The Accretion Gospel
Episode 4: The Serpent at the Scepter
During their travels, the team received some information that was particularly noteworthy. A rumormonger at the borders of the kingdom of Larcald on the eastern continent. It appears one of the representatives of the Sisterhood had made demands to the king of Larcald. The man was described as wearing an outfit of unusual fabric and having skin the color of lavender.
This proved to be as intriguing as it was confusing. Up until that point, the common belief was that it had been the terrorist organization Mendel Race who had landed on Arkova IV, but the individual in this particular rumor appeared to be a Lacryman. The Lacryma System had been contesting the distribution rights of lure from Macada II for nearly a decade, so it would not be altogether surprising for Lacryman entrepreneurs to attempt to sidestep Coalition law and make a profit off of the lure-rich new system.
Arro was not altogether ready to write off Mendel Race influences, but Tesla noted that she had been told by her father that Lacryma’s representative to the Council, Arada Hesse, had been particularly persistent in promoting bills to break down the Macadan monopoly on the coveted black ore.
The team constructed a plan to try and make contact with this person, who was allegedly last seen in the capital of Larcald, the coastal city of Aidra. The team progressed to Aidra, a breath-taking city built into the face of a coastal cliff. Aidra was unlike any city they had ever visited, separated into two separate districts. A lower district built into a series of open caverns which served as the ports and commerce districts of the city, and an upper district filled with gardens, where residential sections and a variety of governmental facilities were located. Upon arriving, the team found that access to the upper district had been restricted by order of one of the Sisters, who was visiting the King of Larcald along with a “special guest”.
Unable to gain access to the king, the team planned to find a way to infiltrate the palace. Mauta suggested using a particularly esoteric spell he had once read about, which would allow them to bend space and walk directly into the castle’s courtyards. However, this plan was not without it’s flaws. The spell was not one familiar to Mauta, which meant they would need to obtain a scroll from somewhere. Furthermore, Mauta could not guarantee safe passage for all six travelers- he could only safely transport three. Tuona came up with another alternative, having noted a sloped channel in which waste water spilled from the upper level into the ocean below. She said she could perform a rite that could bless a certain number of them with the ability to breathe as a fish, and they could work their way up the channel and into the city above.
The team ultimately decided to split into 3 teams- Tuona, Orsa, and Janet climbed the waterspout using the alchemical rite that allowed them to breathe water. Mauta teleported himself, Arro, and Tesla into the city, while Roth took to the skies under cover of night, and regrouped with the team after scouting a bit from the air.
In the waterspout, the shamaness and the mercenary found little trouble, until the spout opened into a grand man-made lake in the center of the garden. Upon entering, a sort of mystical barrier not only prevented them from rising into the city, but it also broke the spell Tuona had placed upon them, leaving them to drown in clear sight of the surface. Fortunately, however, Tuona was able to punch a hole through the barrier with her powers, but not before nearly running out of air.
Meanwhile, the teleportation team, who by all rights had expected an easy trip, were about to encounter something highly unusual. While teleporting, something occurred, and the group was shunted into some other space. Within this space, they could not move, or see anything. They felt trapped, pinned in perpetual darkness, and the only thing they could perceive was the sound of a horrible, garbled voice that growled and threatened vaguely in the inky darkness.
After what seemed like hours, the threesome was dropped unceremoniously in the darkened streets of Aidra’s upper district, all of them trembling and greatly disturbed by what they had encountered. Mauta was unable to determine what had happened, but he said to the best of his perception it seemed as though they had bisected some alternate space while passing from the lower district to the upper district.
They didn’t have long to discuss it before the Roth and the other team met up with them. They called it a night in a local inn, at which point Tuona became notably upset and demanded to be informed as to the true nature of what was going on. She pointed out that while she may not be the most worldly woman, in all their travels, not a single person had ever even heard of the kingdom from which the three off-worlders had allegedly originated. She demanded to know why they were so different. Despite Arro’s protests, the team informed them of everything- of the Galactic Coalition, of the orexisite, and anything else that they were asked. Expecting her to be devastated, they were relieved to find Tuona was thrilled. She expressed that her entire life, she longed to be part of a world of her own, and even after experiencing life outside the valley, she never truly felt at home. However, the prospect of other worlds that extended beyond the stars themselves was a genuine ray of hope to her.
The next morning, the team left to request an audience with the king of Larcald. The request was denied, however, as the king was currently in audience with the Flame Sister, another sorceress allied with the Sisterhood. Apparently, the Sisterhood had been requested to obtain a rare piece of ornate black stone from the king of Larcald, a rare red piece of orexisite that was said to be held by the royal family of Larcald for generations. The stone was considered a national treasure, and as such the demand did not sit well with the people of Larcald.
Arro, Roth, and Janet decided to take matters into their own hands by sneaking into the palace, climbing up floor after floor, sneaking from room to room, until they entered the king’s chambers. The Flame Sister had left, but she had left behind a man the king claimed to be a representative of the Silver Dragon- a Lacryman Arro immediately recognized as Colonel Astag Varda, a high ranking member of the Coalition military and a member of Lacryman nobility. Varda was brought into the Lacryman circle by none other than Hesse, and as such he was obligated aid him in all his endeavors for as long as they both should exist.
Varda and Arro had a clipped exchange, but before long, the king had become offended by the intruders, still under the belief that Varda was acting on behalf of the Silver Dragon. He ordered for the imprisonment of the threesome, but Varda interrupted. He asked the king to leave, asking him to give him time to reason with them. The king obliged, but before he had been out of the room for a minute’s time, Varda unleashed a psionic assault on the three of them. Fortunately, they managed to avoid the worst of the assault, and a battle erupted. At one point, several castle guards rushed in to aid their guest, and Roth and Arro held them back. Janet dueled Varda, and had managed to harm the Lacryman with relative ease, but Varda was not so easily outclassed. Launching a grenade that disabled Janet and Arro’s cybernetic implants, he then proceeded to assault the paralyzed duo. However, Roth had flown up and perched in the rafters, and from there, it was no difficult task to snipe away at Varda with volley after volley of arrows. Taking a severe blow, Varda raced out of the room, and ran into Mauta, Tuona, and Tesla, who had followed their friends in out of concern.
The king then returned in an outrage, but was able to be calmed by Mauta’s skillful tongue. Mauta used his diplomatic talent and his clout as a sorcerer to explain the situation in full to the king, cutting the confusing details about other worlds where necessary. The king informed Mauta that the Flame Sister had taken the stone with her when she left, and was to return to the stronghold of the Sisterhood- a massive island composed entirely of black stone in the center of the ocean, called the Hush by Larcald natives. Within the hour, the king had changed his opinions on the matter, and begged Mauta to retrieve the stone, which was the hallmark of his family line, from the Sisterhood. Mauta negotiated a deal- they would receive a vessel and a sum of black stone for their efforts, and he would agree to the request. Happy to oblige, the king gave him his personal flagship, and agreed to grant the sorcerer five percent of the yearly black stone supply.
The team speculated that whoever was behind the scheme would undoubtedly be located at the Hush. They gathered their supplies, and set out the next morning. However, while sailing to the Hush, they were ambushed by a ship commanded by the Flame Sister, a sorceress named Jand Rhadama, and the Water Sister, the sorceress Vasin, whom the party had encountered back in Harfax some time ago.
Jand requested parlay with the group, requesting why they would act aggressively towards their guests. The team tried to convince her that they were being manipulated by beings who were not who they claimed to be, but all attempts merely incensed Jand. She challenged Arro to a duel, and while they fought, Vasin took it upon herself to exterminate the others. Meanwhile, their ship assaulted the king’s flagship. Jand defeated Arro in the duel, but before she could take his life, Tesla blasted the sorceress with a cryonic grenade she had been saving for just such an occasion. This knocked Jand overboard, and caused her to drop her sword.
Vasin, who had gotten bored fighting the others, departed to save her sister, who was too badly wounded to swim. Janet pocketed Jand’s sword, which Mauta stated was enchanted with the power of flame itself.
As the sorceresses’ ship crept away on the horizon, the team patched their wounds, and prepared for their next encounter on the island of black stone.