-While the party was standing in the square trying to wrap their brains around the disaster, Termina Vzorcaya bumps into them and asks them what’s going on. Ollin gives his best answer, and says that they’re going to travel to the Earthsmile.
-Termina suggests the Pjotlkraft, as she’s been holding it for Barthanas while Heinrich Pjotlmann is “in exile”. They all go for it.
-they cast off, headed for Wraybridge, Arcturus is still in awe of its capabilities. The Pjotlkrew is handling operations for the trip. the party gathers that Pjotlmann is serving his exile in the Fvavalk Kingdom by attempting to get them to construct airships so that he can return to The Kalashek with a fleet of them while leaving the orcs with an edge in their conquest.
-a crowd gathers as the ‘kraft comes in for a landing, Alphonse steps out first so that they get a better reception. guards bow to him and the others gathered assume that he built the airship.
-he tells the guards that he and the party need to get into the earthsmile to find a settlement, the guards tell him no such thing exists. an old man emerges from the crowd and says that he knows what Alphonse is talking about bc he’s been there. the man (Blind Harry) says that he went down there 50 years ago on an adventure and everyone died except for him. they were slain by walking corpses and wraiths of bitter darkness. people get him hushed up and they proceed into the town.
-they are determined to find the place, so they start asking around for a guide. with some help from alphonse, they get a hold of a soldier who walks patrols between the outposts and knows of the town. they take him and the Pjotlkraft into the Earthsmile.
-while flying down, Alphonse and Ironbeard try to get a magical read on the place they’re going through divination, but they “look away” before they can finish because there’s something terrible there that would’ve damaged their minds.
-when they disembark, they hear the sounds of approach, and Salchorix leaps down on them. He says that he got Arcturus’ message and has been harassing Combine forces ever since. he fled to the earthsmile hoping to find some shelter, but they followed him, probably because they knew who/what he was. he also noted that all of the forces sent to Bastion were elves, which is not the usual MO for a Combine military effort. Ironbeard notes that he’s heard that one of the King’s advisors, Eoric Deepsong, has been creating tensions between the elves and the dwarves, but it still doesn’t add up.
-Salchorix notes the evil of the place they’re about to enter, and tells Arcturus to trust nothing within. he leaves to engage the pursuing combine forces as the pjotlkraft takes off.
-the party enters the run down and ruined town, and there’s a passage in the back decorated with the torch of Semadra that goes into the canyon wall. Arcturus finds a bat and communes with it. it tells him that the passage is blocked, and that is was done recently. Ollin goes in to check it out, hears noises outside
-skeletons and wraiths are appearing from inside the town, coming for the party. Alphonse and ironbeard set to work on the blockage, while ollin and arcturus hold of the bagguys. Ollin notices some precarious rocks and goes sneaking in into the crowd to take out some of the monsters. Arcturus notices some dry vegetation, gets ironbeard to ignite it with lightning, then fires flaming arrows into the horde. Alphonse makes illusory soldiers to confuse the monsters, ironbeard weakens the blockage by turning the rocks into smaller pieces of platinum, which alphonse blasts through with force evocation. He rips the precarious rocks from the cieling onto the monsters as the party gets into the tunnel.
-they light up torches, Ironbeard notes that the construction looks like its dwarven-inspired. their torches start sputtering because of unnatural darkness. it starts getting strangely warm. ollin sneaks off ahead and accidentally breaks the crumbling floor, which reveals that the structure they’re in is built around some small lava streams.
-they continue on, and run into some nasty drider-demon things and skeletons. Arcturus headshots one, but its still going. the demons infuse two of the skeletons with dark magic, which makes them grow ice spikes from their bodies and have glowing blue eyes. they pounce on ironbeard, but ollin interposes and takes a bad hit. ironbeard blasts some with nature magic, alphonse confuses the shit out of one of the demons, and arcturus puts another arrow into one of them.
-skeletons swarm alphonse, who blocks with mantle of defense, arcturus leaps onto the back of one of the demons and he and ollin get to work on it. Alphonse and ironbeard take out more skeletons. only a few are left, and they turn tail, but the last demon is pinned by arcturus and taken out.
-Alphonse has a minor injury from the skeletons, and he and ironbeard can tell that these are demons of Sheshtui.
-They look around, Ironbeard finds a Semadran altar, Arcturus notes that it’s been defiled with Sehstui stuff. They recover a bloody dagger of Kalashek make and some nice Clan Sardis artifacts.
-Ollin looks down the hall and sees more demons and skeletons around a big altar, they prepare to attack. Ironbeard makes a trap with the dagger he found, ollin and arcturus prepare opening shots. they fire, and take out one of the spider-demon things. From the middle of the demons comes a thing that looks like Hilal The Keeper that was at the channel, but this one looks quite evil.
-They rush in, taking out skeletons as they go. On the altar, they see a blade made out of ice and a large golden lantern. Arcturus fires an arrow at the blade and obliterates it, which injures Sishkaat. Alphonse creates illusory replicas of the sword to screw with the skeletons, who were flocking to it for some kind of power. Ironbeard runs for the lantern, it turns on when he grabs it and starts repelling the lighting things on fire, namely the moss-covered floor. The demons respond with many ice spikes and swarming skeletons. Sishkaat makes an illusory field of innocent civilians as a distraction and swears “By the deceiver of Gods” that he will send their souls to the darkness.
-The party finally takes out all of the skeletons and begins taking out more demons by taking advantage of their disorganization from alphonse’s illusions and the burning-moss floor. The bagguys respond with much force, Arcturus gets impaled by an ice spear from Sishkaat, ironbeard heals him a bit with the lantern, which is using powerful semadran magic. PCs get more injured. Alphonse creates a seeming of a large earth elemental
-More Arcturus-Ollin teamwork to finish off the demons. Sishkaat summons tiny ice wraiths to harry the party. Ironbeard gets some fingers taken off by Sishkaat but turns them into potent alkaline chemicals to dissolve the icy form of Sishkaat. Epic combo of Alphonse’s elemental, Arcturus shooting at stalactites which fall down, and Ironbeard’s salty fingers to set Ollin up for the knife-to-the-face finish of Sishkaat.
-they look around, find more sardis artifacts and find a journal by a Kalashek mage who says that he has finally become more powerful than his nemesis Alphonse Hayek by pledging himself to Shestui, and explains that he was responsible for ending the life of Timothy Arontaler.
-With the dagger, the lantern, and the journal they head out. The combine troops are waiting for them outside and try to get them to hand over their valuables, but Salchorix shows up and together they rout the troops. Sal says that he’s going to continue the fight for the Free Cities, and wishes them luck. The Pjotlkraft lands again and they head off.
Back in Eklesa
-When they arrive in the city, Ironbeard brings out the lantern and it burns away the blackness surrounding the Soverign’s palace and there’s the sound of nasty things dying. Viserigon shows up with his cronies next to them, and a minute later Barthanas walks out, sword in hand. He and Viserigon have an odd exchange in which Viserigon yields the election to him.
-Barthanas has a victory speech and declares that the Kalashek way is the true way, and all those who deny and resist it are their foes and shall be destroyed, unless they convert.
-Ollin hands over the evidence and they explain what happened and why, then Barthanas orders Viserigon to handle it. Barthanas pulls out a letter that he says is for Archon Yukanis, and it is a formal acknowledgement of the Ekwan Republic and an offer of alliance. He peaces out.
-Christina Selmy comes out of the door (people have been exiting the whole time, including many of the senators) with her brother’s body. She explains that he died early in the lockdown. As soon as Alfred Stormway set off some huge spell and was possessed by a demon, Rick Stern charged over and delegged him, and was overwhelmed by other demons. His sword starts humming and roots grow out of the ground and repair his wounds. He gets up and is resentful of his sword.
-Lagto Gjinchar Takosh approaches Arcturus and says that he is very impressed, and Arcturus’ gramba is unquestionable. He humbles himself to ask Arcturus to join the Fvavalk kingdom. Arcturus says no thanks bro and walks off to meet up with the party.
-Ironbeard shows off the stuff they found from clan Sardis and the Kalashek receive him very well. He has opened their eyes to foreigners.
-Alphonse meets up with his mentor, Herald Grayson, who tells him that while Viserigon was running the city, he did a lot to investigate the thieves guild and point fingers at people. Alphonse was slandered pretty heavily, but he played an important role in the election, and it won’t be forgotten. He tells him that when things cool off, he should come back and take his rightful place as a member of the Sovereign’s hand. As a final piece of advice, he says that Ekwa is in danger of attack, and that Yukanis must know this. He should go with his former party to see that their new allies survive.