- Plane Weaver
Sybill Werris of the Circle of the Enlightened Mind seeks volunteers to aid in the retrieval of a vessel from the River Eriden. Preliminary analysis of the ship displays the hallmarks of the Master Shaper Setra, but this is not a recorded work of theirs and they were given up for sky burial 150 years ago. Retrieving this artifact is of paramount importance to the Circle, and to the Empire. We would be grateful for any assistance.
The party meet Sybill, a Devout of the Torch, and are briefed on the plan to reach the ship, ascertain how it got there, and either bring it into port or at least retrieve all artefacts of importance from it. Heading for a small dock in the wastes, the group find it overrun by strangely organised Deep Ones, who seem to be trying to keep them away from the boat rather than simply attempting to eat them. In a tough fight, the party cut through the Deep Ones and reach the open waters of the Eriden on a small skiff.
Arriving on the ship, Voyager, the party are confronted by strange whispering voices picking at their imperfections. The boat appears to be deserted but for a particularly obnoxious puzzle-lock that Kamali and the Circle Shapers get to work on. Investigating the boat, Elias catches sight of a skeleton, but as he tries to alert the party, there is a rumbling noise and the entire ship translates into Perfection.
The party find the black, contaminated river transformed into a seemingly endless lake of silvery mercury, and an ominous blue planetoid in the starry sky starting down at them. The voices from before manifest into statues that only move when unobserved, giving the party something of an additional time constraint to solving the puzzle. To complicate things further, Sly finds what appears to be a long-lost friend of theirs, Griselda, lying unconscious on the deck, and nearly kills Jeremiah when he so much as goes near her. Eventually, Kamali just grabs one of the handles at random, and very luckily chooses correctly, opening the door to the hold.
This activity seems to draw the attention of something; the party all begin to hear whispering, indistinct voices, and feel a terrible pain in their heads. Sybill gathers the group together and performs an Embrace of the Torch, creating a bonfire that wards away the intrusion. However, the mercury sea itself begins to form into skeletal humanoid bodies to attack the party. In the chaos, Gemini apparently encounters his sister Libra, in much the same condition as Sly's friend. Neither of these unexpected arrivals have any memory of how they got there, but recall a blinding light of some description. Much confusion and distrust suffuses the party, not helped by Sly repeatedly threatening to do terrible things to anybody who touches Griselda.
The skeletal assault is followed by angelic perfection denizens and an exceptionally irritating riddling sphinx, and tendrils from the sea grab and envelop Gemini, Jeremiah and Elias. Gemini breaks free quickly, knowing only that something unimaginably vast was watching him, while Jeremiah and Elias are sucked into the sea, leaving behind very accurate copies serving the strange intelligence in the sea. The party are none the wiser about this. In the midst of the attack, both Libra and Griselda start to disintegrate into silvery metal - Libra collapses and reforms into a skeletal monster, but at Sly's insistence, Aldrich performs a ritual to stabilise Griselda, allowing her to retain her intelligence.
With the hold doors finally open, the group attempt to head towards the engine room, a decision that the duplicate Elias and Jeremiah strongly oppose. Sybil uses another Embrace to construct a smaller, portable bonfire to keep the group safe, but exhausts herself into unconsciousness in the process. Upon being told that this will help them get further into the ship, Elias tosses it overboard, starting a fight as the party try to understand his sudden treachery. In the confusion, more creatures emerge from the sea, this time seeming to grotesquely mimic human forms. The party fend them off, but allow the duplicate Elias to get hold of the orb again, and he dives into the mercury sea, with Gemini in hot pursuit.
Gemini emerges after a few minutes, clutching the fire, skin laced with mercury and babbling about an entity called Glory. Elias does not emerge. The party deduce that Glory is the name of the creature in the sea. As they discuss what to do further, Gemini's Glory-infected body starts to slowly dissect itself.
Despite faux-Jeremiah's protestations, the group progress further into the ship, finding the hold to contain a shimmering perfection-void and a room containing the real bodies of Jeremiah and Elias, and a copy of Gemini, all connected to a mass of mercury that seems to be growing faces and body parts. The group are able to distinguish the real Jeremiah and Gemini, and get the group (including the fake Jeremiah) out of the room and back into the void. There follows some panic as they try to ascertain who is and isn't a duplicate, but eventually fake-Jeremiah and Griselda (who is increasingly feeling compelled to attack the party) are tied up and stuffed in Elias' bag. The party trudge on towards the engine room.
At the engine, the group find that though they are onboard a ship, they are also very high up the Tower of Perfection. They are greeted by a ghostly imprint of Setra and a cohort of idealised duplicates of themselves, based on their own imperfections. Setra explains that the Voyager was designed to bridge huge distances in the material plane by travelling through Perfection, but on their first trip they encountered Glory. Glory is simply too large to adequately understand humanity, but it keeps trying to understand, improve, and replicate them. It tried to use the ship to enter the material plane, but Setra's entire crew sacrificed themselves to stop it. Since the party have arrived, however, this can only mean that the ritual is failing, and - 400 years later than planned - Glory is slowly entering the material plane.
As the party eat, they concoct a plan to pair the skills of the Circle Shapers with Quinn and Sly's plane weaving to reconnect the engine to Erosion, cancelling out the Perfection link. Elias, Gemini and Jeremiah begin to swap memories between themselves, which somehow leads to Gemini believing that Sly is his mother. Elias is given some notes from his perfected self, a venerable shaper. Jeremiah requests help from Setra against the forest, and in response receives the shaper's last work, a sword that invokes fear in creatures of the Forest. Gemini's body, under Glory's control, replaces his hand and forearm with a perfect, metallic replica.
The party take the engine back through the void to the Circle Shapers, only to find that they have been gone for three days and the team back on the deck have clawed out their eyes and gone insane, dedicating themselves to Glory. Sybill abandons the torch and destroys the bonfire, allowing Glory's presence to attack the party again. After she is struck down, she channels Glory through herself to become a glowing monster that proves a major challenge to defeat. Jeremiah consults the Torch, and is told that false idols must be destroyed, and that it recognises nothing in Sybill. Reluctantly, Jeremiah sets the rapidly self-repairing Sybill on fire.
The group attempt to perform the ritual using nothing but Sly's Familiar link to Erosion, despite believing this to be a very iffy idea. Gemini throws Sybill in the sea, which turns out to be an even worse idea, since it just allows Glory to reanimate her. The group defend the engine against Glory's forces long enough to open a link to Erosion, temporarily bridging the two planes and sucking them through the resultant gateway.
On the other side, the group are attacked by furious Erosion denizens, and encounter a child, Fred, who has apparently been thrown into Erosion by his family in an attempt to provoke a planar connection in him. The group triumph over the Heralds and rescue Fred, but Gemini is sucked into the ground and disappears. Quinn identifies sanctuary in the form of a deep black pit, and cajoles the rest of the party into jumping in.
The group fall for some time, eventually ending up in very deep erosion, where they are greeted by a fishy butler who leads them to a decrepit underwater mansion. It turns out that the trappings of civilization are a facade designed to make them feel at home and avoid driving them insane. The architect of this is a creature calling itself Autumn, who looks like a human, except when she looks like a colossal benthic leviathan. Autumn, who has captured Gemini, offers to return him in exchange for 'half a life' - and while a savvy Jeremiah questions this deal, Sly instantly shakes on it. Autumn explains that she does not want Glory gaining a foothold in the material plane, and gives them a dagger that can be used 'to make the necessary sacrifice'. Her ally, Keeper Ajrail, recruits both Quinn and Sly with a promise to provide them power whenever they rot the static, unchanging parts of Rastaban.
Their business concluded, Ajrail leads them back to the Voyager, where the altered Sybill is finalising the ship's transfer into the material plane, accompanied by copies of various figures who members of the party would like to see again. The party prove unable to stop Sybill or the engine without using Autumn's dagger to kill their respective duplicates. Some are convinced of the righteousness of the party's actions - Griselda, having been stabilised earlier, actively protects Sly from Sybill - and some are simply cut down, but, as the engine finally activates, Gemini kills the Libra duplicate and throws the dagger to Jeremiah - just a second too late. A portion of Glory enters the world before Jeremiah stabs Sybill with the dagger, finally laying her to rest.
In the two seconds between the engine activating and Jeremiah stabbing the Hand, a tiny fraction of Glory emerges into the world, and is then promptly separated from the whole. As the separated fragment scatters, Aldrich, Jeremiah and Gemini each reach out to it, and a fragment of Glory makes a home in their heads.
The severed part of Glory then scatters into infinitisemal fragments over the city, as a powerful Erosion overlay begins to spread from Autumn's dagger. Elbus and Quinn make a dash for the skiff as the ship breaks apart under the rot, while Sly takes the moment to have another fight with Jeremiah, which the others attempt to stop. The party resolve this just in time to evacuate to the skiff, before the erosion degrades the ship to nothing.
The group head to the Circle to report, and are told that they have been gone for four days, during which a second expedition to the ship was wiped out before they could board. They consider the story to be highly, highly unlikely, but after the story is backed by Quinn and Elbus' testimony, they begrudgingly accept that the party are telling the truth, and declare that they are particularly grateful to the group for providing information on Glory, and for avoiding the paperwork that would have resulted from Glory's invasion of the material plane.
Elias finds that the book given to him by his idealised self is now blank, but takes the furniture he looted from the ship to the Shaper's College for a reward. His initial attempt to do so is lacking in the diplomacy department, but eventually the Shapers offer a shaped piece of equipment and an invitation to join, by way of payment.
Aldrich 'convinces' Gemini to come back to his family, where some tests are run on the poor forest-touched to establish what has happened. Aldrich's family are impressed with the result, and the information he provided on Glory, and reward him with some of the research they have performed, allowing him to perform a similar procedure using the fragment of Glory in his head.
Gemini, his enthusiasm for experimental prodding apparently undimmed, goes to some conflict weavers and pays them two Favour to weaponise his perfected hand. This appears to have no effect until he daydreams and Glory begins to poke around in his head, allowing him to transmute his hand into lashing mercury tendrils.
Elbus takes the opportunity to question his superiors about Rhiannon, and receives some rather evasive answers.
Jeremiah explains his actions regarding Sybil to the Torch Cult, and they agree that he did the right thing. He attempts to escort Fred back to his family, but the boy freaks out, sensing the perfected-ness around him and leaving with Sly instead. If the Torch knows about the presence of Glory inside Jeremiah, it does not show it.
Quinn relays information about the dead to the relevant authorities, and then goes to visit her sister's grave. After that, she goes on a date with Gemini.
Sly escorts Fred back to his family, who are overjoyed by his transformation into a hideous skeleton-monster, and grateful to Sly for his return. They then take him away to debrief and/or experiment on him.