GM Note: The events of this session take place immediately following the Assault on Tulesa, an interlude between sessions 48 and 49.
Our story opened as the party roused from fitful sleep after a moderately horrific night. Their minds recalling the tumultuous events of the last few days, they realized as one that the twin cursed skulls had not been accounted for following their incursion into the Shadowfel to destroy the SkullSoul. Racing to the citadel tower, they found Balasar sitting with a cursed skull in each hand, speaking the audible half of what seemed to be a very engaging conversation with the skulls. He surrendered the items without incident, shuffling off to the next bit of weirdness. Before he left, Finn asked him to look into methods of destroying the Hellfire Halo the party had recovered recently, and Tarsus asked him to spend any spare time he had helping to recover fragments of whatever gem had been used to open the Shadowfel portal that nearly destroyed the town.
The party held a short briefing with Falat and his men to better coordinate search and rescue efforts where some of Tulesa’s few permanent structures had been turned to rubble. Finn summoned an earth elemental named Jod to assist with moving and piling stone to speed the rescue efforts along. In bargaining with the thing for its service, Finn discovered the Jod had a particular fancy for magic items made from metals or gems that he might be able to consume, and thus was able to greatly extend his agreed service in exchange for an enchanted suit of evil armor.
With search and rescue efforts underway where needed, and medical care for the wounded moving at a good pace, the group convened and Falat sent summons for the other members of the settlement’s ruling council. It became clear that some councillors were missing when Falat finally closed the doors with two seats remaining empty. Having collected the reports from what sources were available, Falat began reading through the lists of lost citizens and resources. Nearly a thousand citizens were lost, with many more wounded. Very nearly half of the combined house military and city watch had been lost, and damage to structures and tents was wide-ranging. Hearts sank around the large table as Falat began reading the list of notable officials lost in the fighting. Arastea Ghomesh, Avendi Volok, and Dingo had all died, among others. The gravity of the situation soaked in for a moment, before some of the council began to ask why this had happened. What brought such tragedy to their doorstep? For their part, the party answered honestly, stating this was revenge from a deranged segment of an Imperial elite force that sought payback for an earlier slight against them. As the logistics of recovery were discussed, Kaso recommended instituting martial law to combine the remnants of the army and the city watch, and to institute service conscription to restore their ranks. After much deliberation at the table, Zayn ultimately decided in favor of the announcement of martial law, but against conscription. The council meeting adjourned, and Zayn prepared to deliver a public address to the population of Tulesa.
In her address, Zayn told the populace about the attackers and who they were, stating that there may be more coming soon, but that she and her allies would do everything they could to keep the citizens safe. To help secure that safety in the short term, she announced the establishment of martial law, combining the guard and army under the leadership of Falat, and in turn, Tarsus. In closing, Zayn encouraged increased enlistment in both the guard and the army, so that martial law could be more quickly ended once they were at renewed strength. During the speech, Finn disappeared. He had made his way to the temporary morgue, claiming the body of Avendi Volok and taking it to a secluded area over the protests of some of her fellow priestesses. There, Finn resurrected Avendi, calling her soul back to her body from the beyond. He returned to the party soon after, telling them what he had done and crossing his fingers that it would not spark political controversy in the town’s populace. A short time later, Sindar and Tarsus walked through the settlement to be seen and help where they could, lending credence to Zayn’s claims that they would do all they could. Sindar stopped to check on the reactor engineers before the group reunited to go find the newly arrived Teegan.
They located him at the Explorers’ Guild, and listened as he told them what he had been up to since they parted ways. Arriving in Qisaga after many days trekking on his own across the desert and hitching rides of all sorts, he found himself drawn to a large estate to the south of the city. The group recognized its description as the very same al Farin estate they had recently visited. He showed the group a large, red gem he found there, apparently the object the deck had sent him after. It was being examined by Imperial engineers and mages, and stealing it was no mean feat, requiring Teegan to flee from the city after taking it. From there, he wandered, trying to keep a low profile and track down the party until receiving Finn’s messages. Finn closely examined the item, using spells to try and divine more information about it. At once, he found himself in contact with a powerful consciousness sequestered within. Now, it made more sense why Arkeles’ soul could not be found in the the Boneyard, and had never been seen there. He had somehow made himself something akin to a phylactery or a soul jar, cheating death when his body was burned by invading Imperials. And now, Finn could speak to him. He invited the rest of the group to lay hands on the gem, as well, and they all found they could participate in the conversation, albeit more slowly.
Arkeles explained a number of puzzling things to the group when they asked if he had summoned Teegan or if the Deck had done it. The Deck of Errant Destinies, it turned out, was an instrument of influence for the goddess Mahari, stolen once upon a time from another god and slowly turned to her interests. It has guided a great many things in her interests as she slumbers, awaiting her call back to the world. Releasing the gem, the group offered Teegan an enchanted weapon for the gem, which he accepted.
Upon hearing more about the incredibly powerful Deck, now powering their arcane reactor core, the group had an impromptu footrace to the reactor chamber in a clamor to draw again from its richly textured box. Although some resisted at first, each eventually selected a card, experiencing a variety of effects. Finn found the text of his card to be especially puzzling, considering what it actually did to him. After conferring about next steps, the group decided to spend some time contacting allies. Finn contacted War, asking for an update on Port Miller. War told him he was in the desert on the move with refugees, Port Miller having fallen to Empire invasion that morning. They had managed to do serious damage to the encroaching Imperial fleet before leaving. After that, Finn contacted Dezil Calish, inquiring about a comptroller to help with managing the estate resources, what with the upcoming recovery. He pointed Finn to Nanji Arwala, a Riyaqan woman currently working for the Satrapa of Kaleska. She would need “rescuing” as the Satrapa would not part with her willingly, and was not the kindest of employers, to put it mildly.
Meanwhile, Zayn communed with Ahti Ato, seeking to update her on their new information and get an update from Gol Asad. After informing Ahti that Port Miller was under full Empire control, Ahti told her other disturbing news. The Empire had expelled the Asad’s ambassador in Isamon, and closed the Imperial Consul’s office in Gol Asad. Communications had also been lost with most agents in Qisaga, and there were reports of wealthier Riyaqans there having property and money seized. It seemed very much as if the Empire was gearing up very quickly for a war.
Finally, Finn used a Sending to attempt to reach Dyphonaira, with questions about what was happening to him, and what he really was. She told him only to sleep well, and that she would explain everything soon. After a group discussion about what to do next, they elected to go after Nanji Arwala, and contacted Dezil again for more specific information. Using Zayn’s teleport, they moved quickly to within 15 miles of Kaleska, as close as they had ever come by way of the Seachild. She summoned spectral mounts to get them the rest of the way. Arriving in Kaleska, they found a moderately sized town mostly full of beered up fishermen, many of whom were already sleeping off the night’s festivities in the streets. The Satrapa’s Seat was not a difficult building to find, easily being the most elaborately built among the rather plain structures around it. A guard challenged them at the door, but they miraculously talked their way past the guard using information Dezil had given them about Nanji.
Finding her toiling away, forging duplicate books in the throne room, they told her who they were and who had sent them. Gleefully (which, by anyone else’s standards would be considered “moderately interested”), she gathered a few things and asked for help to set some of the forged records on fire to teach the Satrapa a lesson. Sindar very, very, very happily obliged. Finn used water to protect the rest of the throne room from the inferno of financial records as guards came through the front door of the building.
Our story closed as the throne room was found empty, the party and their new comptroller appearing safely in Finn’s chapel in Tulesa, very far away.
Civil war rages inside Khasif, as evidence is found of impending war with the Empire. The Empire breaks off diplomatic contact with the Asad government, presumably to opening stages of war!