3 Sydenstar (Miresen/Sunday) 845 PD
Toe of the Titan.
They find themselves at the feet/toes of the titan, (it fell face first), emerging from an animal trail rather than the usual trail that people use to approach. There are bandits here, but they take off when spotting the constructs accompanying the group, having dealt with them before and NOT liking it. Stubby shoots a crossbow bolt after them, purposely missing, and sends Sentri after them to further scare them off.
There are the remains of excavation around the titan, scaffolding damaged and weather beaten, as it must have gotten interrupted when the city exploded and the titan fell. (Some of the scaffolding marked with a ‘T’ and Lightning Bolt for Lightning Tetsuo.)
Stubby, of course, takes off running towards the titan with a ‘race you!’. Rinn swears and takes off after her. (Stubby wins, barely.) Once she reaches one of the titan’s giant toes, she kicks it! And a pebble falls off. Tāmarai and Fisch follow at a more sedate pace.
They’ve reached the titan, what now? Stubby wants to check out the excavations that were made into it, but Tāmarai pulls out a book about the whole thing, with dangerous things about it conveniently bookmarked. There’s some debate that those ‘dangerous things’ were a while ago, but it’s at least settled that Stubby is fine with breaking off some larger pieces of the titan, as it should be a good medium for building things. Like, for example, Grog’s Titan Stone Knuckles, which leads them to explaining what stone (or brass) knuckles are to the bear. (One day, Fisch would like some better armor, and that could be done!) Fisch helps break off a piece, and they get it down to a suitable size to put into the bag of holding.
Now, off to Victor- what direction? The constructs lead them away, through the ruins of the little city that was on top of the titan. There’s some organization to the excavation here, though it looks like some of that has fallen over. But it’s still been picked over, organized, and sorted. It’s not finished yet, but things are laid out in a grid, and it looks like someone was trying to piece together the tower that was on top of the titan. They look around a bit more carefully-
For Rinn, this whole place is odd. The layout doesn’t match any sort of city that he’s familiar with- at least, not a human (humanoid?) design. The architecture is painful, unnatural, and brutal. Tāmarai finds nothing really useful or valuable, but finds a bit of graffiti carved into stone, two names in dwarvish, with a plus sign between them. She explains to Fisch “This means they were in love, and probably mates.” Fisch replies, practically, “They’re probably dead.”
They follow the constructs, finally leaving the titan. They find the path the bandits ran off to, but head off in a different direction. Up a hill, down, around, and finally to an ice-melt lake, and in that lake by the shoreline is a clockwork dragon!
The Dragon and it’s Builder
It’s wrecked and in pieces, Stubby can tell that it’s probably beyond repair. The constructs pause, making sure the group sees the dragon, and then start back the way they came. Their job was to show them to this place, and now they’re done. The group starts over to the dragon. Near it, they can find a gravesite. It’s not fresh, but not too old, maybe 5 years. There’s a name carved into a small headstone, Ryo Yelmoira, the supposedly still-living spymaster of the Empress, who they have met!
Rinn’s a bit stunned at all this. The grave is well tended, cleared and flowers planted. Tāmarai spots footprints around the grave and close to the water’s edge. Stubby is tempted to start yelling for Victor, and says so- Rinn suggests sending Sentri to go looking around, as Victor would be curious on seeing the mechanical bird. Sentri goes on a spiraling search, wider and wider. Tāmarai goes to investigate the footprints, and finds that they’re rather new, probably made within the last 24 hours.
Stubby and Rinn go to investigate inside the dragon. They find that it had been piloted by someone on the inside, there’s a cockpit right where the neck joins the body. Stubby can tell that someone’s been going through here, pulling things out. There’s a purple liquid inside, leaking from a large, glowing, purple gem. On the wall near it is a handprint in grease, with only three fingers. It could be new, or old- it’s in oil and grease and protected from weathering.
Back outside, and they go to help Tāmarai make a rubbing of the gravestone- and a crossbow bolt goes two feet over Stubby’s head, from somewhere near the treeline! There’s diving for cover, and they can hear the cranking sound of an old winch crossbow. Tāmarai yells out ‘Learn from our mistakes!’, while Stubby makes a motion to start running off TOWARDS the sound. Rinn grabs her while Tāmarai yells at her to stop.
A voice calls out, asking who they are, to which Tāmarai replies Vox Minimus.
And yes, this is the famous Victor, who comes out, looking at them. (He is furtive and a bit crazy, think Marvin from RED.) Who are they? Are you that nice boy from Whitestone’s kid? (Percy!) Why do you have a bear?
He looks over Tāmarai and Stubby, and goes a bit grey looking at Rinn, and asks him if Vanya sent him. No idea- they don’t know any ‘Vanya’.
They let him know that his kids miss him, but he says he has to stay ‘dead’ to keep them safe. Ryo? Yeah, the real Ryo is dead. His granddaughter is pretending to be Ryo. He leads them off to a small, hidden root-cellar type door located under the cabin he’s been living in, and shows off a tinkerer’s delight workshop. Stubby is thrilled, and shows off Sentri, and more of the items she’s made. (Rinn pulls out the gloves so Stubby can show them off.)
He does ask them if they happen to have a residuum gem. No, they don’t, and he starts explaining why.
Victor believes a lot of what happened is his fault. He was betrayed, twice. He thought the original leaders of Vasselheim weren’t helping them. They know the story of Vecna, right? The leaders said it was the will of the gods, but how could that be when they let people die, children die? They didn’t learn from their mistakes. Twenty years, and still haven’t learned.
Victor, Lydia, and Ryo, they all just wanted democracy. But then it became a protest. Victor thought they were going to change things, but then he finds Lydia was working with Arkan the Cruel. She started using Victor’s devices for death, and murdered people with them. He had to stop them, so he crashed his dragon and built things to protect and hide them. (He doesn’t know why the salute stopped the constructs.)
But he did fight with Ryo, and had to kill him. Vanya was with him, as his copilot, and they thought if she pretended to be Ryo she could spy on Lydia and stop her but so far all they’ve managed to do is destroy the gunpowder and prevent any plans with that. Everyone (family) thinks Vanya is dead as well, and Lydia is still in charge. Last time Victor saw Vanya, she gave him this-
Plans and Conspiracies, Old and New
And Victor pulls out a sketch of Rinn. It’s a three quarters view of him, and some background lines put it as being drawn while on a ship, the ship he was on from Wildemont to Illysia. Rinn pales, no small bit freaked out, and Victor keeps explaining.
Vanya went to Zadash to get the last piece of the puzzle. She said that we needed you to stop the magic.
Tāmarai thankfully can keep asking questions, and asks Victor how Vanya knew any of this. Victor brags a bit about Vanya, she can do magic, speaks a bunch of languages. She apparently studied under this thing called Volstruckers in Wildemont. (Which Rinn knows about, and that just makes things worse.) Victor used to tease her and say she was a magical spy. But she doesn’t like the teachings of the Volstruckers, saying it was very sad and dark. She came home a year before the protests. She and Victor have been working. They found a way to ask his other children to find a way to stop the spell Lydia was planning to kill that ‘nice boy in Whitestone’ (Percy). But something else happened, and Victor didn’t think the spell would make her (Lydia) immortal. She’s drawing from it- and he points at the pillar of flame. She gets cut, she heals. Good information for them.
This spell was her ultimate goal, but he doesn’t even know what it is. (“Does it look like I know spells?”) She said it was a light beacon, and could make her immortal. Maybe she’s syphoning power from it. Though it’s called a light beacon, it’s not quite light. Stubby thinks she may have heard of it, but Tāmarai certainly has! Her normal calm demeanor shatters for a moment, which is enough to get through Rinn’s shock, even.
Victor continues. But that’s why we’re trying to stop her. We stopped her from getting all the power she wants. Part of it’s not my fault, not the damage to the other plane. There are these laylines. Apparently they’re important. That magic is coming from the center from them, and it’s pouring over. Vanya says the extra planar power that was funneled through the items caused a disruption and sealed the gateways (4 of them- the elemental gateways the Ashari look after).
Victor is mournful, saying he should have realized Lydia was never on their side. Rinn agrees, and gives him a quick summary of how Lydia is from the future, from a very messed up timeline, with a grudge against the deRollos and Vox Machina. (Though not not saying exactly who she is.)
Which makes sense to Victor, that the magical blast seems to have sealed the elemental rifts that the Ashari have been guarding- which Stubby knows about, as Keyleth told her they couldn’t be sealed without causing more damage. They are natural points where interplanal energy transfers to the ley lines. Closing them could cause a dangerous surge of magic, with pressure building up.
Victor has some ideas of things to do, but he needs more power than what he has. There is the gem in the dragon, but he can’t get it out on his own. And it’s not enough, since he broke it a bit. He needs more power, something maybe pre-cataclysm, for what he wants to make to put out the pillar of fire and stop Lydia.
Tāmarai and Stubby realize they might have something that can work, and debate about it. Victor pulls out some notes (scratched on sheets of metal), and it looks like what Emor had written out, but from an Artificer’s point of view. (it makes sense to Stubby!) It involves Evocation and Dunamancy magics.
The equations he has would require funneling some sort of spells, like Witch Bolt and Magnify Gravity, to eventually melt certain gems to create a magical liquid (like the pillar of fire is magical fire). This could very well safely destroy the Flynn stone, which is a pre-cataclysm artifact! Tāmarai pulls out some of the Emor calculations she saved, and they all start talking dunamancy and equations with Victor-
Though Rinn, still shaken by the whole Vanya thing, and way over his head in such matters as they’re talking about, goes over to sit by Fisch. The bear pats him on the head and reassures him- which startles Victor, as Fisch had been quiet until now.
They go over the calculations for the ‘mercury liquid of power’, and according to what Oren said about ‘drowning’ the fire, this might work. They debate using one of their questions (as ‘owed’ by Osysa as well as Oren), to see if this would let Flynn loose, but decide to go ahead with this plan anyways.
Though it is noted that they will be on a time crunch once the pillar of fire goes out, since EVERYONE will notice it. Though, will this liquid put out the fire, or just cut Lydia’s connection to it? Should they ask that question? (“If we do this, what will be the results?”) Should they find a way to send a message to Vanya (or others in New Vasselheim) to let them know this will happen?
First off, they will need the gem from the dragon, and Victor will need help to get it. He grabs Stubby, then asks if Rinn can absorb electricity/lighting. He can’t, but he has the gloves, but is unsure if those will work for ‘outside’ lighting- but Stubby mentions they should.
On to the dragon. Victor has been working to get to the spot the gem is located in, and getting it out, but it’s been hard without the proper tools. It also needs more hands (help) than he has. (While they go off to do this, Fisch says he’s going to go talk to friends and family nearby, to see if they’ll help with watching over Victor, and he’ll be back by sundown.)
On the way back to the dragon, they do notice something that helps shield it from sight, not perfectly, but their eyes seem to slide over it.
Into the dragon! Victor points things out for Stubby. The large purple gem is the heart of the creature, and what’s left of the energy is going through the wires throughout the dragon. But it’s leaking now. He took a hit from a spell when he went down.
There are four wires still going into the gem that need to be pulled out, all at once. Tāmarai gives them a beat, they practice a couple of times, and barely manage to pull it off. There’s a bit of shock to all of them, and Victor goes flying- but he has the gem!
A Father’s Eye
Now for more planning, while they work on the set up to change the gems into the magic liquid. Do they want to tell people in New Vasselheim before the fires go out? Who should they tell? Well, they could talk to Stubby’s family, who might be able to contact local-Victoria in NV, so they pull the stone out and contact Whitestone, and Percy answers!
He’s thrilled that they’re alive (they had not been able to contact them while in Old Vasselheim), and then wonders if they killed a dragon, spotting the clockwork corpse in the background. Rinn taps on it, showing it’s metal, and they tell him that Victor made it.
Stubby’s mother isn’t there at the moment, off dealing with the Ursine Brigade. They still give Percy a bit of an info dump about their plans to put out the pillar of fire, Lydia’s possible connection to it, and possible consequences in New Vasselheim.
They discuss ideas. Could Victor put out the fire while the others quickly go back to New Vasselheim? No, he says he couldn’t, he’s not a mage. And the Luxon that Tāmarai wants is in the middle of that pillar of fire, and she isn’t going to leave without it. Victor certainly thinks Tāmarai and Rinn should be the ones to do it. (He thinks Rinn looks like he could kill people.)
Percy does wish they had a bit more help in the form of more muscle, but they do! Stubby mentions Fisch, and finds out that bears awakening happened in Whitestone as well- that is the Ursine Brigade her mother is dealing with. Well, with that bit of extra help, and if they’ve been working together, Percy believes that they would do well to be the ones to put out the pillar of flames.
On a different note, Percy tells Tāmarai that her contract with them (the de Rollos) has been more than fulfilled. She was hired to teach Stubby languages and culture for a year, and has actually helped protect Stubby’s life for five. While Tāmarai is taken aback, Stubby and Rinn exchange smug ‘told her so’ looks, which Percy notices.
He also notices that while Stubby is wearing brand new, fancy Raven Queen armor, Rinn is wearing Stubby’s old armor- which apparently can be taken as a Thing. Percy leans forwards to talk to Tāmarai, asking if she could please keep an eye on ‘that young man’, thinking that no one other than Tāmarai would hear him. Which didn’t happen, and Rinn heard him perfectly, and also TOTALLY understood what Percy meant, leading to a blush, a glare, and Percy going “Oh, he can hear me.” (Tāmarai said she had no idea what Percy meant, but gave him a nod of understanding.)
Back to some planning. Percy will have Keyleth send a message through to the Vonns, letting them know that the rebellion is back on track, and to watch for any changes in the pillar of fire. They also mention Vanya to him, and that she was a volstrucker- which it seems that Percy does know about, and that rattles him, especially when Stubby mentions that Vanya arranged for Rinn to come over here to Othanzia. Rinn, uncomfortable at being in the spotlight, mentions that he just grabbed a spot on the first ship leaving Nicodranus, which ended up being the last ship that made it through to New Vasselheim.
This rattles Percy even more, since they stopped sending ships to New Vasselheim because they’ve all been sinking. Is it possible Vanya arranged for him to come here? Does he know who she is? Rinn has no clue about any of this- he certainly didn’t think anything had been arranged! (Victor tries describing Vanya, but is horrible at descriptions, so that doesn’t help.)
Rinn’s back to being freaked out, and more plans are made. Some of Victor’s fireworks will be used for communicating between the two Vasselheims. Yellow, all is lost. Blue, resistance is a go. Purple, magical help needed. Red, HELP.
So, the plan. They’ll use the two gems (purple dragon gem, Flynn stone), to create a magical liquid. Victor will go (in disguise, he has a magical ring) to New Vasselheim, with notes and letters for Otel and Vanya, and talk to others, to organize a resistance against the Empress. The group (Tāmarai, Stubby, Fisch and Rinn) will go back to Old Vasselheim and see if they can use that liquid to put out the pillar of flames. Once it is out, the Empress should be taken down a notch or two, and the rebellion in New Vasselheim can start. (Also, Tāmarai hopefully can find the Luxon Beacon that was being used as a part of it!) Then, watch for fireworks from New Vasselheim, and see if local-Vic can now come to the Birthheart Tree to bring them back quickly for everything else happening.
And as a bonus, if putting out the pillar of fire works on whatever it is that’s blocking higher level spells around there, Keyleth should be able to either come and get the group, or bring Stubby’s family to Vasselheim, or other help, etc!
They manage to get this planned out, just before the stone cuts off the communication….