Enka's hold on Ython was broken, but since it had never been an explicitly oppressive rule, this didn't instantly end the war with Morpheus. The face-ships (giant laser-shooting monstrosities made by melding together dozens of magic-users) had wandered off at least, but the army was still gathering to attack.
The party was deadlocked on whether to carry out Cain's plan to release the Ythonian lord that Enka had trapped, in the hopes that it would reestablish an explicitly oppressive rule and stop the fighting. So they put it up to a vote of the other officers of the crew, and by a one-vote margin, they decided to release it. On Ython. In a cage, reinforced by Anagnoresis' magic. "If it's no more powerful than ten changestorm crystals, I can contruct a containment device in time."
No one really had any idea how powerful it was going to be, but there were less than ten nightmares (as far as they knew) and the nightmares and changestorm crystals were about the same power level, yes? No?
While building the containment, they got caught in a nightmare field, but they were *not* molested by the nightmares. The nightmares were busy doing something -- Morpheus was under attack! After several tries, Cane managed to find a terrified Burmecian, who told him that the face ships hadn't just wandered off -- they'd attacked early, and were orbiting Morpheus, staying on the day side to avoid being nightmared, and alternating between grabbing people in their giant mouths and chewing them into a gooey paste, and shooting disintegration beams all over. The war had already started, and wasn't going well.
Cane: "Wait a second -- wasn't the weak point of the face ships 'bullets'? They were immune to magic, and Morpheus is all tech. It should be kicking their butts."
GM: "Apparently these are upgraded versions. Or maybe they're specially designed to fight Morpheus."
So the next morning, they put the painting in the sealed cage, turned on the containment, and waited for the candle inside to burn through the rope holding up the oil of restoration that would undo the painting's magic. Cane also added a potion of calm, so that the lord wouldn't be *mad* at least. He hoped. After they were pretty sure the lord was free and contained, Kyngeah went astral to talk to it.
To her. On the astral plane, it was a little girl holding three red balloons, with an ice cream cone. They talked for a while -- a while on the astral plane being seconds in the real world -- and negotiations did not go well. It turned out that this was the *same* lord of Ython that they'd fought and almost killed on the ghost ships, so long ago. Also, it was not a very nice person. Also, it was FREAKING NUTS.
From outside, Kyngeah went astral, and two seconds later the cage FWOOPHED into a perfect sphere (as in astral space the little girl tapped lightly on the invisible barrier surrounding her). And then transformed into a dodecahedron with snowglobes at the points, incidentally destroying the containment machinery (as in astral space the little girl made an offhand comment about how people would like her more if she was pretty). And then the lord broke loose of the cage entire and flew towards the ship, and oh look! Fernau! One of the specific people it was very, very made at.
So Cane, taking over the ship's controls since Kyngeah was astral, decided that running away was the better part of valor, and nearly tore the wings off the ship in a wild attempt to flee (and *did* lose several crewmembers over the side since he hadn't warned them to brace for acceleration). The lord was able to keep up with them, though, by creating a zone of air at rest with respect to the ship, which it could slowly fly through. Nico was caught up in that zone, since otherwise he would have been left behind.
There was a brief exchange of *very weird* attacks. Itsaboy tossed a heaping armful of bottles at it, including the one containing the half-mile-tall tree, and it responded with a blast of chaos energy strong enough to kill most of the chaos-absorbing vines on the ship, coating the whole ship with explosive chaos fruit.
Which exploded, engulfing the ship in chaos energy. Everyone was transformed in some random fashion, including the ship itself, although the transparent violent metal of the hull still worked as a hull, and the vanes were still providing thrust.
And the ball of wings appeared in front of Takara, as the lord bore down on them furiously. "Now would be a very good time to guess my name correctly!" "No, don't do it!" Cane screamed, but it *was* a desperate situation, so she said 'Insinuating Concordance', and the ball of wings was freed from its form and unfurled into a full-blown seed in Enka.
...and destroyed the lord, just as it was about to hit the ship. And then vanished.
Cane and Takara, looking forwards, saw that Morpheus suddenly got *bigger*. Nico and Kyngeah, looking backwards, saw Ython suddenly vanish. Otherwise, the air around was calm, with no immediate danger to them. Looking back, there was a fleet of ships heading their way from where Ython used to be, but they'd been pushing their ship way too hard, and it would be days before the Ythonian fleet could catch them.
They were much closer to Morpheus, where the face-ships still rampaged. Cane had an idea to make a city-scale aerosol transformation potion, and then use dragon's blood as the species key -- they could turn all the Burmecians on Morpheus into dragons, to let them fight off the face ships. Unfortunately, when he tried the single-target version on his concubine, she was merely turned back into her normal ratling form. "Well, you know... the rest of us could use that too," someone mentioned, so he set off the aerosol prototype to turn everyone on the ship back to normal.
Unfortunately, thanks to Imbrium, the realists' normal form was the trees. Oops.
A more pressing problem was what they *should* do about the face-ships. They ended up making city-scale burmecian-transformation potions and convincing the gurus with them to zoom around dropping them on the cities currently under assault. This worked on twelve out of thirteen face ships, transforming them into giant rats that couldn't shoot lasers and couldn't fly, and instead splatted to the ground. Well, a couple were low enough to survive the fall and rampage around as giant rats, but that was still better than the previous situation.
There was one last ship that had been fast enough to fly up into the air to avoid the transforming gas, though, so they approached it in their ship and fired all their cannon at it. Sure enough, its barrier was tuned only against technological attacks, and their magical laser cannon killed it. Unfortunately, they also fired their normal gunpowder cannon just in case, and the barrier's effect was to *return* the attacks to their source. The changestorm had massively overpowered their cannon, so the shells punched right through their hull armor, smashing up their ship horribly, including taking out five of their seven vanes and the entire control system.
Nico and Xerxes managed to take control of one vane each, and under Kyngeah's direction crash-land them safely on Morpheus... except that they didn't have much control over where they were landing, and ended up smack in the middle of Imbrium's territory.
Smack in the middle of the capital city, in fact. Right in the park where they'd stolen the trees from originally.
They were all awake because they'd taken pink fizzy potion (even the trees!) as a precaution, but everyone else in the city was asleep -- burmecians, and lots and lots of Kalmar and mongrelmen from Ython -- apparently, when the last lord had been killed, Ython had vanished and its mass *and population* had been distributed to the remaining moons.
Nico and the other mages had been taught how to make vanes by Cho (as their reward for the Enka crystal) so they got right on that, trying to make a third vane so that the ship could take off again before morning, when everyone would wake up and the involuntary immigrants would doubtless cause problems. But before they were finished -- before dawn, in fact -- Imbrium and her loyalists showed up, walking around through the sleeping bodies, shooting them in the head.
Imbrium spotted them, and headed over, just as dawn broken, and all hell broke loose. The actual Ythonian army had been hiding *somehow* and suddenly appeared, shooting everyone with disintegration beams -- disintegrating the loyalists, disintegrating Imrium herself, and then hitting the crew... including Cane, Kyngeah, Takara and Nico.
There was a brief moment of disorientation while their spirits tried to find their bodies... and then they were on Ix. Surrounded by a horde of Burmecians led by a nightmare, all completely berzerk and insane. They felt the insanity try to affect them, but because of their special mental state they were immune.
...and now they knew how the Empire had arranged for the hypnotized Ree forces to attack Morpheus, way back at the beginning of the campaign.
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