Late in the evening of Xander’s funerary service, Diego is attacked by a Guild assassin while returning from the latrines. He dispatches the foe, barely surviving the encounter, and discovers the assassin was sent by one Count Rocheleau – the same Penshinite merchant lord who had destroyed his family and sent him into exile.
The next morning, 2nd Battalion holds their sharpshooting competition – Alton enters for gunnery, Vladimir for archery, and Poppy for crossbow. Before the start of the competition, Erik arrives and gives Poppy Xander’s exquisite repeater crossbow “el’Rashoud”, the Desert Adder – because he would’ve wanted her to have it. Alton wins the gunnery competition, even though he is injured when his weapon explodes on the last shot of the finals. Vladimir is knocked out of the archery competition in the first round, and Poppy has a rash of bad luck and is defeated in the second round of the crossbow competition.
The party discusses their plans for travel to the south over a midday meal and then briefs Mengst on their plans (Stein is focusing on internal security and finding Volkov). Mengst tells the team to get a few days rest while he gets the necessary resources for their expedition assembled.
The session ends with a cutscene – transcript below.
There is an explosion. A huge, thunderous explosion from the direction of the warehouse and silos. It’s so powerful that even here, on the other side of Hillcrest, you feel the compression wave flow past you like a soft breeze. You all drop what you’re doing and rush that direction.
About halfway through town, there’s a second, much smaller explosion, again from the direction of the warehouse.
You arrive to a scene of utter devastation. The front face of the warehouse is literally gone, there is debris everywhere, and it’s hard not to notice the body parts scattered among it. At any given time there are around a hundred 5th battalion soldiers working in and around the warehouse, many are dead, many more are terribly maimed – and it appears that the second explosion was timed just far enough apart from the first one to rip into the first responders who came to give aid.
Cedric is already here, kneeling over the prone form of Itchy, unconscious, blood trickling from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. A Warder you’ve never met before, in full armor, helm on, faceplate down, with twin scimitars at his hips, stands above them as a bodyguard would, watching the crowd, veritably radiating deadly intent – ready to defend the Society brothers he trusts, from the army regulars he can’t.
You move into the wreckage of the warehouse to see if there’s any good you can do rescuing people who may be buried in the wreckage not only of the building, but of the stacks and stacks of supplies that have been toppled and scattered. You step into what was once Futz’s lab.
Your first instinct is that there’s an injured woman, kneeling on the floor in the corner of the room, her back unnaturally straight – you have to blink a few times with all the dust and smoke, to realize that it’s one of the NewElves. One of her arms has been pulverized, and a lot of her artificial skin has been shredded. She looks up as you enter, half the skin from her head is gone, revealing something…amazing. Beneath the artificial skin of these things is clockwork – a dizzying, magnificent symphony of engineering and motion. The intricacy of it is difficult to wrap your minds around, there are literally tens of thousands of tiny cogs and gears exposed, meaning there may be millions making up the whole. You notice the details that you’ve previously overlooked – how the appearance of muscles and tendons in her neck flex as she looks back down, how she breathes when she most certainly doesn’t need to. There is a soft, orange glow emanating from somewhere inside her skull, the light shining through the thousands of interconnected cogs, but it is dim, and flickering unsteadily. None of you have ever seen anything so brilliant and intricate – not the columns of the Great Way, holding the weight of mountains, nor the crystal spires of Tir’Valar, nor all the wonders hidden in every guildhall in Penshin, come close to the achievement you see before you, broken and dying, in the dusty back room of a warehouse in an army camp. No matter what you may think about the motivations, it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest scientific, engineering, and artistic achievement of the whole of civilization to date.
She has, cradled in her lap, the shattered, bloody body of Futz. She’s tenderly stroking his stringy white hair with her one remaining hand, and she’s making a mechanical but distinctly feminine noise that sounds like it could be cooing or sobbing, and is very likely both. After a moment, something rattles loose inside her, some tiny, delicate cog. A shudder goes through her body, and the marvel of connected motion exposed through her torn skin slows, and stops. The light shining from her head flickers, and goes out.
And all that remains of her sad song is the sound of soldiers, shouting above the screams of the wounded.