Continuing the series of session reports for the Last Fleet campaign; previous entry here.
Last session saw two mysteries solved- finding Dr. Dreamrat, a physiker who may be able to help with the illness affecting the fleet; and uncovering the identity of the killer striking at Orcs across the vessels of the fleet. This session opened with the trial and sentencing of that killer. The PCs discussed the situation- on the one hand, order has to be maintained on the ships and the killer had taken four lives. On the other hand, the remaining Ebon Elves had petitioned for clemency. With only a handful of their race remaining, the death of even one meant a devastating loss. The Wolfen, Kalighta Cuteye, himself the last of his people spoke with the group- bearing the Ebon Elves request. The group seriously considered this, and when they spoke to Admiral Greybattle, they expressed some concerns.
However the Admiral had decided on the necessity to demonstrate force- to make clear that internal disruptions could not be tolerated. The group deferred to the admiral’s judgment. That was put to test when they saw the means of execution, binding the killer and pitching him out into the endless open skies, where he would fall endlessly or perhaps discover the bottom of the sky. Whet watched the crowd carefully and noted the split between the Ebon Elf Signals Officer Kal’aso Garwayne and her people.
Flames and Disaster
The group made to head their separate ways- with many duties needing to be tended to. However, a sudden explosion shook The Horn of Wrath- they quickly realized that it hadn’t been a single explosion, but rather a chain of them, stretching from the forward magical workshop to the rear. The group split- heading towards the scenes in the hopes of saving lives and minimizing damage. Despite some upsets, they managed to rescue a number of magical scientists and keep the wild magics released from wrecking even more of the ship. The situation became clear- Rodol Faithjester, the master arcanist, had been running preliminary tests on the new device to move the fleet through the Stormwall. Something had gone wrong, with the magistone exploding in an unexpected reaction. It had caused a cascade reaching between both labs. Lira spoke openly what the others were thinking- could this have been sabotage. The shaken Faithjester doubted it, but could not say for certain.
The Awful Situation
The group each headed back to the ships of their own race- with instructions to downplay the situation for the moment. Each did, with varying levels of success. The next day all were called in to a general meeting, along with other officers and representatives for each ship in the fleet. The meeting opened, as expected, with a discussion of the explosions. Faithjester rose and reported the situation. They had been working to restore the prototype Transit Device, given that the previous one had been destroyed in their passage into The In-Between (along with the flagship, The Daughter of Woes). The Arcanist explained that the magical energies of this region differed enough that this could have thrown things off, causing the blast. But he wasn’t sure at this moment- and with that hesitation he offered his resignation if another could be found to take his place. The Admiral tabled that and asked what their options were- Faithjester stated that he would require more of the precious stores of magistone and that the process to rebuild could take weeks, if not months. The briefings which followed suggested that this was time they did not have.
Dr. Dreamrat conveyed his preliminary findings. Those who had fallen ill had been those weakest and those most exposed to the environment and light above decks. The energy of the In-Between seemed to cause a transformation in these people- beginning with weakness, then fever and pain, then collapse and nightmares. But the process didn’t end there- several of earliest afflicted had shown signs of madness as well as physical transformations. People could be protected in part by staying below decks and covering themselves outside, but that would only slow, not prevent the illness. Dreamrat believed that eventually, everyone would succumb. Again, it might be a matter of weeks. As well, once a certain portion of the population became sick, the ships themselves would be unable to maintain themselves.
Which brought the meeting to the final statement. Chief Engineer Fateflame had inspected each of the vessels of the fleet to judge what repairs needed to be done immediately. Her inspections revealed two ships which had drastic structural and/or engine problems. The first, as expected, was the rescue ark, The Heart’s Refuge. That ship had not been intended for a voyage like this or for carrying that many passengers. But another ship had damage from the battle against Sunforge and his forces, The Goddess’ Tears, vessel of the White Elves. The Chief Engineer expected both ships would remain intact currently, but without ground-dock facilities, necessary repairs could not be done. The fleet would have to draft plans for relocating people from those ships in the event either lost integrity.
The meeting ended somberly, complimented by a change in the sky outside- shifting from a constant orange to a deep blue, the apparent 'night' of the in-between and the first change they’d seen in weeks.
The PCs spent some time interacting with various characters across the fleet. They brainstormed some options for dealing with the impending crisis. A call from the admiral interrupted their debate. A forward outflier had spotted something unusual- ahead but slightly off from their intended course. In a bank of clouds they’d spotted flashing- unlike any lightning or atmospheric phenomena they’d seen so far. The group would be sent ahead to check on the situation, make sure it posed no danger and check for any resources the fleet could use. They set out immediately.
Lira flew, with Chain navigating and spotting. They found themselves in a large bank of clouds- with moving layers suggesting something at the center. Soon they made out the lights the scout had spotted. They could make out little except for the pattern. Dweena spent time recording the rhythm of it- revealing a distress call. It used an old set of codes, ones created by the lost race of Dwarves. Cautiously, Lira moved the ship forward to get a better view.
A Lost Vessel
They broke through the cloud bank to a bizarre vision. In the distance they saw a massive stone statue, many times larger than the largest ship in their fleet. It appeared to be a robed woman with half-finished features and closed eyes. They could make out movement in the distance, like ants working across the surface of it. Chains with massive iron links spiraled out in every direction, attached to the statue. At the ends of those they could make out broken vessels wrapped in cages, massive stones with glowing centers, and finally, the sparkling sphere bound by chains. The lights the group had witnessed came from that sphere- a force field. They flew close and could see what lay inside...an ancient Dwarven vessel.
The group discussed the implications- the Dwarves had been lost for several hundred years. After the sundering of the world, they had been the first to craft vessels and head out to map the Stormwall. They had sacrificed themselves to help the other races. Now they’d come across one of those ships- and one in apparently dire circumstances, judging from the fate of the other ships tethered to this statue. Lira settled the ship close by the force field; she then handed controls over to Dimos Bathang, the Bugbear NPC they’d brought along despite his new crimson shirt. After a few experiments, Marreg discovered that the force field kept out non-organic material. The group could pass through with some difficulty. They did so, lowering themselves to the deck of the Dwarven ship.
A New Threat
Immediately they could see that the ship was worn- with most of the ornamentation broken off or destroyed. However, they also felt the slight vibration indicating an arcane engine operating somewhere. With some trepidation, they knock on the door to below decks, announcing themselves. It took a few minutes, but the door opened- revealing Gavesk Sundering, the last of the Dwarves. He looked around shocked at the unexpected arrival. With fear in his voice, he told them they had little time- already "she’d awoken." He pointed off in the distance.
...Where the eyes of the statue had opened.