- Plane Weaver
All throughout the world, those possessing strength find themselves drawn strangely to an unreachable place beyond understanding. In their dreams, they find themselves exultant, howling with primal joy as they traverse an eternal battlefield drenched in blood…
URGENT DISPATCH STOP
GATEWAY REQUESTS IMMEDIATE AID STOP
UNDER CONSTANT INTERNAL ASSAULT STOP
TOTAL BLOODY CHAOS STOP
BRING PROVISIONS RELIEF ARMY STOP
Anoushka, Harken, Iri, Never, Nikolai, and a woman who gives no name for herself but is dubbed “Knives” assemble in the office of Strategos Sofia of the Clear Skies. They are informed that the Other Rastaban (now located within the Forest) is collapsing, while Gateway is barraged constantly by increasingly desperate groups of people who have discovered the Wheel’s Path out of the city. Elias of Gateway has requested urgent aid and the party have been recruited to work with him to assess the situation within the Other Rastaban. Mordecai offers some additional information to the Rod Paladins Anoushka, Knives and Iri. There is something very powerful within the Other Rastaban, Mordecai explains, which has great significance to the Order. It is imperative that the Paladins handle this with sensitivity.
The briefing concluded, the party head to Gateway disguised as members of the False Empire so they can cross the lands now surrounding the True Rastaban without attracting attention. However, this disguise makes approaching Gateway difficult as Elias has constructed defences against siege from the False Empire. The party carefully navigate a zone of moving spotlights and call to Elias, who allows them entry. Once inside, the party sit down to discuss the situation with Elias, who looks exhausted from the difficult task of defending Gateway from within and is relieved to have support. He agrees to allow the party into the Other Rastaban through the portal but explains that Gateway has had to construct something of a killbox to prevent the (frequently corrupted) citizens of the False Empire from crossing through.
The party cross through this zone as a number of escapees from the Other Rastaban pass through the portal. In a blind panic, some of these escapees lash out in an attempt to get through to safety, but they are pushed back by the Erosion work of Harken and Never behind a wall of Rod Paladins. As the party rush for the portal, Nikolai is asked by an injured citizen to take their child to safety. Nikolai struggles with the dilemma of whether to leave the child to be killed by the forces of Gateway or to perform a mercy kill himself - before he can make this decision, however, Iri kills the child herself. Anoushka in particular is horrified by this.
The party escape from the killbox through the portal, finding that they appear to have come out of the frying pan and into the fire as they emerge inside a vast Ichor creature. Using a great feat of strength, Knives manages to open a passage to a safe crevice in which Nikolai hides as the Ichor creature attacks the party. Fortunately, a group of warriors from the Other Rastaban cut their way inside and help defeat the creature - not knowing what Ichor is, they explain that they have been tasked with destroying the abominations wreaking havoc in the city. Nikolai emerges from his hiding spot… and the warriors panic at the sight of his mutations. Never performs a ritual to erode all memories of the last couple of minutes, which calms the warriors and gives Nikolai time to hide his face.
Potential diplomatic incident avoided for now, the party are escorted to a safe place in the city where the warriors are gathering. As they travel, the party take in the broken landscape around them. The Other Rastaban, transposed upon the former location of the True Rastaban, is as ruined as the panicked escapees at Gateway had suggested. Black Ichor spews everywhere from broken pipes and pools on the ground, and the Forest is encroaching right onto the walls of the city; worse, within the very centre there is one giant tree blotting out the light of the sun.
While the party discuss the situation with the warriors, a pilgrim approaches and offers to guide them to “find their purpose,” speaking frequently of “true strength.” Deciding to follow the pilgrim to the “god in the cave,” the party leave the warriors and head towards a tunnel. As they depart, it is discovered that Never has vanished, but the situation is soon explained by Petra of the Rod who had to run to catch up with the party: Never has returned to the True Rastaban and Petra has been instructed by Mordecai to continue the mission in her stead.
Progressing into the winding tunnel, the party find that their vision blurs and the scene they eventually find around them is unfamiliar. They appear to be standing in a training ground under a strange sky, surrounded by people who are dressed like Imperial Bureaucrats but who have two heads. Despite this, the party find that they can accept the appearance of these Bureaucrats as natural. Elsewhere in the training ground, lines of humans are progressing through what appears to be some sort of obedience test. Following behind the queue, the party pass through a series of stations where they are given simple combat commands, with any failure to follow the commands met with obliteration and then a resetting of the test.
The party pass through the test with varying degrees of success; Iri and Petra, both bound by a vow to never make the same mistake twice, succeed by necessity, whereas Anoushka repeats the test again and again, growing steadily more irritated with the invigilators each time but refusing to give up. Knives, meanwhile, manages to sneak behind the invigilators and bypasses the test entirely. Harken performs a ritual to erode some kind of barrier preventing her from seeing this scenario for what it truly is and is horrified by the truth of what she sees.
Next, the party find themselves outside the walls of Rastaban facing an army of monsters. They try to drive back this army but find themselves scattered, and with the exception of Harken and Anoushka, everyone dies during the fight. Most return to the vision shortly, but Iri is dragged away from the usual resurrection process by an old nemesis and fails to return. While Iri and Lakhesis negotiate, the rest of the party find themselves inhabiting what they see as a single form, with each limb under separate control. They find this to be normal, natural. As they fight waves of enemies, they are gradually awakened by a voice which calls for them to remember what they are; once they realise that they are in fact separate entities with their own respective desires, they break apart into their own bodies once more.
They then pass into a cavern where the pilgrim greets them, now joined by various individuals who claim to follow their own definition of true strength. Among them is a child sitting on top of a disc who claims to be Death, and a warrior from Gyre who challenges Anoushka. Iri also rejoins the party at this point, covered in barnacles and coughing up seawater.
A figure steps down from an underground cage and approaches the gathered pilgrims. It becomes clear that this is the Rod but it ignores the piety of those who bow to it, instead heading out of the cavern while discussing the nature of humanity. All attempts to harm it fail, including one attempt charged with an Erosion ritual conducted by Harken. The Rod demands that all gathered must fight to the death, as this is their nature as humans - they are nothing more than weapons. Suddenly compelled to bloodlust, the pilgrims and the party turn on each other, some being cut down again and again while others hide and attempt to hunt each other down from stealth.
The tunnel network begins to crumble and cave in. Harken and Anoushka refuse to leave and remain together in the tunnels as they collapse inwards, though Anoushka's strength allows her to survive the cave-in and Harken's mutations eventually earn them a way out. Petra, it is discovered, is unable to be revived, having followed the Rod's orders loyally until she died more times than her Blessing could save her from. Knives cuts Petra's hand off and takes it with her. Leaving the tunnels behind, the survivors head back to the ruined city - where, to their horror, they find the remaining citizens turning on each other, all fuelled by the same bloodlust. Visions received from the Rod are now clearer than ever, all coloured by violence. It seems that the Rod is free from whatever captivity it had been held under.
The party return to the True Rastaban via Gateway, explaining to Elias on the way that something very powerful has driven the city to violence. The nature of this entity is kept secret from Elias for now, but as each of the party report to their various associates in Rastaban, the truth begins to come out.
Anoushka reveals everything she saw to her superiors and then launches herself fully into training with the Order of the Rod, hoping to desensitise herself to violence. Harken begins plotting how to destroy the Rod for good and swears an oath to pursue this course of action while standing in the middle of the Rod Sanctum. Knives has Petra's severed hand preserved. A disillusioned Mordecai is reminded of the importance of keeping certain truths from the populace by Iri, who drops her disguise while speaking to them and in doing so, breaks her true vow to never reveal a secret. Never works with Elias to centre an Erosion ritual around Gateway, hoping to provide a less traumatic death for the people fleeing the Other Rastaban. Never also begins spreading anonymous propaganda against Sofia. Nikolai speaks to the Commission about the presence of Ichor in the Other Rastaban (and the lack of Ichor in the True Rastaban).
Folks, this was nearly 3 months ago. Your guess is as good as mine. Sorry.
All receive 3 favour from the Order of the Rod unless you remember getting something else for reasons.
Final Death Count: