The East Empire Company have put out a call for assistance from aspiring adventurers in following up a possible lead in a Flux-related kidnapping case. Interested parties should make themselves known to Allison Wagultas at the East Empire Company.
Pay is 15R per head.
Hired by Allison Wagaltus, and after a short altercation with some devoted Thrummians, the party make their way to the island where the children are believed to be. They discover Edwin stranded on a barrel surrounded by sharks before landing on the island and being attacked by people who appeared to be devotees of the Pivot of the World. When woken up they claimed to be brainwashed with no idea how they got there. Having rescued Tamzin from these monsters, they entered the fortress but upon entering the door closed behind them: the rescued Arnaux tags along.
They shortly come across Demelza, Joshua's eldest, who tells of a prophecy the cultists have been talking about in which Joshua will defeat the Pivot of the World. They move on, and shortly rescue Antonin from a spike pit trap and Claudia from a puzzle with non-euclidean instructions (at which point the party are strongly suspecting Hugh Branch's involvement). Sandy, Joshua's 3 year old, is brought along by Tabitha Terrec, Leopold Street and some crew of the Crimson Mother at this point who have lunch with them and explain they've been attempting to help. Joshua explains his concerns to Leopold and Leopold confesses to having begrudging involvement.
Catrina attempts to eat one of the children but is subdued. This is a recurring problem that is eventually identified as a Flux effect from a previous adventure.
Charlie is shortly rescued by Leopold who swings down to save him from a pit of lava before heading into the bowels of the fortress for sabotage. Dot is found in a broken puzzle room before the entire encounter is shifted into a place with no Flux or Consensus before being shifted back. Hamish is found with a large sword fending off seagulls and an albatross, claiming he's heard the sword could defeat the Pivot of the World. All are dubious, though Krodd confirms that is the purpose for which the sword was forged.
Wendine is rescued from a dark ledge where little can be seen, before Stefano (a member of the Crimson Mother crew who is dating Octavian) runs for them to try and tell them what's happening (before being attacked by more “cultists” and having Allison betray the party and run off. By this point the party are 100% sure that Branch is to blame.
A completely immoral encounter occurs where there is a child tied to a run with a boulder heading toward it, and a number of innocent villagers tied to the other, and a lever. The party refuse to play the game and smash the glass to rescue the lot of them.
They progress to fight pirates dressed up like them and rescue Jeremiah, following a very sketchy return of Leopold Street. Leopold is met by the “Second in Command of the Pivot of the World” who fights him, but Leopold says this is all enough. The “Second in Command”, who is blatantly Hugh, storms off, but Leopold appears wounded and appears to die.
Joshua refuses to believe this and stabs Leopold who reacts as expected to being stabbed. He apologises and a heartfelt conversation follows, in which he tells Joshua and the party to be better than he was, before leaving them to face Branch.
On the roof, Branch, Tabitha and a number of pirates are crowded round a cage suspending Joshua's wife. He attempts to grandstand, but is mobbed by the party and executed by Joshua, culminating a miracle with potent divine energy. Tabitha is shortly dispatched similarly, as are the rest of the pirates. Joshua is reunited with Joanna, but realises he's still not found the last of his 14 children, Clarissa.
The party, keeping Catrina well away from the children lest she eat them, leave the island which is slowly collapsing now that its Worldshaper has died. Unopposed, Henrietta shapes a path to the boat and they pile onto it. Octavian looks out for the Crimson Mother but it cannot be seen. The lot wait for the Flux to reset and turn back to see a small island with a number of unconscious and barely conscious pirates on it, whom they promptly round up and bring onto the boat. Octavian has serious words with Stefano about the whole business and is thoroughly unimpressed.
Henrietta shapes the boat larger and they all head back to Acryn where East Empire Company officials await the return of the boat. However, they note that they never hired the party, but when Hugh's involvement with the kidnap is made clear they go very pale and become very very apologetic. Krodd calls for the Watch and the pirates are carted away (save Stefano whom Octavian bundles to the side to save him from the justice he deserves). The party head to the Company where they explain what happened. The Company is incredibly apologetic and offers them all 30R a head, and a favour in the future. Octavian is told there is a position at the top of the Company if he wants it and is given Hugh's office since he won't be needing it any more. Octavian starts a taskforce for tracking down Clarissa, which is later joined by Joshua when things have settled.
Henrietta, Clementine and Catrina go to the Tender Church with Catrina in shackles and explain her child-eating problem. The Tender priests are not sure how to help but suggest they can slow the effect taking hold. Henrietta writes up a report and suggests going to the Wayfinders' Guild (but does not go herself). Henrietta and Clementine go and explain, and Wayfinders are certainly interested. However, their investigations are fairly invasive and involve an attempted brain surgery which Catrina is unhappy with and so beyond suggesting they could put another Flux effect in her to battle the first, give her very little but warn that if she doesn't fix the effect and devours a child they will testify against her. She returns to the Tender Church and partitions herself away, but for 21R (and the Make History effect already on her) they manage to slow the effect to give her more time before she fully transforms into a Nightmare. Clementine offers to stay by her side to make sure she doesn't murder children and the Tender Church put her up as she does this.
The Watch give each a reward of 15R for bringing in the assorted pirates, and offer a share of the 150R for the killing of Tabitha Terrec and Hugh Branch if they do not resurface again. The pirates are executed en masse.
Joshua spends time at home helping life return to normal. He makes up a story as to where Clarissa is, and tries to explain the whole ordeal to his children as best he can. It's difficult, they're excitable and also terrified by the entire affair, but eventually life starts to return to some semblance of normality. Joshua takes his son Jeremiah to Octavian in the East Empire Company and the Company confirms that Jeremiah is in fact a Wayfinder (the Guild in fact getting it wrong!) and Joshua asks Octavian if he can help with training.
Once normality has resumed, Joshua returns to the East Empire Company to help Octavian try and determine where Clarissa may have gone.
Catrina writes to the children offering help and advice - particularly she establishes a friendship with the eldest daughter, Demelza, who wants to be a doctor. She doesn't visit, but they write frequently.
Leopold Street, having fled to the Crimson Mother, demands to know what's happened to Clarissa. Tabitha, alive and well on the ship having been shoved there prior to the final encounter by Hugh and ordered to leave her Mudra-doppelganger behind instead, confesses that she has no idea. Leopold gets angry and threatens to tear the ship apart, and hacks and slashes through the skeleton crew before jumping off the ship and walking back to Acryn on the bottom of the ocean.
Tabitha eventually returns to Acryn and seeks desperate help from the Postal Corps. They don't really care for her, and are more interested in the fact that the Crimson Mother is now captainless and take it away from her. They in exchange give her keys to a small house near the Dockyards. She eventually meets up with Hugh, who has Flux Resurrected (with bonuses). He asks her to dinner.