The Last Born makes preparations for a run back to Nightfall.
Having finished his compiled sphere map, Hanos goes to Sterl and presents his work. With Xax present, Sterl is impressed with the map but has little to offer phlogiston travel information. Travel outside of the spheres is just too long when corridors are so much faster. Sterl suggests that pirates still have some knowledge of this, particularly Captain Lucas of the Ebon Falcon.
While Mal negotiates five tons of metal ore from Kreel for sale in Nightfall, one of the new crewman, Rylan, confesses to knowing Uriah’s contact in Nightfall: Lady Isolde, another local lord of unknown power. Once all are back aboard, Hanos takes the helm and starts off toward Nightfall.
Underway, Zyn asks Xax privately to her stateroom with the geode. Zyn seems nervous about something as Xax enters, then seats herself and asks for Xax’s trust. Taking his hands into her own, Zyn mind links with him to initiate a successful personality switch. With Xax’s mind no longer in his own body, Thald no longer blocks Xax from communing with the spirits of his brothers inside the geode.
The former keepers exchange information to bring everyone up to date. The brothers explain that, with Zyn’s permission, they tweaked Zyn to have a minor psionic wild talent, one she hoped Xax would later help train her up on to better protect herself from such attacks. Unfortunately, a migraine side effect could incapacitate Zyn periodically when she activates a power, a one-in-four chance. That might lessen if she chooses to train with Xax, using the tweak as a springboard to learn psionics fully.
The brothers also remind Xax that, since their plan worked, Thald is likely neither a ghost nor punishment from Sanguine. Instead, Thald may be a psionic creature called a wayfarer that imitates Thald as a defense mechanism. When Thald was killed by Xax on Nightfall, the wayfarer may have jumped to the nearest other psionic creature close by: Xax himself. While the wayfarer likely cannot be ejected, the brothers suggest actually talking to it with the renewed information of what it actually is; it might leave on its own when it learns the ruse no longer holds.
Xax returns from his meditative state and allows Zyn to switch personalities back, but the second switch promptly triggers the aforementioned migraine, leaving Zyn barely able to speak while trying to remain still and quiet enough for the pain to (hopefully) pass. When she asks to be left alone for a bit, Xax uses the opportunity to challenge Thald to leave. Beside himself that Xax has discovered his secret, the wayfarer again channels Thald in an attempt to make Xax second-guess his resolve.
Unwilling to play the creature’s game any longer, Xax mind links with Hanos, asking the gnome to meet up with him and blast him full on with the intent of killing the wayfarer, too. Either suspicious that Xax might go through with it or fearful that it may work, Thald appears to abandon Xax just before Hanos connects with a lightning burst to Xax’s chest. While Thald appears to have exited the ship, Xax still searches for him, not content that Thald may indeed have fled. Finally, fearing Zyn might be susceptible to Thald’s parasitic tendencies, he stays with her while she waits out the pain in her head. When the pain stops, she attempts to sleep.
Still not sure the wayfarer isn’t just hiding out, Xax subjects the new crewmen to a mind scan after a thorough search of the ship turns up nothing. Upon protests, Zyn is roused from her sleep to reassure everyone why it’s happening and that Xax intends to go no further that surface thoughts (with a nod to Sophie.) No sign of the wayfarer is found, and Zyn returns to her stateroom to rest. Later on, Zyn is given instructions by Xax to help protect her but again suggests committing to actual training to learn psionics as Xax does. He also warns her that he’ll train her as illithids train one another.
It takes four days to get to Nightfall. Outside of Nightfall’s orbit, Zyn commands the smalljammer to mirror the appearance of Tenth’s galleon. A decison is made among the spellcasters that, instead of buying the ale and spirits they need, a transmute liquid spell (provided by Hanos) might better serve to provide and re-provision the stock continuously. All they would need is a sample of all the alcoholic beverages they intended to provide.
The “galleon” sets down in the harbor outside Lady Isolde’s district by Rylan’s direction. Hanos, Xax and Lachlan are still on board (although Hanos protests loudly, suggesting that he be allowed to “sleep with the captain” for special privileges such as going ashore.) Ignoring the comment but nonetheless embarrassed by the accusation, Zyn leads the party ashore.
Raylon proves worth his weight in sliver. A merchant named Valdis is quickly located to purchase Kreel’s ore for a fair price; the buyer suggests providing the ore refined rather than raw might fetch a higher wage in the future. A cooper named Kian sells the crew fifty empty full-size barrels, leaving only the missing sampling of spirits to finish out the trip. As if things were going too smoothly, both Mal and Zyn spot a posted bill regarding Nia and her crew, wanted by the local lord for unspecified reasons. A local patrol of four guards passes close by, but nothing further impedes the party’s progress.
Finding a local alehouse large enough to carry a good sampling, Zyn plays up being a “wealthy and discerning captain” while Mal, Sophie and Rylan barter with the barkeep for a fine selection to stock their captain’s stateroom; a generous purse seals the deal with no questions. Behind the alehouse, the barkeep arranges a cart with plenty of bottles and something extra: an illegal glassteel pitcher of Maiedyn’s sacramental wine in a silver bag, by itself at a cost of as much as all the rest of it.
Zyn signals to accept the bargain, and everyone makes their way back to the ship in time for the last of the ore to be offloaded and the last of the barrels to arrive. Once aboard, Xax confiscates all the spirits in his announced intent to keep a “dry” ship sanctified for Sanguine; even Captain Zyn is a little disappointed by the refusal but ultimately agrees…. for the moment.
The crew departs without incident, but as the ship moves away, Xax hears a voice call out to him. An image of who could only be Lord Dresnik Thald stands on the roof of a distant building, waving as if seeing the crew off. Xax merely waves back. Although he’s afraid of what Thald might do with the knowledge he has of Xax and everyone else, he isn’t sure he could destroy Thald even if he wanted to.
The four-day journey back is uneventful up until three hours outside of Moil Colony when Nia catches up to a dragonship. Hanos casts an illusion to cause words “Greetings from Hanos!” to appear of the illusionary galleon The hail gets an invitation aboard. Loaded with human passengers from Throe space, two of three original ships were lost in an elven sneak attack; the third got away when the cultivars stopped to pick up prisoners. Tilto, a gnome sailor (read: pirate) seems to know Sophie, who vouches for him. Tilto has a message for Sophie as well: Aekblood is ticked off and looking for her.
Zyn orders the smalljammer to drop the illusion and resume its familiar shape to land. Sophie comes to Zyn about the sacrimental wine, asking that as a worshipper of Maiedyn that Sophie be allowed to keep the wine (which she will gladly repay Zyn and the crew for.) After landing, Mal departs to pay Kreel his share of the ore while others offload the barrels of ale and other spirits.
Zyn corners Xax and Hanos in Xax’s warded stateroom and asks not to duplicate the elven wine because of Sophie’s religious beliefs. While Zyn tries to dance around Sophie’s elven nature, Hanos presses until he decides for himself that Sophie is one of those “baby-killing elves” he is sworn to destroy. Xax reluctantly lets Hanos out of the stateroom, after which Hanos predictably corners Sophie.
Both Xax and Zyn get there before Hanos can do anything, hearing him accuse Sophie out loud of her elven nature, but fortunately no one else hears. Determined to discover the truth for himself, Hanos uses his falcon-tipped rod of security to disappear both he and Sophie to question her in private…
Session XP: 3350 per player (before applicable 10% bonuses)