After stranding the elves on a distant moon, the Last Born return to “candidate one.”
With Hanos at the helm, Xax, Mal, Angus, and Zyn take the geode from its hiding place on board Nia (the smalljammer) up to the top weather deck. Thald, ever heckling Xax from within his mind, starts giving him grief about how anyone so ignorant could have defeated him. With no other idea exactly how to test and see if the world is suitable, Xax discerns that a prayer would be appropriate. Angus protests the prayer, suggesting Hanos being far more helpful than anything Sanguine has done.
In spite of the sudden sacrilege, Xax composes a prayer to Sanguine: “We pray for guidance to bring back our friends and loved ones and that out path is true.” All four experience the sensation of sleep washing over them, which is especially detrimental to Xax (who doesn’t actually sleep.)
Mal and Zyn awake inside a stone chamber with barely enough room to move next to one another. Naked again, Zyn assumes they might be dreaming as before. Each are wearing slave-like collars; Mal fails to break his own but does break Zyn’s. On request, Zyn casts a light spell to better examine their confinement. Mal become intent on escaping the chamber, even using the broken collar to try and cut a hole. When Zyn discovers a possible exit at their feet, he manages to kick out a section of stone placed as a seal.
A small contingent of guards, eight in all, are waiting for Mal as he scoots out. Five spears are pointed at his throat as two others try to drop collars over his head. As Zyn slides out behind him, Mal tries to hint to Zyn to cast a spell, but the reference is lost on her. Instead, he shouts out for her to burn them while ducking the spears and snatching away the collar. Zyn complies and set the five guards on fire. As Mal lunges forward to tackle the guard giving orders in the back of the group, Zyn uses Hanos’s lightning spell on the one of the collar-bearers before the other runs away, presumably for help. Mal sees him and tosses the head guard at him, successfully knocking them both to the ground.
Zyn is so impressed the display that she momentarily forgets she’s completely naked. An invisibility spell preserves her dignity.
Dignity be damned, Mal starts demanding answers, genuinely frightening the guards who appear to be little more than elevated slaves themselves. They tell him where he is, a place called Fellstaff where slaves of various races toil for mind flayers to build palaces in a vast cavern network. When he sees that the guards fear death, he lightens his tone and starts telling them about “a better way.” Willing to take a chance than die immediately, the guard comply. Two guards are sent alone to collect supplies (and something resembling clothes) and immediately return.
Meanwhile, Xax opens his eyes to the sound of knocking on his chamber door. He finds himself in a lavish office with an elderly human slave in chains acting as a scribe and pushing paperwork at a small desk. Thald again starts heckling Xax, causing him to acknowledge Thald in front the human slave who looks shaken that Xax is talking to himself angrily.
When Xax answers the door, he finds one of his mind flayer cousins (being illithid himself) is acting as a messenger for the “overseer” of this place, asking for slave count reports. Answering Xax’s questions, Xax determines that the event he is participating in must have occurred over five hundred years earlier. After the messenger leaves, Xax starts interrogating the human slave for details.
Back in the cavern complex with recommendations from the other guards to Mal, the head guard is stuffed into one of the solitary confinement cells with food and water. The guards also confess that they were bribed by Zyn to put Mal in with her few a few hours since “carriers” get better treatment at the palace than common slaves.
As all were about to move toward the completed palaces as the guards indicated, Mal hears Xax in his head and reveals the situation. Xax takes his slave into the hallway outside of his “inspector’s” office only to be accosted by the mind flayer again, this time with a personal request to take audience with the overseer.
Meanwhile, Angus finds himself as the windlass slave for a pit elevator. After lowering a group down, he breaks his collar and chains (without destroying the windlass.) Xax makes contact with him to say that Mal and Zyn are on their way to him.
Back in the palace offices, the overseer commands everyone out of the room and confront Xax directly. The overseer is illithid as well but hued red instead of gray like Xax. When the overseer attempts to put a hand to Xax’s throat demanding to know his allegiance, Xax summons a flame blade and slashes. The overseer steps back, nods, and tells Xax to follow him. Xax heals the overseer as he is led to a hidden chamber full of slaves, mostly women and children.
The overseer identifies himself as Vermilion and that he is having doubts as to his purpose in the world, that he must not let such things continue. A portal to the elemental plane of fire has been opened beneath the complex, held back by a failing ward that will collapse very soon. A ship is waiting for the slaves he has rescued, and he asks that Xax perform a sweep to find any others worthy who have not been corrupted. Xax complies, and everyone is hurried behind the palaces to an awaiting nautiloid. As the ship launches, the elementals are released and destroy the caverns of Fellstaff.
Back aboard Nia, Xax, Mal, Angus, and Zyn all open their eyes to find themselves exactly where they began. In their minds, a voice that Xax recognizes as Vermilion’s says, “This world will not suit.” Back in observation, Hanos tells the group that they had just gone up to the top weather deck a little earlier.
After hiding the geode, Thald drops a new bomb of information on Xax: the druidic leader of the elves knew a spell that could have taken him immediately home to report on Xax and his affairs with the Last Born. With the possibility of truth in Thald’s words, the crew decides to head back to Moil Colony since the next candidate will cross into elven territory.
After an uneventful trip back to Moil Colony, Zyn again asks for everyone to leave the ship except for Mal. Angus, still upset regarding Sanguine, refuses to leave. Zyn asks him personally (in spite of a crass remark) to leave just for a while, and so he does. Taking Mal back up to her stateroom, Zyn closes the door behind him, pushes him onto her bed, and asks him to demonstrate this “carousing” he learned on Nightfall.
On shore, Xax takes the captains aside and fills them in on everything so far, trying to decide what to do next. The smalljammer may be compromised, so further investigations into finding New Kaldera may require a different ship if the elves are watching. The recently arrived dwarf clan of builders, the Stonecutters, have opened two mines already and are readying a galleria to serve as a commerce center and fortress. Nearby, the Astralusian gypsies had pitched camp with another vagabond and begun trading, entertaining, and gambling.
Angus, still in crisis about who he is and what his purpose is since being named a firlbog instead of a “big human,” walks out into the storm-ridden skies alone. When three scavengers challenge him on his path, he dispatches them with his bow. Calling out at a crossroad for something worth serving, something indeed answers…
Session XP: 2975 per player (before applicable 10% bonuses)
Yes, including Tim. 😉