Clan Caskbound, played 4.10.20 IRL, 8.25.2121 IG.
- Devron Leveller (Mark) Berserker. Chosen, Mason.
- Dandel “The Dan” Deeptunnel (Simon) Berserker. Carouser, Miner, Brewer.
- Korvask Wyrt (Michael) Vanguard. Enchanter, Scholar.
The Beetleback Brewery
The Dan leveraged Clan Caskbound resources to smooth the way with the Magistrate of Ryvolko to open a brewery and tavern in the City of Spires. After months of shuttling supplies back and forth over the sea and working tirelessly to rehabilitate the brewery from its sturdy dwarven bones and patching up the human structure atop it, they were ready to open.
The Dan also acquired an apprentice, Zuuker Roth, who ran a successful tavern in Whiskey Forge. Zuuker wanted more than professional competence, trading in his tavern for a chance to study the secret arts of dwarven brewing under the award-winning brewer The Dan. He eagerly set to the work in the Beetleback Brewery, acquiring human staff and running the place to exacting standards.
As The Dan looked after all the details and handled hosting duties, Devron settled in as security and Korvask used his bloodbrush to paint a brilliance rune on the mantle of the fireplace, preparing it to breathe out a whimsical display of fire-fly like witchlight illusions on his command, for ambiance.
Over seventy patrons could fit in the establishment, and the grand opening drew far more than that, with people cycling through and enjoying the exterior of the building as well as the inside. (Apparently humans require room to dance to properly enjoy anything.) The Dan’s custom brew to please the human palate (and capacity) was popular. Patrons were a bit rowdy, but Devron’s stern presence kept things from getting out of hand.
The visitor from furthest away was the sorceress Shoyara, all the way from Stoneshadow. She even brought her apprentice, who avoided eye contact with the Fellowship.
The Magistrate of Ryvolko
When Magistrate Plaxton arrived with his bodyguards, Korvask triggered the rune of brilliance, and the humans were awed by the display. The Dan presented the magistrate with a custom-built fanny-keg like the one he carried, which the magistrate appreciated.
Plaxton confided in The Dan that two days ago something fell from the sky, landing not far from here in unclaimed territory. Plaxton considered the opportunity to investigate to be a good test for his new neighbors from Caskbound; how they comported themselves and managed success (and also how they handled success) would instruct him on how to view them.
The Fellowship managed some quick conversation in the midst of the roaring party, and also found local contacts to consult to find out more. Kroy, the cleric to the Church of Unsteadiness, was present and had been seen chatting with Tangler earlier. Kroy agreed to get them up to speed on the situation if The Dan would install a shrine to the Church of Unsteadiness as a lean-to or area within his new tavern; functionally, it would serve as a place for incapacitated revelers to be laid out to recover in relative comfort and privacy. The Dan agreed.
Kroy reported speculation that the object that fell was keenly pursued by several factions because wizards believed it was a peculiar material important for their work. She had a sample (not from this skyfall, but a previous one) that was a crystal that Korvask instantly recognized as a mind shard. The yellow material matrix could be imprinted with a mind’s pattern, by one who knew the art, and could also serve as a conduit for remotely controlling constructs.
So far, Kroy knew of four expeditions pursuing the skyfall. Daggerface led a cohort of orcs. Lord Fangbox led a Mosobdian expedition, with Straybeam piloting a skyship and the wizard Scheduler providing mystical guidance. Two wizards, Iskavol and Yaru, formed an expedition loosely affiliated with the Keyin Protectorate but mainly in service to the secretive network of mages. Clan Caskbound’s Fellowship would be the fourth. The others had about a twelve hour head start.
Towards the Skyfall
Leaving Zuuker in charge of the party, the Fellowship recruited Nymeer and the Sea Scout, taking off at once with minimal supplies. By mid-morning they saw the tower impact cloud over the site that somehow had not dissipated over the last couple days. They did not want to fly into the cloud, so the final approach would be on foot.
The edge of the cloud had a balloon and basket airship drawn by geese, landed and magically warded; the Fellowship did not want to enter so close to where the wizards had touched down. Circling around, they saw the Mosobidian airship of Lord Fangbox, and continued around the perimeter. They saw an orc airship, still in the air and awaiting a signal. Steering clear of the other expeditions, they landed and left Nymeer with the ship as they continued into the murk of the cloud.
Seeking the Impact Crater
The Fellowship heard the sounds of desperate battle between a wizard and bestial foes nearby in the fog. They chose not to interfere, keeping a low profile as their dwarven senses helped them stay grounded in the disorienting fog. Using the poor visibility to their advantage, they found their way to the edge of the crater. Past mining experience suggested something large tunneled nearby underfoot, so they moved with stealth and speed. They heard sounds of orcish battle nearby, and it didn’t sound like the orcs were winning.
As they slid down using a rope to anchor them so they could retreat quickly if need be, they pushed through the destabilizing waves of thought that rolled from the rock at the center of the crater, far too intact to have fallen naturally. The Dan, accustomed to resisting the mental strains of carousing and drinking, saw the strange burned crystal ooze out a fresh yellow shard.
Korvask’s excitement grew still further. Mind shards were useful material, but their source was not well understood. If this was a Nexus of the mind shard, it could be a connection to a whole set–and it could be capable of growing more. A Nexus was multi-dimensional, and attuning to it could allow access to its inner workings. He bravely took up the shard and stepped through its surface; the skyfall rippled like water, and he vanished into it.
At that moment, a couple armored burrowing monsters launched out of the side of the crater at Devron and The Dan, who cut them down and warily awaited Korvask’s return.
In the Nexus
Korvask entered the crystalline chamber, majestic and alien. He felt the presence of the Nexus of the Mind Shard coursing around his thoughts, and he projected admiration for it as both a scholar and an enchanter. The alien presence was open to him, and they connected; it looked through his present moment and sensed how Clan Caskbound had corrupted the ecology of the Caskbound Pocket with their weaponized alchemy in the founding of the clan, and harnessed that mutated wilderness to their own ends, and it reacted aggressively to the threat they represented. The Nexus snatched at control of Korvask, to neutralize him.
As a vanguard trained to move for no force, Korvask managed to hold out. The wave rolled out at his companions outside the Nexus, and as they staggered under the assault, more burrowing creatures more hideous than the last lurched out of the earth at them, threatening them with acid; they defended their minds and bodies.
Korvask, inside the Nexus, did not react with aggression; instead, he focused on the worse threats the dwarves contained. The Nexus slowed its push, and Korvask used his bloodbrush to paint a connecting rune on the crystal. Connection was vulnerability, and the Nexus boldly explored his psyche further. It was stranded in an alien place, projecting ideas he could not contextualize, focused on its own defense. Korvask was profoundly successful in attuning with it, and they formed a partnership.
For a moment, Korvask could see through all the creatures the Nexus had planted a mind shard into, that were operating as a hive mind in its defense. He chose to relinquish control of them, and his intuitive sense of the workings of the mind shards was such that he dissolved them and retrieved their essence, freeing the creatures from the Nexus.
The skyfall dissolved from around his form as the Nexus folded itself into his psyche and bones, and his eyes gleamed gold as he stepped forth carrying the Nexus inside. The magically anchored fog over the impact crater was released, and began to drift apart.
The Fellowship retreated with speed and stealth, taking advantage of the confusion of the released slaves of the Nexus and successfully avoiding the other expeditions. As soon as they reached their skyship and Nymeer, they set course directly for Caskbound; this victory and cargo was too precious to risk detours.
The implications of acquiring a living Nexus of mind shards was worth 3 Ledger, and the clan’s prestige and strength would both increase, raising the total to 5.