Skystorm

Unreadable Tomes

Our discussions continued on several fronts. The Eladrin had chosen to use some form of technologically induced hibernation to cope with their dwindling population. Various ideas had been discussed in the past, but had been rejected as too dangerous, or having results that would dilute their heritage.

We did learn that they had recently seeded our lands with some experiment to arouse psionic abilities. That being their term for powers similar to my own. I noted that if they have such experiments in mind, we could ask for properly informed volunteers, rather than randomly scattering mysterious experimental energies over the landscape to affect random passerby. The idea of informed consent seemed new to them. The library here is vast, but at a guess, the ethics section is either vanishingly small, or extremely dusty from disuse. This worries me. I have had my own struggles with how my powers should be used. The examples of misuse I see before me set an extremely alarming precedent which I should take care to avoid replicating.

We reviewed various issues regarding places to migrate to and came up with the usual proscriptions against massive migrations to other primes. Interactions with other primes was also a problem for them wrt to interbreeding with Eladrin from other primes. Various ideas regarding planar engineering were also discussed, but as far as the Bright Ones knew, such things had only been accomplished by the action of multiple gods.

They did confirm to still having knowledge of the original massive ritual which turned the continents to loadstone. Its casting had taken immense power and many years. Years in which they fought a desperate holding action against the corruption that had been unleashed by the Twisted Tower. Their intent had been to transport the continents away from the swallowing abyss. However, the Chains, previously unknown to them, prevented the major continents from escaping the Abyss entirely, leaving them suspended above its ravening maw.

Our various discussions produced no commitment from them for help of any kind. They are few, cautious, and altogether too used to hiding away from the implications of their cowardly choices. The best we could wring from them was a promise to discuss the possibility of giving us additional knowledge. Though I love knowledge more than most, it is unclear whether we will have time to utilize information without additional aid against the threats we face.

We also considered an escape to the Feywild or the Shadowfell. This seemed like it might be workable, if they survived the breaking of the chain and whatever emerged thereafter. The Eladrin had no enlightenment to offer regarding how long reflections of a prime survive its destruction. This inconclusive discussion did lead us to consider the matter of the Raven Queen.

The Eladrin thought that the Raven Queen, and another god of secrecy, had arisen to godhood after the Dawn War. They might therefore be immune to the ignorance enchantment. Seeking out the Raven Queen seemed like one of our better options. Though I am personally somewhat concerned with such a mission considering the fact that I was peripherally involved in the destruction of one of her Angels last time I was in the Shadowfell. I’ve never met a god before, but I have heard that they hold grudges.

Based on this underwhelming response. I noted that our situation was quite desperate. We could not call upon the gods for aid until the chain was broken. By the time the chain was broken our people would be doomed. We needed some way to shield them, or provide a safe escape. One possibility we considered was whether the power of the loadstone could be boosted sufficiently to allow our mote to escape upon the breaking of the chain. If it could be accomplished, we would still have to find some way to protect them from the vacuum and cold. Even the dome of Vergeance might not be sufficient.

Our hosts departed and bade us to wait and touch nothing while they went off to rouse their highest ranking authorities. We looked over the spines of the books on the shelves while conducting a conversation regarding the dubious merits of our hosts via telepathy. Eventually we began to hear an odd alarm sound. Lyrra also thought she heard some kind of screaming. Then all the doors slammed shut, the lights turned red, and the facility entered some kind of lock down mode. Clearly things had not gone well.

Figuring we could at least try to preserve some of this long lost knowledge against whatever threats we faced, we tried to grab some books. The books animated and attacked us. We put them down after a modest amount of trouble.

Apparently these Eladrin have placed high quality defensive protections upon their books. This having been done despite having never had any guests here in living memory. The Bright Ones, our shining hope of enlightenment about the deep past, have apparently been reduced to a pack of amoral senile paranoid shut-in scientists. Furthermore, there are apparently terrible side effects to their life sustaining technology. Terrible enough to endanger their entire facility.

- Captain Keffin Balnor

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Into the Fortress of the Three Rings

I arrived in Heaven and found it to be as promised. The most wonderfully constructed city in all of creation. The shabby and second rate nature of our homeland was made abundantly clear by comparison. Everything here is clearly built to last. The nature of the Astral Sea is also more amenable to durable construction. I can impose my will upon its reality like I can elsewhere, but there are signs that some parts may be more amenable to my influence than others.

We selected a fine yacht for our excursion and cross the majestic sea to the freely floating mote of the Order of the Three Rings. I made some initial study of the material of the Astral Sea, but a patrolling angel ordered me to desist. I will have to continue that study further from Hestavar.

Their fortress was immense, composed of implausibly tall delicate towers, and entirely unwelcoming. We circled it as I tried telepathic hails. The shielding was sufficient to have crushed a lesser intellect, but gave me a slight headache. We shifted tactics to use amplifying magic to broadcast my voice across the distance. This elicited a response in the form of an immense weapons port opening and firing a warning shot. Oli was inspired to begin reciting arcane knowledge, in the form of the qualities of loadstone, I echoed her narrative and extended it in some ways. This resulted in a vortex like tunnel opening in the wall. We exhorted our reluctant driver to enter and found ourselves in an unoccupied settlement.

Beyond being unoccupied, it appeared to be flawlessly polished and unworn. Not abandoned. Never occupied. However its construction was quite exquisite. The loss of the influence of Eladrin aesthetics in our world has gone all too quietly unmourned. Nonetheless, we couldn’t find a hint of who had let us in. Oli consulted with Flutterby, who seemed frightened out of its tiny shiny body and recommended that we flee. Having come all this way we were not in a hurry to take that advice. I studied the arcane influences in the area and found that they were most intense below the city. So, based on Oli’s guidance, we sought downward passage in the central structures.

As we studied an ornate room, with a crystalline table structure, we heard some noises and eventually a voice. After we reassured him that we meant no harm, the old Eladrin he came forward and introduced himself as Flight Engineer Cathus. He recognized Oli, and called her by another name. I suggested that he might have known her mother. He agreed that this seemed likely, but became faint at the thought of what must have become of her parents. So I summoned a chair for him. This shocked him even more as he recognized it as a psionic summoning. Something not seen since times of old, but greatly desirable. He even said, revealingly, “So it worked!” indicating that the experiments which had produced me were in fact attributable to his people. He was encouraged that since it has been done once, it could be done again.

Cathus was slightly cagey about how many of his people were around, but indicated the numbers were relatively few. Too few to use the upper areas. Especially with many in some sort of sleep state much of the time. He agreed to lead us back and consult with his superiors only after we agreed to a non-violence pact. Gareth cunningly shifted this to a non-aggression pact, to which we readily agreed.

He led us to an elevator which brought us down below the city to underground passages which had clearly seen a lot of use. After escorting us to a chamber lined with tapestries depicting Eladrin, he bade us wait and touch nothing. Gareth and Oli studied the tapestries and identified two who were likely to be her parents. After a few minutes, Cathus returned in the company of several other Eladrin, including Altus the Healer, to whom the others deferred.

Though they were disappointed with Cathus’ decision to allow us entry, Altrus welcomed Oli and offered us hospitality while they roused the superiors who slept. If food still held any attractions for me, I would have been more tempted by the viands they offered. Sadly they did not allow me to peruse their vast library.

We discussed a few matters with Altrus. His people had left our world because they did not wish to live in the Abyss. They were saddened to hear about the fate of the elves, but regarded it as a lower priority than the matter of the chains. They seem somewhat out of touch as they didn’t seem to be aware that only chain remained.

- Captain Keffin Balnor

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Orders and Judgements

After studying the city ordinances we discerned that it was permissible to use Phantom Steeds to traverse the city streets more swiftly. This allowed us to reach the Guest Wing of the High Temple of Erathis shortly before dusk. Though business hours were closing, my name was on the list of those in good standing, so we were allowed entry after I clarified that we were present to give testimony regarding Castiglion’s recent mission.

We were swiftly escorted into the office of the Angel Quoriel. Quoriel was not happy to see us. She was in fact very alarmed at my presence in heaven. She insisted that I had abandoned my post in the Abyss. I allowed that I hadn’t actually been given orders that I was posted in the Abyss. Nor had I even known that I was in the Abyss until Castiglion said so several days ago. However, the matter in question was quite dire and deserved some attention. She did not know why my people were ignorant of the fact of our presence within the Abyss. She expanded on the situation of my posting at some length to list various efforts that had been required to keep me from being elevated, promoted to exarch, or bodily subsumed into heaven in various ways and redeployed elsewhere.

Quoriel is part of a very exclusive organization of celestial beings, including Azumel, who are aware of the matter of the chains and are working to deal with the matter. Quoriel agreed to expedite the matter of the Warforged while she pursued making contact with the Eladrin. She also assured me that I should trust the instincts which develop within me during prayer, as that is the form within which my orders are given. The subtlety of Erathis is most splendid. My instincts to destroy the enemy have been so finely honed in that fashion that I was unaware of any guidance whatsoever.

Good to her word, Quoriel soon returned with a summons for us. Escorts rushed us to the long audience chamber of Remuel, Justice of the Peace. An immense and imposing angel, he was flanked by lesser angels, and Castiglion waited off to one side. Remuel was curt, imperious, and supernally efficient. He had read the report and asked for my opinion regarding the sentient and free willed nature of the Warforged. Specifically whether their souls had all been freely given by humans. I stated that GOND indicated that many had been willing, though some may have been coerced. Also, I clarified that it was not known to me that all of them were human, though all were sentients as far as I knew. I stated that the ones I had met were all sentient, and free willed, and worthy of an opportunity to seek redemption. Gareth and the others concurred and reinforced that opinion in various ways. Gareth’s request that at least one warforged be summoned to give testimony on their own behalf was denied. Remuel believed the report and our testimony to be sufficient.

Remuel’s judgement was that the Warforged could commit themselves to 1000 years of service to Erathis as penitence. After which time they could live howsoever they chose. Those who did not choose service would be hunted down by Castiglion. I inquired if they could undertake that service under my authority, and Remuel granted it. Gareth advocated that they be allowed to choose service for any of the gods recognized as divine by the Bright City, including the Seldarine. The others reinforced that argument, and Remuel expanded his ruling to allow service to any of the gods. Some grumbled about the duration of the service, but Remuel strongly expressed the opinion that all souls belonged to the gods, and all should seek service regardless.

Lyrra had some objections to this, as the World Serpent was not included, but she did not voice them until we had left Remuel’s presence. There was general disatisfaction with the terms from everyone, though I expressed that it was shorter than the eternity of service in their previous agreement. This discussion was cut short by our return to Quoriel’s office.

Quoriel had not been able to make any headway regarding contact with the Eladrin. When pressed on the value of seeking aid from the Eladrin and Seldarine, Quoriel agreed to commission aerial transport for the rest of the group to attempt to make contact with the Eladrin on the condition that I return to my post immediately. I readily agreed to her bargain, over the objections of my companions. The pursuant mission to the Seldarine court does not require my expertise, others could stand in my place. We agreed to call upon Captain Keffin at the portal while I was being returned to Vergence.

I had some time to think during our traversal, and while waiting for the return planar portal ritual to be enacted. Quoriel’s primary concern was not so much that I was away from my post for a short time, as my ability to resist an army of giants is insufficient to make significant headway in the short term. Clearly her concern that my presence in heaven was highly likely to draw the attention of other celestial authorities. Authorities who would not be privy to the matter of the chains, or like the Goddess herself, incapable of being aware of the chains. The danger was not in my absence from the Abyss, as that my presence in heaven could result in my being given duties that would permanently absent me from the Abyss.

The tiny size of the group with awareness of the chains is necessary, but creates numerous problems. It explains why various earthly authorities among the church are only superior to me in a hierarchical bureaucratic sense. They lack the power to greatly effect the tide of battle because all who had such potency have been redirected. They seem to have sensed such, for none has dared instruct me in anything for many months. Similarly, I have no understudies of note. It is unclear to me why the human empire seems more impacted by this trend than the dwarves, or even the Craggen. Perhaps the closer relationship of the Forger and the Chained One with the construction of the chains permits a wider scope of action for their clergy. It also severely limits the forces which can be deployed against the forces of the Maelstrom. Given that I am the best they could manage, I will amplify my efforts to make certain my sword is where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

The obscurity of the matter of our location in the Abyss is a concern. Not only were my people ignorant, but apparently all people were ignorant. No people that we have met expressed such knowledge. Perhaps such ignorance was a side effect of the deletion of the name of our original Prime.

Upon returning to the portal in Vergence, I warned Captain Keffin of the dangers of pickpockets. He smiled, placed all his valuables in a bag and made the bag vanish. Then I passed over the travel voucher form and he transported himself to Hestavar.

-Deacon Novius Carnifex Vergilius

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Journal of Xex K'thok, Merchant of the Caste of Librum Veritas, Quarter of Ioun Ascendant

Another bunch of primes showing up wasting an honest merch's time. Fortunately these idiots left me alone. I would rather enjoy the sunshine than deal with the likes of them.  

I saw Tulub trying to sell one—-a real scruffer berk sporting a bunch of prison tatties—-a map. Tattie prime was asking all sorts of questions of Tulub like he had nothing better to do but answer some stupid prime's stupid questions. Tulub was always a soft touch and so he didn't. He gave them good advice but they were complete fools, and had no money to buy anything but the basic map. He simply wouldn't shut up, going on about how they had their world to save and so on. They always say that. 

Then a pretty little prime of the same batch, looked like one of them eladrin, a real quiet type but who had sharp eyes like she missed nothing, spoke to Enrets the Seed Seller. Enrets had good things to sell this prime, seeds from Arvandor no less, and the prime obviously wanted it but didn't have any diamonds to pay. Girl like her could always make some AD selling herself to those whose taste runs to the rustic. She looked genuinely wounded. 

What a waste these primes are. Why do they have to come here and get in the way? Who gives a zoolag's shite about some stupid prime anyway? But the real tragedy is that they come here to Hestevar at all! 

Well there was one… an eladrin with those primes. She spoke in some barbarous accent and was really slumming to be with the likes of them but she'd done herself up right! Hot!!!!!  

 

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The Greatest City in the Universe

We rested and prepared to depart. As we did so we were summoned for a debriefing as Cryptic had arrived with interesting news. Cryptic had managed to extract information from a Fomorian, by methods which she did not divulge, but we deduced to be non-violent dealings. The Fomorians were aware of an existing contact with the Eladrin. Fomorians sent instructions, materials, and wealth to a contact in the Bright City in exchange for objects of beauty and magical power. In return, goods of Eladrin manufacture were returned to them. Cryptic was not in possession of more details regarding the nature of the Eladrin establishment in Hestavar, as the Fomorians guard the contact with exclusivity.

After being assured that the construction of her sky fortress was proceeding apace, Cryptic inquired as to recommendations regarding the best courtesan in the city. Gareth conducted her to Clearie the gnome and Cryptic apparently met satisfaction there.

We consulted with Castiglion and determined that he could bring us to Hestavar. Javelin was asked to stay behind to greet incoming warforged. He agreed to this on the condition that he contacted and brought through once the Eladrin were found. Captain Keffin agreed to stay behind so that he could bring Javelin through once such word had arrived.

Castiglion enacted the ritual and we found ourselves surrounded by the glorious wonders of the Astral Sea, on a busy portal in the greatest city in the universe. Raiden was immediately interviewed and summarily sent away to Celestia. This was apparently required by diplomacy as an alternative to his arrest for something unspecified. Castiglion was called away from us during those proceedings and flew off through a high gate after its angelic sentries moved aside for him. That left us unescorted in the universe’s most complicated city.

We walked through the lower gate (flying being allowed only to those who had purchased permits)
into the covered walkways of the city. Vendors tried to sell us many wonders, most which I had never heard of, and the others had only encountered in old legends. We spent considerable time negotiating with a single vendor who sold maps and emblems of the thieves guild. These emblems, normally priced at 10,000 GP (or 1 Astral Diamond, which appears to be the local base currency), are apparently the only soveriegn remedy against pickpockets.

Apparently Hestavar is ruled by the iron fist of law. However, there is, to our eyes, a single exclusion for guild registered pickpockets, burglars, and other non-violent experts in parting one from valuable items. Violence of all kinds, including against thieves, is forbidden, and these laws are enforced by flying patrols of angels. We were unable to afford the cost of emblems for our entire group, even with the “limited time only” more attractive bulk rate pricing offered by the vendor. Either you prepay the thieves, or they will extract their dues from you. Its like a form of tax, but the service provided is more extortionate.

We did manage to extract some information from the vendor along with the purchase of a single outrageously priced map (1000 GP). Eladrin (High Elves?), in the form of the Royal War College, had a presence at the edge of the city in a floating fortress. The visitor’s center, where more of our questions could be answered lay at the end of the avenue, 15 miles away. He was kind enough to mark these on our map.

The visitor’s center was located some 15 miles down the avenue into the city. We passed many wonders along that route and found that by comparison to the typical Hestavarian, we were extraordinarily impoverished. Even a simple meal costs 1000 gold here. We had an encounter with a group of peculiar child like beings whose skin was stone-like. One of them rode along with Oli on her clockwork mount. As we approached the thieves guild, it ran off and Oli noticed her portable hole had gone missing. Xu Shu commanded the thief return the stolen item and it did. Though the episode was watched most closely by passerby. Apparently it is safe to use a non-violent compulsion. Oli then transferred her valuables to a bag of holding which she then vanished somehow.

As I checked my possessions, I found that my pouch had a acquired a greeting note from the thieves guild. It let me know that they could certainly have taken something, but apparently chose not to rob a Deacon of Erathis in Hestavar. Professional courtesy no doubt, as the laws of Erathis protected their operation.

Eventually we arrived at the visitor’s center and acquainted ourselves with the local ordinances. Flight without permit was forbidden. Violence of all kinds is forbidden, and most forms are felonius. Theft is only permissible to guild registered thieves. They may keep things they have stolen if they can reach a “drop box” before the theft is noticed.

As we tried to figure out what “prime”, their word for our world of origin, we were from, we could find no match. Further consideration brought us to the conclusion that its name had been lost, unmade, when it fell into the Abyss. We are therefore not from a prime in the usual sense. We are from an ex-prime, and are more or less from the Abyss, without having any apparent abyssal origin properties.

Based on the map, and some helpful answers from the center, we determined that we needed to secure some portal coordinates for various places of interest in the city, for it is easily 60 miles in diameter. With those we would be able to get to the temple of Erathis to state our plea. Or, more likely, make an appointment for a time at which to make our plea. Based on the extremity of our poverty, I suspect we may require Castiglion’s intervention to get an audience in the short term. Our case will be one among a multitude, so the intensity of our desperation may well be matched by that of other petitioners. The fact that we dare not direct their attention specifically to the matter of the chains complicates matters significantly.

Getting to the Eladrin outpost presents its own challenges. They appear to be very withdrawn, and the only apparent way to get there from Hestavar requires flight. Flying permits are dearly expensive. Perhaps we can hire a vehicle more affordably.

Based on the extraordinary cost of living here, we may need Javelin and Captain Keffin to come through handle any extended waiting. Neither of them need to eat or sleep. Where we will need to secure expensive accomodations, or be returned to our place of origin, they could take turns of dormancy.

- Deacon Novius Carnifex Vergilius

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Intransigent Warforged and Insistent Elves

Our discussion with Castiglion regarding his statement about our city being in the Abyss continued. We eventually concluded with the assumption that the climactic end of the Arcana Wars resulted in our world falling into the Abyss. The Abyss is a corruption of the Elemental Chaos, somehow associated with the Dawn War. The Maelstrom is only its most obvious manifestation, from our perspective elevated above it. He also said that there are many (infinite?) worlds like ours and that the gods are worshipped differently in each.

We discussed the matter of the chains, along with the predicament of our peoples, and how it might be presented to the gods. Due to the gods having bound themselves to not recall any details of the matter, any of those who were involved in the binding would be unable to believe us. Not believing us, their reaction could potentially be extremely bad for us. We concluded that it would be best to go before them and plead for the plight of our people as an independent matter.

Castiglion did not have any concrete suggestions regarding targets for the migration of our people. Mass migrations across worlds are generally forbidden. Also, worlds worth migrating to are generally already populated. A massive influx would generally be accompanied by an equally massive war. Kong Meng resolved to devote his time to consultation with Hibernius regarding their project to forge a new world from scraps of ours, the Feywild, and the Shadowfell. Keffin resolved to accompany us so that he could study the matter of the Astral Sea for his project of making a new Realm specifically for our people.

Regarding the matter of the chains, we would seek allies elsewhere. Raiden promised to return to Kord and raise a host. Keffin recommended that we seek the Bright Ones in Arvandor, for they have clearly been working on something since the Arcana Wars. Castiglion suggested that Torog might be considered due the knowledge of his angel. We were not warm to the idea, but Castiglion noted that he is just as much a deity as the rest and is consistent within his particular idiom.

Upon returning to Vergeance we went through extensive debriefing. Following that we conducted Terhali’s body to the shrine of the Raven Queen and met with Sehane, Terhali’s father, and Lirra, the last of the druids. Various discussions regarding what to do regarding Terhali eventually concluded with our agreeing to take Sehane with us to Arvandor so that he could plea for her soul, offering his own in exchange. Lirra’s connection to the matter was more peripheral, but she had attached herself to the discussions as a way to accompany us as an emissary for her people.

Noname and Oli consulted with a gnome warforged expert, with dramatically different agendas.

Noname, had all of his equipment removed. Having dedicated himself to a life of non violence and contemplation, we found him at the Library. We invited him to come with us to seek more knowledge about his state of being and potential courses of repentance. He was as immovable as stone. Nothing we said could persuade him to the contrary. Kong Meng pressed beyond the point of wise counsel, even unto being quite insulting. but wasn’t able to prompt a reaction.

We rested and prepared to journey on the morrow with Castiglion. The Oathsworn kept him secluded while he repaid his debt to us by answering questions and providing guidance.

The next day we met Oli again and found that she had herself entirely reconfigured to be less asymmetric and crudely outfitted. Her revised form was according to her own designs, which were significantly more aesthetically pleasing. She also seemed generally more at peace with her condition.

- Deacon Novius Carnifex Vergilius

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At the Mended Kettle

I arrive early so as to be able to examine the Mended Kettle before Captain Hibernius arrives. It appears to be a drinking establishment not too far from the docks. While I cannot say I am comfortable here in Vergence, this place seems to have a tough but friendly clientele. I think that they must be used to travelers, for they payed me little mind. I saw the many refugees from this terrible war here: Short, stout folk with rough hands bearing hammers and wearing leather blacksmith aprons; slant-eyed humans with dark hair and scraggly beards wearing odd straw hats; short, slender folk working boats; even a few of my own folk, though none I know. Then there are less wholesome folk, such as the pale skinned ones with many tattoos and odd, painful looking needles in their faces. An elderly slant-eyed human smoking a noxious-smelling pipe in a toothless mouth is managing a game of chance with a goblin, one of those pierced individuals, and some local humans. The goblin suddenly sits up and says "Mah-jongg! I win, now pay up." They do not look friendly and I avoid them, taking a seat near the back of the bar but away from them. An intense man of the slant eyed variety with an axe on a pole—I think the weapon is called a halberd—is drinking in the room, watching the game from a distance. He keeps a stony face but winks at me. I leave him alone for now. 

To think that all of these folk have had theirs claimed by the Maelstrom, much as my own, is humbling. 

Eventually a young woman wearing a white shirt that pushes her bosom up and a long flowing skirt asks me what I want. She introduces herself, sensing my lack of understanding of this place. "You're one of those refugees, aren't you? The ones from the forest that was burned, right?"

She looks to the owl on my shoulder  

I reply, "Yes, I am. My name is Lirra." I nod to the owl. "This is Micrathene. He won't be any trouble."

She eyes Micrathene warily. "I bet he's hell on rats. My name is Julia. I can get you something from the bar."  

She brings me a glass of the local brew. I long for a glass of the cider that Master Rathelon made at home. Alas, there will be no more of his brews anymore, for he fell in battle with the flame beast summoned by the giants. Still the beer is clearly brewed by one who cares. 

"Juila, I'm here to meet someone. Do you know Captain Hibernius?"

"Oh yes, he and his crew always come in from working on their project at the end of the day!"

She blushes. "He pinched my bottom once when I was slow with his beer!"

"If you see him, tell him that I'm waiting here." 

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On Trying to Meet the Emperor

I have heard these humans are incredibly rigid, venal and grasping, but I truly did not understand just how much until this morning.

I went to the palace, a building the size of which I cannot even begin to comprehend, in the hope of being able to speak to the Emperor. I spoke to a man, Silve Noraa Yelserpius, the Chamberlain of the Third Door. I said that I had business with the Emperor regarding one of my people but he was quite oblique about how I could speak with the Chamberlain of the Second Door, a man named Sissac Cibmalius Terrellius. He hinted perhaps that if I were to "favor" him, I could perhaps have an audience with Terrelius in a fortnight. I wasn't entirely certain what he meant by that word—my command of the human tongue could be better—but his eyes spoke volumes. I wonder what it is that Terrellius would demand? 

After I left, a pair of rather young humans in a uniform asked me if I would "take the oath" and join the Oathsworn, assuring me that I would obtain "the best training available in weapons and have three square meals a day."I politely told them no but they chased after me in the street for a while. 

I have heard of some of Terhali's associates, such as Keffin, Hibernius and Raiden, but I have no idea where they can be found. Nor do I know where she stayed, as it appears she spent most of her time in Vergence in disguise 

No one wants to tell me anything… at least not without "favors." 

—-L.

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Shipyards and Bureacrats

Cadet Limestone nervously dodged a cart hauling an immense tubular machine as she struggled to find her way in the shipyard. She startled as a voice behind her shouted.

“Cadet! This is a restricted area, what’re ya doin hyeah?”

She turned and couldn’t find the source of the voice, until a tugging at her knee lowered her attention to behold a gnome with improbably spiky hair. “Down here ya idjit!”

After a few stammering starts she finally got out “Message for Captain Hibernius, sir!”

He looked at her skeptically, “Ya know Hibernius?”, after she shook her head, he went on, “Second spar on yer right, jes listen for the loud stream of foul words from a man as ol as dirt. He’ll be shoutin at a bunch of wet behind thar ers idjits who are runnin round lookin as lost and skeered as you.”

His directions turned out to be prophetically good as she navigated her way down the spar to see a very old man with Captain’s wings suddenly appear behind a young man and commence to shouting at him about using the wrong kind of wrench. After he’d corrected the matter, accompanied by a running commentary on the youth’s obvious sexual preference for being buggered by Craggen, weak mind, and likelihood of breaking wind in front of the Emperor, Hibernius eventually turned his attention her way.

“You. Limestone’s daughter? What’re you doing on my spar?”

Stunned into silence, she fumbled at her waist for the scroll and held it out at him mutely.

Taking the scroll he patted her on the shoulder “Relax girl, I trained your father, and his father. Good to see you keeping up the tradition.” She wasn’t able to actually relax at all. In the back of her mind, something clicked and she finally matched up dinner table horror stories of Captain Burnyourassius’ stern approach to instruction with the man standing before her.

Looking over the seal his bushy white eyebrows creased as he glowered at it and muttered “Seal of the imperial household staff… can’t say I’m glad to see the return of trumped up doorkeepers. At least the knob shiners can be relied upon to follow through on a financially rewarding request for unusual gossip…”

After reading it he looked up and said, "You get a look at this unusual elf, who can barely speak imperial, doesn’t know how to grease the wheels and got hereself turned away?

“No sir”

“Ha, unusual elf, first we can’t find any, then we have too many of em, now we’re back down to almost none again.”

Not knowing how to respond, she stood at attention with her best posture and waited.

“Ok Cadet, your mission is to find her and tell her to meet me at the Mended Kettle at six. We’ll see if we can use a potential diplomatic disaster with the elves to fire some useless bureacrats. If you see that amped up maniac Raiden in the process, go ahead and invite him along. If not, well he’ll probably be there half in the cask already. Under no circumstances are you to accept any invitations he extends. He’s a bad infleunce on young minds.”

She stood waiting for further instructions.

“What’re you waiting for Cadet? You have your orders. Be quick about it. Dismissed!”

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Notes on the Maelstrom

Kong Meng’s team had been away for most of an hour when a slight tremor rippled through the area. I studied it and determined it to be of mechanical origin. Presumably they had activated some large scale part of the facility described in Gericscht’s journal. I didn’t have much time to consider it further as the activity attracted a large number of ill formed things from the Maelstrom.

Some of them made the tactical error of assaulting the Fool’s Errand. Unlike the more resilient forms who had assaulted us during entry, many of these were remarkably fragile. In some cases I found I could simply study them for inconsistencies and then unmake them by an act of will. Though doing so required establishing an unpleasant mental contact with the things. They didn’t have much of a mentality, as they seem to be consumed by confusion and rage at their own existence. Things made of this ephemeral chaos matter are more full of ferocity than stability. The more durable creatures who appear here seem to be corrupted forms of more ordinary creatures. It is as though this place is inherently inimical to the order required for life itself.

I cleared the area around the ship and the wave of things subsided for lack of anything to focus upon. Further experimentation showed that this chaos stuff is more fungible and easily manipulated than normal matter. I was able to will much larger constructions into being than normal, but they only held onto existence for mere moments before vanishing into the howling storm. Clearly I’m going to need a more fundamentally resilient form of matter as a basis for humanity’s new home. I’ll need to investigate the land of my birth, the Astral Sea, to seek something suitable.

The others are returning now, accompanied by some extraordinarily well made beings. Whoever designed them was on an unimpeachable level of exceeding taste and refinement, these are like Warforged as imagined by a god. This is going to be an interesting trip.

What the hell happened to Oli? She looks like someone welded a warforged all over her. Where is Terhali? Javelin looks like he was just barely riveted back together. Noname is radiating existential despair at an intensity that is nearly high enough for a normal person to pick up on. I’m going to have some very harsh words for Commander Kong Meng, the only person he brought back unchanged is the grizzled and imperturbable Deacon. Frankly, of everyone we sent out he was the only one who really needed a bit of a facelift.

- Captain Keffin Balnor

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