25-28 Gozran, 44 NC
The session begins with Gidget asking a question:
“‘Scuse me, I generally don’t like to get too involved in all yer carryin’ on, but I jes wanna clarify something…. So you’ve got this bit of stuff, she gets attached to the assault on Westergarde, gets the romantic attentions of the guy who’s not only the next emperor, but also the only chap we know of who can touch the rings without ‘is soul gettin et. She manages to lift the manual for the Waygates off of ol’ Ralben, and lift the key to the Vault of Teribain off of the Wizard of the Wilds, which, by the by, know one knew ‘e ‘ad. Then she and Mengst go flitting off in the wind and zip themselves over to Teribain.
Jes ‘oo the ‘ell is this bint?”
There is silence for few moments. Lord General Vane sits next o the chessboard and fiddles with the pieces idly, and then begins to laugh somewhat mirthlessly, shaking his head.
“She’s the commanding officer of the Black Rose Society. They forgot who they were for a time…she obviously didn’t….”
He resets the pieces on the chessboard.
“I’ve been playing the wrong game.” Vane begins moving chess pieces, replaying a game. “He was trying to tell me, but I didn’t see it…” He moves several more pieces, muttering to himself. “Rook takes Korgrammsen. Pawn takes Rook….”
“Why Leitus? Why kill Leitus now? There had to have been something…some knowledge, some artifact…”
The party points out that several artifacts and documents were retrieved from Leitus’ lair, but most or all were lost when Poppy’s ship crashed. The general observation was that Poppy was motivated by vengeance.
“No…Poppy Sokeldodge is insane, but she’s not crazy. This was orchestrated…. And now she has one of my airships along with a Dwarven tactician sent by Ironfist….”
“And of course I can’t track down what’s left of the Society, because Moriel Celebhen’s rangers have whisked them into the ar’Avandriel…..”
Vane peers into the sand pot. “No response…. I assume there won’t be…he took the oaths too…. And what is our part in all this?”
Vane moves a few more pieces on the board and stops, giving Sanorin an inscrutable look for a long moment, before moving a bishop and capturing the opposing queen. Jacob sidles over and examines the board, and notes that the bishop was sacrificed making the move.
At one point, everyone’s stomachs turn (except Dan), and both Sanorin and Snot are consumed with pain and horror for the briefest of moments. The members of the party in the know identify it as a failed attempt to fire the Waygate.
“It’s obvious that whatever the journey, the Waygate is the destination.”
The party inquires about what Muerdetta may have wanted to retrieve from the Vault, to which Jacob responds, anything and everything. There’s some debate about how best to travel to the South. Vane chooses to return to his camp and call in his remaining airships, carefully replacing the crew of at least one so that he can carry the party, but says it could take several days.
After he departs, the party attempts to determine fast ways into the South, and chooses to leave the farm and have Snot’s people help them through the mountains. They leave a note coordinating pick-up points and days in case Vane gets his airships arranged swiftly.
Jacob recalls a cave in the mountains that might be related to the Waygates in some way, and the party decides to head there first.
After several days of travel into the mountains, they party comes across the cave in question, their explorations take them to a nest of orcs and trolls, which the party dispatches. In the fight, Dan is wounded, revealing him to be one of the late Futz Fiddlygibblet’s NewElves. Even after the injury, Dan doesn’t seem to be aware of his artificial nature.
The party proceeds into a passage worked with Warpstone like the Waygate and eventually come to the mouth of a huge cavern containing a large city of the stone, a pale blue orb illuminating it with a cold blue light and shadows.
While we were discussing Muerdetta’s motives for what she was doing, Vane seemed to have an epiphany. He pretty much summed it up by stating that the Society had, for a while, forgotten who they were, but it seemed Muerdetta had remembered. Then he looked at the bowl of sand and told us that the dwarf wouldn’t be coming, as he too had sworn the oath.
Right. While it didn’t explain everything, it did explain a lot. All the three of them were of the Society. The three, meaning Poppy, Moriel and Thane Ironfist. And that Muerdetta’s actions might be a part of a very long-term plan. Of course, that opened up for a few other possibilities, none of which I actually wanted to voice, since they would sound silly at best.
I mean, if Poppy, Moriel and Thane were acting according to a plan, how mad were they really? To some extent, yes, if nothing else, then because you cannot act insane for that long without going a little bit crazy. Yes, it sounds silly. But if Vane right in his theory that what they had done, they including Poppy going after Leitus, had been parts of a bigger plan, or a part of protecting a bigger plan, then their great plan was either depending on crazy people, or the insanity was part of the plan. And after all, if you want to keep people from paying too much attention, or reading too much into what you’re doing, being, or acting, insane and unpredictable is one way of doing it.
Of course, it wouldn’t really make a difference in the end. Though it did mean we shouldn’t go chasing after Mengst and Muerdetta, but rather find a way to take down Flambeau and stop the Waygate from opening. If nothing else, then as a distraction from what the two of them, and possibly others, were doing.
The second question that popped into my head, and one that was even less relevant, was how Father was involved in this. Did he just stumble across that book by accident, and at some point lose it to the Society, who incorporated their find into their plans, or was he more involved with them? For all I know, he could have been looking for them to hand the book over, and that was the main reason we moved around so much. Not that I will likely ever get an answer to that, so, not relevant.
Suddenly, while we were talking, I got a wrenching feeling in my gut, and looking at the others, it seemed they all felt it, except Dan. Sanorin and Starry Night seemed to be hit especially bad. The feeling didn’t last long, but even when it ended, some of the others looked unsettled. Or worse.
Someone had attempted to open the Waygate. I assume it was _the_ Waygate, since, to my knowlege, there is just one. To say that this was bad is an understatement. If they had succeeded, well, our little rebellion would probably have been over. The smartest thing we could have done then, with Volkov gone, would have been to handed Sanorin over to them and disappeared into the armies’ ranks, or perhaps disappeared into the forests or mountains, not to fight on, but to simply disappear.
But that, at least, did settle any arguments we might have had. It was clear now that our goal had to be the Waygate. To find some way to keep it permanently from opening. And to kill Flambeau.
Vane left first, to return to his army, and to try to get us a ship with a reliable crew. It would take time, though, so we decided to set off on our own, leaving behind a message for Vane, with potential pick-up points, if he did manage to get us a new ship.
We headed for the mountains, towards a cave that Jacob remembered. It was there, but it was also full of trolls and orcs. We won, but it was a tough fight, and several of us were wounded. Including Dan.
Oh, yes. Dan. As we approached him to check on his injuries, we discovered that he wasn’t bleeding. Not blood, anyway. What we saw was that inside him were a lot of small cogs and machinery stuff. Our weird, half-crazy elf was not a real elf at all, but some very very sophisticated machine.
What really threw me, though, was that it was obvious that even Dan hadn’t known about this. I mean, how can you be something like that and not know? But he seemed pretty much oblivious to the whole thing, even after the rest of us had seen what he was. So we seemed to come to the unspoken conclusion that we’d keep treating him like we always had. After all, he’d been a loyal companion so far, and did not appear to have changed that part.
Anyway, after the shock had settled a bit, and we had recovered from the fight, we pushed on further in. After a while, we reached a tunnel that seemed to be artificial. In that it was Warpstone here, much like the proto-Waygate of Leitus, I suppose.
We followed the tunnel, and it opened up into an enormous cave, one that contained a city.