Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Zeitgeist: The Dying Skyseer - Session 09

In the previous session the constables of the Royal Homeland Constabulary captured two dragonborn arsonists. This session started the next day, in the morning, with the group assembling in front of the RHC headquarters before their daily status meeting with their boss, Stover Delft. It is the 6th of Summer (in a calendar that just has seasons, not months), and this being a nice day the group is standing outside chatting for a while before going into the office. At this point a sudden breeze rises up and carries a yellow canary towards the group. To their surprise the canary speaks with a women's voice, with a slight Danoran accent.

The voice is the one of Gale, the "eco-terrorist" the group is supposed to pursue. In previous sessions the constables had helped an old skyseer who is a friend of Gale, and had asked him to organize a meeting. Now Gale is offering such a meeting, at the time of the group's convenience, but in her territory, the Cloudwood. The group accepts and plans the meeting for the early afternoon of this same day, starting from the RHC HQ at noon, guided by the canary.

But first they hold the meeting with their boss. They don't tell him about negotiating with Gale, and pretend that they arrested the two arsonists because of a possible connection to her. Gale is suspected to be behind factory arson attacks. Stover Delft is satisfied with their progress and sends them off to interrogate the arsonists. In the possessions of the two dragonborn they find a magical staff, and a portrait of a man with a beard, which they recognize as being Dr. Wolfgang von Recklinghausen. They had already heard about the doctor as being the last person to speak to Nilasa before her death, and having received a bundle of something, possibly documents, from her.

Interrogating the arsonists revealed that they are criminals for hire, but had one repeat customer in Flint, a hooded, shadowy man whom they met only once and who communicates with them via letters now. The group concluded that this was the same man seen shooting Nilasa, and also the same who sicced the phantoms on Cauldron Hill onto them. The factory arsons were ordered by this man, and he also asked the two dragonborn to kill both the Danoran security chief Julian LeBrix and the doctor. Having failed at their latest arson attempt of Heward's factory as well as both assassination attempts, the two dragonborn didn't have any recent communication from their employer. The dragonborn had tracked down the doctor to an old theater in Parity Lake, but that was the headquarters of a local gangster boss, Lorcan Kell, and apparently the doctor was under Kell's protection, so they couldn't get to him. That sounded like a promising path of further investigation, but first they had to meet Gale.

The canary led the group to Cloudwood, to the top of a waterfall. Gale approached them, floating over the water and staying out of melee range. The group had previously agreed among themselves to hear her out instead of directly trying to arrest her, and the situation didn't look promising for an arrest anyway. Gale told them that she had with the help of a fairy friend a few months ago visited the Shadowfell, a parallel plane to the prime material plane, filled with shadow and undead. To her surprise she had detected that large construction work was going on in the Shadowfell version of Flint, somewhere around the area of Cauldron Hill. She has concluded that there was some sort of conspiracy going on, she suspects her enemy the Danorans. Gale believes that the Danorans are somehow bring materials from the prime material plane to the Shadowfell in order to construct some large weapon, maybe a battleship, there. If they could then move that weapon back into real Flint and start firing on the city, that could be a decisive blow in a future war between Risur and Danor.

So Gale believes that she and the constables have a common enemy and offers to help them to inquire further: She gives them a ritual that allows tracing planar energy. As the constables have been in contact with the planar energy of the Shadowfell on Cauldron Hill, the ritual should allow them to find the people involved in the weapon construction. Gale doesn't ask the constables to trust her, a wanted criminal, but to investigate themselves. Although some of the players have doubts about collaborating with a terrorist, they reluctantly agree, because from their previous investigation they do believe some sort of conspiracy going on.

Their first plan is to use the ritual in the vicinity of the theater where they think Doctor von Recklinghausen is hiding, to determine whether dark forces are at work there. While trying to find a secluded spot in an alley behind the theater to cast the ritual, they come upon a woman crying for help. Apparently two thugs have kidnapped the woman's baby and are running away. Against the protests of Merian, who would have preferred to remain inconspicuous, the group runs after the men and into a building.

There they are suddenly blinded by limelight, and find themselves having run onto a stage. In front of them is a curious character looking like a pirate and holding a bundle looking like a swaddled baby. The audience consists of 40 or so thugs, armed with pistols, and Lorcan Kell in a private box above. The audience spurred the constables on to provide a spectacle. Closer examination revealed the "pirate" to be some dupe from the road, totally confused. He dropped the "baby", which was fortunately out of wood, and cried out "Don't kill me! Don't kill me!". The constables decided to play along and chased him into the curtains, putting on a bit of an act with James even playing the piano. Aria considered attacking the audience with a spell, but none of her spells would have caught more than a few of the thugs, and it was clear that they would return fire immediately.

So instead the group addressed Lorcan Kell, and asked him to be allowed to speak to Doctor von Recklinghausen. Kell said that the doctor had paid for his protection, but the money was running out and he was looking for more. He said that he had another offer which he would have taken soon, but offered the constables to overbid that and pay 1,000 gold in exchange for the doctor. He wouldn't budge on the price, but agreed on not only leading the group to the doctor's hiding place, but also removing his guards there so that they could face him with minimal resistance. The group wasn't totally happy about having run into Kell's theater trap and the payment, but agreed anyway. After being led to an abandoned church in a cave in the Nettles, the group paid up and we ended the session there.

This session went rather well. I had been a bit afraid of the two encounters with Gale and Kell, because in both cases the group could have attacked, which would have resulted in no gain and less information for them. As it went they pretty much got all the information that they could have, and are now right on track for the third chapter of the adventure. And maybe they learned that negotiation is sometimes better than combat.


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