- Plane Weaver
The Imperial Commission is closed. Since the start of Winter, no Commissioner has been able to set foot past the great venerable doors of the Imperial Commission, and supplies of Ichor kept by its Savants are dwindling. Patience, and food, is running thin, but the Commission and its Mystikos remain silent…
OPPORTUNITY FOR HONOURABLE CITIZENS
Master Commissioner Alexis Telemova of the Imperial Commission would be particularly grateful for citizens to volunteer with a job of utmost important to the Imperial Commission.
As the nature of the matter may honour volunteers with exposure to some of the workings of the Commission, external volunteers will be required to give their word not to disclose anything they discover of these workings before being admitted to the Commission.
The Master Commissioner seeks only 4 volunteers: in the very likely case that more than 4 honourable citizens apply, lottery will be used to select the lucky volunteers. Successful applicants will be contacted by the Master Commissioner personally.
Amidst the trouble with the Imperial Commission being completely closed off, Master Commissioner Alexis Telemova explains that using the supply of Ichor from the creature created by Benten Gear and an unknown sponsor, she has rebuilt the E.V.I.C.T chamber that allows transferral of consciousness through Ichor, and would like Tenebris and Nikolai to use this to infiltrate the Commission. They enter the chamber, noting the strange change-resistant nature of this Ichor and their minds are plunged into the darkness. It's a tougher journey, and the Benten-Ichor resists their use of it and they become lost in the dark.
Tenebris pulls out his Ichor-resistant lantern and this breaks them out of the Ichor journey whereupon they are plunged into deep Connection. Tenebris exclaims that there always seems to be a Connection conjunction when they he's working for the Imperial Commission, and Nikolai (being a creature of Conflict) hates it. They find themselves coming across artefacts of memory which show some fragments from people they start to recognise - Experimentation, Katya Rastova, and Pierre Telemoi in particular. They compare notes on Katya as well as the Connection Denizen Blind Adoration and confirm they believe she was a founder of the Commission.
They push on, and encounter a bizarre Bazaar in the deeper Connection they're now in. There they encounter an Oracle That Only Know What You Had For Breakfast (which they exploit to discover some important things about Katya Rastova, the Mystikos, Blind Adoration, and Pierre) and a Crystal Ball That Knows All Of Time And Space which they consult at length, much to the chagrin of the disfunctional three guards (one of whom always tells the truth, one of whom always lies, and one of whom is a bit vague about the matter). They gain directions to the Emergency Override Valve that they are seeking, and then upon asking about Katya the Crystal Ball provides a portal to Deepest Connection where they find a series of tents.
They enter the only one they can and find themselves amidst an experiment with beams of Perfection and a Duckling of Erosion. They pass through the experiment, and find themselves dropped into a pit with Oversharers who are being kept by a very tired overseer. The Duckling and the party exchange notes, made easier by an Oversharer's casual breaking of Nikolai's Token of Trust Broken, and eventually escape when the Oversharers get bored by hitching a ride on Cindy's leaf.
Outside the pit, they see more of the complex of tents they've found themselves by, and note its entomological shape. While there, Blind Adoration appears and demands to know the location of Katya. Tenebris and Nikolai beat it into the ground, but it disappears before Tenebris can execute it. The noise attracts Experimentation, Denizen of this place, who they talk to about Katya and the Commission. Experimentation offers to show them how everything occurred, and puts them in a series of tests where they are shown key moments of the Commission's foundation, and of Katya becoming the Mystikos, all with Pierre Telemoi pining after her, despite her clear disinterest, and the friendly work of Experimentation alongside her.
In the end, there is an altercation between a jealous and love-blinded Pierre and Katya in the middle of her work. At first, Experimentation refuses to show them any more, but when pushed shows them how Pierre was joined by another Connection Denizen, Jealousy, and it drove him to believe Katya owed him something. Pierre was at first blinded in an Ichor accident caused by interrupting Katya while she was working, and in his jealous rage he fused with Jealousy, shocking Katya who stepped back over an edge (which she was fine to do due to her mutations). Pierre, now Blind Adoration, unaware of Katya's work as he was too obsessed with the idea of Katya, lashed out with his newfound Connection powers to “save” her and in doing so tore her apart - her body coming to rest as the Mystikos, but her mind fusing with the Imperial Commission itself, and her heart plunging into the Black Ichor and forming the Vulture.
This understood, the party finish their E.V.I.C.T journey and find themselves in the bodies of Elect within the Commission, alongside “Katya” that inhabits Nikolai's body. Blind Adoration is hot on their tail, and they defeat it, using its jealousy to lure it around, until it's incapacitated and Pierre can be spoken to and reasoned with. Pierre comes to peace, and out of the body of Blind Adoration crawls a pale leech, Jealousy, which attempts to escape but is executed by Tenebris and Nikolai.
Close to their goal, Tenebris uses his access to the heart of the Commission to reroute pipes to give him access to the surface, then uses the power of his Awakened Knife to route the Ichor pooling around them into the sky, to announce across the city: “The Imperial Commission has failed this city. Ichor is a tool of the people, commissioners are their servants, lesser even than the Forest Touched. The commission has exploited the power of ichor to stand above others, and so the commission is no more”
The Ichor then falls, raining on the city and granting mutations to anyone it touches. At this, the False Mystikos rises from the depths of the drain, pleased with Tenebris's work, but the Commission has become structurally unsound, causing the corridors to collapse and give them a free path to the Chamber of the Mystikos, and the Override Valve. The Mystikos is furious and demands that the two Elect in front of it deal with the False Mystikos. Tenebris ignores this and Awakens the pipes of the Commission, at the same time as taking the full mind of the Commission into his own head. Realising he is now the Commission and Ichor together, he drives the Heartbreak Key into himself, triggering enormous pain to anything made of Ichor from the Commission throughout the world, and starting to kill the Imperial Commission. The Mystikos is furious, but as Tenebris breaks its tank open, it is helpless, and as Tenebris dies, so does the Mystikos.
Nikolai is left fighting the False Mystikos. Ichor slurry from the Mystikos's tank floods the room, and the Imperial Commission is collapsing. He finds no alternative, and performs the most dangerous Conflictwerking Ritual in order to empower the Ichor around him to destroy the False Mystikos. This happens with ease, and with the power of the collapsing Commission, combined with all the Conflict inside him and in this place he performs a final Act of Power and unites the Heart, Mind and Body of Katya Rastova through the piercing Heartbreak Knife, uniting her and killing her in one move. The Commission, built on all these parts of Katya, in one almighty moment of power and hate and love and despair and glory, explodes.
In the aftermath of the Imperial Commission's destruction, the following things are known: