After discovering the proper operation of the Earl's aquarium (which had been emptied of fish long ago – though no one investigated why), Garrett Tharpe, Grigori the Prestidigitator, and Lord Argos of House Simonides ascended via the sign of the sunrise into the attic of the Earl's summerhome.
Here they came face-to-hooded-face with the Whisperer in the Language of Stars and its three shades: Princess Ariadne, Bishop Imre, and the Dauphin, Robert Volaine. There was little parley; a vicious strike from Garrett Tharpe's two-handed roofsword nearly decapitated the Whisperer but did succeed in unmasking him. He was Rodrigo Adelbert, a fixer of renown in Rithaign. He wore the diamond from the Earl's Hand scepter as an earring, and that seemed to be allowing him to project himself and the three images into the Earl's attic. The reason for Rodrigo's presence in the home was later revealed in a note received by Garrett Tharpe (qv).
Eventually the projected Rodrigo was brought down by a brace of astral homunculi and a storm of sweeping roofsword strikes, but not before two secrets were revealed. First: Lord Drumaldi has placed House Simonides in direct conflict with Princess Ariadne by attempting to abduct her and stop the Sunset. Second: the Sunset movement intends, according to the projection of Princess Ariadne, to extinguish all magic forever. Think of the misery that will be ended, her shade implored.
After Thackett Canard found the hidden rooms accessed by the elevator chandeliers, the group returned to Rithaign and found the flake plague thick in the city. Coughs echo in the narrow streets, and in hard-hit areas, the air is hazy with sloughed and expectorated flakes. At House Simonides, Lord Argos and Grigori consulted with the Baron of Sestes and Tavplion, Lord Drumaldi, before being alerted that Princess Ariadne had just arrived to confront them – the effort to abduct had obviously failed and probably enraged her.
Garrett Tharpe, meanwhile, spied two street kids who had been given a bit of dirt to watch for him. They ran, escaping him, and have presumably alerted someone to Garrett's returned presence. Garrett was also recruited into the Sunset by one of the oarsmen on the Simonides skiff, being passed a note that read:
"Garrett! Who'd have thought that the reading and writing they taught us in the legion would actually be useful? Listen to me. Screw Argos. There's a Sunset coming, and it's going to change everything. You want in, trust me. They need vets like us, vets who have fought in Eastfire and survived the screaming and the burning and the deathspawn. The Celebrant just brought in two whole squads through the summer home, but it looks like he won't be able to use that as a gateway anymore. Thanks for that. Anyway, meet me where we learned to read – the place where Lord Shed had Jinks impaled – and bring any other vets you know. I'll introduce you to the Fixer. It's not the same as meeting our Master back in Eastfire, but still. He'll set you straight. – AS (a further hastily written scrawl reads, AND don't drink the water! The Fixer's using it)"
The party finds itself approaching a Ste. Jhess's Eve that could end in disaster, delight, or both. Possible scenes and pursuits (start/set/request any!):
* Confront Princess Ariadne (seems imminent, but you could always try to run…)
* Rendezvous with Anders Stanton
* Attempt to restore Grigori's Inspiration
* Intimidate and silence – or hide from – the organization that has found Garrett Tharpe
* Investigate the cisterns and the town's water supply, including the sigils that attracted the mini-head swarms
* Fix an engagement for Ste. Jhess's Day
* Theodrick Raixe has a scheme to build an aqueduct
* Ginny Siddal - who has agreed to be Lord Argos's match for Ste. Jhess's Eve – still has the papers that were stolen from Bishop Imre
* Whatever inspires your character!
What has gone before…
In the summer home of the Earl of Glamorsange
At the polite but firm request of Lord Drumaldi, patriarch of House Simonedes, the party gathered at the Salt Promenade, the set of docks and wharfs that the nobility use when journeying to and from Rithaign via the Grand Hilt Bay.
Before the party could even board the two small skiffs waiting for them, the engineer Thackett Canard noticed a roiling in the water offshore. Simultaneously, the burly investigator Garrett Tharpe felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up when he paused next to a cistern connected to the city's aqueducts and sewers. After initially taking cover – with Tharpe trespassing on a House Anfield galleon, the Destined Tepui – the party faced a mini-head chimera swarm in combat and managed to crush and disperse it.
After rowing themselves – or allowing House Simonides henchmen to row them, in one skiff's case – to the Earl's summer home, the party investigated, finding two shadow descent cat trophies that had animated and were prowling the trophy room. Grigori collapsed from the wounds inflicted by the cats, but is now recovering in the great hall. The party also found:
* At least one projection chandelier, the one in the trophy room, seems to be able to retract into the ceiling.
* The cantilevered wings of the house can actually tilt the house one way or the other, possibly damaging it if it is not done carefully.
* There is a gallery hallway lined with pictures of the Waverly girl. Or rather, different Waverly girls. The trophy room projection chandelier also has a different set of crystals that allow it to throw images of the Waverly girl instead of images of the Earl hunting. In one such image, scores of Waverly girls seem to be lining up all along the tops of the walls of the city, facing inward.
* The Earl's desk contains papers detailing the city's sewer and aqueduct system. Most of the notes are engineering calculations about water flow rates, but one stands out as important: "Garrett Tharpe! Once I cursed him, but now I wish he had succeeded at cracking the Mirror. Anything to stop the Sunset. I wish that Ariadne had never brought me what she spirited away from that cave so long ago."
* Continue to investigate the summer home. As the two spellbound have heard, something in the attic is whispering in the Language of Stars.
* Make arrangements for Ste. Jhess's day. It is impending; those without partners risk the Church's ire and a less than pious reputation.
* The glowing green sigil in the cistern seemed to be attracting the mini-head chimeras to the sewers. The sigil – indeed the sewers themselves – could be investigated further.
* Theodrick Raixe of the Merchants Below wants Thackett to build an aqueduct connecting the mainland and the isle where the Earl's summer home is perched.
* Contact Ginny Siddal about the papers of confirmation for Lord Argos.
* Search for the thief who took the Hand at the Earl's funeral. Also, press Theodrick Raixe on who his potential buyers for the Eye were.
* Investigate the odd new windmill that Thackett noticed on the Bridge.
* Find a way to fight back against the various organizations that are slowly coming to recognize you as a threat (the Dryght suspect everyone who is not a noble thanks to those poor bluff checks two weeks ago, Garrett Tharpe has used Parapet Defense in public twice, other noble Houses are suspicious of an heir of Simonides beginning to gather fame, and of course the Sunset is beginning to cast its light toward you all…)
What has gone before…
When a kingsman leapt off the roof in an attempt to keep Grigori from meeting Princess Ariadne, the party learned of the Sunset (qv). This kingsman, assumed to be associated with the Sunset, seemed to be attempting to isolate Princess Ariadne from her longtime friend. Despite his status as a kingsman, whether or not the Sunset reaches all the way to King Lucius is unknown – this man may have been acting outside his normal purview. What is known, from Garrett Tharpe's knowledge and Grigori's listening to the stars, is that "the light of the Sunset touches the spider." "Spider" is the peasants' guardedly affectionate name for Princess Ariadne. Also known is that the Sunset seems to have somehow coincided with the death of Godson Volaine, Earl of Glamorsange.
The tainted water supply bringing the flake plague to Rithaign may or may not be related. Certainly Grigori and Tharpe were able to learn that "the Sunset glints along the water." But when Thackett Canard discovered an odd, newly constructed doublemill (wind- and water-) in the Bridge district – a mill that seemed to be doing more than just using the water for power – he did not see any obvious signs of the Sunset.
Then there is the matter of the Eye of Volaine, the bauble that Theodrick Raixe was hired to remove from the Earl's funeral coronet. Its vision of murder was unsettling: Lord Drumaldi taking a knife to Princess Ariadne's throat. And now, unaware of this vision, Princess Ariadne has revealed that another jewel was also taken on the day of the funeral. Both the Eye and the Hand, as the stolen scepter is called, seem precious to Ariadne beyond their value in gold. She hasn't revealed why they are so precious.
Meanwhile, fixer Rodrigo Adelbert wants to make a match for Ste. Jhess's Day: Thackett with Lady Alessia of House Anfield. The fixer charges only a small fee – anyone WL 2 or higher can afford it – and Theodrick Raixe has pointed out that this entrance into the king's House, small though it may be, may naturally lead to more business opportunities for Thackett.
If the matchmaking is off-putting, the news about the Waverly girl is downright disturbing. The Waverly girl has more than one doppelganger, apparently, and they are surfacing across the city. Why this face should return now, and what it means, are unknown.
The patriarch of House Simonides, Lord Drumaldi, has asked a couple of you to undertake matters not made public.
Ginny Siddal of the Merchants Below still has Lord Argos's confirmation papers for reasons unknown. Her short, piston-boot-loving thief and engineer, Theodrick Raixe, wants Thackett to build an aqueduct from the springs on the Earl's summer house island to town.
So next session we could:
* Investigate the windmill
* Investigate the Earl's summer house
* Follow up on the semi-re-appearance of the Waverly girl.
* Contact Ginny Siddal about the papers.
* Search for the thief who took the Hand.
* Whatever else you think of. :)