The Scythebear's crew, recovered from insanity, was pretty sure that if all five of the enemy ships boarded them, they'd be outnumbered and overwhelmed. So the leadership team came up with a solution -- Nico, Fernau, and Magnus were all able to cast wide-scale spells that could cover an area the size of the Doomsday. So Nico made it invisible, Fernau cast a mirror image that created a bunch of temporary illusionary copies of the ship, and Magnus created a single illusionary copy with some substance to it, that could be touched and boarded. Under the cover of a mental blurring effect created by Teatime, they hid the Doomsday and replaced it with a fleet of decoys.
While the Empire's ships closed in to board the decoys, most of the crew got back on the Scythebear (also invisible) to stand off a ways so as not to be driven insane, and the crew that was immune (the clockwork) or resistant (random people here and there) to the insanity stayed on board to fire the weapon, crippling the remaining ships. The weapon also destroyed the solid decoy, leaving the boarding parties falling in midair, distracting more enemies with rescue attempts.
There was some thought of swooping in to strafe the survivors, but it was more important to get their mana crystals from the depot and move on. The depot was on fire from the first shot, and had surrendered, and at Cane's renewed demand ("Okay, new demand: give us *all* your mana crystals, and if we aren't satisfied with what you give us we'll kill you all.") pushed out a HUGE crate of mana crystals towards the Doomsday.
Yeah, it was SO obviously a trap. Cane still had utility sight running from examining the rats, so he verified that the crate was, in fact, useful for powering the ship -- there were mana crystals inside. Magic analysis per se was useless on it because the mana crystals were blindingly bright to magical sense, but Nico used physical scrying to search inside the box from a distance, and found a bomb in the center made out of a changestorm crystal shard.
Luckily, they had a magical anchor specifically designed to suppress changestorm effects. There was also a silver-eyed enslaved servant of Enka on the dock watching the handoff, and they thought that the anchor would free him, too. So they had Nico make up a couple of emergency teleport crystals (when you broke them they'd teleport you to the deck of the Schythebear, meant to save people who fell off) which Dice shot at the crate and the watcher to teleport them directly into the nullification field.
That did suppress the bomb and keep it from going off. Unfortunately, once freed, the silver-eyed watcher turned out to have been enslaved for a good reason: he was a psychotic mass murderer with powerful magical abilities. AAaaaand he was standing right on top of a crate full of mana crystals. His first action was to blow open the crate, scattering mana crystals everywhere. But before he could grab one and cast ludicrously powerful spells with it, Cane cut off his head with his katana, and Nico then hypnotised him into taking no action until he'd bled out.
They recovered 12,000 mana crystals from the crate, which was enough to power the Doomsday for about 4 years.
Then they left the depot behind, and split off the Time Bomb with their smaller anchor to go hit Amalthea, while the slower ships headed for a rendezvous with Enka and the empire's main fleet. The plan was to do what damage they could to Amalthea quickly -- hoping to destroy the moon completely -- and then rejoin the Doomsday for the big battle. In addition to the party, the Time Bomb took Anagnoresis (who wanted to see his anchor in action) and Magnus (who they needed to fuel the Time Bomb's rocket engine), and a bunch of other random crew members who wanted to go along (including Creeek, the manis that Cane had had to lock in a room, who wanted to be as far from the Doomsday's main gun as possible).
Normally, a single ship approaching an enemy moon would have likely escaped notice. The Time Bomb was not a normal ship -- it cut a fiery path across the sky thousands of miles long. Three of the five Stormlords guarding Amalthea positioned themselves to intercept, creating a massive lightning-filled storm blocking their path. They took some pot-shots with the particle beams, but unfortunately those only seemed to make the Stormlords stronger -- but the anchor field did kill them. Sort of.
As the anchor's field touched the stormlords, they disintegrated into small yellow crystal slugs which, as the Time Bomb roared past through the storm, trying to decelerate to orbit Amalthea, glued themselves to the hull. That wasn't the immediate danger -- the immediate danger was the powerful Earthbind spell cast on the Time Bomb by a mage somewhere on Amalthea. Even with the rocket engine, the magnetic induction engine, and the vanes, it was all Kyngeah could do to keep from crashing immediately. Instead, they ended up hovering over a city, burning it horribly with their rocket exhaust, then as they tried to slip to the side, flipping end over end and leaving a long, burning track deep into the forest.
Kyngeah: "Like a giant flaming arrow pointing to right where we are."
That's when they discovered they were covered in crystal electric slugs -- did they dare go outside? Cane tried some alchemy to try to get them off the hull, but they were stuck on pretty well, and were immune to aerosol potions, because they were made of rock. Kyngeah examined them on the astral plane -- each one was a mage. Doubtless, the mages that had been merged together by Enka's horrific temples into the Stormlords they'd hit with the anchor.
Nico thought he might be able to shatter them all, but he'd have to go outside and touch them. Cane tried to make an electricity immunity potion using Feriphal bits (they had a feriphal with them, and Cane was able to take bits that the feriphal wouldn't miss, like blood and fur), but it didn't work quite right -- although it provided *some* protection.
Kyngeah tried to talk to them, and Nico examined them more, and they discovered that they were not really sentient exactly -- they were *eating the ship* to try to merge with it and become a stormlord again. 'Trying to get back to heaven' was how they put it to Kyngeah.
So they needed to do something, which meant either Nico went out and touched them to shatter them all, or Cane went out and rubbed topical transformation cream on them (he had a recipe for that from when he'd been a menhir -- it was specifically meant to be used on rocks). Nico volunteered NOT to go first, so Cane went out.
The rocks didn't zap him -- they were busy eating the ship. He rubbed the transformation potion (using dragon's blood, to 'transform them back to their true form') on one of them, who turned back into a centaur. A very confused centaur. "What year is it?" Cane told him. "Seven years... did the priests of Enka win, then?"
It turned out, after they freed the lot of them from crystal form, that the Stormlords, or at least the one whose bits had gotten onto the ship, were made out of political dissidents with magical powers. They hated Enka, but most of them were noncombatants. Cane contacted the resistance on Amalthea to ask about sheltering them, and found that (a) most of the important resistance leaders were off assassinating the Unicorns while they were vulnerable, as he'd requested, and (b) three different enemy forces were closing in on their location, the closest being about 45 minutes to the north, dispatched from one of Enka's palaces.
So they sent the noncombatants south, to hopefully meet up with the resistance later. They didn't have time to bury the Doomsday or change it into a form that could slip between the trees (it was still Earthbound, but Cane had considered rubbing Caravan's miracle cream all over it and using it as a train), so they took one of the internal, non-load-bearing decks and turned it into a floating wagon to store the Anchor, and then turned the ship inconspicuous. Meaning they forgot all about all the OTHER things on the ship they would have wanted to take with them, like the cannon and Cane's alchemy lab. GAH.
Then they headed north, with the rescued mages who were willing to fight, using Nico's crystal ball to keep an eye on the enemy platoon and make sure they bypassed it. They dropped a stick of Rage Incense on them to cause a little confusion, but they weren't too concerned about the patrol finding the crash sight -- after all, they hadn't left anything important behind.
After a little while they reached the end of the forest, where it changed into an orange orchard badly concealing a secret military base. There was a city nearby, and a blurred unscryable area on the other side of a river -- obviously the palace they wanted to somehow penetrate and neutralize, since in addition to being one of the things keeping Amalthea enslaved, it was also almost certainly the thing keeping (what was left of) the Time Bomb grounded.
last session | next session