As the captain falls, Mesmer waves his hands in an arcane gesture, and with a sharp pop, an illusory one-way mirror comes into being between the party and the soldiers. Shaken up from the battle with the captain, the party takes advantage of the soldiers’ confusion to rest. Elswyr strips the captain of her armor, which has ceased to glow following the death of its owner. Setting aside her own armor, Elswyr dons the armor of the late captain, which seems to change its shape to better fit her own body.
Cairn hands Elswyr the HAMMER!, and as the mirror flickers out, Elswyr, dressed in the captain’s armor and wielding the mighty HAMMER!, leaps across the gap, and loudly states,
Elswyr: “Unless you want me to wear your armor next, I suggest that you stand aside.”
The soldiers cower in fear, and offer no resistance. The rest of the party jumps across, and Elswyr, stepping forward, says once more,
Elswyr: “Stand aside!”
The soldiers make way, and the party proceeds to the room with the pedestal. Upon closer inspection, the party finds that the upper surface of the pedestal seems to be some sort of control panel containing six small buttons and a much larger, red button.
Elswyr: “You soldiers! What is the purpose of these controls?”
Soldier: “Um, they’re used by a commander when defending the room, ma’am”
Elswyr: “What do they do specifically?”
Soldier: “They, uh, move the platform, ma’am.”
Mesmer moves to depress the large, red, button.
Soldier: “Don’t do that!! That’s not a good idea!!”
Mesmer: “Why not?”
Soldier: “It electrifies the floor.”
Elswyr turns to address the soldiers again, speaking in a milder tone:
Elswyr: “You, soldiers. Tell me – these events; these circumstances – do you believe in what you’re fighting for? Do you believe in your mission?”
Soldier: “Yes, we do. Our mission is good.”
Elswyr, hefting the hammer: “So if I were to ask you to leave and never have anything to do with this organization again, I presume you would take umbrage at my request.”
Soldier: “Well, yes, but we also don’t want to get smashed, ma’am”
Elswyr: “If we find that you get up to more mischief, we will find you again. It wasn’t difficult. And we will make sure that you do no mischief ever again.”
The soldiers hastily file out of the room. Once the soldiers leave, the party makes their way up the stairs. As they do, Elswyr turns to Cairn:
Elswyr: “Cairn, I’d like to offer you a deal. I’ll let you have this fine HAMMER!, but in exchange, I’d like your shock-stick.”
Cairn: “Done. Good doing business with you.”
Cairn and Elswyr exchange weapons. The party reaches the top of the staircase without incident, and find themselves in front of the opening to a large room. The room appears to be the highest in the facility, and is well illuminated from the evening sunlight filtering through a large skylight set into the ceiling. The pillar which has pierced through the previous floors terminates here in a pyramidal shape, and is surrounded on all sides by machinery and wires which cover the entire floor. A solitary figure stoops over a table on the opposite side of the room, his back towards the party. He wears simple robes, and a mechanical device of some sort is perched upon his shoulder. The man wields a wrench, and appears to be engrossed in work of some kind.
Mesmer silently draws his rapier, and walks into the room as quietly as possible. Before he walks more than a few steps, his feet tangle in a cluster of wires, and he loudly falls into a pile of machinery. The figure turns, and, speaking calmly, says
Iom: “Friends, there is no need for conflict. You’ve proven yourself more than capable and I have no need for more enemies. Perhaps we can come to a mutual understanding. You have been fighting against us but for what reason I cannot ascertain. You don’t seem to be careless mercenaries nor do you move as tactfully as malicious saboteurs. Would you care to explain your intentions?
Elswyr: “Perhaps it would be better if you explain yours first.”
Iom: “My brethren and I represent a revival of the ancient order known as the Convergence.”
Elswyr: “We haven’t heard particularly good things about you.”
Iom: “Ah, you’ve been talking with Aeon Priests, then.”
Elswyr: “I am no sympathizer of the Aeon Priests, but your tale seems inconsistent with our experience.
Iom: “With all respect, friend, you haven’t engaged with the upper echelon of the Aeon priesthood. Nothing passes in the Ninth World that the Aeon priests do not have a say.”
Mesmer: “I think my friend here refers to the villagers and others that have been kidnapped and used against their will.”
Iom: “Yes, we have been forced to move quickly and consolidate our resources.”
Elswyr: “It would seem that in an attempt to move against your foes you have become no better than they
Iom: we don’t move against old foes
Elswyr: Who then?
Iom: A new actor has joined the stage. Powerful numenera have begun disappearing, presum arsenal. Spies tell of high ranking officials presumably being seduced by the other side. How did you come to know of our organization? What brings you here?
Cairn: “Well, our most direct concern is that an item of ours that we value highly has been stolen, and the theft appears connected to your organization. We would certainly appreciate any help you could provide in retrieving it.”
Iom: “What item is this?”
Cairn: <describes it>
Iom: “Ah, yes, the hypercube. Unfortunately, we need the technology of the cube to activate the Venerator. However, we would be happy to compensate you for the use of the item. We have many rare Numenera which we would be willing to trade.”
Carn: “We will consider your offer. But another more urgent matter: on our way to the Sanctum, we encountered several creatures, seemingly wolves, but who upon their deaths reverted to human form. Inside the sanctum, we saw evidence that your organization was involved in “producing” these individuals.”
Iom: “Yes, the Ferals. The elixir we produce is responsible for them, yes, but they are all volunteers. They desired more power and were grated it. “
Cairn: “Were they fully aware of the risks involved?”
Iom: “Yes, and the elixir is temporary.”
Cairn: “If they were volunteers, why conscript?”
Iom: “Labor is scarce.”
Mesmer: “But we met somebody forced into service.”
Iom: “Again, labor was scarce.”
Cairn: “I’m curious. What then is this all trying to accomplish? I understand your feud with the Aeon priests, but why conscript villagers? Why the urgency? What do you want?
Iom: “We want to release the Aeon Priests’ hold over the people and the governments of the world. But more importantly, we wish to save the Ninth World from a much greater threat.”
Elswyr: “What is this threat?”
Iom: “Before I say more, I would know more about you and your motives.”
Mesmer: “Well, a friend of ours was murdered, and an item of ours was stolen. So at this point, perhaps you ought to tell us why we shouldn’t retaliate against you further.”
Iom: “We will compensate you for the item, and if you’d like, offer you assurances of safe travel back to Charmand.”
Elswyr: “From a moral standpoint, we’re concerned that you’re deriving profit from the suffering of the conscripted masses.”
Iom: “We make no profit.”
Elswyr: “Then why?”
Iom: “Can’t tell you until I know more about you. Or you could join”
Elswyr: “Won’t join something we don’t know about.”
Cairn: “Look, we’re trying to work with you here. But we need ot know more.”
Iom: “Alright, I’ll tell you what I can. Lots of numenera going missing recently. Even stuff that’s well guarded. The stealth with which they’ve done this indicates that they’re very powerful. Haven’t heard until recently, aso troubling. Evenheard that this ator has come from another world, which is super scary. Ninth world has hadto repel such an attack er before, and it has always lead to tragic loss of life.
Mesmer: “Hold on. If the Aeon Priests won the last war, why are they not working to defend the world from this new incursion? Why would you, as the losers of that war, attempt to do this?”
Iom: “It is our duty.”
Mesmer: “And you’re telling me that revenge is not a factor here?”
Iom: “Not at all. We fully intend to right the wrongs of the past.”
Elswyr: “With your leave, Magister, might we confer before we decide whether to offer you our support?”
Iom: “Very well. Please don’t break anything.”
Elswyr: I cannot in good faith let this group continue to operate. They claim to have the world’s interests in heart but that could be a lie they tell themselves. They should be rallying people to their cause, rallying leaders and governments—instead they take away freedom and bend men to their own wills. Even if their cause is just, they’re doing it in a way that is unacceptable.
Jesus: If what they say is true, then they can’t recruit because the Aeon Priesthood would retaliate.
Elswyr: They could be allies against a common threat!
Cairn: Public recruitment would not be viable also because of the unknown group. Covert tactics are their best option. If they are required to use covert means and this unknown group is also real, are we really taking away freedom of choice if we can choose to help the people help themselves.
Jesus: Basically, do the ends justify the means. Especially since the people would die anyways or be enslaved.
Elswyr: The ends do not justify these means.
Mesmer: They’re unreliable. The only group we’ve seen do awful things is them. Why do we trust them? They kidnapped, stole, and killed.
Jesus: Let’s ask for hard evidence. Or maybe we could get concessions.
Mesmer: They also did offer compensation.
E: Seems like a bribe.
M: Do we ever intend to do business with Dracogen? If so, we need to
E: Could Dracogen be the threat?
C: I’ve been thinking the same thing.
E: He hasn’t taken any of our things, but he could be looking for a specific thing.
M: We’ve only observed Dracogen helping us whereas this group has only hurt people.
J: If he was the bad guy, he wouldn’t have just given up the hypercube.
M: It doesn’t seem like Dracogen is much of a threat. If he was actually a threat, he would’ve known more. Even if he’s the threat, I’m more likely to side with him. I’m more likely to believe the group that has been wronged and is gathering power rather than the guy picking up random numenera.
E: We have the devil we can see vs. the devil we can’t. We should take action against people we know are doing bad things.
J: Let’s see if he has some evidence.
C: I am very reluctant to side with anyone because the Convergence could be wrong. I don’t like the Aeon Priests because they’re crazy weird political priests.
M: My best friend as a child who gifted me the grenade was an Aeon Priest
C: They’re destroying old ruins and nature.
M: Actually that’s us.
J: If it weren’t for the Aeon Priests, I wouldn’t be here.
E: I don’t think individual Aeon Priests are bad.
C: The Convergence could be a well-meaning villain.
M: Perhaps all they need is a moral compass. And Elswyr could be that. We could work there for a while and usurp power if they do something bad.
E: What if I help recruit if they promise not to use people against their will.
M: Also, compensation. And we care about Lermy.
C: If we do this, we are giving up connection on Dracogen.
E: We can’t let them keep using kidnapped slave labor. I also think this guy would be willing to admit to kill Lermy. If they’re murderers and kidnappers, we should choose the side of the merchant/collector.
J: We want (1) proof, (2) you to stop using slave labor, and (3) box or compensation for box + Lermy.
M: Ok, well if we want to find the box and escape, what’s the plan?
E: Or we could just tell Dracogen we don’t have the box and ask for his help.
M: We just don’t want to piss off two powerful factions. We want proof and compensation. If we’re satisfied, we promise to help if you stop doing the kidnapping and murdering. If we decide not to join, we’ll just get compensation.
Iom: Have you made a decision?
J: Magister, you’ve offered us no proof.
I: Well, I can show you the bodies of our agents, but I don’t imagine that would be as convincing to you.
M: What convinced you?
I: The bodies are of course more convincing to me, since I knew and recruited many of them. But I’ve heard many, many rumors, which I’ve used to put together a complete picture of the situation.
M: How do you know it’s not the Aeon priests?
I: Doesn’t seem like them.
C: What kind of patterns have you identified that lead you to these conclusions? Are tthere common grounds among people killed or things sttolen?
I: For one, the number murders and thefts have increased sharply. For another, the perpetrators have been described by survivors as extremely technologically advanced infiltrators. Unfortunately, such firsthand evidence is rare, asthey tend to leave few survivors. However, they leave behind distinguishing signs.
E: Say there is a threat as you say. What definitive steps are you taking to actually save the world?
I: We’re trying to accumulate enough power to be able to stop the threat.
C: What are your standards for that? How do you know when you have enough?
E: And power is the most generic thing ever. How are you going to direct it?
I: Fair point. We intend to generate enough power with the Venerator to exert an influence over the whole world. With the Venerator, we will power the world.
C: What does the world’s biggest power source do for you?
I: We can use it not only on the battlefield, but in the realm of research. And when the battle is done and the enemy defeated, we intend to use the power to improve the entire world.
C: What is the role of the hypercube in the technology? Can you replace it?
I: I’m not the most well versed in this topic. But once the threat is passed, we are absolutely open to working to find a replacement.
E: I’m not convinced that anybody should have that much power.
I: I understand your concern, but our belief is that the power is necessary to defeat this threat, and our goal is noble. We want to provide access to this power to everybody who needs it.
E: Listen. When you find that people are stockpiling weapons, why is it that your first reaction is to build the biggest weapon you can? Why not learn more about the politics?
C: And you have no reason to believe that you have a chance to win this arms race
I: We believe that this is our best strategy. Out of various proposals, this was chosen to be the best. We know very well that it might not suffice, but that is no reason to not try in the first place. And we’ve tried quite hard to understand our foe. Thus the dead spies.
E: What if we were to investigate this threat for you? We would need our box back, or at least some form of compensation, as well as assurances that you won’t kidnap any further people. If and when we return from this mission, we will also help to recruit for you. We are well-connected adventurers. Let us help you.
I: I would be happy if you merely left us alone, so your offer is generous. I accept.
E: I wish to emphasize that you are to kidnap no more. If we return to find that our conditions hae not been followed, there will be hell to pay.
I: I don’t think you fully understand the reasoning and methods of our organization, but I accept nonetheless. Besides, the… alternative methods… were mostly the work of Magister Tixszal. He wasn’t the most savory character.