it interesting for me.

Regarding my recaps... the husband and I are currently in the process of building a house (or rather: have it be built while simultaneously learning a lot about building tech, the physical backgrounds like how to be energetically as independent as possible (saying FU to the big bad P) and all the procedural requirements), so I really need to find some time to write it all down ;)
 

I commend you for taking active efforts to reduce the leverage militant tyrants have over civilization. Stay warm this winter, and hopefully things will be stable enough for us both to get a lot of writing done.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Tour de Court

When we finally arrive in Clover, we don't waste too much time and ask for directions to the Unseen Court immediately. They Fey are actually helpful and guide us to a hill with a small grove. The path takes us to the Well of Drought and we see quite a few citizens who use this special place to sober up. We also notice that quite a lot of Cloverians appear to know us once we tell them that we are from the RHC of the Waking. It appears as if Rock has been talking quite a bit about us and the “Royal Homeland Congratulary”, which explains why several fey congratulate us randomly.

(that guy!)

Once we get to the palace, we present our request to the guards and are being let in. Binnivich, a Brownie, who is also the Court's Master of Ceremonies, we meet Azla of the Ice, one of the Fey-Ladies of the Unseen. She is pretty quiet and distant, but asks us to follow her. We try to explain our urgent need to return to the Waking as both our world and the Dreaming might be in imminent danger. And while we understand that there is tension between the two courts, there might be issues that go beyond that.

Azla doesn't really respond to our pleas, but she appears to be listening carefully and patiently. Once we pass by Karest “the Fire”, she leaves our company all of a sudden. Karest is quite the flirt and more than obviously interested in Azla, but she isn't into him at all. So we assume that Azla took the opportunity to have us deal with Karest while she is off the hook for now. Karest on the other hand doesn't mind too much and asks us all about the state of the battles. We tell him the little bits we know, but stress out that this is not our main field of interest.

Then he realizes that Auryn is an Eladrin and asks her where the “grand warrior Asrabey” might be hiding as he hasn't seen much of him lately. We explain that he will most likely be stranded in the Waking, unable to return to the Court. Just like us, who desperately need to return to our world. We stress out that those guys who shut down all our known portals are scheming to do much worse. Karest nods to all of our exposition, but we are not really sure whether he understood any of said consequences. During our chat with the Fey Lord, we also realize that he wasn't really fond of Rock Rackus, which makes Auryn jokingly question whether Asrabey and Rock would have formed a good team. Gabriel rolls his eyes as neither of the two are among his favorite company.

While we are still busy talking to “the Fire”, a smaller Fey Lord called Furg joins our small group. Furg is a bit smelly and appears to be home to several frogs and toads. He is curious though and gives us a rather large tome as a welcome gift. We thank Furg for his kindness. When looking at the book however, our eyes go wide as this tome is actually the original Book of Kelland – a relic that would be a national treasure for any Risuri. We carefully store the book in one of our magical backpacks and agree to read all of Kelland's stories once we got a bit time to spare.

(this came out of nowhere and had both of us baffled... just giving us the book without any kind of quest or so. It was quite a nice way of giving us more background information on Kelland and his family.)

Last but not least, we a greeted by a completely invisible person trailed by flowers growing in her footsteps. We assume that she, who goes by the name of Salinn and calls herself a dryad, must be completely “naked” as the flowers and her voice are the only indicators of her presence. Salinn is curious about our presence, but also makes it very clear that she abhors violence and the ongoing conflict between the two courts. Being a healer, this stance comes very natural for her. When she accuses us of being just two more warriors that either side would likely wish to conscript for their course, we reply that we don't wish to participate in any war as we just need to go home as quickly as possible. Auryn uses her enchanted boots to conjure a flower that she gives to Salinn as a gift and says she does hope though that the conflict will end soon and as peacefully as possible.

Salinn nods and appears to be satisfied with her impression. She leads the three of us to the oval throne room, where Thisraldion is already waiting for us. It is then that we realize that the fey lords and ladies had been walking circles with us as they enter the throne room one by one and take their seats next to Thisraldion. Still one seat remains empty: The one which originally belonged to Ekossigan. Thisraldion welcomes the agents of the RHC and their unknown friend (Andrei) to the Unseen Court and we are quite surprised to see the the leader of the Unseen knows so much about us. Also, we realize that Thisraldion is quite the master of appearances, as Auryn sees him as a man, while Carlyle sees her as a woman.

Thisraldion then asks us why we have come to the Court and the Dreaming, and we tell them that this was no voluntary journey, but rather a magical accident that brought us here. We also mention that, since all known portals to the Waking have ceased functioning, we had hoped that maybe one of the Lords or Ladies might have means to open a bridge. After all, we saw that King Aodhan was able to open up a portal to the Dreaming due to his pact with the fey, so maybe someone might be powerful enough for the reverse direction?

Thisraldion seems to understand our request, but interrupts the whole explanation and plea every now and then with reciting poems and inviting us for dinner, but we try to stay as persistent as politely possible as time is running short.

Thisraldion on the other hand laments the tragic death of beloved Rock Rackus, and that his murder was the spark that ignited the already smoldering conflict with the Hedgehog Court to a fully burning war. So to bring justice to both the Court and the late Rock, it would be of utmost importance to find the traitors and drag them to court.

“Lord Thisraldion, we, too, feel the loss of Rock Rackus, as he was our friend...” Auryn starts to explain, as Carlyle sighs silently at that name, “...but we do have to stress out that there will be much more tragedy for both our worlds if we close our eyes to the more dangerous threats looming ahead.”

“And before you dismiss our warning as strange Waking priorities, we would like to remind you that we do take matters of the Court very seriously and consider the Unseen as Risur's closest allys”, Carlyle adds while pointing at Ekossigan's empty seat.

While we then remind Thisraldion that we took care of the murderous renegade Fey Lord despite being on another mission of King Aodhan at the time. Still, Ekossigan most likely went rogue as he saw the truth in his many visions. The truth about the Colossus emerging from Cauldron Hill, the very same Colossus that trampled through the Dreaming not so long ago.

(yeah wasn't Borne some gigantic machine? He must have left a scene of massive destruction in the Dreaming...)


Ekossigan tried to warn all of us, we explain, but back then we couldn't understand him and he didn't wish to be reasoned with. We then tell Thisraldion and the Court about the fact that the people who secretly constructed the Colossus and betrayed us all have managed to infiltrate the Danoran government many centuries ago, and that these people are currently planning on invading Risur.

“And may I remind you that the Danorans don't have magic? They instead use machines and gunpowder for their warfare. Maybe Asrabey has told you tales about the Yerasol wars and the battles of Risur and Danor, and the giant war machines of the Danorans? This would be just like Yerasol, but with more machines and on Risuri land.”, Auryn explains.

“How did they put it? They'd raze all of Risur to the ground if they don't get what they want. And if they manage to do that, your part of the Dreaming will be blighted as well. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination, my dear Ladies and Lords”, Carlyle adds.

We then continue to warn the Fey about the Obscurati threat as the war against Risur is not all they plan on doing. No, they also wish to reshape the world as we know it by toying with the planar connections of the Waking world. We remind them that the Fall of the Dragons that happened 200 years ago was just one little experiment gone wrong, and they might just do something that could cut off the Dreaming from the Waking entirely. Something that might destroy the Dreaming altogether, and with it both warring factions of the Unseen Court and the Hedgehog Court.

And unfortunately, the only people who know about that plot, besides the Obscurati of course, are the three of us, and we are, as we said, trapped in the Dreaming with no means of warning the Risuri.

Thisraldion reflects on our plea for a while, but then states that, right now, they also don't have any way to travel to the Waking. However, they would offer us their help by giving us a team of researchers who may find an obscure or ancient path that has been long forgotten. In the meanwhile, it would be quite nice if we did offer our help in return by using our RHC skills to prove that Olazdor of the Hedgehog Court has murdered Rock Rackus.

“Pardon my Lady that I have to correct you, but investigative work does work a bit differently. I promise you that we will find the true murderer of Rock Rackus, be that Olazdor or someone else.”, Carlyle clarifies after clearing his throat. We then politely point out that this might be a novel concept to the Unseen, but in Risur we do our investigations unbiased and with an open result in mind. Azla reacts quite nervously at this correction, but Thisraldion seems pretty fine with our proposal.

(just want to add that I had a lot of fun with This' unspecified gender? This makes both Auryn's and Rock's story about how he had a relationship with the Fey Lord or Lady true at the same time)
 

MrsMongoose

Explorer
Tour de Court

......

Thisraldion reflects on our plea for a while, but then states that, right now, they also don't have any way to travel to the Waking. However, they would offer us their help by giving us a team of researchers who may find an obscure or ancient path that has been long forgotten. In the meanwhile, it would be quite nice if we did offer our help in return by using our RHC skills to prove that Olazdor of the Hedgehog Court has murdered Rock Rackus.

“Pardon my Lady that I have to correct you, but investigative work does work a bit differently. I promise you that we will find the true murderer of Rock Rackus, be that Olazdor or someone else.”, Carlyle clarifies after clearing his throat. We then politely point out that this might be a novel concept to the Unseen, but in Risur we do our investigations unbiased and with an open result in mind. Azla reacts quite nervously at this correction, but Thisraldion seems pretty fine with our proposal.

(just want to add that I had a lot of fun with This' unspecified gender? This makes both Auryn's and Rock's story about how he had a relationship with the Fey Lord or Lady true at the same time)
Yes, we had the same assumption...
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
A rock solid mystery

We're just about to leave, when the Court announces the return of Riffian, leader of the Wild Hunt. The really tall warrior enters the throne room and greets us all with a loud “Huzzah!” before he apologizes to all the fey of the Court that he wasn't able to catch “that damn fox” yet. There is a very silent murmur, but before Riffian can realize that, and before we can ask what would be so special about that fox, the warrior turns to Auryn, Gabriel and Andrei.

“My apology for the incident on the chess fields. I hope that none of you were trampled by my horse.”

When we show Riffian that we are unharmed and managed to jump out of his way in time, he appears to be honestly relieved.

“Oh, and don't think that I would begrudge you for being friends with that idiot Rock. I can see that you are made out of a totally different kind of wood.”

We're surprised to hear that even someone like Riffian would know about our “friendship” with Rock Rackus, but as the Docker appears to be a legitimately legend in Clover, we silently accept the fact that we'll most likely encounter many more people with strange misconceptions about us. Riffian then looks at Auryn for quite a few seconds before we can almost hear something click in his head.

“Oh! You must be the 'small flower lady' Asrabey spoke about. Tell me, do you know where my dear comrade would be? Is he doing well? I'd love to spar with him one more time.”

“This will be difficult, I fear.”, Auryn replies. “He's in the Waking, either still in Drakr, or maybe he has returned to Risur. But he is well, and while I believe that seeing an old comrade is just what he might need right now, the pathway to the Waking has been shot down.”

Riffian sighs almost theatrically, but nevertheless thanks Auryn for this information. Thisraldion on the other hand appears to be glad that Asrabey is nowhere near for now. Riffian then leaves the room and as soon as he is out of hearing range, the whole room bursts into laughter. When one of the fey becomes aware at our confusion, they explain that the whole “fox” story is just a decoy to get Riffian and his Wild Hunt onto the battlefield each day.

(I'm pretty sure Carlyle was as irritated by Riffian as he was by most of Asrabey's habits. And that's the reason why Auryn instantly had a soft spot for him despite not being family. Now I still don't know whether Carlyle would revel in Riffian's and his disdain for Rock or loathe his comraderie with Asrabey, but tend for the latter. Carlyle always finds a reason to not like brash people)


Thisraldion then tells us that they'd expect us to return with more information on Rock's murderer in two days. Salinn kindly offers us rooms to stay in during our time in Clover, and she also does hope that we're able to solve this mystery so maybe peace can return to the city once more. As she explains that this would be very close to the lazaret, we ask her whether we might see and examine the body of Rock Rackus. Salinn tells us that Rock has already been laid to rest, but we may exhume him if we get the permission from the moss cat mortuary.

Fortunately, getting permission is not too hard as it merely requires our participation in an appeasement ceremony. After the exhumation, we examine the still well intact and completely naked body of Rock and find that it has been magically preserved. Regarding the cause of his death, we see that Rock has been struck with an arrow, but also realize that he cannot have died from the arrow wound. This kind of exonerates Olazdor, as the arrow legitimately belongs to the leader of the Hedgehog Court.

We also see that Rock's head had been severed, but this must have taken place after his demise. Especially as the head was severed with two blows to the same spot. What is also quite weird is the fact that the body has lost surprisingly little blood. Carlyle senses that something is not right at all with the corpse, so he examines the remaining blood for unusual substances and finds traces of some kind of poison. Unfortunately, he cannot classify the substance and neither a magical examination of Rock's blood or the blood on the arrow gives him any results. He then turns Rock over back and forth an bites his lips in confusion.

“None of this makes sense...”, he murmurs. “It is as if Rock hasn't lived the life we knew he did. How do I put it... this body shows no signs of 'being used' at all. Just look at him: He is immaculate, besides the wound and the severed head of course”

“A simulacrum?” Auryn guesses, being eerily reminded of that time when Tyler Starke and Lord Byron-Saxby had forged a double of her to commit crime. But we have to dismiss this idea, as a simulacrum would have most likely dissolved already.

We then ask those present about what is known about the discovery of Rock's body and the kittens tell us that Rock was found dead in a bend in the Krogtunnel on the night of the 16th.
Rock probably used the tunnel quite often to get from the Unseen Court to the Hedgehog Court, which raised the suspicion that Thisraldion might have become jealous of Rock's connection to their rival Court, and possibly Olazdor.

(Going from the motive of political issues to a romantic rivalry in 5 seconds. That's just so like Rock Rackus)

From all that we've learned so far, we are now pretty sure this "corpse" does not really belong to Rock Rackus and decide to search for possible eye witnesses for the murder. Even if we don't know why and how someone would go to such lengths to fake an immaculate and believable dead body.

So we go back to the Court and ask if there might be any fey who have seen Rock Rackus after he left the Unseen Court that fateful night. We learn from the palace guards that Rock left the Court fully dressed that night, though presumably he must have been in Thisraldion's bed before that. So him still having had an affair with Thisraldion appears to be an open secret at Court.

Other fey hush about of more potential eyewitnesses, who are being held near an arena to fight each other in the arena during the “Purge”. One of them is said to be a homeless man named Baldur Norther. We ask the Fey about that Purge and lean about the fact that being homeless is a crime in Clover. We all, especially Andrei, think that this tradition is quite cruel, and that we should find the witnesses before it is too late. Still we first we want to look for traces at the crime scene.

(In hindsight, we all underused Andrei in this chapter as we often simply forgot that he was part of the party during the Dreaming episode. Which is a shame, as I really like him as a character and his concept is pretty unique. Should I ever re-write our tales in a novel version, I will definitely use him as a focal character here and flesh him out more. After all, he has all the reasons to try and return to Flint as quickly as possible, too)


We go to the tunnel where Rock's dead body had been found. To our surprise, we find the place decorated with flowers as they fey appear to mourn him quite intensely. Gabriel points out that he'd usually only seen this reverence when either someone truly innocent was killed in tragic way and sighs, being reminded of the many times he had seen this in Flint.

It doesn't take too much effort to find the right spot where Rock's body had fallen to the ground. We examine the place carefully and find some translucent eggshells as well as several spider-webs. Carlyle also manages to find Rock's tracks despite the time that has already passed. But once he follows the track back and forth, he raises his brows in confusion as he finds that Rock walked along his way, then collapsed and... disappeared.

“It appears as if someone duplicated Rock. But how... and why?”, he mumbles more to himself as he points to a second, barely visible Rock-sized imprint on the ground. We guess that maybe someone knocked Rock our, or killed him, duplicated him and then took the original with them.

“A weird trophy-hunter perhaps...?” Auryn guesses with a certain disgust in her voice.

We realize that guessing doesn't help us any further, so Carlyle touches the ground and asks the tunnel for its memories of Rock. The scene shifts and he sees a vision of Rock, being completely naked and without any expression in his eyes. He is then struck by an arrow and beheaded with two blows before falling over and bleeding very little despite having his major arteries severed.

Just as the vision ends and Gabriel is about to explain that this “dead Rock” would never ever have been the real one, we hear the sound of rushing water coming towards us. All of a sudden there is salty water raising quickly from the walkway and waves come crashing at us. To top this all, we can spot several Orca whales swimming in our general direction.

Before any of us can comment on the madness of the situation, Carlyle encases us all in a sphere of ice. Fortunately, the sphere is sturdier than the whales' headbutts and the creatures – obviously summoned – disappear after a few minutes. Meanwhile, we find ourselves fully submerged and thus still in danger.

(utilizing his wall of ice once more. I did tell you that he likes his wall spells, didn't I?)


Carlyle then takes the risk to teleport a short distance right outside of the tunnel. When we arrive, we happen to be a few feet in the air, so we stumble ungraciously to the ground. Seems like even short-distanced teleport is growing more and more dangerous in the Dreaming.

We take a quick thought on who might have just tried to kill us and why, but then quickly return to the matter of Rock Rackus. Since someone must have disappeared with Rock unseen and without leaving any traces, we can only think of two quite similar methods of removing him from reality: Either someone would have put Rock into a bag of holding and is now holding him in an anti-magic field, or someone has access to the same kind of Absurdist Web as we do. And since we know that the webs are connected, we agree to just try our luck with that one.

So we pull out our own Absurdist Web and think of removing Rock from it...
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
pulling out Rock or using an ice sphere to sit out the Orcas? :D

anyway, on to the next part:

Examining the Hedgehogs

We are very much amazed when we grab into the Web and actually manage to pull out a rather dazed Rock Rackus from it! Especially as this was merely a very wild guess, but it appears as if this is just what life on the Fey side of things is like.

(“Wait, what? Really!?” We were completely baffled when Tiz sternly proclaimed that we do indeed pull out the Rock. Totally fitting for the absurdist part of the web.)

We quickly examine Rock, fearing that he might be on the verge of death anyway and are quite relieved to find out that he is only mildly poisoned and much more intoxicated. Carlyle provides a potent antidote for his Rockiness and are happy (and annoyed – Carlyle ) to see that he is just the same guy he used to be.

“Callallaaah! And the men from the train! Good to see ya! What'cha all doin' in the Feyspace?”

Rock enthusiastically tries to hug Auryn, Andrei and Gabriel, with the latter managing to take one step back and stop him from invading too much personal space. We then quickly explain that we are stranded here and were being tasked with solving the case of his murder. When he protests that he's obviously very much alive, we tell him to him that he had been out of action for quite a while and been frozen in time in this Absurdist Webwork. Also, the two courts are now at war because of him and his presumed death. This shakes up Rock, who is very keen on stopping the needless violence between his lover Thisraldion and friend Olazdor immediately.

However, we also want to find the culprit for the "murder case”, so we ask his Rockness to stay hidden for the time being. Rock agrees and then casually tells us that, by the way, he found a bottle on his way through the tunnel, which he then drank. This... would explain both his intoxication and poisoned state, and is just such a Rock move that we find it feasible.

Regarding the culprit, we try to imagine who could have access to an Absurdist Web as well. Our fist suspect is of course Copperhat, the same Fey who once gifted us with our variant. The suspicion thickens when Rock casually injects that “the Cop” is a good friend of his. However, we do not wish to draw definite conclusions yet, as an acquaintance of the Fey could have learned about the Web and then stolen it from Copperhat. In any case, we agree that the true culprit must have had an interest in igniting the war without actually wanting to kill Rock.

So we decide to question the homeless witnesses, who are all currently in captivity. Unfortunately, we don't have specific written permission to do so (only the general warrant from This) and the guards appear to be too stubborn to let us ask the questions we need. As we don't wish to support the cruel tradition of the Purge either, Auryn decides to use a trick: She procures proof that the four witnesses were not actually homeless by acquiring a small flat in Baldur Norther's name, backdating it and including the other three as roommates/subtenants. The guards thus have to admit their mistake and release our witnesses, whom we lead to their new abode.

Baldur and the others are very thankful for their rescue and they are happy to help us. The fey explains that he saw Rock enter the tunnel that night, and that he was fully clothed. Two of the other witnesses report that they had seen Thisraldion and Olazdor come out of the tunnel respectively, even though neither had seen them coming in first.

(one man walks in, two men walk out, eh? :D)

Finally, the one witness who had found Rock's body also remembered seeing the bottle Rock talked about earlier, and says that it had been taken to the moss kittens. So it's time to visit that place again, too.

But before we do that, we also want to hear the Hedgehog Court's point of view on the crime, as after more questions it becomes clear that Olazdor had indeed been on his way to the tunnel that night, he appears to be a friend of Rock, and we don't know the extent of his capabilities yet. So we ask Rock to stay hidden and in disguise inside Baldur's new home until we come back with more information. To our surprise, Rock doesn't seem to have a problem with that. As we go back and move towards the other side of the palace we realize that we are being observed by a couple of ice sprites. Auryn stops them briefly and tells them with an icy voice that her mistress can be glad she is not in Elfaivar after the after the murder attempt in the tunnel.

(they were Azla's servants, but we didn't know whether the Orcas were sent by Beshela or Azla, and so she just decided to intimidate whoever crossed her path from either of the two or their servants)

So we go to the Hedgehog Court, where we first run into a n oddly visible elven warrior named Laryna, who has fallen out with Thisraldion over her dislike of King Aodhan. She seems interested in the coming battles and admits that Rock's death is a welcome, convenient opportunity for her and her cause. Even though she has never had any problems with the man and he might simply be the victim of a bad company with Copper Hat and the Borenbog, another dark fey. We haven't heard of the Borenbog before, and agree to place him on the list of our suspects as well.

The next lord of the Hedgehog's court we encounter is an old satyr named Darbony, whose favour with his soldiers seems to be falling. Auryn is able to prevent him and one of the survivors of the battles from going at each other's throats, but this doesn't appear to touch that much. We get the impression that the guy is at most interested in gold and women and would rather see the conflict end despite the fact that he is somehow akin to a commander. We also try to assess whether he might know something about the Satyr trailing us in Elfaivar or the bunch who were employed by the Stag of the Winter Meadow, but he pretty much is not in touch with each and every member of his company.

We are next being approached by a gremlin, who, to our dismay, speaks almost exclusively goblin. And we're not that fluent in this language. He politely asks us for something for him to break and when we give him a magic shotgun he gives us the boon of his Titan mistress. Gradually we get that he and his “Granny” are pissed that some humans - who turned out to be Obs - have been manipulating the Gremlins for their own purposes. We explain to him that we are also enemies of these people, and that the Obs also threaten both our home and the whole Dreaming.

Last but not least, we enter the throne room of the Hedgehog Court where we see a person who must be Olazdor sitting next to a familiar figure: Beshela. We quickly realize that the two seem to have some form of relationship as they are pretty close to each other. We greet them both formally at first, but when Beshela alludes to our last encounter on the Impossible, Auryn accuses her of apparently being so jealous afterwards that she had wanted to drown us with her flash flood and added orcas on top just to be sure that we're dead by all means.

(firing the next round of shots)

Beshela's eyes widen in surprise to this accusation and we get the impression that she is honestly confused about the incident we've been talking about.

“You... really don't know what happened? Pardon me then, but we had to be sure who would be desperate enough to send both a tidal wave and orcas at us”, says Auryn and then expresses the suspicion that someone wanted to dispose of the last evidence and at the same time let the suspect fall on Beshela. We in turn warn the two of them that Thisraldion is very obviously convinced of Olazdor being the murderer, but we want to do our job thoroughly and not accuse or even condemn him without any evidence. We muster Beshela through this conversation and get the impression that she, too, appears to be convinced of Olazdor being the murderer. While also very heavily trying her best to dissolve any suspicion that could fall onto him. So we directly ask Olazdor for the reason why he was heading towards the Krog tunnel the night Rock died and he, with a sigh, explains that he simply wanted to prevent Rock from getting lost again. Especially since everyone knows that Rock has no sense of orientation.

This leads to the two of us having a good laugh at this honest and utterly believable explanation. We accept this explanation from the Lord and in return tell him and Beshela about the what could happen to the Dreaming and all the Fey should the Obscurati be able to implement their plan. Olazdor, in turn, states that he is above all concerned with keeping the Dream a place worth living in, whereupon we in turn tell him about the impending invasion by the Danorans. He too seems to want to help us with our journey to the Waking World, but doesn't quite know how one would open up a portal.

As we haven't found any new suspect so far, we leave the Court for a further discussion and speculation about who might be a possible culprit besides Copperhat. Especially since, apart from the Web and his relationship with Rock, we still have no proof for his guilt.

During our conversation, one of Thisraldion's servants named Paprika approaches us and hands us a blood-stained shirt of Rock, which, according to her master, she should have burned, but wanted to show to us first. We are being quite wary right now, but thank her and promise to check the shirt for its authenticity. When we test the blood, we also get the "appropriate" (but unfortunately wrong) result that this is indeed Rock's blood, so we take the opportunity to look for more of Rock's possessions at the Unseen Court. And to our surprise we find Rock's golden pistol in a secret drawer of Thisraldion. A place only a few, first and foremost Binnivich, have access to.

With a long sigh, we suspect that someone had, again, tried to create an "obvious evidence" that would lead us to yet another of Rock's wannabe-murderers. So we ignore both the shirt and the gun for the time being. Instead, we go to the moss kitten cemetery and ask for the bottle that had been found right besides Rock's body. The kittens are quite helpful and hand us the required object. In it we find the same strange substance that we found in the body of both Rock and fake Rock, which turns out to be the secretion of the Borenbog. So it appears to be about time to pay said Bog a visit.

(At this point we were very much both confused and amused by the myriad of evidences that were being thrown at us, and which we knew were all fabricated in very fine detail to lead us to the preferred suspect. It just became more and more absurd with each and every piece, especially as we had Rock hiding in Baldur's home the whole time)
 

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