We arrived at the central manse, named “Earthzeal”, to the sound of REBA warning us that the gravity therein was not fixed but dependent open ones location. It turned out to be a large geometric shape where all the walls were floors, the center housed a matching observation chamber, and “up” actually meant “center.” After prodding REBA a bit, we were able to discern that the central observation platform was, of course, the hearthroom. The manse’s hearthstone had been forgone in order to power its many features, as I suspect is true for every manse within The Doctor’s network. However, essence architecture is based on geomancy, which tends to demand that master controls be in the hearth room regardless, as the heart of the manse and focus of the local essence flows.
Byrrden was resting aboard Felsic’s borrowed skyship when two of the passengers, Xandrel and the Chayan Captain both were overtaken with the Chayan blood frenzy. Byrrden held them still as Mela appeared from the shadows, calmly placed his tea down, and put both Chayans to sleep with a simple nerve pinch. As the two were being taken below to presumably be restrained, a bat Lunar appeared on the bow of the ship. She introduced herself as “Eyes of the Canopy”, and part of Winter Wolf’s group. She informed him that though they had indeed arrived to aid us in the fight against Ma Ha Suchi, and though the elders of the Silver Pact would rather be without his faction’s extremism, the mad Lunar had something which prevented intra-pact reprisal. She offered him an opportunity to change that before all the fighting started, and he agreed. They took flight aloft buoying squirrel wings, and headed towards the Nameless Lair of Ma Ha Suchi.
We discerned that whatever surface one is closest in proximity to here would take over as the gravitational anchor point. It was simply a matter of getting close enough to the central chamber for that to occur. And so, cradling Felsic like the world’s largest infant, Rose performed a dramatic and graceful leap to the chamber. I followed suit, with Vox and Dr. Caemlyn holding my shoulder plates for stability.
The doors to the chamber were all constructed from Adamant, ruling out any breaching attempts. After staring blankly at each other for some time, Caemlyn finally said aloud “Recurring entropic behavioral anomaly” the acronym forming REBA’s namesake. The doors opened and we indeed found a master control console. Many functions were either useless or in malfunction. However, we were able to restore essence flow to the manse by physically aligning the main conduit with the central chamber.
We asked REBA for an estimate of how long we had before the viridian corruption broke through the barrier into Earthzeal, and were given a handful of hours. Pressed for time, the group split into several functions. As a whole, the group was concerned with extracting and preserving REBA for future use, and given that the corruption was likely to decimate the manse, that became an immediate concern. Rose went off to find parts for a storage device.
I began to question REBA as to the solution to our actual mission. Having previously stated we could stop the distributor process in Earthzeal, I was distressed to find the AI seemingly backtracking on me. It explained that the REBA we’d encountered in the wood aspected manse had not been up to date. Meaning, that each manse somehow had a unique instance of REBA, and that conditions in Earthzeal had somehow changed since the 10th Doctor died. It also informed us that shutting down the distributor system would result in every host’s sudden demise. But not to worry! Because the distributor system was independent from the function of the manse, and therefore would continue in perpetuity. With that, we’d taxed the limit of REBA’s knowledge regarding the manipulation of the distributors, and so we had to seek our answers elsewhere. I accompanied Caemlyn to the library, where Felsic was already heading to seek knowledge of a storage device for the AI. Meanwhile, Vox decided to explore the rest of the manse for anything interesting or useful.
Byrrden and Eyes skulked through the Nameless Lair, overrun with jungle foliage, and long since scourged of any of its beauty, natural or man made. There they witnessed first hand the heartless cruelty of Ma Ha Suchi, and his disregard for humanity. Here, only beastmen walked freely, all others were hoarded in crude cells, wallowing in filth and misery, awaiting another turn in the aptly named “Rutting Pens.” In the central pyramid, they found the chambers where the more attractive subjects were kept, and there chained up was a young woman with red hair and star flecked, violet eyes, who recognized Byrrden. She called herself “Effulgent Petal” and said she was the reincarnation of his sensei. Byrrden did not know his master had been slain. However, she knew where Ma Ha Suchi might be keeping his valuable items, and so he freed her and they made haste farther up the pyramid.
In the library, both parties found the information they were seeking with relative ease. Felsic dove into researching schemata for his storage device while Caemlyn discovered the process for reprogramming the distributors. All she needed was a functioning fire tree. Meanwhile, Vox had been exploring the other chambers of the manse and encountered a medical room filled with various grotesque and failed experiments. Amongst one of the rows of cabinets was mounted a curious green Jade compartment, inside rested what appeared to be a severed hand, the back of which had a hairline crack similar to repairs made on fine porcelain.
Vox and Caemlyn met up in the arboretum, where the Dr. had gone in search of a fire tree. There they found an artifact planter which, according to REBA, was made for the purpose of rapid photo-genesis. Putting two and two together, Vox suggested that they take Caemlyn’s dissected fire tree seed to the jade box in the med lab. With the seed restored and fully functional, the two returned to the arboretum and buried it in the artifact planter which immediately spun up a fresh fire tree. Caemlyn began her reprogramming ritual.
In the storage warehouse, Rose had found enough parts to construct a rudimentary storage system for REBA and hurried back to the library where Felsic was putting the finishing touches on his design.
In the Nameless Lair, Byrrden and Petal (with Eyes of the Canopy hidden in his pocket) made their way into what appeared to be a large trophy room, filled with various artworks the mad Lunar had torn to shreds over the years. Byrrden’s watchmen’s eyes flared to life, and the chamber began to disclose its secrets. He moved the tattered shreds of one of the paintings into alignment, as it shimmered with a magical aura. The painting became ethereal for a moment, revealing that the hidden storage space was inside the painting itself. He reached inside to pull out two large flasks, filled with a shimmering moonlight colored liquid that continuously churned within its confinements. The tops were sealed and branded with what looked like strange Lunar Caste marks. An alarm began to sound throughout the Lair, a combination of a Wolf’s howl and Goat’s bray. Eyes of the Canopy darted out of Byrrden’s pocket and excitedly began pacing back and forth in front of the flasks. She pleaded with Byrrden to take the flasks with her immediately.
“Will this get us the support we need?” he asked
“Oh yes!” she bubbled with excitement
He handed her the flasks and she opened what appeared to be a spatial rift or portal between herself and another location, simply by tapping her White Rose Brotherhood medallion, which she had clasped to her belt and that nobody had noticed until just now. As she scampered through the portal she threw another medallion at Byrrden, saying he could use it to contact me.
Back in Earthzeal, I’d been sitting around in the library, watching Felsic work, when my own White Rose Brotherhood medallion went off. It was Nougat. He informed me that he had located Dace, or more specifically, Dace’s soul trapped in the Labyrinth. He could not determine whether the soul was attached to a still living Dace, or just his severed spirit, floating aimlessly, perilously close to the actual void. He offered to go investigate it himself whilst I’m otherwise preoccupied. When I asked him how I could find my way down there without him he reminded me that my wife is, in fact, Abyssal, and apparently they can all just go there like it’s a vacation spot or something. (How am I supposed to know these things?) Also that a void circle necromantic spell had been cast on Gethemane to teleport the entire city into the Labyrinth directly, and that likely the majority of the population had been slain as a result. When I asked who had the power to do such a thing, he speculated that it was likely a Deathlord, or possibly multiple in tandem. I told him to be careful, and he said some such smart alec thing before cutting the line.
Winter Wolf, who apparently also is also part of the Brotherhood, then contacted me to let me know he had responded to my plea for aid. “Um.. you..got guys?” I stammered, still surprised to be called by him. He informed me that he had brought his soldiers to bear, however the Silver Pact’s elders were holding them back, for fear of retaliation by Ma Ha Suchi. However, Byrrden and one of Winter Wolf’s agents were on mission to try and correct that. Before closing the line, he informed me that he had intel that Ma Ha Suchi had dispatched a team of assassins to our location, set to ambush us as we emerged from the manse. I thanked him for his aid, and wished him luck.
It was then that I got a frantic beeping sound on my end, as though someone who didn’t know how to use the medallions were mashing it erratically in the hopes some magic would happen. As it turned out “Hello?” I asked. It was Byrrden, who revealed that he was in the Nameless Lair, and soon to be besieged by Ma Ha Suchi’s remaining guard. He told me that he had just seen a Lunar with one of the medallions teleport away, leaving him in the hot seat. I was perplexed “I don’t think mine can do that” I told him. Medli’s voice shot back a response “Yes it can! You just don’t know how to use it right!” In that moment I wondered how many had been given these, and if everyone was privy to all communications. Byrrden, however, was already out of time, so I told him to do whatever the new voice told him to.
Medli instructed Byrrden to go as high as he could, so he clambered with Petal to the pyramid’s summit. Then, Medli said, “Think Durandaly thoughts” and as he did, a spatial rift opened before my very eyes. I beckoned Byrrden to come through to our side, however Medli let us know that it was a one way channel, which would close when the person summoned closed the circuit. I got on the manse’s intercom “Everyone to me, we’re leaving now.”
In the arboretum, Caemlyn had finished her ritual to reprogram the behavioral inhibitor spores, and had done her level best to turn off any behavioral modification, thus returning free will back to the Chayan people. She and Vox hurried back to the library. Rose arrived, handed the parts to Felsic and dashed through the portal without hesitation. Vox and Caemlyn followed. Felsic snapped together his containment drive, but had to rush the download, reducing the efficacy of the unit by 40%. He stepped up to the portal “So… this is one way?” he asked.
“I think so” I said. “I’ve never done this before”
We both jumped through, and landed in the Nameless Lair of Ma Ha Suchi, his sickening alarm competing with the braying and clattering of his remaining personal guard readying for the coming tumult outside.