Nethras returned ten minutes later and apologised profusely that he couldn’t find the man he’d hoped to hire as a guide for them. Finding no sign at the inn of the blue-cloaked figure who had apparently been asking for them, Tran, Gautis & Drax stopped at the Rusted Relic scrapyard on their way out of town, where Mecky, the proprietor, offered them some work scavenging a large cache of numenera scrap from a ruined city somewhere in the northern hills of Matheunis. They agreed to come back and take up the job after they’d been to Ingwald where they’d arranged to meet Vance.
A three day trip on a cheap riverboat took them to a village a few miles from Ingwald, and a short walk through the woods brought them to the run-down and disreputable town.
After enquiring at The Black Dog tavern, they were re-united Vance who had been staying at a safe-house with Sintar and some of the Steel Star rebels.
Sintar explained her plan of raiding the Baron Asdren’s castle while many of his troops have been called away to the crusade. She hoped to accomplish this by making use of some sort of large numenera vehicle that had been sighted in the local area, apparently in the hands of a small religious cult known as the “Brotherhood of Solus” who regarded it as a mobile temple.
A young woman, Vanna, who had escaped from the cult provided a description of the interior of the vehicle as well as some information on the cultists, in return for which Sintar had assured her that her brother, Shome, would be rescued.
Sintar hoped that Tran and Gautis would be able to figure out how to control the vehicle, once Vance had persuaded its current occupants that it was being requisitioned for the use of the Steel Star for the cause of liberty and the common good.
Travelling to the small mountain village of Jutte, where the vehicle, apparently known as the Narthex, was known to regularly appear, they discovered that strangers had been through a couple of days previously and made themselves unwelcome.
A possible lead on the location on the Narthex at a nearby lake turned out to be false, but lead to solving the disappearance of a couple of local boys.
Vance managed to kill the monstrous lake creature that had eaten the missing boys by hurling a Shrapnel Detonator device down its throat, and when they returned to Jutte with the news, the grateful village reeve provided some information on the local peoples’ sightings of the Narthex. Most of the sightings seemed to be in the vicinity of another lake a few miles on the far side of the village.
Walking a few miles out of Jutte to the location of the sightings, they encountered some of the Brotherhood of Solus, and with the aid of Tran’s Halo of Fire, and some yellow Solus-style robes made for them by Steel Star sympathisers in Ingwald, convinced the cultists that they were members of another group of Solus’ devotees come to pay homage to the deity. The cultists performed a strange ritual, and a bizarre floating machine rose out of the waters: the numenera vehicle the brotherhood used as a mobile temple, known to the as “The Narthex”.
They emerged onto a platform in the centre of a huge vertical shaft with eight walkways leading out from it, entirely in darkness other than a single wlakway which was adorned with candles, icons and incense burners.
After being led down this “Path of Light” they were taken to the dwelling area inside the Narthex, they talked to the cultists discovering that many had doubts about their leader, which Tran exacerbated by claiming to be sent by Solus to put matters in order. The room was full of numenera panels which the cultists seemed to have little understanding of.
When the cult leader, Abrasal, appeared, Tran claimed to be a prophet of Solus who had come to bring an end to the corruption that had afflicted the brotherhood, and a fight erupted. Many of the cultists clearly had little love for their leader and seemed uncertain which side they should be on.
Abrassal displayed a powerful ability to control magnetism or metal, which he used to devastating effect, keeping Vance at bay and flinging pieces of girders and clouds of bolts and scrap metal, which appeared to have killed Gautis and seriously injured Tran before Vance managed to take him down by hurling a ceramic dagger.
Savra, one of the more sympathetic cultists urged them to take Gautis to the shrine room, a chamber full of numenera devices and controls.
In the centre of the chamber was a ball of fiery energy floating in a transparent tube; the “avatar” of Solus, which the cult had made the focus of its devotions.
An automaton in the shrine chamber, which the cultists refered to as “The Angel of Steel” immediately patched up Gautis using integrated healing instruments, and managed to save his life, although he remained almost comatose.
They discovered Shome, Vanna’s missing brother tied up in Abrassal’s room, along with a supply of narcotic drugs.
Tran persuaded Savra and the remaining cultists that the time had come to leave the Narthex, while Gregor and Duranis, the only two loyal to Abrassal remained tied up.
Having brought Drax up to the Narthex from Ingwald, Tran, lacking Gautis help, has has far been unable to identify any controls that might steer the Narthex. Drax has told them that Sintar and some of the Steel Star officers will heading up from Ingwald close behind him.
Gautis does little more than occasionally murmer and seems likely to be out of action for some time. Looking closely at the marks left by the injuries he sustained it seems incredible that the automaton managed to save him.