- Plane Weaver
Flavia Taan, Grand Overseer of the Farmer's Guild of Rastaban, is not happy. That shouldn't be shocking news considering the hardships that she's been through - first having her precious orrery stolen by a political rival, then being attacked by pirates and becoming victim to a high seas mutiny… wealthy Esteban businesswomen truly have the most difficult lives.
But she's been even more unhappy than usual ever since an act of vandalism was reported at her oldest and largest farming plot. Greenhouse windows smashed, crops uprooted, seed stores pillaged… which of her numerous enemies, personal and professional, could possibly have done this?
Flavia would be more than willing to pay anyone who finds the answer to that question.
The party meets Grand Overseer Flavia Taan of the Farmer's Guild, who informs the party that this morning, she arrived to find that numerous acts of vandalism had been committed at her farm. Suspecting sabotage, she wants the party to investigate.
Moving further into the farm, the party are attacked by bizarre monsters surrounding the greenhouses - among them, exploding tubers and petal swarms that appear to be made of glass. These monsters don't appear to be planar in nature, which concerns the two Weavers. Hat attempts to look into the nature of one of the petal swarms and sees a strange vision of the River Eriden.
At this point, two people emerge from the greenhouses, having been trapped there overnight. One of them, an Under-Professor of Human Logistics who definitely has not been bribed by Flavia to submit a flattering report, reluctantly admits that some of the new farmers object to Flavia's leadership methods. She offers them a map which she copied from these rebels. The other individual is a farmer who is apparently loyal to Flavia - she describes seeing a hooded figure rushing towards the storage sheds last night, and gives the party a necklace which this figure dropped.
The fact that the figure was hooded is taken as a groundbreaking lead by the investigators, who have a brief moment of shock as they realise that Flavia herself was wearing a hood when they met her. The possibility that Flavia has an evil twin is considered. Catarina sets her Strife Hound familiar to the task of tracking the conflict between the unhappy farmers and Flavia, and the familiar contemplates the map while the Weavers take a closer look at the scene.
In the storage shed, they find a groggy but well-dressed man who introduces himself as the Overseer working under Flavia. He reports seeing somebody ransacking the storage sheds last night, but when he tried to intervene, he was knocked unconscious from behind and shoved into a cupboard. He also reports two leads: one being a break-in the previous night, and the other being a threatening letter sent to Flavia which accuses her of “breaking tradition”.
Once they've finished their initial crime scene investigation, Catarina's familiar begins leading the party along a path, stopping at a particularly loose flagstone. The party lift this stone and find a hidden passage beneath it. After fighting their way past some large, mutated crickets, the party find an irrigation maintenance chamber where two farmers are conspiring. The farmers are shocked at the interruption, but the party quickly manage to smooth things over by offering to help them. It becomes clear that Flavia has little experience with farming, has appointed close personal friends to leadership positions, and refuses to take criticism from the band of Selugan farmers that she brought over. The farmers are unhappy with this but claim that they weren't involved with the attack - though one of them hints that he may have provided information on the location of this maintenance chamber to an unnamed interested party. Catarina and Hat offer Rom's aid in overthrowing Flavia, which the farmers are happy with. They leave to get back to work while the party investigate the maintenance chamber.
To their surprise, they find that the pipes and water tank are rapidly degrading, and as Hat takes a closer look, the pipes explode and spew
horrible, corrupted glorious, Ichor-blessed water everywhere. As the water level rises and the party struggle to escape, Catarina manages to charge up a Conflict ritual and hammers through the ceiling, carving a path out. The two emerge in a ruined, swampy patch of farmland and are immediately disgusted by the state of their clothing.
They decide to go to Rom to change their clothes, but find an unexpected confrontation in the streets. A scout working under the Lord of Fire is attempting to put up recruitment posters while a many-eyed Perfection denizen looks on and criticises it - as the party intervene and Catarina tries to assert the Lord of Ice's superiority, the conflict between the two denizens causes something strange to happen. Wires appear to be crossed and the Lord of Fire's minion becomes intensely pleased with itself, while the Perfection denizen becomes confused and internally conflicted. The party manage to subdue them and Hat performs a ritual to jam one of the Perfection denizen's eyes into his sword, which he also combines with the skeletal minion's fiery blade. Meanwhile, Catarina picks the skeleton up by the scruff of its bony neck and chucks it into Magister Zaboul's office with a note reading that it's a gift for the Lord of Ice.
After spotting some hooded figures watching a house further into Rom, the party stop to chat with the owner of the house. They introduce themself as Grand Commissioner Fairfax Waltington, and tell the party in rather impolite terms to leave them alone while they work on repairing their roof. Catarina gets into a fight with a couple of Fairfax's assistant crickets while Hat attempts more civil negotiations - they find that Fairfax was in fact the sender of the threatening letter to Flavia and that they object to people who take the responsibility of feeding the city away from the Commission. When Catarina throws some YOU'RE THE WORSTs at Fairfax, the party learn that Fairfax has a vice for gambling in Kealstat circles, something which has led to them accumulating a significant amount of debt that was recently cleared.
Catarina continues to insult the Commissioner while Hat helplessly tries to claim that she's his familiar - however, when Catarina accuses Fairfax of committing every single crime, the Commissioner's eyes light up and they ask her to prove that in court. Since they're in Rom, Catarina is now at risk of facing the punishment for committing every single crime should she fail to convince the court. The party depart from the irritable Commissioner, feeling no closer to the truth of the case.
Fortunately, they're immediately attacked by hooded assassins, which suggests that they're on the right track. Catarina finds a playing card in the pocket of one of the assassins while Hat channels Perfection to look into another assassin's loyalties. On the other side, Hat sees a symbol matching the design of the necklace they picked up at the farm, as well as a masked, robed figure who seems confused at the psychic interruption. Hat wins the ensuing fight with the figure and returns to reality triumphant.
Hat and Cat then return to Flavia, deciding that they should just overthrow her, summon the Lord of Ice, and see what happens. However, while Flavia interrogates them on their findings so far, Hat reveals the necklace that one of the intruders dropped. Flavia's demeanour shifts and she begins to despair over why it's always, always the same woman ruining her life. The symbol on the necklace appears to be that of Kaiser Lucretia Kealstat, Flavia's long-term rival. Flavia requests that the party visit Lucretia and give her a piece of Flavia's mind.
The party do so, finding a masquerade party underway in the Kealstat estate. Hat purchases masks for himself, Catarina, his skull friend, and the two familiars (which are unable to wear them) and the two head in. After threatening some Kealstat goons with being Perfection-locked into a closet, the party receive directions to Lucretia's personal wing. They pass an annoyingly complex security system and eventually reach a parlour where a masked Lucretia is entertaining guests. Hat recognises Lucretia from his vision and tries to avoid letting on that he was the one who attacked her.
Lucretia all but admits that she orchestrated the entire thing. She received directions to the maintenance chamber from one of the unhappy farmers, and convinced the Commissioner in debt to her to place Ichor into the irrigation system. She is pleased to find that the party also dislike Flavia and are willing to transfer partial ownership of the farm to her - although she tries to negotiate for a complete share at first, she eventually agrees to speak with Grand Magister Isabella about sharing the farm between Esteban and Rom. She also asks the party to plant evidence that Flavia herself orchestrated the attacks on the farm for the sake of… publicity or insurance or something.
The party return to the farm to plant this evidence, but find that it's suddenly snowing. The Lord of Ice appears with a distraught skeletal minion now bearing two Liege brands and being torn apart by Conflict as a result. Catarina stabs the minion to shut it up and tries to assimilate it into her hammer, but finds that the undying minion retains some kind of sentience in there. The party manage to convince the Lord of Ice to not turn the farm into an enormous ice rink, and to instead construct a large wall of ice around it. The party quickly plant the “evidence” and escape as a huge wall rises behind them, completely encircling the farm.
Hat and Catarina visit Grand Magister Isabella, who is pleased to meet Magister Zaboul's young apprentice and less pleased to see her niece. After some initial pleasantries, Catarina drops the news that Isabella now owns (well, co-owns) a farm outside the city, that it's surrounded by an enormous wall of ice that she'll have to ritual her way through, and that she can expect the Lord of Ice to do what they like in this farm. Isabella goes through the five stages of grief in a matter of minutes. Holding on for dear life to what remains of her composure, she explains that she's *extremely busy*, that the recent dispute with House Esteban and the fact that she has to answer for the small matter of Perfection being awake means that she does *not have time* to manage a farm, and that she will not under any circumstances work with The Lord of Ice.
Hat suggests having Zaboul manage the farm instead. This is more acceptable (after all, Idris is still missing and having Audata manage the farm is probably a terrible idea) so Isabella approves the idea. Hat also brags about psychically kicking Lucretia's ass, which Isabella strongly suggests he keep from Zaboul, since she suspects that Zaboul will immediately brag about it to Lucretia herself. Hat agrees that this is wise. In between insulting Isabella's teapot collection, Catarina also mentions that she may be in a spot of bother with a Grand Commissioner, having accused them of every single crime. Something inside Isabella seems to break. The duo suggest that she could alter their memories so that their testimony that Catarina definitely did not say that would be accepted, but Isabella emphatically states that while she may be family, she cannot interfere with matters of justice within her House. She requests that they leave. As Catarina expends a huge pool of Conflict charge by insulting various secretaries on her way out, muffled screams of frustration can be heard from Isabella's office.
The duo then visit Zaboul, with Hat announcing their presence by kicking down the door and informing his Magister that he totally psychically kicked Lucretia's ass. Zaboul is amused. Upon being told that he now owns a farm, Zaboul is surprisingly accepting of this, but requests that Hat act as their representative in the Farmer's Guild since they're also too busy to be around regularly. The subject of erasing Hat and Catarina's memories of Catarina accusing the Ichorwerker is suggested, but much like Isabella, Zaboul is not prepared to lose their job over this. However, they do mention that they don't have eyes everywhere in Rom and that they're sure certain services could be bought among the right crowd…
After a sparring date is suggested, Catarina mentions that she would beat Hat in a fight, citing the brutal training regime she experienced in the Forge. Zaboul is morbidly fascinated by the details that she provides, and Hat becomes increasingly nervous as Zaboul comments that his training is about to get a lot more interesting.
The pair leave for the pub, and Hat gets incredibly drunk. They find an Erosion Weaver called Eden who agrees to erode their memories in exchange for favour, a drink, and the collection of masks that Hat bought. Their memories of Catarina's dispute with Fairfax are muddied. At this point, Catarina suggests that they use their remaining rituals to carve a path underneath the ice wall so that they can access the farm - they do so, setting up a Perfection gate that requires an individual to answer ten security questions in order to pass. Upon sobering up, they find that they cannot remember the questions or the answers that they set, but decide that this is a problem for a future time.
Finally, Hat looks for a body for his skull friend. They do not have the resources to properly solve this, but they manage to hire an urchin to carry the skull to and from the skull's school classes with the promise that the urchin can attend lessons and will be guaranteed a job at the farm for himself and his friends. The urchin scurries off with the skull carried on a cushion.
Catarina is eventually called to the court of House Rom to present her evidence against Fairfax for committing every single crime. She asserts that she could not have accused Fairfax of all crimes, given that some crimes are treason and that disclosing a list of treasonous crimes would in itself be treason. She suggests that the case be dropped on this basis. While Isabella attempts to soften things for her niece, some members of the court point out that while Catarina of course could not have accused Fairfax of any treasonous crimes, she did still accuse them of every other crime.
It emerges that Fairfax is awaiting punishment for unapproved and harmful use of Ichor on Flavia's property and so Catarina was correct in accusing them of this particular crime. A case of shoplifting from Fairfax's childhood and a case of unauthorised gambling are also brought up. However, Catarina is unable to prove Fairfax guilty of any other non-treasonous crime and is charged with this list. Her muddied memories of the event are taken into account, as is her affiliation with House Rom. It is concluded that while Catarina must be punished for many, many crimes against the City, it is clear that her behaviour was being influenced during her argument with Fairfax and that she never would have said such things in her right mind - here, Isabella looks very pointedly at Catarina. It is suggested that her familiar likely took over at some point since Catarina's behaviour was indicative of roughly the intelligence level of a Strife Hound - another pointed look - so Catarina's punishment should be lessened on this basis.
Ultimately, Catarina is sentenced to test run Zaboul's new exercise regime for Hat, which is mostly a familiar experience for her. There are more sharks involved this time. She is also required to apologise to the Mystikos of the Imperial Commission once a new one comes to power, and receives the exceeding displeasure of the Commission until then.