The peace mission (Nico, Kyngeah, and Takara) made their way to the dragon cave, avoiding the baffling bats and finding... well, nothing. The cave was empty, and nothing like they remembered. There were puddles and pools of water everywhere -- and one of the puddles manifested a (tiny) dragon-shaped form, hissing at the intruders.
They tried to talk to it, but it didn't seem to understand. Nico decided to try to scry on its mental state, and got a vision of what it was seeing -- with its draconic senses, the party was covered in blood (except Kyngeah, who'd never killed) and shadowed by scary forms hovering over their heads (nightmare citizenship?). No wonder it was frightened!
Eventually, it retreated back into the water, and the whole cavern started filling up. The peace mission retreated to an island of raised ground, and tried to talk to the other dragons or find the mother, to no avail. "She can't leave as long as you're here! She's frightened!" So they settled down to wait.
After about twelve hours, the not-so-peace mission decided that peace must have failed, and launched their attack -- teleporting into the dragon cave and... um... where was the dragon? One of the little ones breathed lightning at Cane, which he parried with his railgun (Itsaboy had passed out anti-dragon weaponry to the not-so-peace mission) -- but he wasn't pointing the railgun in a useful direction, not understanding properly how it worked, so the instant return shot went up into the ceiling.
The baby dragon fled back into a puddle of water. Cane tried to stop it with ice salt, and succeeded only in turning the dragons into snow-dragons instead of water-dragons. Not helpful. He suggested that maybe Micro, who had a magic dragon-slaying sword, should try stabbing the remaining water, which was probably the mother.
That worked -- the water started to bleed, and formed into a dragon that started trying to claw its way out of the cave -- but as it clawed, the cave wall got *stronger*. Suspecting something, Cane rushed at it, brandishing his railgun and shouting a challenge -- and the dragon's magic made him larger and more imposing, with flaming stripes.
"Itsaboy, bottle her!" Cane shouted, remembering that the scientist and alchemist was also a bottle mage. "Her magic's backfiring!"
And it worked! Sort of. The dragon's body was bottled, and her power -- the power that was what they actually needed to remove from Morpheus to lure the meteors off course -- materialied in Takara's hands. Takara had been wrestling with the dragon over it, and suddenly won when she was bottled. The dragon's *spirit*, on the other hand, was circling around Itsaboy. Waiting.
Itsaboy: "Ghosts are *real*?"
Cane: "Indeed. We fought one once, it was.... bad."
Itsaboy: "But Tycho didn't leave a ghost..."
Cane: "Well, it doesn't happen every time. It's mostly a Church of the Eternal Void thing -- they teach themselves how to become ghosts."
Itsaboy: "What good would it do to destroy the remaining lords, if they could come back as ghosts?"
Cane: "Well, you could just make a ghost detector, and some ghost-slaying weapons, and fight their ghosts if it came to that..."
At any rate, they had the dragon's power, but they'd wasted a lot of time -- it was almost nightfall! They sent Takara back to the Brushfire so that Anignoresis could contain this new, larger shard of a change crystal (Takara could *mostly* contain it, but it kept leaking), while the others just headed back to Itsaboy's stronghold.
Cane: "We've got what, half a day to find the ratling? I'll try to contact her in the dreamtime, see if she can be reasoned with."
Indeed, getting in touch with her was easy -- as soon as he started looking, he was kidnapped and taken to her temple of satanic, hedonistic pleasure. He was quizzed on matters of Abraxian faith, and passed the test by remembering the tenets Kyngeah had tried to pound into his head ages ago, before she'd given up on converting him (she kept winning the arguments, and he kept not really caring about religion, so it didn't matter).
Cane: "I have a message for your priestess. I bring tidings of DOOM!"
The story of the meteors did appeal to the priestess's sense of drama, but she wanted to *fight* the doom, in an apocalyptic battle -- destroying Morpheus in the process would just make it all the more fitting.
Cane: "Ah, but I have a chariot which will let you take the battle to the enemy!"
His plan had been to trick the ratlings into getting into the cargo hold, which they'd have Magnus decorate as a temple, and keep them mollified as honored guests while they lured the meteors away. This sort of worked, except for the part where Cane and the Brushfire's crew had any control over the situation. The priestess's power was overwhelming, and only Takara could reverse the changes she made even locally.
So they left behind their Burmecian crew members (including Sgt. First, the shaman Nolan, and the rat who thought he was Teatime) so that they wouldn't get infected by ratling disease and die (it was contagious like werewolf-ism, but only to kids; adults just died), and headed out to lure the meteors to the comet. "The monsters in the meteors are very powerful, so I'm leading them to a place where power is turned back upon itself."
The ratlings were kept occupied for the week or so it took to get there with games -- a tournament of play-fighting, set up to end just as they arrived. Since they had the mentality of children, this was very easy to sell them on. They arrived at the comet, Magnus made temporary ('until you take it off') cold weather gear for the rats, and the priestess started building a giant snow fortress on the far side of the comet from where the meteors would hit.
The brushfire, of course, would be the core of the fortress, to take the brunt of the assault. This was *not* part of the party's plans. Kyngeah tried to convince her to let them go, with no success, but managed to trick them into mounting an expedition to retrieve the raw materials from the ruined pyramid (ruined because its walls had been solid gold, which they'd stolen and sold on their earlier trip). While they were off doing that, the Brushfire buggered off, leaving behind a magic mirror so that Nico could see how the fight went.
Step 1: Priestess absorbs the other changestorm crystal energy they left behind with her -- giving her three full crystals worth of power. This is LOTS.
Step 2: Priestess uses her newfound powers to free all the ice bears from the core of the comet, bringing them to the surface.
Step 3: Ice bears freeze everyone, including the priestess.
Step 4, days later: Ice bear comes around and drags the priestess off... to eat?
There was never any sign of the dragons who'd been pushing the meteors towards the changestorm energy, so they'd obviously lost. No one was really certain that the priestess was actually dead, though -- with the amount of energy she'd absorbed... she might have been able to transcend into demigod-hood. Everyone hoped that that wasn't the case.
Oh, and Cane had been given a ratling concubine for his own use, since he was a prophet and all. She hadn't taken part in the battle, and he hadn't had the heart to toss her out onto the ice to die when they cowardly fled from it. He tried to bore her into abandoning him, and then to convince her that he was scum and didn't deserve her service, but nothing worked -- she insisted on staying with him until the priestess (who might be dead) told her she could stop. Yaaay.
At any rate, Morpheus was saved, for now, so they returned to it to retrieve their crew. They found most of them, except for the realists -- Itsaboy (not a crew member) and Sgt. First. Back at the 'company' in Nubium's territory, they found that all the realists had vanished, except for Alana (or something), Itsaboy's assistant, who'd never been an active realist and hadn't been included in their latest mad plan.
Itsaboy had extracted a great deal of dragon blood from the bottled dragon, and used it to make a bunch of pink fizzy potion -- enough to keep all the realists out of the dreamtime for weeks, apparently. Or else, they'd all been captured and defeated, she wasn't sure. She was sure that he'd extracted the dragon blood, though, since he'd left behind a *pint*.
Cane: "Our course of action is clear. We need to take this to Jaxom, and buy the entire city."
Alara: "I was kind of hoping you'd use it to *rescue* them."
Cane: "Oh fine, fine."
The thought was that they needed rescuing because Imbrium was bragging about a new, amusing form of capital punishment that she was looking forward to using, soon. But she didn't have any publically announced prisoners to try it on... so had the plan failed, then?
Alara suggested they question Imbrium's Trusted guards -- people who she allowed to stay awake at night, and who were the only ones who might know where she was or (more importantly) where she'd keep *special* prisoners she was going to have *fun* with.
Since these were fanatical supporters, the eclectic collection of mages that the Brushfire was supplied with decided to join their forces to make a mind-reading device to smooth the process of interrogating them. It just had to be something that could be helped along by crystal magic, D+D magic, enchantment, alchemy, shamanism, religion, dreaming-style reality manipulation, and psionics. Easy!
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