Zeitgeist - Case Notes

Schism

Train Schedules

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Grappa's Letter

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Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman

Hostage Letter

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The Bruse's Challenge

Bruse Shantus is holding a competition to decide whether Risur (represented by the RHC Constables) or Danor (represented by Lya Jierre and her associates, also representing Obscurati interests) will be granted access to Tinker.
The Bruse, his vizier Zarkava, and his minister of dragon affairs Kenna, as 'head, heart, and purse-strings', will each have one vote, based on their opinion of the two parties. The other two votes will be determined by who wins each of two challenges, to get the three of them more time to get to know the parties before their votes after the completion of the two challenges. Whichever party gets the most out of 5 votes wins access to Tinker.

The Rules

  • First, neither group may leave the grounds of the summer court before sunrise on the next day (Summer 2 is the official start date of both challenges).
  • Second, if any member of either group or anyone affiliated with them attempts to locate or contact Tinker before the end of this contest, the offending group will receive the ire of Shantus and his nation. No cheater shall be allowed to meet with the gnome, and anyone who acts in bad faith will be named an enemy of Ber.
  • Third, if any member of one group attacks anyone in the other group, the attackers will forfeit. Shantus grins and admits he’s open to a bit of interpretation. A little friendly disruption via third parties is fine, but we’re all civilized here, and he won’t abide killing someone from the other side.

First Challenge

The Cantabrilla Railroad will connect the nation’s east and west coasts so that freight won’t have to travel along the southern coast, which has its share of hostile territory, such as the unincorporated gnoll tribes. The entire length will come to three hundred and twenty-five miles, stretching between the cities of Reo Pedresco and Renza.
To motivate its fast completion, the Ministry of Dragon Affairs hired two companies: Griento Railways out of Renza, and Liss Rail Construction out of Reo Pedresco. Whenever a company completed twenty-five miles of the railroad on schedule it earned a bonus, and as the two groups near the central linkage point the Bruse is offering even greater bonuses for whichever company lays the most track.
Currently the heads of the two lines are separated by thirty-six miles, and each side can lay one or two miles of track per day. Going is rough because the route passes through the central river lands, rugged terrain full of steep gullies carved by numerous rivers and streams.
The Bruse will award one vote to whichever group gets their railroad to lay eighteen miles first. He assigns the RHC to help Liss Rail Construction and Lya’s group to Griento Railways

Second Challenge

The “Riven Sea of Gold,” Marrajado de Oro, forms part of the border between Risur and Ber. For centuries Risur had to defend against naval attacks from fleets of the dragon tyrants and later by orcish warlords. But times have been peaceful since Vairday Bruse united the nation.
However the current executive authority there, Cavallo de Guerra, is a thorn in Bruse Shantus’s side. He’s refusing to pay a fair share for the construction of the Selestala Railroad, which will link his capital city Citado Cavallo with Seobriga. This is just the latest dispute.
The Bruse tasks the PCs with convincing Cavallo to make a public pledge of loyalty and agree to pay for his share of the Selestala route. And he tasks Lya’s group with discrediting Cavallo, by convincing him to launch an attack on Risuri territory, specifically the fort Manhill, which has long defended against orcish attacks. Whichever happens first earns its team a vote.

Beran News Clipping

(Translated from Beran)
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Cauldron-Born

Radical Eschatologists

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Central District's Subrail Routes

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Epistle from Heid

I, Vlendam Heid, son of Anisim Heid, son of Modya Bohm, dictate this letter to professional typist Kimsta Vicked, who uses only the finest Zhugo-brand mecha-typographs. It was delivered by Trekhom-based Mori Couriers.

May you have the wisdom and calm to face your coming end.

I send this in hopes it can help you prepare for whatever end may befall you. While I accept not all who are exposed to my writings and speeches shall interpret them as I would desire, it does not surprise me that some radicals claim the name of this movement I inspired and pervert it to ends inimical to my intentions, and to what I believe any good citizen of this world, man or dwarf, would support.

There is, in the frigid north of Drakr, a dwarf woman named Grandis Komanov whom I cannot in good faith call a philosopher. Rather she is, if I may use a pejorative term, a spiritual leader. One of Komanov’s adherents came to me this evening and in a most vulgar fashion bragged of what one of his peers would be doing in your city of Flint. I believe he thought I would show him approval, but his intentions—and moreover his enthusiasm for the methods—repulsed me.

Komanov has taken the volumes of writing I have produced, condensed them to a simple aphorism “Prepare for the end,” and then encouraged an interpretation that more closely resembles “Make things end.” You may not be familiar with my nation’s old history of monsters in the frozen wastes, but we are always putting up with zealots who derive worldly power by preying on the beliefs of those seeking spiritual power from these long-perished entities. Komanov continues this tradition, but appears much more invested in the fiction she has produced.

In short, my visitor this night claims a group of Komanov’s followers—who alas have several days’ head start on this letter—head now to Flint with the intention of disrupting your peace summit and causing a great tide of mayhem and death. They think peace between your two nations will forestall a doomsday they greatly desire.

I feigned interest in my visitor’s claims, and elicited two pieces of information you might value. First, the leader of this group is Grundun Zubov who is not known to me. Second, they have hired a crack marksman for reasons I can only guess, one Kvarti Gorbatiy. His name kindled some recognition, and I pored through old correspondence to find a letter he had written me a few months past. Unless his demeanor has greatly changed in the intervening time, I suspect his involvement is mercenary and not philosophically aligned with Komanov’s radicalism.

While I assume you will pursue actions to obviate any disaster they intend, I entreat you first to prepare yourself that your best efforts may fail and that you might perish in undertaking your duty. Nevertheless, I wish you success.

Ekossigan's Poem

When spring returns to winter, / The cauldron births a spark.
The steel betrays the vintner, / The silver spurns the arc.
The fire-bride’s dissension: / Dismissed by green-adorned.
The wheel-woven dead man / Shall wake the cauldron-born.

Phyllis' take:

'When spring returns to winter' — Ekossigan underwent a transformation of the 'spring' to 'winter' in our encounter with him. I don't know if there is a causal relationship, but it does point to the timing of things. Borne awoke shortly after — hence 'the cauldron births a spark.' 'The steel betrays the vintner' refers to how Borne awoke at the worst time for Quital — who, might I remind you, has a family famous for its vineyards.

I am unsure as to the next three stanzas' meaning, though the likeliest interpretation I have of the bit about the fire-bride is the king's willingness to marry Lya, despite her involvement with the Obscurati. (I am uncertain if this could instead refer to Asrabey and Kasravina somehow, or if I'm off-base entirely. I could be the fire-bride, for all we know, but I certainly have no intent to wed anyone currently.)

'The silver spurns the arc' is still a mystery to me almost entirely — does this mean Ottavia or someone in the silver cell rejected something? Does this refer to the Dreaming, somehow? Or the moon? Was it a Dreamer's Moon on that night, when the influence of the Bleak Gate would be at its strongest during the lunar cycle? Does it refer to the arc of silver reportedly visible in Apet? Does it, and this is stretching things, refer to Heward Sechim or some other factory's practices of etching silver? Something to do with needlewire, the substance that the Ob injects into its subordinates to communicate with Nicodemus?

'The wheel-woven dead man / Shall wake the cauldron-born.' This part troubles me, and is what has troubled me for a long time in our affairs with the Obscurati. Their subordinates always seem unaware of their plans suddenly going awry. Macbannin's mansion suffering an earthquake at an inopportune time (us being present to arrest him). The seal and the lanterns underneath our own HQ were stated, by Sijihen, to have been prepared — but obviously by someone other than Sijhen. Borne awoke on Quital, much to Quital's dismay and surprise. While Nicodemus denied these things, I know of no one else that could orchestrate these "mishaps." (Anyone sufficiently high up enough the Obscurati chain of command could have done so, but "dead man" also seems to pinpoint Nicodemus, at this point.)

Briefing Dossier

This dossier is official correspondence of His Majesty King Aodhan’s Royal Homeland Constabulary. By the powers of his office, the king has sealed this document, and any unauthorized individuals opening it shall come to the attention of the RHC.
Unapproved opening of this document is an offence against the crown. Let those who transgress be struck down, as established in the Rites of Rulership.

Peace Summit of 501 AOV

Spring 8. Mediator Brakken of Heffanita arrives from Ber. Drakran observer Steffan Eberhardt is already in town.
Spring 9. Danoran vessel Freux Rouge arrives, carrying Captain Rosalyn Taylor and Minister of Magic Pierre Riquier. For the Risur delegation, Geoff Massarde and Kian Doherty arrive from Slate.
Spring 13. At 6pm, Danoran vessel Lux Profectusque arrives, carrying Sovereign Han Jierre, Minister of Outsiders Lya Jierre, and Minister of War Eloise Duffet. That evening a banquet involving all dignitaries and begins the Peace Summit.
Spring 14. King Aodhan and Sovereign Han Jierre hold private talks.
Spring 20. The talks are scheduled to end with a formal declaration of betrothal between the King and Lya Jierre.
Spring 22. The Sovereign and most of the delegation will depart, while Lya Jierre will begin a nationwide political tour. Life in Flint can return to normal.

In the Risur delegation.

  • King Aodhan.
  • Principal Minister Harkover Lee.
  • Royal Engineer Geoff Massarde.
  • Minister of Agriculture Kian Doherty.
  • City Governor Roland Stanfield.

And for the Danorans.

  • Sovereign Han Jierre.
  • Minister of Outsiders Lya Jierre.
  • Minster of War Eloise Duffet.
  • Minister of Magic Pierre Riquier.
  • Naval Representative Rosalyn Taylor.

And finally.

  • Mediator Brakken of Heffanita.
  • Drakran Observer Steffan Eberhardt.

Persons of Note

Hereafter labeled as PN#.

  • PN1. Danoran Minister of Outsiders Lya Jierre. Niece of Sovereign Han Jierre. Witnessed at gathering of Obscurati in Vendricce. Involvement unknown.
  • PN2. Nathan Jierre. Cousin of Lya. Researcher at Axis Island, accomplice of Duchess Ethelyn of Shale. Involved in extraplanar observation.
  • PN3. Luc Jierre. Brother of Lya. Arcanoscientist, inventor of artifact identified as “Wayfarer Lantern.” Delivered lantern to Lya Jierre and PN5 in Vendricce.
  • PN4. Sovereign Han Jierre. Ruler of Danor. Involvement unknown.
  • PN5. “Nicodemus.” Unnamed individual smoking cigarettes (leaf of Nicodemus) at gathering in Vendricce. Appeared to have a leadership role.
  • PN6. Duchess Ethelyn of Shale. Sister of King Aodhan. Claimed skyseer vision warned of threat to Risur. Attempted assassination of king. Attacked Axis Island. See attachment PN6a.
  • PN7. Reed Macbannin. (deceased) Mayor of Flint district of The Nettles. Operated facility on Cauldron Hill refining substance identified as “Witchoil.” Committed suicide in prison cell.
  • PN8. Cillian Creed. (deceased) Butler of Macbannin. Infused with Bleak Gate magic, granting shadowy physical form. Performed murder, organized smuggling operation, attempted cover-up, and likely other criminal activities on behalf of Macbannin.
  • PN9. Her Majesty Princess Fairy Dust, Hana “Gale” Soliogn. Eladrin refugee from Danor. Hostile to Danoran industrial activity in Flint. Unconfirmed role in murder and arson of industrialists. Sent PN10 Nilasa on spy mission in Danoran consulate in Flint.
  • PN10. Nilasa Hume. (deceased) Stole financial documents from consulate, linking Macbannin to various criminal enterprises. Murdered by PN8 Cillian Creed.
  • PN11. His Grace the Duke of Slaughter. Lorcan Kell. Crime lord in Flint district Parity Lake, with base of operations in location identified as “Theater of Scoundrels.” Renowned for violence and cruelty. Examination of stolen financial documents reveal many factories in Parity Lake changed ownership—we suspect by intimidation—and were registered in the names of known members of Kell’s guild. Strong certainty that Kell aided Macbannin in smuggling various industrial goods to destination unknown. After Macbannin’s arrest, Kell’s guild apparently accompanied agents of the Obscurati during the attack on the RHC headquarters.
  • PN12. Leone Quital the “Steelshaper.” Aided PN8 Creed in attempt to recover documents at an abandoned church in The Nettles. Demonstrated ability to move and shape metal without obvious spellcasting. Had a Crisillyiri accent, likely related to the owners of Quital Vineyards.
  • PN13. Lady Inspectress Margaret Saxby. Former head of the RHC in Flint. Apparently worked to help Macbannin maintain secrecy, believing it was part of an official Risuri military project. Appears to have no direct affiliation with the Obscurati.
  • PN14. Kaja Stewart. (deceased) Arcanoscientist in Macbannin’s laboratory who stole items identified as “Ancient Artifacts” after Macbannin was captured. Worked with PN11 Kell to fence these items. Dead through possibly faked suicide in cell at RHC headquarters.
  • PN15. Caius Bergeron. Alleged patron of archaeology. According to PN14 Kaja, Bergeron brought Ancient Artifacts to Macbannin for examination, to determine their powers and risk. Funded multiple expeditions to Ancient ruins. Killed via exneuralation by Sijhen. Arranged bodyguards for PN3 Luc on Avery Coast Railroad, apparently with intent to accompany to Vendricce.
  • PN16. Sijhen. Mysterious being, identified as a “Gidim.” See attachment PN16a for details of Gidim. Entity sought to return to its own plane. Believed dead or banished when its portal collapsed. No apparent affiliation with conspiracy.
  • PN17. Xambria Meredith. Archaeologist who excavated location identified as “Ancient High Bayou Ziggurat.” Recovered Ancient Artifacts, which were delivered to PN15 Bergeron. Possessed by PN16 Sijhen, and shared memories. Provided the name “Obscurati” to identify hostile conspiracy; we suspect the name was gleaned from consumed brain of PN15.

Obscurati Intelligence

Herein an overview of knowledge about the organization identified as “Obscurati” by Person of Note 17 (Xambria Meredith).

Section the First: Obscurati Organization
The Ob (for short) appear to have a very strong focus on secrecy and compartmentalization. It is possible they have other cells of their organization that we are unaware of simply because the operatives we’ve interrogated were not privy to the full scope. Indeed, given the conspiracy’s assets and international span, it seems likely they are up to more than just operations in Flint.
It is imperative that we trace the chain of command to its top and then work our way down to lower tiers of other cells.

Section the Second: Operations in Flint
In Flint, we suspect PN12 Steelshaper convinced PN7 Macbannin to work on a fake Risuri military project. Macbannin operated in our world and helped smuggle materials, we suspect into the Bleak Gate, which are likely being used to construct something that requires a great industrial base. Macbannin also refined witchoil, which likely would be used as fuel for whatever is being created. The Ob want it to remain secret, and have gone to elaborate lengths to keep it so.
The Ob appear to have a base, and likely factory or assembly facilities in the Bleak Gate, and possess means to travel between that world and ours with relative ease.

Section the Third: Wider Operations
The Ob are interested in reaching or manipulating other planes. It is possible PN15 Bergeron’s funding of Ancient expeditions is merely tangential to their main activities, but PN3 Luc’s invention, the Wayfarer Lantern, has the potential to influence planar magic. Additionally, Axis Island had unusual planar fluctuations, and PN2 Nathan was studying other stars.

Section the Fourth: Goals
Unfortunately, we lack enough information to present anything but baseless speculation.

Attachment PN6A: Ethelyn's Prophecy

Duchess Ethelyn of Shale allegedly received this prophecy. It, along with numerous other factors, motivated her treason against the crown.

A globe spins on its axis, and a steel ship sets off to war on a sail of shadows. The world passes into night, and blackness grips all of Risur as the stars fall from the sky. The king’s eyes turn a soulless white, and he moves as a puppet, his strings pulled by a man who has already died a thousand times.

Though we are wary of putting excessive stock in prophecy—if for no other reason than the desire to avoid hubristically bringing its predictions to pass in the course of trying to prevent them—we can see some obvious parallels to current situations.
The “axis” likely motivated Ethelyn to target Axis Island. Likewise the “steel ship” suggests the R.N.S. Coaltongue, a prominent Risuri steel warship. The “sail of shadows” could simply be the smoke from its engine, or might be related to the Obscurati’s penchant for hiding, particularly in the shadowy Bleak Gate. However, the ship has not set off to war, and indeed the current peace plans will hopefully avoid any imminent war.
We see no obvious correlations in the rest of the prophecy. If it is true, that suggests the events have not yet occurred. Stars falling from the sky could relate to any number of meteor showers, or perhaps the incursion from Gidim, a previously unknown world (see Attachment PN16a), but this is only speculation.
—— Royal Skyseer Cliff Swanland

Corraborating this prophecy with others — see my notes elsewhere — my own interpretation of the rest of the prophecy corresponds to parts of Seedism lore, where both meteor showers and rakshasa are prominent. The entity known as Nicodemus, who I suspect is a rakshasa, 'a man who has already died a thousand times,' who has reincarnated that many times, is trying to somehow gain control of the King (one such method being the king's betrothal to Lya Jierre, a confirmed Obscurati member) — though I do not know for what ends or purpose.
—— Constable Phyllis Lenz

Attachment PN16A: Gidim

Creatures identified as “Gidim Warbeasts” appeared several times, apparently summoned from the planet Apet, also known as The Distant Plane. Apet is source of teleportation and divination magic, and the incomplete silver ring that surrounds it is source of foresight magic. Travel to plane was believed impossible, and no creatures could be summoned from there.
At Ancient High Bayou Ziggurat, a golden plate sealed a portal to a small pocket dimension, which appeared to have originally been part of Apet before being sliced away. Several creatures escaped, including PN16 Sijhen. Based on explanation from PN14 Xambria, the entity was not native to Apet, but rather from the planet/plane/star called Gidim. Alternately, the creature’s race might just be called Gidim. We are operating with dubious nomenclature.
Sijhen, like the Gidim Warbeasts, existed primarily as manifested thought, with ability to become solid. Our best guess is that they feed on thought or emotion, either indirectly—like plants requiring intangible sunlight—or physically. After PN16’s arrival in Flint, numerous victims were reported having their brains removed through the palates of their mouths. Apparently Sijhen acquired the knowledge of the minds it ate. The warbeasts appear to have been lacking higher intelligence. Sijhen’s possession of PN17 might have been dependent on circumstances, or could be trait of entire species.
Entity attempted to open a portal to its homeworld, though no place called Gidim is known to our skyseers or astronomers, and such travel would normally be impossible. It acquired an ancient artifact known as “Ancient Star Map” which it appeared to use to direct its portal. The possibility of an extraterrestrial race possessed of these powers is greatly concerning, but is beyond the scope of this current investigation. Henceforth, by order of the king, all information about the Gidim is to remain secret, and any previous statements are to be disavowed as a deception perpetrated by unknown fey entities. Until further information is acquired, any additional incursions by the Gidim should be kept hidden from the general public to avoid a mass panic.

Ranyard Muldrate
RHC Slate branch
S.C.P. Division
On behalf of Lord Viscount Inspector Nigel Price-Hill

Always On Time

Letter from Elanor Yanette, Day 4

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Cover Identities

  • Chandrasekhar

Ananth Rao, wandering chanter of the Dirge of Vekesh. Goes between 'fabulously wealthy' and 'penniless' with some regularity - asceticism is good for the aesthetic. Towards the 'fabulously wealthy' end of the spectrum right now - he's making his way home to Elfaivar, to tithe it all. Currently engaged in nightly philosophy duels with a dwarven philosopher he's recently met on his travels, and trying to keep Jeremy in the precisely correct amount of trouble for the betterment of his character.

  • Gerald

Jeremy Smith. Son of a well off factory owner who recently completed his schooling but isn't quite up to the task of inheriting the family business just yet. Was sent off with [Chandra], an old friend of his fathers, to go travel the world for some time to gain more worldly experience. Kind of a lazy good for nothing, but is moderately decent at tinkering around with machines.

  • Phyllis

Hilda Straub, originally hailing from Drakr. Well-versed in the philosophical tradition, she went abroad to continue her studies, eventually finding the variety of the Panoply school in Ber to better appeal to her own outlook more than Heid Eschatol does — one that celebrates the life that exists instead of focusing on merely the end. She's become something of a continual world-traveller, having just made recent acquaintances of [Chandra's Cover Identity] and Jeremy at a lecture in Ber. She has an elegant and refined look to her.

  • Ernst

Stocke Alistel. A freelance engineer that can fix pretty much anything at a glance. He's supposedly drafted up the blueprints for quite a few golem models and sold them to the highest bidder. Despite being wealthy to some degree he is incredibly frugal. He's travelling across the continent for a trade show.

  • Garrett

Jack Noir. Security expert and consultant to the wealthy. His company "Safeway Security & Consulting" (SafeSACk) sells advice and equipment for both mechanical concerns (locks, traps, fake doors, building layout) and preventive social exploits (OPSEC practices, instituting companywide ID measures, anti-phishing measures). Owns a minor stake in a business insurance firm. Attended the Kaybeaus Armament and Technology Exposition to keep up on the latest tech, used that knowledge to secure a few new contracts. With those papers signed, he decided to take a casual vacation. Consulted for Jeremy Smith's father, though the two of them being on the same train at the same time is coincidental. (OR IS IT…)

  • Zane

Anthony Batali. A quiet half-orc cook with consumate knife skills and a strong reluctance to talk about hsi past. He has the insignia for the Ber War College on the ring securing his neckerchief, but says he's doing research for his final thesis, An Army Marches On Its Stomach: How Diet and Nutrition Affect The Bodies Humors. or Eating Your Way To Victory

Schedule

  • 85 Autumn, 500. Your ship departs Flint. Trip to Beaumont should take 7 days.
  • 1 Winter, 500. Your ship arrives in Beaumont. Your ship sails for Trekhom. (You have a ten-day buffer in case of trouble at sea.)
  • 11 Winter, 500. Train departs Beaumont at 7:30 a.m.
  • 11 Winter, 500. Train arrives in Cherage by 6:00 p.m.
  • 12 Winter, 500. Train departs Cherage at 7:30 a.m.
  • 12 Winter, 500. Train arrives in Orithea by 6:15 p.m.
  • 13 Winter, 500. Train departs Orithea at 7:30 a.m.
  • 13 Winter, 500. Train arrives in Trekhom by 6:30 p.m. Your ship will be waiting at the harbour.
  • 14 Winter, 500. Train departs Trekhom at 7:30 a.m. Your ship sails for Sid Minos.
  • 14 Winter, 500. Train arrives in Nalaam by 6:00 p.m.
  • 15 Winter, 500. Train departs Nalaam at 7:30 a.m.
  • 15 Winter, 500. Train arrives in Sid Minos by 5:30 p.m. Your ship will be waiting at the harbour.
  • 16 Winter, 500. Train departs Sid Minos at 7:30 a.m.
  • 16 Winter, 500. Train arrives in Vendricce by 6:00 p.m. Your ship will be waiting at the harbour. Trip to Flint should take 8 days.
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Digging for Lies

Obscurati Rings

  • Mayor Reed Macbannin. Bronze Ring. “Overcome Black Arts.”
  • Lady Inspectress Margaret Saxby. Bronze Ring. “Opportunity Begets Glory.”
  • Caius Bergeron. Gold Ring. “Old Bergeron Gold.”
  • Finona Duvall. Gold Ring. “Original Brave Ideas.”
  • Ottavia Sacredote. Silver Ring. “Orthodoxy Bolsters Gods.”

The Pardwight Museum of Natural History

A Strange Letter

Hans Weber received this letter shortly after Xambria disappeared by the seal of Mavisha.
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A Found Note

A note within a ritual book aboard Il Draçon de Mer provides insight into the goals of Caius Bergeron and his associates. The following is translated from the Common dialect of Danor:

Memorandum for Finona Duvall,
I was impressed by the flawless professionalism of your clean-up at the High Bayou excavation. The previous expedition was
staffed with cavalier fools, but you emerged unscathed from peril, which highlights your intellect and acumen. I think you have
the potential to benefit my associates greatly, and if your work continues to be of this masterful calibre, I shall recommend you be
brought in more fully.
To wit, I trust you will handle this your fourth dig site with the same skill. However, for your new Drakran bodyguards, this
will be their first time opening a seal. I am confident neither is so loutish and disruptive as Master Rackus was at the ziggurat of
Jiese. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we avoid a disaster like what occurred at the bayou ziggurat.
The magic and defences at these ruins are complex and secretive, so while I thoroughly trust your familiarity with the dangers,
we need take no unnecessary risks.
Firstly, each of the golden seals were crafted by the Ancients specifically to close a portal to another world. Examination of the
relief images on each suggests hostile creatures had been entering our world through these portals, and that the Ancients used
the seals to slow an invasion. The creatures were not of any known modern race. Be certain your allies are forewarned, and keep
close eye on their mental stability. At least once disaster has struck because someone panicked at the revelation that the world
was much larger than their current conception.
Second, the peculiar nature of the seal magic appears to have trapped a small mote of the other world on the far side of the
portal. I suspect that this somehow redirected the existing portals to this pocket dimension, and that perhaps simply closing the
portal was beyond the skill of the Ancients. Though ages have passed, and we can only assume the invasion forces were stopped
somehow, each time we have opened one of these seals, creatures have survived within. Make sure everyone is armed at all times
and ready for battle.
Third, the hostile creatures appear to have belonged to different factions, as the seals of Jiese, Nem, and Apet depict distinct
sorts of creatures. The Ancients clearly dealt with threats from worlds beyond those known to us today, since the beings that
emerged from the ziggurat of Apet do not match any of the current lore of that world. Indeed, the strange beasts were not even
the same sort as portrayed on the seals. Do not presume that simply because you are opening a portal to the plane of water that
any creatures beyond must share the same elemental affiliation. Use multiple warding circles in your initial explorations; we can
afford the expense.
Fourth, either time or magic has had the effect of concentrating the inherent planar energy within the mote beyond the seals.
When the Mavisha seal is finally opened, expect intense energy to pour out. This will probably just be elemental water energy, but
as always, precautions rule the day. Make sure first to know the nature of the energy, and set up appropriate wards. If possible,
do not be nearby when the seal opens.
Finally, while we have endeavoured to maintain a certain discretion in our activities, we have attracted the unfortunate attentions
of an RHC squad, and I fear we might be being watched by agents of the Unseen Court. Be prepared for attack from
without as well as within when you’re at the dig. Afterwards, maintain the greatest discretion in transporting the golden seal.
If necessary, abandon it so you can make sure to reach me with your research. While a ton of gold is valuable in its own right,
we’re fairly certain any gold suffices for these seals, so your examinations of the abjurations are more valuable than the physical
artifact.
Please try to enjoy your journey. Seobriga in Autumn is lovely, and I trust the more rustic charms of the land around the ziggurat
of Mavisha will provide a pleasant respite from the stress of avoiding ancient curses and otherworldly carnivores. I await
your return with an admitted enthusiasm, and I insist you recount your journey with the utmost detail while enjoying the finest
wines from my family’s vineyards.
Do be safe, Finona.

Your benefactor and cohort,
Caius Bergeron

P.S., If complications arise, do try to wrap up before Winter. It would be a treasure if you could accompany me by train from
Beaumont on the 11th. I have a meeting to attend on the 20th in Vendricce, after which I plan to stay in Crisillyir for a few months.
I would love the company of a vivacious young woman, since my host is somewhat too aged and philosophical for my tastes.

Thoughtform Creatures

A PC within 5 squares of any creature with the Thoughtform trait can spend a minor action to try to influence the creature with its thoughts. The PC makes an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma check, and chooses to target Fortitude, Reflex, or Will. A character can only attempt this once per round.
Fortitude- If the attack hits, the creature loses insubstantial and phasing until the start of the PC’s next turn. If it’s flying, it must land on its turn or fall.
Reflex- If the attack hits, the PC can slide the creature 2 squares.
Will- If the attack hits, the PC is invisible to the creature until the start of the PC’s next turn.

The Murder of Nilasa Hume

Nevards prophecy

"I saw a dark figure, standing atop Cauldron Hill, towering over our city. The sun set, and he cast a shadow across Parity Lake, stretching northwest, into the sea, beyond the horizon. He is born in our city, but his ultimate goal is elsewhere. And also things moved in his shadow—indeed, his shadow moved before he did, for while he was mighty, he was controlled by others." Borne. Being controlled by Grappa, Quital, who knows who else.
"I saw smoke hiding his face, for he was made mighty by industry. In my vision, a king chased him out to sea and defeated him by slicing him free from his shadow. But the cauldron had already shattered, and many thousands were drowned and devoured in its roil." Also Borne. Created by industry, chased out by Aodhan, and the cauldron-born.
"I saw three birds alight on the peak, the first of black silk, the second of black steel, both weeping blood. But the third was made of stars, and it sang many songs."
"I tell you this: Cauldron Hill is not safe. Twice will danger arise, and twice will we be deceived into thinking it is safe to return, but we must avoid the place and avoid being tricked. I have arranged shelter in the Cloudwood, where people can be safe until the darkness passes." Phyllis notes: The first return being our attempt to arrest MacBannin, the second return being Borne.
"A woman sat on a leather couch in a waiting room, surrounded by red curtains. She held a gold coin and rolled it across the back of her fingers. A pick lay against the side of the couch. He asked her what she was waiting for, and she answered in a language he didn’t know, saying, 'The place I’m going isn’t here yet.'" This line definitely refers to Meredith Xambria, from what we now know. The pick symbolizes her profession and the dig site, and the coin is the Apet Icon. … though on second thought, I am not so sure now.
"A trumpeter carried a lantern onto the stage of a darkened theater, and the people gathered for his performance applauded, then lit lanterns of their own. The theater never got bright enough for him to see their faces." The Obscurati, and the secretive nature of their organization. Not sure on the identity of the trumpeter, nor what event this actually references.
"One man tore himself in two, and his twin selves fought over a woman, tearing her into three, who ran away. Mice skittered around them, collecting cheese fallen amid the rails of a trainyard. Then a train roared down the track past him, but it had no one driving it. In the distance it derailed, and crushed two of the women, but which of the three survived?"
"A man carrying a bronze staff with three keyholes is assailed by swords and arrows and fire, but nothing kills him. He began to take off his robes, revealing tiger fur beneath them, while stars fell from the sky all around him. Then the sky was dark, and when the sun should have risen, instead a pale glowing cloud floated in the dark." The man resembles tales of rakshasa in Seedism, gods in the eladrin religion's pantheon that turned against their fellows and were cast out, turned to cats that walked like men. References to the sun rising and the pale glowing cloud seem to refer to the Obscurati's goal of "illumination" — and a prediction to the contrary. The imagery of the pale cloud evokes that of Nem, and seems to imply that instead of the enlightened, perfected society that Ottavia and Lya have spoken of, only ruin awaits.
"Finally, tyrant and murderer languished in prison, hanging from twelve chains and hooks that pierced her feet, her legs, her thighs, her shoulders, her arms, and her hands. But the thirteenth hook that sealed her mouth swung loose, and it fluttered in the breeze as she whispered a map that led everywhere." We may have met this 'tyrant and murderer' already. Ashima-Shimtu. The map does not refer to anything involving us directly, but it may refer to either the Ancient Star Map or to the ritual that she gave to a pair of travellers — that which was used to summon and slay Srasama, causing the Great Malice.

Further notes: I am going to make an incredibly bold claim. Miller's disappearance in history, while he fled the Clergy, matches up with the Great Malice. In fact, he had tried to start a new nation within the newly formed Malice Lands, Pala. Miller's writings have been used in history to influence the thoughts of others, using their uncertainty as a vessel to fill with someone else's will — to speak, and to manifest thoughts and ideas as real, much like the belief in Srasama to her physical avatar. That is, Miller's writings from his time in Pala share a trait in common with the ritual that Ashima-Shimtu gave to the pair of travellers on Odiem. They both describe how to turn noumena into phenomena.

This identifies at least one of the travellers. The second, I believe, is someone with the motive to slay Srasama, or to at least enact revenge against the gods of Seedism. A god himself, cast out and made into a rakshasa, who now leads the Obscurati to their new age. We know this man to be ages old, and their consciousness has persisted this long, likely through cycles of reincarnation mentioned in tales of Dhebisu's arsenal. See also, Ethelyn's prophecy, and the lines involving meteor showers and the "man who has died a thousand times." I suspect this second person/fallen god/rakshasa is the one we know as Nicodemus.

Notes

  • The fetch with our offer to Recklinghausen went in the northeast direction from HQ. In that direction is Cauldron Hill, Parity Lake, the eastern part of Northshore, and The Ayres. Willing to bet that he's in Parity Lake, given that's where Kell has the most influence in, but wouldn't be too surprised to see him in Northshore or on an island somewhere in The Ayres for safekeeping. Could always use another fetch to triangulate.
  • We apprehended some of Kell's men in Cloudswood, too, right? We haven't tried to get information out of them yet. Plus, if it comes down to needing muscle against Kell, the group we helped might be able to help.

Criminal File of Nilasa Hume

Nilasa_Hume.jpg

Person of Interest Information Request
Request No.: 3217
Customer: Royal Homeland Constabulary
Name: Nilasa Hume
Birthdate: 26 Spring, 471
Criminal ID #: 24680
Jurisdiction: Flint Division of Peace and Order
Race: Mularbora (human/elf)
Sex: Female
Height: 68 inches
Accent: Flinter
Hair: Black
Eyes: Green
Spellcaster: No
Known Aliases: None
Present Place of Residence: 47 Magazine Street, Parity Lake, Flint. Sechim’s Alkahest & Etchings. Factory — workplace and home.
Past Places of Residence: (1) (Alleged) 3.6 miles east on Batata Road. 0.4 miles south on Flogging Lagoon trail. Cloudwood. Greater Flint County. Flogging Lagoon musician commune — transient lodging (departed Spring 499).
(2) 82K Fogwall Street. Parity Lake. Flint. Shared building — mother’s home (demolished Winter 495).
Arrest Record: Juvenile Records. Juvenile records forgiven in accordance with Stanfield’s Matriculation Act of 328. Juvenile record notes “various petty thefts, confidence capers”; details lost during Parity Lake central office relocation.
Supporting Criminal Activities. (Misdemeanour.) Case No. 8176. (85 Spring, 500.) Released on bail, sponsored by Heward Sechim, 47 Magazine Street, Parity Lake. Court date set for 4 Summer, 500. Suspect apprehended in raid on known den of criminals, loc 12 Oxen Street, Parity Lake. Suspect in presence of two men whom the arresting officer recognized as former accomplices Ford Sorghum and Travis Starter. Lack of official records detailing affiliation prevented holding suspect. Alleged accomplices plead guilty to various warrants and were remanded to Goodson’s Estuarial Reformatory.
Attached Continuation Sheets: -0-

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