Jonathan's Numenera Game

End of the Road

The choices laid out in front of her were clear. Choose to be reborn with her Shard of the Light intact, and potentially bring about the end of the world by her own hands. Choose to disappear into nothingness and allow an unknown, but impossibly powerful threat to go unchallenged and destroy everything in its way. Choose to be reincarnated as a new being and leave the future a hazy web of decisions yet to be made. Deep in her mind, Leanna knew that despite the consequences, she had already made her choice long ago, and was simply traveling the paths to learn about the futures that would not be. Leanna moved from the crossroads onto the Path of Light and Blood, revisiting the visions that foretold countless battles and victims, until she reached the mural at the end. Seeing the figure of Ignus in the mural, bound firmly by rings of light, Leanna dropped to one knee and quietly made a vow to herself that despite her decision to keep her powers, she would not let this future come to pass. She swore that she would use her abilities strictly for the good of others, in the hopes that by doing so, she could avoid the bloodshed that was painted so clearly in front of her. With a firm resolve, Leanna stepped through the mural and into the light.

When she awoke, she found herself in a room that was now covered from floor to ceiling in a viscous green goo. Looking around, she saw Armiger and her parents standing a few feet away from, now similarly covered in the slime, and around her, she could see the remnants of her old body which had apparently split in half when she had been reincarnated. As she tried to get up and apologize for the mess she had apparently caused, her parents ran over to her and began weeping profusely over the sight of their once deceased daughter. As she tried to console her parents, she also took the chance to examine herself. Her skin was once again glowing with a faint light, but she found that she had difficulty putting power into her muscles and standing up. In addition, despite her reincarnation, the parasitic creature that had attached itself to her back so many weeks ago was still firmly attached, completely undaunted by her week of being dead.

Before she had a chance to do a more thorough examination, Ignus opened the front door in a drunken stupor and stumbled inside. Leanna moved to greet him, even though she could not move any better than he could in his current state, and when she managed to get to him, he knocked into her and caused both of them to collapse onto the ground. Since Leanna could barely move, her parents moved Ignus off of her and onto the couch, and when she finally managed to get back up, she found Delin standing in the doorway, staring at the state of the room. Although she tried to ask Delin to help her clean up the room that she had so completely ruined, Delin simply hovered a few inches above the ground towards the stairs and up to the guest room that her parents had graciously provided, and locked the door. Now with both of her other party members indisposed, Leanna had no choice but to spend the rest of the night on the couch with Ignus while her parents and Armiger cleaned up the mess. She grabbed a few blankets from a nearby closet and awkwardly tried to cuddle with the snoring, drooling Ignus, who was so far removed from this usual nobility that he almost seemed like a different person entirely. As Leanna weakly picked up Ignus’ arm and draped it over her, she remembered the vow that she made while she was dead and promised to protect Ignus, even if it was from herself.

Morning arrived, and Leanna awoke to find that the combined efforts of Armiger and her parents had actually managed to return the room to a reasonable state. Although bits of goo still clung to the ceiling, they had worked to clear most of it away. Both Delin and Ignus had awoken, and she found that they were helping her parents with the rest of the cleaning, since they were planning on departing later that day, now that Leanna had been reincarnated. Noticing that she had awoken, Ignus sat down with her on the couch and explained the previous weeks events, and where they were planning to go next. He told her about the Headmaster’s potential plot to steal the abilities of students in the Academy, and that although he did not feel confident in confronting him now about it, they would return once they had removed the parasite from her back and see if they could find out more information about him. Their next destination, however, was an area of southwestern Navarene that had previously been pointed out by the Nagaian Matron Devola as containing a tower belonging to the Arakkoa that she had wanted them to destroy in exchange for her services. After they had finished cleaning and Leanna had said her goodbyes, the party left Velika and headed north for the border between Thaemor and Navarene, ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.

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To Improve is to Change

The third and final crossroad was shrouded with a dense fog, limiting Leanna’s vision to only a few feet in front of her. Undaunted, she took a step onto the seemingly invisible trail, and despite its strangeness, she recognized it in the back of her mind as the Path of Mist and Doubt. Unlike the other paths, she could barely see the visions presented along the path until she was right up against them, and even then, the visions appeared to be shown through a hazy gray filter that made detailed inspection impossible.

The first of these visions took Leanna to a familiar setting – a deep, ancient cave system with dark swatches of color slowly combining and separating along the walls. However, unlike the vision that she was shown on the Path of Shadow and Fear, it was not Bassam that was traveling with the party, it was a strange, otherworldly body that seemed to be constantly shifting and mutating. Upon closer inspection, Leanna recognized the shape that was accompanying the others as a version of herself, but she noticed that not only was her skin no longer radiating a pale light, she seemed to be changing almost constantly. In one instant, she saw flesh becoming metallic, and she could see thin blue and green wires extend from the top of her head where her hair would usually be. A few seconds after that, her skin became a dark brown, and her hands and feet grew long, sharp claws that looked as though they could pierce through even metal. As they traveled, Leanna could tell that the party was wounded and weary, but were making steady progress deeper into the cave system, and she wondered her presence was valuable to the others.

The next vision showed the party in a large room surrounded by windowless metal walls lined with tubes, pipes and glowing panels. Lining the walls of the room were large, heavy sheets of material that were slowly being funneled out of the room by a series of conveyer belts and claw-like manipulators. As the party moved around, examining the various machines in the room that whirred and chirped, when suddenly, a loud, shrill alarm began to sound and large panels in the walls lifted up to reveal large metal constructs. As the constructs stepped forward, revealing smooth blue synth-blades, the party readied themselves for the inevitable attack. Leanna noticed that instead of fighting with beams of light, the version of her in the vision unclasped a smooth, hand-carved wooden bow and retrieved three arrows from the quiver strapped to her back. As she pulled the bowstring back and let the arrows fly, her form changed and she held her hand out towards one of the constructs, sending several large metal plates now scattered throughout the room hurtling towards it. Confused, Leanna stepped through the vision, unsure of what to make of the scenes it had shown her and how she had changed.

Continuing on, Leanna encountered the third vision, and she was taken aback to see the woman that had appeared so many times along the Path of Light and Blood. However, instead of standing beside her, she, along with Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd, surrounded her in a wide semi-circle, weapons drawn and ready. Still, the woman’s face displayed an expression of haughtiness, and it was clear that even in this position, she looked down on Leanna and the others. Their mouths moved in conversation, and although Leanna could not hear their words, she knew from their actions that they were preparing to give her a chance to redeem herself before they ended her life. The woman turned to Leanna, who brandished a pulsating purple energy blade in each hand, and put her hands to her face in an exaggerated display of mock disappointment before suddenly revealing a sinister grin and launching herself several dozen feet away from the party. As Leanna and the others charged towards her, Leanna’s energy blades disappeared, and in their place, two translucent copies of her appeared beside her, hovering several inches off the ground. The copies surged forward and darted around wildly in midair, deflecting the woman’s initial volley of radiantly glowing spears and throwing up a cloud of thick, billowing dust. As the fight continued, Leanna felt an increasing sense of confusion, although she was slowly starting to put all the visions that she had seen in context and learn more about the final decision that she would have to make.

The fourth vision displayed Leanna and the others standing atop the same fortress that she had seen at the end of the Path of Shadow and Fear, However, unlike in the previous vision, where the party had only other adventurers standing at their side, there were now strange green creatures that appeared to be made of gelatin surrounding the fortress. The creatures came in all shapes and sizes, clusters of green orbs hovering in midair, and massive twenty-legged crabs that towered over the battlefield. The creatures were as unique as they were innumerable, and as the armored warriors marched their way towards the fortress, the gelatin creatures and the adventurers prepared themselves for battle. Leanna herself looked far older than normal, having appeared to have aged ten or twenty years, but in the next instant, her appearance changed and the wrinkles that lined her face disappeared. In their place were sharp-edged tattoos across her forehead and jawline, and her eyes transformed into pupil-less pools of deep gray. As the massive fighters activated the jump jets on their backs and began leaping up onto the tops of the fortress walls, they found themselves intercepted in midair by winged insects that flew faster than the eye could see, gouging their armor and knocking them back away from the fortress. Leanna could feel a sense of hope well up inside of her, as she could see a path to victory where there had once been none. She stepped through the fourth vision, ready to confront the final decision.

At the end of the Path of Mist and Doubt stood a simple mural, plain in comparison to those of the other paths. It depicted the four people walking down a well-worn path with a bright yellow and orange sun ahead of them on the horizon. The path was lined with sunflowers in full bloom, and the clouds in the sky were tinted with a faint red. Unlike the other visions, Leanna could make out every detail of this mural as though it had been magnified a thousand times, and she could see Ignus’ burnished armor, Delin’s belt of knives, and Lloyd’s hands crackling with electricity as they walked down the path together. However, as she looked at herself, she saw only a darkened silhouette, even though the others were very clearly depicted. Leanna placed her hand through the mural, and as she pulled it back, she was surprised to see it covered in thick red scales resembling a lizards. She put her hand through again and pulled it back, revealing a tough and calloused hand that had been tempered by years of martial training. With full knowledge of everything that the three paths had to offer, she made her way back to the crossroads, ready to make her decision.

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Giving Up is (Not) an Option

Leanna returns to the crossroads and walks down the the dim path leading off into the distance. As she takes her first step, something deep inside tells her that the path is known as the Path of Shadow and Fear, and after a few more steps, she is greeted by her first vision. The vision shows Delin, Ignus, Lloyd, and Headmaster Bassam in the labyrinth of pipes deep underneath Jyrek, having a heated argument with the Nagaian Matron, Devola. Although Leanna cannot understand their conversation, the usually calm and calculating matron appears uncharacteristically upset at the party. It quickly becomes obvious that negotiations have broken down, and as Devola rears up and sends her tentacles flying towards the party like spears, the vision ends, leaving their fate unclear. Leanna steps through the vision to continue further down the path, and a sharp sense of loss erupts from deep inside her.

The next vision shows the party deep inside an ancient cavern. It is unclear how far underground they are, but what is evident is the fact that the interior of the cave is not natural. Instead of rough and dark, the rock walls are a dull kaleidoscope of various colors, swirling around and flowing together like syrup. As the four make their way deeper into the cavern, Leanna notices that each of them appears to be incredibly fatigued, Bassam in particular seems to have taken their travels particularly hard, and has his arm over Delin for support. A supernatural darkness in the cave surrounds them, dimming the radius of their light sources to a paltry few inches, and forcing them to feel their way through the twisted and swirling cave. Although they have no choice but to continue, it is unclear whether or not they will live to see the cavern’s end. Although she desperately wishes to help them, Leanna understands that the vision is simply that. a glimpse into what may be, and steps through it, feeling her grief grow and stick in her throat.

As the third vision displays itself before Leanna, the first thing she notices is that only Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd are present. Whether Bassam perished during their travels or is simply not visible is unclear, but all that Leanna sees is the three of them around a small campfire in a dense, dark forest. Delin and Ignus are sleeping, propped up with their backs against a large, purple tree, and Lloyd’s tiredness is visible as he solemnly keeps watch over the other two. His eyes dart back and forth, trying to take in even the smallest change around him, and Leanna notices that he is not simply watching for predators who may stumble across their campsite. They are being hunted by an unknown enemy, one evidently so strong that it requires Lloyd to push himself to the edge of exhaustion to protect the others two. Suddenly, an arrow flies out of the darkness, and Lloyd vanishes in a burst of lightning, reappearing next to Delin an instant later with the arrow firmly in his grasp. Delin and Ignus awaken instantly, and another battle begins as yet more arrows fly out from behind the trees. Leanna chooses not to watch the end of the vision, instead stepping forward and trying to keep the sadness inside from overwhelming her.

A fourth vision shows Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd standing resolutely on top of a fortress with tall, thick metal walls, its smooth surface broken every few feet by a streak of red synth. They are joined by other adventurers and warriors from far and wide, each wielding a weapon of some kind, Along the horizon, the enemy forces charges towards the fortress, seemingly unconcerned for their own safety. Each of them humanoid in shape, but easily dwarfing an average man, with heavy plate armor covering every inch of their bodies and large metallic cylinders belching green fire in their arms. The armor around their spines bulges outward, as if their backs were warped and bloated, and Leanna instinctively touches her back where the parasitic creature she carried with her ought to be. As the armored men quickly close with the fortress walls, a hail of projectiles, bolts of lightning, and blazing hot fireballs explode out from the fortress to meet them, and the ground underneath their feet rises up, causing many to lose their footing. Still the enemy continues advancing over the bodies of their fallen, and as green fire erupts from their weapons and strikes the walls, sections of it begin to melt away. Several of the enemy fighters launch themselves off or the ground and onto the walls, meeting the adventurers stationed there head-on, and as more and more of them follow, the party soon finds themselves struggling to hold back the crashing tide of enemies. Leanna continues onwards, desperately hoping for the party’s victory, but somehow knowing deep inside what the mural at the end of the path would show her.

The final mural confirmed Leanna’s worst fears, as it showed the bodies of Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd, as well as dozens of other adventurers, being crushed underneath the heavy metal boots of the enemy fighters. Their limbs twisted, skulls cracked open, spines bent backwards, each member of the party had been mangled and dismembered in a truly gruesome fashion. Unflinchingly, the enemy continued onward towards a new battle, and a new victory, and as the Leanna stuck her arm through the mural, she was surprised to see that when she pulled it back, everything above the elbow had simply vanished. Although her arm returned a few seconds later, she already knew that she could not accept what the mural had shown her, and turned back yet again towards the crossroads.

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A Light to Lead the Way

When Leanna next wakes up, she finds herself floating in a strange place, with a single path of light leading out in front of her, and endless darkness radiating from every other direction. She tries to step onto the path of light, only to realize that she has no feeling in the bottom of her feet, or any other part of her body for that matter. Still, with no where else to go, Leanna begins walking down the path, hoping to find out what lies ahead. Her internal sense of time does her little good in this place, and after an eternity of walking, the single path of light turns into three divergent ones. One path, shining with a bright white light, leading off to the left, another shadowy path extending out in front of her, and a third path covered in fog and mist heading to the right. She decides to explore each path individually, and as she turns towards the path to her left, something deep inside her instinctively recognizes it as it as the Path of Light and Blood.

After a few steps, Leanna is confronted with a strange vision that appears to be projected onto a wall, floating in the middle of the path. The vision shows a landscape of utter destruction – a crumbling fortress city in the background, with choking black smoke pouring out of the burning buildings inside, and mountains of bodies piled up outside the broken city walls. As Leanna looks at the scene, she can almost feel the smoke fill her lungs, and an intense feeling of anger begins to well up inside of her. Still, she walks into the vision, passing through the wall, and continues down the path undeterred.

The next vision she sees down the path is of a woman who appears to be talking with her. The woman hovers several inches above the floor, and her skin glows with a pale light. She appears to be in her late twenties, dressed in a crimson and black dress complete with corset and hoop skirt, and her large, golden curls of hair easily reach to her waist. Although Leanna cannot hear the words of their conversation, the woman gives off an aura of dominance, and she can feel the condescending tone of her voice. Leanna becomes increasingly angry, and despite the woman’s derisive demeanor, feels a sense of camaraderie and familiarity with her. She continues down the path, unsure of what could lie ahead.

The third vision shows Leanna and the woman standing in the middle of a battlefield, the ground underneath their feet soaked with blood. Scattered bodies are visible even to the horizon, and several large swathes of scorched earth gouge the landscape. The sun has swelled to several times its normal size, and although the heat it gives off would be unbearable to a normal human being, Leanna and the woman barely seem to notice. As the vision shows the two slowly walking through the battlefield, Leanna begins feeling an uncontrollable sense of elation and excitement, even as her disgust towards the mangled bodies around her grows. She walks through the vision feeling sick to her stomach, but with a strange, twisted grin on her face.

A fourth vision stands in front of Leanna, surprising her with the fates of her traveling companions, Delin, Ignus, and Lloyd. The signs of a fierce battle are obvious, and it appears that the three of them were fighting against her. Still, a battered and bloody Leanna stands victorious, and the other combatants lay in front of her in various states of defeat – Lloyd, burned to a crisp and barely recognizable, Delin, run through with dozens of spears composed of a radiant white light, and Ignus, breathing but unconscious, limbs bound together with hoops of light meant to restrain, not injure. As she looks at Ignus’ bloodied and scarred body, a sense of longing overwhelms Leanna, and she calls out to him, knowing fully that her voice will not reach. Still, she continues on down the path, afraid of what could lie further beyond.

As the path reaches its end, Leanna is faced with a massive mural, done in the style of a vibrant and exquisitely detailed oil painting. The mural displays Leanna and the woman hovering several hundred feet above the ground, and looking out over the horizon. Dozens of smoking craters pockmark the earth, and large white fires dot the landscape, burning everything in their path. A dejected ignus hovers by her side, still bound with rings of light, and unable to do anything but watch hopelessly as the two continue their destructive rampage. Leanna sticks her hand through the mural, and finds that it passes through effortlessly, leaving a ripple in the mural. When she retracts it, she finds it covered in blood, and the scent of burning flesh and charred metal fills her nostrils. Although the red color vanishes after a few seconds, the sticky feeling of blood between her fingers remains, keeping her from being able to forget.

Leanna turns around, refusing to acknowledge the mural, and walks back down the path to where she started.

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The Burning Flames of Justice?

After returning from the tomb with Leanna’s body in tow, Delin and Ignus decided to stow her at her parent’s house, and despite their indelicacy with explaining her death to them, her parents were unsurprisingly willing to care for Leanna while she underwent her trial. The two headed to the Golden Scepter, the local watering hole, in the hopes of finding something to do while they waited for Leanna to recover. They posted on a message board outside stating that they were two detectives looking for work while they were in the village, and headed inside to see that the tavern was mostly visited by monks enjoying their off-time from the temple. After a few minutes, one such monk came up to Ignus and introduced himself as Lenny, stating that he had seen the notice on the board outside.

Speaking with a slow, lilted accent and already clearly intoxicated, Lenny explained that he had been looking for people unfamiliar with the village’s customs to investigate some of the activities in the Academy. Those who were born in Velika learned very quickly to never question the Headmaster’s words, as he was the final arbiter of all of Velika’s affairs. As a result, when the Headmaster decreed that a student had been executed due to some deficiency or violent personality, no one gave it a second thought. However, Lenny explained that he had always been inquisitive, and although others accepted the Headmaster’s words at face value, none of the bodies of the students had ever been returned to their families for grieving, or even seen again. With a mystery on their hands, Delin and Ignus listened closely as Lenny told them the names of two students who had recently disappeared – Nero and Fulgore. The two had very little in common, Fulgore a bright young man with the unusual ability to affect the weather, and Nero, an angry firecracker with a chip on his shoulder. Lenny offered the pair a meager sum to investigate the Headmaster’s activities, and Delin went off to the library in the Academy to dig up some information, while Ignus went to the Headmaster himself.

Unfortunately, Delin found very little of interest, and instead became immediately distracted with a book on undersea foliage. His thoughts turned from finding out more about the missing students to learning as much as he could about the various types of seaweed that grew in the Rayskel Cays. Ignus, however, decided to get his information straight from the source. Once in the Headmaster’s office, Ignus asked Bassam about the Shard of the Sun that he supposedly carried on his person at all times. He explained to the Headmaster that Leanna had died in an unfortunate accident, and that he was hoping to find out if her Shard had also disappeared. Reluctantly, Bassam reached into his robes, retrieved a smooth, black cylinder, and untwisted it to reveal that the Shard had indeed vanished.

Now with the confidence that Leanna’s Shard was out of Bassam’s reach, Ignus confronted the Headmaster about his policies to execute those in the school that he deemed incapable of controlling their powers or those who were likely to misuse them. He argued that the lives of the students could not be ended just by the whim of a single person, and that an alternative must be available. Bassam explained that in ancient times, those who were born in Velika as Mystics were left to roam free and develop their abilities on their own. This typically resulted in tragedy, as many began to use their powers to force their wills upon those less capable. Although the Gakuen Academy was established to educate the young on their responsibilies as Mystics, there were still those who refused teaching, or were simply too violent to leave alone. The problematic students could turn the public eye of the country against Velika, and simply must be dealt with.

Ignus stood firmly on his position, asserting that a multitude of deaths determined by the will of a single man could not be just, and in doing so, enraged the Headmaster. After a few minutes of intense back-and-forth arguing, Bassam finally lost his patience with Ignus, and asked him to leave. Recognizing that further discussion would be pointless and would gain him little information on the missing students, Ignus willingly left, and Bassam made it clear that he would not agree to any further meetings. He grabbed Delin from the library, and the two went back to Leanna’s parent’s house to go over what they had learned and plan their next move.

The next day, Delin and Ignus went to the local temple to speak with Lenny again. They find him without much trouble, and discuss their theories on what the Headmaster might possibly be doing with the missing students instead of simply killing them as he says. Ignus explains that he believes the Bassam might be using the Ritual of Self-Cleansing that was meant to remove the abilities of troublesome students to instead take them for himself, and maintain their bodies as a way of preserving their abilities. Citing Leanna’s Shard of the Sun as a power that requires the original host to be alive in order to work, Ignus draws the conclusion that the Headmaster has been slowly gaining power over his decades of leadership by stealing and somehow integrating the abilities of students with his own. Lenny finds his theory to be worth further discussion, and asks the pair to meet him at the Golden Scepter later that evening.

When they next meet, Lenny, Delin, and Ignus decide to try and find more evidence to either prove or disprove their new theory that the Headmaster has been secretly stealing the powers of those he claims to have executed. Unfortunately, they have no leads, given that Ignus angered the Headmaster to the point where he refused to meet with them again. Lenny explains that the location of the Headmaster’s house is kept secret for his protection, but offers to try and find out more about it in order to try and progress the investigation. Excited to have another pair of eyes out in the field, Delin and Ignus redouble their efforts and begin asking around to learn more about the Headmaster and the small town of Velika.

Unfortunately, their investigation quickly falls apart. Lenny is nowhere to be seen the next day, either at the temple or the Golden Scepter. In addition, a new notice was placed above Ignus’ original one on the message board outside the tavern, stating that Delin and Ignus were not to be trusted or interacted with. Something had clearly happened to Lenny during his quest to find the Headmaster’s house, and the party was effectively barred from asking any further questions. Resolving to return to Velika later, Ignus spent the rest of the week descending into alcoholism, and Delin took up work as a farmhand at a local farm, earning a few measly shins for his efforts.

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The Mechanized Tomb

The party heads into Queen Starloscet’s Tomb, where they first encounter a room filled with various kinds of traps meant to deter grave robbers. Delin notices several pressure plates in the floor, as well as indents in the floor, walls, and ceilings. He hovers over the floor plates, and opens the door at the end of the room, only to have several large rocks fall from the ceiling onto him. He takes a few hits to the head, but otherwise appears unharmed, and moves into the next room. Ignus activates the artifact on his boots and launches himself over the pressure plates and into the room ahead. Leanna, however, ends up stepping on a plate, causing several arrows to launch from the walls and hit her, which also causes her to tumble forward into a deep pit filled with spikes. She eventually manages to climb out while Delin and Ignus inspect the next room, They find an old sarcophagus with a decayed female skeleton wrapped in tattered cloth, and a number of gold pots, silver boxes, and leather bags that appeared to once hold treasure. Ignus, however, notices that the containers in the room appear to be made of clay, and only painted to appear valuable.

Delin notices that the back wall of the room appears to be much thinner than the rest of the room, and as Ignus strikes it with his axe, he falls through into the next room – a thin, long corridor covered in pressure plates. Delin trips the pressure plates with Spikey, and as he does , panels in the walls open and large wooden spears shoot out and cover the length of the hallway. To combat this, Delin rolls Spikey down the long corridor, and Ignus chops down the spears as they fire,, until the party finally reaches the end of the hallway. and finds themselves in a large, metal room covered with ancient blood stains. in the center of the metal room is a large while pillar with large, vertical plates attached to the pillars north, south, east and west sides. Leanna moves to investigate the pillar and plates, but in doing so, accidentally steps in front of the western plate. The plate shoots out at an incredible speed, and she barely has time to even think before it crushes her against the wall.However, Delin and Ignus notice that the plate returns to the pillar fairly slowly, and so they run behind it as it retracts, pulling the flattened body of Leanna behind them towards the exit of the room. As they sit in front of what appears to be an elevator, they take a moment to rest and nurse Leanna back to consciousness.

The party enters the elevator and descend deep underground. When the reach the bottom, they step out and the elevator returns to the surface, leaving them no way of calling it. They find themselves in a room full of faded plaster murals, and a single glass disk floating a foot above the ground in the center of the room. The disk appears to have some kind of liquid on it, and as Leanna touches the top of the disk, clear liquid begins flowing from the top of one of the walls, disappearing as it reaches the floor. The liquid displays faces of various creatures morphing into one another, first a man, then an insect, then a bird. The faces speak in words that none of the party understands, and after experimenting with the glass panel for a little longer, they move on. They come across a large set of metal doors, firmly fitted together in a way that makes prying them open all but impossible. After spending some time finding a mechanism to open the doors, they return to the double doors and look inside.

Inside the metal double doors is a beautiful, black and white tiled gallery untouched by time. The walls are covered with a red fabric, and several paintings are hung along the walls every few feet. In the center of the room stands an immaculate white marble statue of Queen Starloscet, The party approaches the statue in the middle of the room, causing its eyes to begin glowing with a bright white light. The statue begins speaking in a angry tone – “Flee now while you have your life! It is the only treasure worth keeping.” Suddenly, the statue fires several beams of light at the party, forcing them to retreat into the previous room. Ignus takes a shield with the Queen’s emblem that they collected earlier, hides his head behind it, and moves back into the room. As he approaches the statue, he being strafing along to its right, realizing that the statue takes no notice of him as long as he keeps the shield up. He beings taking down the paintings with emblems on them and throwing them to the rest of the party, who hold them up and move into the room. After several minutes of slowly inching around the statue with their bodies shielded by paintings, the party makes it to the next room.

The party finds themselves face to face with a massive chasm, and a single rope bridge spanning its length. The party studies the bridge for a while, before Delin simply decides to hover over to the other side. Unfortunately, no one was able to detect that the bridge was rigged to collapse, and as Leanna took the first step onto the bridge, it fell apart, sending her hurtling into the darkness below. Ignus tried to reach out and stop her before she fell, and although he was able to grab onto her, he lost his balance in the process and tumbled into the chasm. Delin went in after them, and he found that also Ignus’ armor had managed to soften some of the fall. Leanna had struck the ground head-first, and her skull had been smashed wide open. Recognizing that their ally had breathed her last, Delin and Ignus endeavored to find a way to restore her, assuming that they could get out of the deadly tomb themselves. They climbed out of the chasm, and continued on, taking her body with them.

Eventually, Delin and Ignus find themselves in a dead end room. The room itself was barren and metal, and contained two strange devices. One, an upright, black cylinder capable of holding a person, and the other, a mass of tubes, wires, and glowing green pods in the center of the room. Unable to determine the purpose of the green pods or the various tubes stretching from the machine into the floor and ceiling, Delin stepped into the black cylinder and immediately pushed one of the two buttons inside. Ignus saw Delin vanish in a bright beam of light, and sat down to rest and contemplate the realities of his new life alone.

After several minutes, Ignus decided to follow Delin, and stepped inside the cylinder. He found himself transported into a short corridor, and saw Delin standing a few dozen feet ahead in the middle of an untarnished white marble throne room. As he entered the room himself, Ignus saw a brilliant white marble statue of Queen Starloscet, a marble sarcophagus in the center of the room with a golden plaque attached tto the cover, and a large chest against one of the walls. The plaque on the sarcophagus read “Here lies Queen Starloscet, greatest monarch of Thaemor, just, wise, and beautiful, who loved her subjects as her children.” Convinced that they had finally seen through the tomb’s multiple decoys and traps, Delin and Ignus immediately began looting everything that wasn’t nailed down.

They found several priceless treasures that were buried with the Queen, as well as a few cyphers and artifacts that had once belonged to her. However, they did not manage to find the Impossible Blade, which was the entire reason that they had entered the tomb, and so they pressed onward. The only exit to this room a corridor protected by a bright red force field, and the control panel for it laid behind the field further down the corridor. In a stroke of genius, Delin pulled out a cypher that allowed them to teleport small objects, and teleported Spikey onto the control panel, where it landed on the button that deactivated the force field. The two continue past the force field, where they encounter three glowing orbs of light in various colors. Delin recalls something he learned long ago about these creatures. Known as Erulians, they are beings of pure energy that can survive in almost any environment. They have incredible psychic abilities, but are unable to affect living creatures while in their energy form. However, each one has a distinct physical form, and while physical, they can both attack and be attacked. Delin and Ignus ignore these creatures, taking care not to disturb them, and continue further into the tomb.

Finally, they reach a large open room, with a catwalk leading from one side to the other. The floor appears to be dozens of feet below the catwalk, and shrouded in darkness and mist. The walls and ceiling of the room are made of metal bent at strange angles, and that reflect and absorb varying spectrums of light, giving them a kaleidoscopic look. On either side of the catwalk are six metal platforms with large Erulians hovering above them, and with tiny metal spindles descending from the ceiling above them. Ignus tries speaking with the erulians, but they appear to be deep in a meditative trance, so the party moves across the catwalk into the next room.

They reach a cathedral, where they find a large, green, erulian, floating above a metal platform with dozens of spindles hanging from the ceiling. It addresses the party in a soft, deep voice. “I am the Master. The People know me as Aurturi.” He questions the party about why they have come so far, and Ignus explains that they had originally come in search of the Impossible Blade, but that it was no longer required now that Leanna was dead. Remembering that Aurturi was the Velikan god of death and reincarnation, Ignus asks the Master to restore Leanna to life, in exchange for his and Delin’s daily worship. They agree, and the Master teaches them the ritual of Obedience, and sacred hand signs and chants associated with it. He then transforms into his physical state, a huge green hornet, bloated and covered in boils and warts, with two sets of crooked wings incapable of flight, and a single stinger dripping with green poison. Delin places Leanna in front of him, and he impales her with his stinger, pumping her body full of liquid until every cell was full to bursting.

He informs Delin and Ignus that she will need to undergo a personal trial, and should she succeed, she will be reborn in the form that her mind most desires. Should she fail, she will not receive a second chance. With the hope that Leanna would be restored, Delin and Ingus also asked the Master for the Impossible Blade, since they would require it to remove the parasite if it still clung to her after her trial. He presented them the Impossible Blade, a short-bladed weapon made of pure light, capable of cutting through any substance with ease. He then returned to his energy form, and bid them farewell.

After a long and arduous journey, Delin and Ignus managed to return to the surface with the Impossible Blade, and the hope that they would still have a reason to need it. They had been told that should Leanna successfully complete her trial, her poison-bloated body would be reborn as a new being in a week. Now, there was nothing left to do but wait.

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Dissension Among the Ranks

Leanna explains the situation to Ignus and Delin, both of with express their opinions about what she should do. Ignus argues that the headmaster has no right to keep her power from her, and that she should be free to live her life as she pleases. Leanna agrees with this, and begs him to speak to the headmaster on her behalf. Delin, however, states that her actions during the time that they have been together are clear evidence of her inner cruelty, and that giving someone like her the Shard would be a death sentence for many others. Although Delin will not think any differently of her if she regains the Shard, he agrees with the headmaster’s decision and refuses to help her recover it from him. The two spend the rest of the evening, not speaking to each other.

The next morning, Leanna returns to the school, where she spends the morning in the library in the hopes of uncovering more information. She comes across a book of genealogy, tracing the family histories of all of the villagers in Velika, and recording the results of each of their coming-of-age rituals. When she comes across her own history, she learns that she has been recorded as deceased, but what truly surprises her is that her family had a daughter before her named Illisen, who also received a Shard of the Sun, and who had also been killed. Although she was told that she was an only child, the book provided clear evidence that this was not the case. Flipping through the rest of the book, she learns that only four other people in the history of the village had received Shards of the Sun, and that having two in the same generation was unheard of.

Despite the fact that she learned about her older sister, she still did not gain any information that would allow her to avoid choosing between the two unpleasant options provided Headmaster Bassam. She returns to his office with Ignus, and confronts the headmaster about her deceased sister. The headmaster relents and tells her that her sister shared the same gift she did, but her power developed in a way that made her personality unstable and made her prone to wanton violence, and so she was sentenced to death. Ignus tries to convince the headmaster that the Shard should be returned to Leanna, since she was its original owner. However, the Headmaster quickly informs him that the laws that he is used to have no meaning here, since Velika is ruled by a headmaster, and not by any government or nobility. ignus tries to convince him to return the shard, stating that they need it in order to combat a power that could threaten the entirety of the world. Bassam, however, claims that to return the shard would be exchange one threat for another, and that given Leanna’s past actions, returning the shard would surely be worse.

Bassam does, however, recognize that the party is facing a threat that could potentially spiral out of control, and so offers to accompany them in order to learn more about this threat, and watch over Leanna. Although his past experiences have told him that people cannot change, he hopes to prove himself wrong and see Leanna become a person that he can trust with such destructive power. He asks the party for a day to set his affairs in order and plans to meet them tomorrow. Although Leanna protests, stating that she has indeed changed since she was here, Bassam refuses to listen until he has seen evidence of this with his own eyes.

After leaving the school, Delin returns to Leanna’s parent’s house, while Leanna and Ignus herself goes to visit the grave of her sister Illisen. Suspecting that her sister may not be dead, given that the headmaster had a history of leaving students alive when he shouldn’t, Leanna asked Ignus to dig up her sister’s grave so she could confirm her suspicions. However, Ignus was incredibly put off by her request to desecrate the grave of her own sister, especially since she did not seem willing to do it herself and instead asked someone else to dirty his hands, and left in a angry mood. Leanna indeed did not have the willpower to follow through and defile the grave, and left to return to her parent’s house. When she returned, she met Ignus, apologized to him, and kissed him on the cheek, in a strange and overly forced way of flirting with him immediately after asking him to defile a grave on her behalf.

Remembering about the tomb of Queen Starloscet, the party goes to ask Bassam if they can have permission to visit it and search for any clues about the Impossible Blade. They tell him that the blade is an important component in ending the threat that they face, and he agrees to allow them inside, provided that he can accompany them to ensure that they give it due respect. The tomb is a sacred religious landmark, the location where each coming-of-age ritual is held, and because of this, the party should take care while inside. They head north, past the graveyard, to an ancient mausoleum containing several statues of Aurturi and Queen Starloscet, and a massive circular hole with wooden stairs leading deep underground.

The party climbs down the stairs and finds themselves in the ritual chamber, a small room with a throne and statue of Aurturi behind it, a closed coffin in the center of the room, and an inscribed circle of runes on the stone floor surrounding the coffin. The walls are covered in murals depicting Queen Starloscet’s charisma and natural dominion of the sun, and as the party inspects them, Delin notices that the mural behind the throne has been cracked, and the brick wall behind it shows signs of a secret door. Using a cypher, the party tricks Bassam into leaving, and Delin manages to find a hidden switch in the coffin, opening the door in the brick wall, and leading deeper underground. He gathers the rest of the party, and they prepare to enter the Tomb of Queen Starloscet.

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Welcome to Velika, City of Mystics

Three days after leaving Jyrek, the party arrives in the quiet town of Velika. Leanna notes that not much has changed since she was last here several years ago, and leads the party to her old school in hopes of finding more information about her missing Shard of the Sun. They wander the halls for a time before meeting one of the faculty there, a red-haired middle-aged woman named Celana. The party notices her unusually calm and expressionless demeanor, but pays it no mind as they ask her to take them to Bassam Tiras, the headmaster of the school.

Celana takes them to the third floor to a ornate set of carved, wooden double doors, etched with faintly glowing runes, and informs the headmaster that one of his old pupils has urgent information and has come to speak with him. After she mentions the name Leanna, the headmaster seems to pause, but he welcomes them in after a time. Celana leaves after the party enters the headmaster’s office, and he invites them to sit down in front of his desk. Leanna begins by explaining to him that the Shard of the Sun bestowed to her during the coming-of-age ritual has been stolen, and that she has come here in search of a way to restore or recover it. Bassam replies he is very surprised to see that she has returned, and that he didn’t recognize her thanks to her physical changes. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to restore her lost shard, and although her appearance has changed, he hopes that she can continue to live a healthy life without the use of her powers. However, while he speaks, Delin and Leanna notice that he appears to be hiding something, but do not press him for a reason why.

Leanna leads the party to her parent’s house, where she knocks on the door. A middle-aged woman appears and immediately flings open the door, shocked to see her. The woman calls for her husband and exclaims that the daughter that they thought was dead all these years has returned. Surprised by this new information, the party enters, where they learn that several years ago, when Leanna was still attending school, she fought another student that had bullied her. Unfortunately, the wounds she inflicted were ultimately fatal, and the student died later that night. Because of this Leanna was sentenced to death, and that her mother and father were informed by the headmaster that their daughter had been executed for her crimes.

Leanna, however, was told a different story by the headmaster, about she has surpassed his ability to teach her, and that she should leave immediately for new lands to hone her power. Realizing that the headmaster had lied to her parents, she goes back to him to learn the reason why. Leanna and Headmaster Bassam have a long chat about that night, and the motives behind it. He reveals that although she was sentenced to death, he couldn’t bear to see her killed, due to their close relationship as mentor and mentee, and a disgust at seeing such potential go to waste. Because of this, he sent her into exile and told the others that she had been punished with death. However, he has regretted his decision ever since that since, because the combination of her incredible destructive power, and her clearly brutal and sadistic personality, could only lead to the deaths of many others, deaths that would stain his own hands with blood.

He confesses that he hired a passing adventurer to remove her Shard of the Sun. Because he was torn between killing Leanna and losing one of his pupils, or allowing her to live and potentially dooming many others, he jumped at the adventurer’s offer, who said that he could remove the source of her power without killing her, and that she would be able to continue to live. After the Shard was removed, the adventurer returned it to him for safekeeping, and he plans to keep the Shard despite Leanna’s requests to return it. He offers Leanna two choices – forget about her abilities and live the rest of her life as a normal person, or undergo the ritual of Self-Cleansing, with would leave her with her power, but remove all emotion and sense of self. This path would force her to remain in Velika as an educator at the academy, but would leave her with her powers and life intact.

Displeased with both options, Leanna returns to her parent’s house to discuss her future with Ignus and Delin.

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The Calm Before the Storm

The party spends the day running errands, and preparing to receive the nobles later in the day. Ignus wanders around town, and comes across a knickknack shop, full of small toys and oddities. He purchases a remote-controlled dragonfly for one shin, and heads back to the estate, where he spends time talking to the groundskeeper about the various exotic plants the Count Magellan keeps in his garden. Delin learns the ins-and-outs of how to be shady from his contact in Jyrek, Big Steve, and the influx of information that he never knew existed permanently changes his outlook on life. He resolves to give up his head-butting ways, and renames himself Delin Drast, in reference of the man whose belt inspired his new way of life. Leanna heads to a fancy dress shop and purchases a new yellow dress for the dinner tonight.

The dinner passes uneventfully, with the nobles in attendance lavishing praises onto the party, and asking for tales of their other adventures. That evening, Delin breaks into the basement of the estate, normally locked by a heavy metal door and keypad. He finds a small, underground room, full of pods containing nagaian sleepers and defenders. He finds that the room deep underground leads to the labyrinth of pipes underneath Jyrek, and decides to leave the pods undisturbed, heading back up to join the others and rest for the remainder of the night.

The next day, the party sets off to find Elos, the man with information about the Impossible Blade. They wander several miles outside of Jyrek, and come across a small, wooden hut surrounded by barren land, and with several large, reptilian creatures called chirogs patrolling it. As the party approaches, the chirogs attack, pouncing at the party and grappling them until finally, a small, wide-eyed, blue-haired man runs out of the hut and shouts to them in a language that the party has never heard before. As he walks to the party, the chirogs surround him and he tries to make himself as large and intimidating as possible. He demands to know what the party is doing on his land, and frequently switches between addressing the chirogs around him and the party. As he speaks, however, his words quickly switch from admonishing the party, to pleading to them to get him out of there, despite the fact that his tone remains as harsh and condescending as ever.

Understanding that Elos is being kept captive by creatures that cannot speak Truth, the party regroups and prepares to assault the chirogs head-on. Trying to catch them by surprise, Ignus sets himself ablaze and leaps into combat to strike one with his axe, but finds that the creatures’ sixth sense allows them to dodge attacks even from behind. Ignus quickly finds himself grappled and surrounded, and although his flames slowly burn the creatures around him, the creatures bite at every part of his body with razor-sharp teeth. As Ingus struggles with the creatures, Delin and Leanna pelt the creatures with knives and beams of light, picking them off one by one, until finally they finish off the last one to reveal a battered and unconscious Ignus.

Despite being released from his captivity, Elos goes up to the party nonchalantly, and refuses to thank them for their help, stating that he would have been fine whether or not the party had helped him. He does, however, let them know that the Impossible Blade was one of the relics buried with the ancient ruler of these lands, Queen Starloscet, and that her tomb is in a town several days north of Jyrek named Velika. He tells them of one of the Velikan’s deities, Aurturi, the god of death and reincarnation, and how each of the Velikan people undergo a ritual to replace their inner selves and receive the blessing of Aurturi. The party returns to Jyrek to rest after a difficult battle, and after completing their preparations, purchases several pack beasts to take them north to Velika.

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All Play and No Work

Frei meets the party at Jyrek Central the next day, after the examination of Ignus’ wounds has been completed. After reading the report, he comes to the same conclusion that the party has – the creature underneath Goodman’s Bridge was the true culprit behind the murders. He apologies to Delin for accusing him, and recognizes the fact that he was about to accuse Orellik of crimes that he could not have committed. He tells the party that he appreciates the work that they’ve done for the city in putting an end to the murders, and hands them the twenty shin bounty set up for the capture of the killer. Ignus asks Frei to contact the families of the victims, and invite them to a dinner tomorrow night so that they’ll have a chance to speak with them before they leave and hopefully leave a good impression.

The party also learn more about the strange creatures they’ve been dealing with from the researchers in the hospital. They learn that the creatures, known as Nagaians, have several stages in their life cycle, all of which the party has encountered. The creatures start off as a pair, a nagaian sleeper and a nagaian defender. The sleeper is a small, purple snake, approximately 2-3 feet long, and it inhabits a birthing pod guarded by the hard-shelled nagaian defender. When disturbed, the pod releases the defender to attach to any offending creatures, preventing them from attacking. The defenders provide a temporary boost of physical strength, but their parasitic nature eventually overcomes the host, causing them to wither and die. When the sleepers mature, they awaken and leave the pod to hunt. This stage can sometime last for decades, and during this time the awakened sleeper is capable of higher thought, but is still constrained by the animal instincts to hunt and eat. The creature feeds and grows, and the older it gets, the more devious and cunning it becomes. Finally, the fully matured creature becomes a nagaian matron, capable of breeding and creating new young. These creatures are massive and capable of swallowing entire buildings whole, and they can live for hundreds of years. In addition, their intelligence is unparalleled, and they often hole up in out of the way places to conduct experiments on other creatures.

After Frei leaves, the party spends the rest of the day tying up loose ends around the city. They first go to Mishen’s Masterworks, where a very angry Mishen greets them. Ignus tries to placate the armorsmith by saying that although he might have something against Orellik, the true murderer was something else entirely, and that his testimony would have sentenced an innocent man to death. Mishen agrees, and admits that he didn’t really have evidence, he just disliked Orellik for reasons that he would not disclose. He decides that he will still craft Ignus and Delin some armor, and allows Ignus to choose a battle-axe from his showcase to replace the one lost during the fight against the disassembler. He tells them to come back in three days, when he’ll have the armor ready.

The party then goes to Salazia, where they find her finishing up her daily show. As the audience streams out of the building, the party enters and finds Salazia and Orellik on stage. Salazia seems very excited to see them, and tells them that she knows about what they did for Orellik and that although his mercenary days are over, they can finally begin their life together. The party asks her about the tasks that Devola gave them, and she mentions that there is a man by the name of Elos who lives in a small hut several miles west of Jyrek who knows more about the Impossible Blade. In addition, the gharolan that they need for the operation can be found in Harmuth, a coastal city far to the north. Finally, they ask about Leanna’s worsening eyesight, and Salazia reveals that the cause of it is because the source of her power, the Shard of the Sun that she bears, has gone missing, and that she might be able to recover it in her hometown of Velika.

After speaking with Salazia, Leanna returns to the estate, while Delin and Ignus head over to the Silver District to find Samson Araios. They find his small, two-story house, and he invites them in. The three of them spend time together playing bollyball, and Ignus gives Samson some advice on how to proceed with his life, since the murders that he was so adamant about solving have been closed. He convinces Samson that he has his whole life ahead of him, and that his noble title and desire to help others is not something that should be wasted. He tells Samson that he’ll speak to Frei on his behalf and see if he can’t get him a position in the guard, where his talents will be more useful.

Delin and Ignus leave him, and ask Frei to accept Samson as a new member of the guard, given his title and unique talents. Frei agrees to train him, and hopefully replace his second-in-command, who has gone missing since the events of the Goodman’s Bridge. With all of their questions taken care of, the party retires for the night and prepares for the day ahead.

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