Flintlocks & Fireballs

Jan 12 498: The Bottom of the World

The party travel south with the Emperor and Bergholt in tow and reach a vast ice field, at the centre of which is their target, the ruined Praxian observatory.

As they explore the complex of crumbling buildings they encounter Somta, significantly warped from his heavy use of Etherite. He greets them and is irrationally distrustful of Faqual, claiming that the Etherite hates Devils. He claims to have been led here by dreams sent by Etherite, and that it has a great purpose for him.

Somta shows the party a basement in the ruins which is full of some sort of machinery; this is apparently powered by carved Etherite crystals, which are glowing blue (rather than the ugly purple of unrefined Etherite). At the far side are four cubicles, one of which contains an alien figure frozen in a block of ice: a slender, emaciated humanoid with chalky-grey skin and a beak like a beetle’s carapace for a mouth. The party realise that this matches the Praxians’ depictions of themselves in hieroglyphs.

Somta claims that the machinery will allow him to revive this Praxian, and tries to convince the party to help him. Papan is enthusiastic, and Blink seems like he might be convinced, but Jal, Faqual, Angela and Freddie are dubious, and fear that the released Praxian might be hostile. After a long argument, they bring Dr. Bergholt in to ask his opinion; he confirms that the machinery is indeed capable of restoring a person to life, and argues that yes, he can make it work, and yes, it’s a really good idea. As the argument rages back and forth, Angela decides to solve the problem by shooting Dr. Bergholt, blowing his head clear off his shoulders. Seeing this, Somta goes into a berserk rage and attacks, transforming into an Etherite horror.

During the battle Freddie is drawn away to deal with a number of Somta’s Blazer minions trying to flank the party, while the others deal with Somta. Jal takes the opportunity to sabotage the machinery during the battle, and as Somta draws the party away to an upstairs room Papan stays behind to try and fix it.

With Freddie and Papan occupied the fight goes badly, and only gets worse when Papan responds to the party’s shouts for help by turning on them. Faqual is eventually able to persuade her to finish Somta first; she does, and then takes Angela’s ear as a trophy. Papan is able to stabilise Angela and Jal, but by now Blink has bled to death. With the others still too badly wounded to intervene, she takes Blink’s body, places it into one of the empty booths in the machinery, and then jams her Etherite dagger into it to try and undo Jal’s sabotage. The machinery activates, and Blink’s body freezes into a block of ice like the Praxian’s. As an afterthought, she puts Bergholt’s severed head into the third booth, and then patches Jal and Angela up enough for them to walk. As she is leaving, Faqual, Jal and Angela quickly confer and decide to take her down; they do, easily, and place her into the fourth booth (Angela taking Papan’s ear as she does.)

Freddie returns from the battle, and the party look over the hieroglyphs in the Observatory. Faqual is able to identify the stars depicted in the hieroglyphs as pointing to a place and time. With no answers and no idea how to proceed, the party eventually decide to leave Papan and Blink in the ice and return to ask Zoe’s advice.

On the way out of Praxia, the party see Afareen’s troops crossing the border to attack her nearest rival undead lord, Lord Dread, led by the undead Emperor.

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JWyatt JWyatt

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