After being declared citizens, the ressurected party spent a day in town in Itsaboy's tower, while Seargeant somethingorother (Brillo?) requisitioned their keep on the borderlands. Several important but essentially passive events were scheduled for the next few days -- Vesperian (the slave mage, who was officially assigned as Kyngeah's slave) would talk to the dead terrorists, a hypnotism session to recover their memories, Cane was supposed to make a huge batch of gunpowder, and oh yes another attempt at ressurection. It was supposed to get different people, but they weren't sure it wouldn't target the party instead. Since it worked by gathering together all their scattered molecules and reassembling them into a living person, it probably wouldn't be pleasant to be re-ressurected, so the party was encouraged to spend the scheduled casting time in an anti-magic chamber.
That night, they went to the confiscated farm and had a reasonably good night's sleep -- Nubian's territory was shrinking because of all the deaths from the terrorists, so it was halfway across the border now. They were able to get restful sleep, but shared each others' disturbing dreams or possibly memories.
In the morning, they were brought back to the city, having been informed that Nubian had left them a message since she hadn't been able to contact them in the normal way (since they hadn't been inside her territory).
Itsaboy: "According to this message, she wants you to hurry back to the area where you saw the dragon as quickly as possible, to study and put an end to certain chaotic anomolies in the area."
Cane: "So... did you want to do the hypnotist first, or should we leave immediately?"
Itsaboy: "Oh, you were supposed to leave as soon as the dreamtime ended, so I should think leaving now would be a very good idea."
Cane: "And... why did you send people bring us all the way back here to tell us this, instead of just sending them with the message?"
Itsaboy: "Because I'm going with you, of course!"
They agreed to let him come, since he was a famous scientist and would no doubt be very helpful analyzing the anomolies. He quickly gathered up his things... five wagons worth of things, with slaves to handle the horses and stuff. So it was an expedition. The slow pace was a sort of blessing, though, since no one in the party really knew how to ride horses, and this gave them an *excuse* to be slow.
Two days later, after passing through a rain of mice, they reached the mountain near nightfall. It was different -- and kept changing shape as they watched. No one disputed that the spiky ball they'd failed to recover must be behind the anomolies, especially after the compass was found pointing to it more strongly than it had before! The main cave entrance under the now-missing waterfall was still there, though. They decided to set up camp on the far side of the lake again, and have a smaller, more agile force set out for the cave proper in the morning.
Itsaboy: "But what about my equipment?"
Cane: "Nico can fly back and fetch anything you need."
In the morning, the lake was made of asphalt. Itsaboy had explosive potions, and they broke up some of it near the shoreline to study the event -- apparently, only the water had turned, and the fish were all dead and slightly cooked. No one volunteered to eat them. They also decided to stay with the original plan of heading north to the ford they'd found last time instead of trying to walk across the asphalt -- falling through the ice on a frozen lake would be unpleasant, but no one wanted to risk falling through the crust of a lake of tar! The lake turned back into water while they were in the middle of the ford, so it turned out to be a pretty good choice.
The cave mouth, when they finally arrived, was a mouth in truth, with teeth and a dangling Uvula. They tried stabbing the floor to see if it reacted, but it seemed to still act mostly like a cave, so they went inside, and drew tarot cards to pick a tunnel again, since it'd worked last time and the tunnels were all different this time.
They chose a tunnel which the cards said was influenced by 'thoughts and memories', and were assaulted by a flock of butterflies, that transformed most of the party -- Nico into a flitter (a tiny magic-enhancing, time-slowing dragon), Cane into a horse (he kept his sword held in his mouth while the rest of his equipment merged during the transformation), and Takara into a kitten. Itsaboy turned into a mindless clockwork rat, and Kyngeah was uneffected.
But they pressed onwards! Nico pressed onwards very fast, and found the spiky ball hovering in the no-longer-collapsed temple, which was now lined with aluminum instead of gold (and kept changing during the fight). When Cane caught up, he charged at the ball and started trying to chop it to bits with his sword (held in his teeth, initially) until he was dissolved into ooze -- touching it made you transform again.
Kyngeah tried to use an exorcism to calm the sphere, but it only worked for a second, because she wasn't strong enough. She started a longer ritual while an oozy Cane aimed the clockwork Itsaboy at the sphere -- who turned into a steam engine and rammed it, sending it spinning around the room, shattering the glass walls! And turning him into a giant spider.
Cane was able to absorb the glass, and form a giant glass sword, which he used to flail around at the sphere, transforming over and over and even managing to chop one of the spikes off before he was turned into an inanimate spool of rope. Apparently, if you kept transforming, you eventually got a booby prize.
But then Kyngeah's longer ritual was finished, and she blasted the sphere, freezing it in place and nullifying the waves of transformation it was sending out! At which point Takara, who was human again, knocked a magic arrow and blaster the sphere into shrapnel.
Then everyone fled the re-collapsing temple, Itsaboy using his extra spider arms to pick up Cane and other bits of equipment left scattered around the room. When the final shockwave passed, everyone and everything transformed back to normal, though, which was a big relief. All the fish in the lake were still dead, though.
After swimming across (Itsaboy couldn't swim either, so it was slow) and picking the bits of shrapnel out of their flesh to use as samples of the spiky orb (which Kyngeah had recognized as a powerful talisman of corruption), they spotted a curved bit of wood floating down the river, and looking upriver they saw smoke as if from a campfire. Nico scouted and verified that it was, indeed, an airship crash -- and that the survivors, bunny-things and squid like the terrorists that had attacked Nubian, were marching towards Crisium's territory.
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