Episode: A Better Chess Partner

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Episode: A Better Chess Partner
Kavi-final-action.jpg
Episode: A Better Chess Partner
In-Game Dates Nihilis, 636 HR
OOG Dates August 2012
PCs Atticus, Darius, Descartes, Gaibe,

Greylord, Jason, Kavi, Raine

Previous Episode Episode: Occupy Barovia
Following Episode Episode: The Widening Gyre
Pre-game Planning Pre-Game Events: Upcoming Games 2012


Following their return from Operation: Occupy Barovia, the Azrai decide to plot another path through the Tower, this time culminating in their arrival in "present day" Sigil. After questioning Silvanus, the Azrai learn that Kavi has experimentally manipulated himself and the chess construct in an effort to better understand the cyclical predictor equations. After communicating with Kavi, the Azrai decide to travel to "present day" Sigil.

Once in Sigil, Kavi reveals he is the chess construct, or he at least contains the cyclical predictor algorithms, though he lacks all the necessary data to make many "necessary" predictions. The best place to get this data is the HUB, which is unfortunately controlled by the Eschaton and access is limited.

After some debate, the Azrai ascertain one of the few ways to access the HUB is through Noshteroth’s private traincar, though infiltrating his temple could be difficult. Luckily Autochon the Bellringer can "smuggle" them in during the hectic Wildnight Festival.

After posing as "actors", the Azrai infiltrate the HUB, access the inner vaults, and learn of an impending "possible" Eschaton action.

Contents

Tower Paths

Based on the communication with Kavi, the Azrai decide to travel to "present day" Sigil - 24 Nihilus, 626 HR. Strangely, when deciding on path coordinates, the Azrai note that they cannot travel any further forward then 30 Nihilus. When plotting individual paths, several of the Azrai take trips of varying lengths before meeting the others in "present-day" Sigil.

Atticus

  • Krynn prior to destruction: There are actual several jumps by Atticus and Greylord designed to help "save Krynn". These actions are detailed in Webisode: Atticus and Greylord Spread the Word
  • Ranais: 600 years prior to cataclysm to enact Operation: Mastermold; Stays until shortly before cataclysm
  • Archives: Dolor 636 to intercept Trolan's memories
  • Sigil: 24 Nihilis, 636 HR
  • Return to the Tower: 30 Nihilus, 636 HR

Greylord

  • Krynn prior to destruction: There are actual several jumps by Atticus and Greylord designed to help "save Krynn". These actions are detailed in Webisode: Atticus and Greylord Spread the Word
  • Ranais: 600 years prior to cataclysm to enact Operation: Mastermold; Only stays 2 months to help Atticus get settled
  • Archives: Dolor 636 to intercept Trolan's memories
  • Sigil: 24 Nihilis, 636 HR
  • Return to the Tower: 30 Nihilus, 636 HR

Descartes

  • Mystery Path
  • Archives: Dolor 636 to intercept Trolan's memories
  • Sigil: 24 Nihilis, 636 HR
  • Return to the Tower: 30 Nihilus, 636 HR

Raine

  • Mystery Path
  • Archives: Dolor 636 to intercept Trolan's memories
  • Sigil: 24 Nihilis, 636 HR
  • Return to the Tower: 30 Nihilus, 636 HR

Other Azrai

  • Archives: Dolor 636 to intercept Trolan's memories
  • Sigil: 24 Nihilis, 636 HR
  • Return to the Tower: 30 Nihilus, 636 HR

Intercepting Trolan's Memories

Before arriving in Sigil, everyone meets at the Archives of Arendur - specifically within the Clockwork Fortress in the room with the Pool of Thoughts. The intention of this trip is receiving the "destroyed" memories (see explanation here).

Whether a significant quantity of memories or few extremely dense memories, the transfer is surprisingly dense and lasts for what becomes an unnerving 45 - 60 seconds during which Raine notices the pool of thoughts rippling in the ethereal plane. It appears to be trying unsuccessfully to interface with the adapter that Atticus created to intercept the memories. Even more subtly, Raine noticed a second ethereal signature that was attempting to interface with the adapter through the mimir interface in the adapter.

Through further study, Raine determined that the signature emanating from the mimir interface was an ethereal construct of limited intelligence that was relentlessly assaulting the stone adapter. The signature in the pool was an ethereal construct of extreme intelligence and ceased attempting to interface with the stone after the transfer completed, at which point it subsided and was not necessarily present or detectable. The former construct continued its assault until the memory stone was removed from the adapter, however it still remained.

Raine used magic to interact with the ethereal, stop the construct of limited intelligence from escaping, and dominate the creature. It was a small, "mechanical", serpentine ethereal creature. She found it served a Chrysalis Black. She also found it was here to intercept any memories transmitted through the pool. The Azrai fed it some false data from the first generation sensory stone (clockwork orange stone) and planned to have it return to Chrysalis Black to deliver the bogus memories via the device Chrysalis used to interface with the ethereal. Thereafter, it is to download all the most recent information on that interface device excluding the planted memories up to its capacity. Finally it was to deliver this additional information to a sensory stone that was planted in the Zactar cathedral for the express purpose of receiving this data. The sensory stone would then be delivered to outside the door under Grundlethum’s mansion where the Azrai could access them upon arrival at their next jump. Meanwhile, Kavi and the warforged were to set up recon on Chrysalis Black for the next two and a half months prior to the Azrai's final arrival.

Sigil Arrival

The Azrai arrive in Sigil on 24 Nihilis, 636 HR at the chamber behind Grundelthum’s door. Just outside is the sensory stone with the data retrieved from Chrysalis Black. Atticus begins manipulating the memory encoding machine with Greylord staying behind to assist / get his back. The purpose is to eventually replay the previously shattered memories from the Memory Stone.

Data recovery

Memory Stone Double Blind Results

Once the Memory Stone decoding was complete, Atticus and several of the Azrai decided to watch Trolan’s "rescued" memories. However, the Azrai were VERY concerned about the risks of doing so, particularly sharing these memories with Kavi since Trolan died to protect thee memories. Therefore they decided that a few of them would watch the memories, discuss, come up with an agreed upon reaction to the memories, write down their reaction, and then "wipe their minds" of the memory. The results were as follows:

"To save the Keeper, Descartes must use the Dream Machine.", signed by Atticus, Greylord, Jason, Darius, and Descartes.

Chrysalis's Construct Data

The data recovered from the sensory stone was closer to raw data. Initial impression is that the data set consisted of times, locations, including perhaps train stations. Additional assessment would be necessary to gain more in terms of the context of the data, or its implications.

Zactar and Intel

Jason, Darius, Descartes, and Raine head to the Zactar Cathedral to meet with Rogue and Kavi. Upon their arrival, the Azrai witness a meeting between Ren and Kavi regarding the recent spikes of ethereal energy at the HUB and how Kavi has confirmed the HUB had been taken over by the Eschaton. Moreover, this was likely the reason for trains not stopping at the HUB platforms as of late.

After the brief meeting, Ren updates Jason on the war. There has been some back and forth with some territory changing occupancy. For example, the Shattered Temple and the Hub were taken by the Eschaton while the Azrai picked up some territory in the Market Ward.

Darius went to speak with Kavi. Kavi is really creepy now.

Jason also accompanied Greylord to speak with Ren regarding the interface Kavi had with the chess construct and his interest in aggressively pursuing access to the hub and working towards finding the fault in the cyclical regression equations. Ren didn’t seem to skip a beat in expressing his confidence in the precautions that he took to shield himself in the chess construct interface were effective and that there seemed to be no reason, especially considering the success he’s had predicting enemy objectives and movements, that getting Kavi the access to the HUB and/or finding the flaw would be anything but beneficial.

Intelligence on Chrysalis Black

During the previous two months, surveillance on Chrysalis Black was conducted by Zactar agent Vincent. Due to obscure nature of the request, the assignment was not given high priority. According to Vincent, Chrysalis Black is highly sought after as a private contractor and supplier for the Eschaton working with their golemworks projects. He doesn’t leave his office often but will sometimes venture to the golemworks next to the Chapel Perilous, therefore, dense enemy presence in the vicinity. It is also thought that he has an unknown, hidden workshop.

Zactar intellegence (aka Tyrion) gets some info on Chrysalis’s activities in The Ditch. The area he has been working in, has always been known for being rather foul. His factory is known to be particularly stinky. Also a submersible has been known to hang around. It is believed that they have tapped into portals within the canal system and could be using the submersible to do so under cover of the dirty canals. They are working on the premise that they are cleaning up the canal system in the ditch, but Vincent’s contacts have confirmed that they are working to make them more dirty and unnavigable.

Some Eschaton guy - Fanning - we kidnapped like years ago (Operation: Braintrust) used to work at the Golemworks with Chrysalis and said that he wasn’t known to be a particularly impressive engineer. He wasn’t inept, but not amazing. This does not mesh well with the Azrai and Zactar's recent assessment of his abilities as evidenced by the construct he had created/sent to the Pool of Thoughts.

HUB Discussion

The Azrai and Kavi begin to discus sources of data for the cyclical predictor equation and the HUB seems to be one of the primary sources of data. Unfortunately it is controlled recently by the Eschaton. Although it seems like a VERY dangerous operation, KAVI runs some possibilities and presents a few options for HUB infiltration/liberation:

  • Predict / time a SHARD tech "gate raid" and jump through the mobile SHARD gate in hopes that the other side might end up in the hub.
  • Possibly a portal to the HUB through the Shattered Temple.
  • The Havero chambers at Chapel Perilous, the Circle of Amassed Arcana, and the Temple of the Abyss have access to the HUB as suggested by the models.
  • Models suggest an EPB subject, Ulfwood, was an expert on trains and had been used, could still be under the influence of the Eschaton in cutting off train access to the HUB. They also suggest that he is working with train access from the inside.

Office of Chrysalis Black

Room of Fail part 2: Vincent leaves to meet with Chrysalis at his office to get an idea on where his true loyalties lie. His office was in the Guildhall Ward featuring a sign that says Black’s Golems. Vincent knocks and after some time a figure begins rustling inside and pulls back a curtain. After some consideration, he flips a switch and an involved mechanism disengages the door, it opens, and the occupant hurries Vincent inside. Despite the Azrai’s truly average efforts, arrangements to procure his services were not successful. Somehow (?) a fight between Chrysalis, the Azrai, and several golems escalated. The Azrai discovered dozens of sketches of Descartes and Kavi in the back room. Additionally, receipts showing shipments received by Chrysalis in the Ditch.

Per Kavi, models suggest that the entity known as the Rotting Construct was destroyed in the Armageddon Echo, however the one known as the Turk still exists in some form in Sigil.

Trials of Lazarod

After a good deal of discussion, the Azrai decide the best means to infiltrate the HUB is through the access through the Noshteroth's traincar beneath the Temple of the Abyss. Luckily they have an "in" with Autochon the Bellringer. Autochon knows the casting director for the upcoming production of the "The Six Trials of Lazarod", the famous Baatezu play hosted by Noshteroth in the Temple during the opening night of the Wildnight festival. In return, Autochon wants to be provided access and distraction to assassinate Noshteroth to avenge the death of Noxanna. After auditioning for the play, many of the Azrai get leading roles and learn that this is not necessarily a good thing, because "the Trials" in the play are very real and most of the actors typically perish before the play is over. As an interesting side-effect, however, the Azrai cast as the "heroes" of the play are treated as celebrities for the next 24 hours and are basically given free reign of much of the Temple when they are able to find free time.

Even more bizarrely, Noshteroth has apparently invited Kedward and an extremely large Baatezu entourage to the play. Autochon later reveals that he is working with Kedward and even has a weapon (spear) that can pierce Noshteroth's defenses.

Plan for play

6 trials - 1) Capture / Combat? 2) Physical Torture 3) Physical Torture - Darker 4) Combat #2 5) Ingestion? 6) Environmental Dangers Azrai are administered appropriate enhancement magic for enduring the scenes as needed. Prot - Poison, Energy, etc. Must also be prepared for HUB infiltration immediately after.

The Play

The Azrai are led to the understage area of the temple under escort of Armanite guards to get costumed up and so on. There are many people working on stage effects and so on. Looks like the rest of the Temple is getting ready for the party/festival. The Vahls brothers show up as bodyguards for Chrysalis Black, who apparently had a hand in the special effects of the play. Mr Black asked Descartes, disguised as a "stage manager", to take him down under the stage, presumably to work on the explosives that are there. He then went under the stage and told Descartes to close the trap door behind him. Darius sneakily slipped through and found Black down there placing a spring-loaded coffin under the stage. Darius was also able to mark many of the boxes that contain explosives.

Atticus went to check it out. He found it had some small degree of Lawshredder energy signature on it. As a precaution, he made a reasonable facsimile of the coffin, chained the original to prevent its opening, and put the original in his bag of holding. He finished by disabling the majority of the explosives and left a small number with a receiver he created to set them off at the Azrai’s command for each of the 2 death scenes

The Acts

Act 1: The play begins with the accusations. When the characters are attacked after the judges’ verdict, arrows fly from all directions. Darius is captured quickly. Greylord is taken but obviously gave himself up, despite his dialogue. Then, Atticus is taken while giving a stirring performance.

Act 2: Jason and the other two torturers enter dramatically promising a confession. Jason is terrifying with his extremely loud whip. Jason burns Atticus’ face and his face melts from illusory effects. Jason cracks his whip on Greylord to keep the other torturer from burning him and blood splatters on the audience. Darius provides comic relief as Jason looks foolish torturing Darius. Darius eggs him on with sarcastic remarks. Greylord remains steadfast and delivers his speech well. (20 points of stoneskin are removed)

Act 3: Torture in the dark Opens in a cleaned up room. Containers of Abyssal leeches, Darius is tossed in. A mage seems to be the one controlling the illusions. Raine puts that mage to sleep and the leeches suddenly get quieter. Raine quickly takes over the spell. Darius is bathing in the leeches and a fat leech crawls out. One of the torturers stomps it and blood flies everywhere. Jason bites and throws a leech into the crowd. Jason continues to torture Greylord and Darius. (36 off of stoneskin total)

Act 4: Jason does some investigating below stage and let’s Vincent in a sealed door with the Key of Aoskar. The trial by combat will begin. Black pulls out a control panel; the stygian serpent is what he was going to release from the box. Guillermo summons monster 9 four times. Many large snakes swarm about. Greylord fights off many demons and several serpents. An illusory snake swallows Darius and is spit up and Darius and the snake both die. Darius sneaks off and is replaced by an illusion. (Darius- 30 from stone skin (66 total) and 9 hit points for Darius and Jason, Atticus took same stone skin, 16 hit points and Jason takes 16 hit points) The death of Darius and his explosion after that startles the audience. Autochon decides to use this opportunity to attack Noshteroth and he jumps down and pierces his flesh as a bells crash. Autochon is blasted by fire onto the stage and rolls around till he turns into ash. Explosions everywhere!! Chaos on stage and in the audience as fighting between Noshteroth and Kedward's forces.

Assault on the HUB

During the ensuing chaos, the Azrai sneak below stage, through a few sealed doors, down an elevator shaft and then down some long stairs...really long stairs. There are trains down here, rumbling by. Throughout the first part of the descent, the architecture nearer the shaft definitely appears newer, as if recently built. Moving farther away from the elevator shaft, it is more reminiscent of the original temple architecture. The stairs open up to a chamber with lab technicians surrounding a large pit with an observation area - maybe a Havero chamber.

Descartes, disguised as Chrysalis and Vincent (invisible) enter and with Raine reading the thoughts of the 4 scientists, they effectively get the idea of what was going on in the chamber. The primary technician seemed surprised to see Chrysalis, but reviewed the findings of the initial readings of energy transfer rates observed in the deaths that just took place. They seemed a little disappointed that the energy readings were not larger, but since the subjects were not all attuned to the receptacle on site, they were not surprised. But they said everything functioned as per expected. (Based on discussion with "Chrysalis", some inferred that this may have been a test run, or that they were at least satisfied that the collection could be repeated.)

After looking over the data results from the collection and "inspecting" the lab, Chrysalis hailed a train car to send new, interesting data for evaluation. He left the technicians and returned to the hall where Raine employed a Veil to disguise the Azrai as the Eschaton lab technicians Chrysalis had told the lab team to expect. They presented the disguised Azrai with the newest, incomplete set of data and the Azrai took it and ventured onto the train.

The HUB

Upon arriving at the HUB station, it was immediately apparent that the station was abnormally empty. Eschaton of various types were seen around, but nothing in the way of many other trains or people. Greylord checked the Sanguine Axis and it registered the faint signature of a Godstone.

The Azrai sneak through the mostly abandoned HUB station to a nearby underground administrative building. Here they find Eschaton technicians and bureaucrats populating the building. After a room by room sweep, and relatively quiet takeover, the Azrai find Ulfwood, the former EPB victim and train engineering genius.

After questioning their prisoners, the Azrai determine there is an incredibly large force of Eschaton, warforged, and other machines within the nearby HUB vaults. Since it is an incredible large and potentially insurmountable force, the Azrai make a "call" to the Zactar and use Ulffwood to coordinate train arrivals and reinforcements for an all-out assault. The goal is not to take the HUB, but to distract, so that Kavi, Descartes, and Greylord can slip into the main HUB vault for information "download".

The Zactar forces, Harmonium Irregulars and Doomguard arrive signaling the assault on the HUB.

After a protracted battle, The Azrai and remaining allies escape using the Chrysalis's horrible golem serpent in a box, as cover and distraction.

Aftermath

While returning to the Zactar Cathedral on the train, Kavi has moments to process his new wealth of ethereal data. He comes to the shocking realization that the Eschaton plan to "Complete the Ritual of Reconciliation".