Callisto's Mirror (Numenera)

Part Two: The Violet Vale

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Asking around for possible work in Guran, the party heard that the local Sarracenian temple had been looking for people to undertake a job gathering botanical specimens for them. Enquiring at the temple, they were told by one of the priests that the job involved gathering a dozen examples of an unidentified plant which grew somewhere in the foothills of the Black Riage. They were given special bags to put the plants in that would ensure the specimens stayed alive through the journey back to the temple, some basic instructions on how to dig up plants without damaging them, and promised 30 shins for each plant they brought back alive and intact.

Since it had become clear that agents of the yellow Serpent gang were in Guran looking for Drax, the party decided that they would move on once they had completed the job for the Sarracenians.

After a lengthy and fruitless search of the foothills, a single example of the plants was finally spotted in a clearing in which there was a recently abandoned campsite. Investigating the tents that had been left behind, notes were discovered that suggested that the campsite had been used by a group called “The Steel Star”, an outlawed band described as brigands by the local authorities, and for whom a reward was being offered, including a very large one for their leader, Sintar.

After bagging the plant, another specimen was noticed, and while hunting for signs of any more, Tran ventured into the surrounding woods and experienced what seemed to be a strange temporal displacement effect. Although he managed to find his way back to the rest of the group at the time he had left them, the entire group then found themselves witnessing a fight between the Steel Star members camped in the clearing and some soldiers, presumably in the recent past. One of the Steel Star fled from her captors and begged the party to save her from the soldiers. The soldiers seemed oblivious to the party, or to where their captive had gone, and left the clearing with their prisoners in tow.

The woman transpired to be Sintar, the leader of the Steel Star, and seemed to be suffering from a delusional state, and made little sense, but it appeared that the Steel Star regarded themselves as rebels fighting against the tyranny of the nobility, especially the Baron Asdren, whose lands lay somewhere further north in the Black Riage region.

Following the trail out of the far side of the clearing in search of further plant specimens, the party soon became subjected to increasingly bizarre and disorientating temporal and possibly special displacement effects, bur managed to find a more of the required plants, in ever increasing numbers, until they came upon a small valley filled with the strange flowers.
When Vance had to scrape some of the synthetic flesh from his face after it became infested with spores from a flower in the vale, Sintar revealed that she was an automaton, and that this had been the main cause of the recent split in the Steel Star movement.

After a fight with a huge and dangerous creature, which they managed to drive off, they continued to search for a way out of the valley. They found none, but eventually discovered Gunnar, another member of the Steel Star hiding in a pit, who told them of a tower he’d seen in the centre of the vale, which he thought might possibly hold clues to finding a way out.

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Arriving at the tower, the party found it inhabited by bestial humanoids under the control of a human, the Lady Weiss, and the two strange beings she referred to as her children.

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When hearing of the groups encounter with the monster in the valley, Lady Weiss offered to transport them out of the vale if they tracked down the creature and finished it off.

After accomplishing this, Lady Weiss used a numenera device to instantaneously transport the party back to the clearing where they had first encountered Sintar. An argument ensued about whether to turn Sintar in for the reward money, since it had turned out not to be possible to take specimens of the plants out of the vale due to the temporal warping effect they appeared to generate.

Eventually it was agreed not to turn Sintar in, and Vance decided to accompany her to Ingwald where they would meet up with Tran and Gautis, after the two sorcerer’s had gone back to Guran to report their findings about the plants to the Sarracenians.

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Interlude 1

After spending a day in Redstone recovering from their expedition to the desert and enjoying the hospitality of the grateful locals, the party continued their journey up the waterways of Seshar in the Twilight Princess. Stopping overnight at the town of Quintas, they heard that strangers had been asking about somebody fitting Drax’s description, so they left quickly in the morning without drawing attention to themselves.

When they reached Guran the following evening, they made their way through the market and booked rooms at an inn called “Milly’s FIshing Hole” in the Sweet End District.

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Part One: The Nightmare Switch

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The story so far….

Two Nano-Sorcerers from Qi, Gautis Aguin Brod and Tran Vahdis had travelled to the city of Nebalich in the kingdom of Seshar in the Beyond, having been commissioned by the Order of Truth in Qi to conduct a survey of an archaeological site in Nebalich. While there, they enlisted the services of a Glaive, Vance Cyberdyne, who decided to accompany them on their return to Qi in the hope that the Aeon Priests of the Order of Truth might be able to answer some questions he has.

After surveying the archaeological site, an innocuous excavation containing three huge bronze mirrors, a relic dealer, Drax Alder (whom the Order of Truth often purchased finds of dubious legality from) showed them around a similar off-limit site by obtaining forged documents.

The night before Gautis, Tran and Vance were due to leave Nebalich, Drax turned up at The Ragged Loper Inn where they were lodging, asking to come with them on the boat trip to the western end of the waterways of Seshar. He appeared to be extremely nervous and in a hurry to get out of Nebalich un-noticed, but wasn’t very forthcoming with explanations. Since the Order of Truth values him as a contact, the sorcerers agreed.

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The following morning, it became clear that people were looking for Drax, possibly henchmen of a Nebalachi crime boss, Basavi, one of the leading members of the notorious local criminal network, the “Yellow Serpent”.

The four travellers were hurriedly escorted to the “Twilight Princess”, a canal boat on whuch they had booked passage, by Nothing, a glaive who works as a guard on the vessel. The Twilight Princess is run by Deymish, a well-known and trusted local trader. The four boarded the and Drax immediately hid out of sight below decks.

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They sailed up the canals, with Tran Vahdis making some useful adjustments to the crafts propulsion, although not until his well-intentioned tinkering had landed them in a dangerous situation with a swarm of aggressive local flying vermin.

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After a day sailing up the canals, they stopped overnight at an aldeia called Redstone (after the peculiar local rock quarried there) to deliver some urgent cargo; four crates of medicine ordered by Redstone’s clave.

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When Deymish attempted to deliver his cargo to the Aeon Priests of Redstone, assisted by Nothing, Gautis, Tran and Vance, he was turned away by their guard and told to come back the next day as nobody was able to see him or accept deliveries at the moment.

Exploring the town, it soon became clear that everybody was suffering from weeks of sleeplessness caused by terrifying nightmares. It was presumed that the medicine Deymish had brought had been intended to treat this, but nobody had seen the local Aeon Priests for a couple of days, and Deymish was unwilling to hand over the medicine to anybody other than the priests who had ordered it.

When they went to sleep that night, almost everybody experienced horrific and incomprehensible nightmares. Nothing, however, attempting to stay awake, had a different dream, in which he saw a dome in the desert, and a view of its interior, where a mysterious cylinder was displayed being inserted into a panel in the wall.

As word spread around the town that medicine had arrived, it looked as though a riot might be brewing if the cargo were not handed over, but Deymish was afraid of losing the considerable sum he was owed for it if he did so.

Tran sent a probe into the Aeon Priests’ tower, and found (so far as he could tell in the dark) that nobody was there. Gautis used a Cypher to tap into the Datasphere and ascertained the location of the Aeon Priests – in the desert a couple of days’ travel north-west of Redstone, so Gautis, Tran, Vance, and Nothing set out into the desert to find the missing priests.

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After a fight with a dangerous creature in the desert, it became clear that Vance’s martial prowess was enhanced by biomechanical implants which appeared to be of very ancient design.

At the location indicated by the Datasphere, they discovered a camp in the desert.

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Observing from a distance, they saw that the camp was inhabited by a group of Margr, vicious tribal abhumans that live in the desert.

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When the Margr failed to respond to questions and became aggressive, Gautis incapacitated the entire group by throwing a detonation cypher that exuded a cloud of choking gas into their tent. After a hail of crossbow bolts from the two glaives and the sorcerous assaults of the Nanos left half of the Margr dead or severely injured, the rest threw down their weapons and surrendered.

Searching the tents, the party discovered the grisly remains of the Aeon Priests from Redstone, along with a few useful numenera items, including the cylinder seen in Nothing’s dream.

Following a trail from the camp, they discovered the dome from the dream, and Vance was able to get them inside using a Cypher to shift a section of the wall out of phase.

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Inside, they found the panel from Nothing’s dream, and signs that somebody had been working on it in the previous few days, before being seemingly interrupted. Following the guidance received in Nothing’s dream and their knowledge of the numenera, the Nanos were able to replace the cylinder, and the machinery in the dome immediately appeared to take on a more harmonious ambiance.

Returning to Redstone, the jubilant townspeople told them that the nightmares had ended. The locals were distraught by the news of the deaths of their Aeon Priests, and the guard on the clave’s tower allowed them to enter and search the place, uncovering journals which documented the priests attempts to solve the nightmare problem, and their suspicion that it was caused by something that had gone wrong with the dome in the desert.

They suspected that something high in the sky that was linked to the dome was transmitting a mental message to the surrounding region because something had become faulty in the dome, but being intended for non-human minds, the message was merely causing nightmares in the people. Perhaps something in Nothing’s austere training had made his mind more receptive to the transmission, or perhaps it was merely his determined struggle to stay awake. The journals detailed how the priests had decided to go to the dome and see if they could figure out what was going on, and decided to do so secretely, in case the townspeople thought the problem had been caused by the priests’ previous explorations of the dome and their removal of certain items from the place.

After spending a day enjoying the hospitality of the grateful people of Redstone, the party boarded the Twilight Princess and continued on their way towards Guran….

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