Julius Ravensfall, Commander if the Circle of the Broken Wing, is hiring independent investigators to look into an alleged disappearance within Acryn.
Common gossip within taverns of the city is that the Commander is doing so at the behest of his lover, the playwright Rodrigo Starling and that the matter will a wild goose chase. Still the money offered is real and Julius Ravensfall is a good friend to have.
The party set out to Sabrina's house and evict a group of squatters who had been using her alchemical supplies in an illfated attempt to create an interesting narcotic. The group determines that someone else appears to have packed up her travel gear and alchemical equipment and transported it elsewhere. They always find a diary suggesting that she had an appointment with a Ms. S from the government.
Next they meet with Ravensfall's Watch contact Len, who after being Dumbdrunked by Victor is all too willing to explain that Sabrina is but one disappearance amongst many minor academics that have occurred over the past few months, and that the investigations have been shut down due to the intervention of a Ms. Sharpe from one of the Civil Service's many spurious departments. Victor taps his governmental contacts and learns that Sharpe is also involved in the transfer of a number of prisoners from Acryn's prisons to a facility somewhere outside the city. He manages to get the schedule for the get next transfer and the group decides to tail them to their destination.
After speaking with Julius the adventurers are granted the services of Sarah, a wayfinder who appears to be a 7-year old girl though with the eyes of someone/thing older. Reluctantly accepting this assistance they are able to track the prison convoy thanks to Gina's skills and run a gauntlet of malingering guards and giant killer flux wolves before being confronted by a trio of men twisted into the semblance of beasts. They determine that the trio are convicts who have been experimented on within the civil service facility and then released into the dangerous wilderness to test their effectiveness. Francesco destroys the scribing runes that monitor the beastmen, and convince them that he will shelter them and see them restored to health if they agree to testify at his family's convenience.
Reaching the prison they end up slaughtering their way through the guards on the top level only to find that the bottom of the renovated mine the convicts have overcome their jailers and are now holding the academics hostage. Negotiations with the criminals fail and they beat them unconscious and lock them back in their cells.
The grateful scholars explain that they have been working here in secret trying to develop weapons and techniques to give Acryn the edge in the ongoing war. They were brought here by Ms Sharpe and a Leader Priest named Solomon who performed a religious rite that persuaded them to let go their misgivings about using human subjects in their risky experiments. Victor and Gina both recognise this as a power of the Traitor and draw appropriate conclusions. In the end Francesco is entirely in favour of the scholar's efforts whilst Gina is horrified by the exploitation of the prisoners, Victor wavers between the two, conflicted.
They learn that Ms. Sharpe, Solomon and Sabrina have all departed to initiate Project Sunder, of which the other scholars know little. Exploring the rest of the mine they find that the second level appears to have been the site of several journeymen's workshop which have now been packed up, and Victor determines that they were working on some sort of explosive. A map on one wall shows the city of Liarus with a site marked in the desert on its Western border.
They return to Acryn and speak with their various patrons gaining approval to follow up on the investigation. Corlo Graves is particularly interesting in Francesco's report, nothing that if a family were forewarned of Liarus' sudden destruction they could make a lot of money with savvy investments.
Heading West to Liarus the party have an unpleasant encounter with a herd of carnivorous camels before finding the Project Sunder camp hidden in the desert. Confronted by Solomon and the insane fracturing mage Calibass, Victor uses his Traitor's Cloak to persuade them of his loyalty and is allowed past to speak with scholars. Gina persuades the guards to speak with Sabrina and receives a letter back to deliver to her loved one, she validates that this is genuine against the writing in the diary she recovered earlier. Sneaking around the edge of the camp she is able to glance into the scholar's tent noting alchemical apparatus and and a bloody surgical table.
Francesco agrees to partake in a Rite of Always the Correct Path and is filled with the Traitor's certainty that Project Sunder should succeed. Assured of his commitment Solomon tasks him to eliminate a group of Serradic 'Magehunters' which their group has just learned of and threatens to compromise the mission.
Victor is brought fully up to speed about Project Sunder - The Serradics are planning to induct the Tyrant King into their pantheon and are having a ritual in his temple to bring this about. The Project group have used alchemy, surgery and their clockworker to turn Ms. Sharpe into a human timebomb to blow up the temple and priest/avatars within. However they have also cast a fracturing ritual upon her, which all going well, will harness the destruction of the Temple to Crack the Fabric and unleash the Tyrant King upon the world in physical form, hopefully at a time when he is extremely angry with the Serradics. At the least Liarus will be denied as a forward base to the Empire, at best a rampaging Godmonster will descend upon the Empire.
At this point all trust and communication between the party completely breaks down, as Victor decides he is against the plan but is unable to communicate this (or most of the details of what's going on) to Gina due to Francesco's intervention.
Gina sneaks a pouch of alchemical fire up to the wall of Liarus and Francesco detonates it with a lightning bolt allowing the servant an opportunity to sneak over the wall into the city. She proceeds to learn of the ceremony at the Temple and warns the locals that their may be some danger to remaining in the city though her words mostly fall on deaf ears. Making her way over to the plaza by the Temple she clambers up onto the rooftops to get out of the festival crowd and get a better picture of what's going on.
Victor and Francesco wait in line for the guards to search them and manage to persuade the Serradic soldiers that they're travellers from Caul come to seek a better life under Imperial rule. Moved that some of the easterners finally appreciate them, the guards are perhaps less vigorous than they should be and allow them in to join the festive crowds. Pushed through the throng they find themself coming face to face with a doomsaying priest of the Tyrant King who predicts terrible catastrophe for the city in the new future. Perhaps to underscore the direness of the situation or perhaps because he is absolutely bonkers he then turns into a Tyrant Lizard and starts munching his way through the crowd.
Fleeing the rampaging monster the pair decide to break the Serradic shieldwall surrounding the Temple and rush inside. Whereupon the Lizard and crowd rush after them. The crowd is turned back by the terrifying visage of a Priest of the Jubilant mask, but once they've mastered their fear the adventurers try to press into the temple. Victor is confronted by a Priest of the Silent Expectation who warns him that he'll die if he doesn't leave at once. Not liking his tone the traitor-alchemist poisons him with a Limb Drop before departing. Francesco however is quickly able to spot that one of the acolytes of the Jubilant Mask is blazing with mana. Deducing that this must be Ms. Sharpe he offers a warning that Magehunters are coming, and the disguised agent implores him to deal with them. The priests finally expel the intruders and as they head out they note that a wedge of heavily armed soldiers bearing a mark very similar to that of the Brotherhood of the Closed Eye is cutting its way through the press towards the temple.
During all this confusion with a Tyrant Lizard, Gina has managed to slip through the guards to a vantage point where she can see into the Temple and watches with some perplexity as one of the priests suddenly starts to fall to pieces. What's even more confusing is that for some reason that pieces pick themselves back up and reattach to the body, the death cultist fairly quickly resembling a flesh marionette more than a living person.
Francesco, having been badly savaged by the behemoth lizard, asks for a healing potion only to be drugged into a death-like stupor by Victor who marches us to the Magehunters and informs them that someone in the temple is attempting to blow up the priests and perform a major fracturing ritual. Concerned to have an Acryn citizen hauling a dead mage over his shoulders tell them this information a pair of the Magehunters take him into custody whilst the rest move in to secure the temple.
Gina watches as the warriors move in, sniff out Sharpe and kill her after an extended battle. They then move her body into an antechamber to perform an examination. Believing (correctly) that the bomb was implanted in her body, Gina determines that she needs to prod the cautious warriors into removing her from the temple. To this end she sneaks close and hurls a stolen mana crystal against the ceiling, convincing the hunters that the magical ritual is intensifying and they need to get her away from the VIPs no matter what.
Whilst Francesco's 'corpse' is dumped in their basement the Magehunters begin to interrogate Victor, and he manages to persuade them to allow him to help them with defusing the body-bomb when it arrives. Utilising some extremely experimental procedures and some high grade potions provided by his captors, he manages to render the explosive within Sharpe's body inert.
As the device within Ms. Sharpe finally finishes its countdown there is a pitiful pffft as the now inert explosives refuse to detonate and then some moments later a terrible tearing noise as reality is rent asunder and a crack into some eldritch space begins to open. In the basement below Francesco is torn from his slumber, awoken (as was every other sleeper in the city) by a terrible noise ringing in his mind. Finding himself in a strange cellar atop a pile of bodies he decides the best thing for it is to run and promptly makes for the exit. Victor sees something vast pass by the other side of the rift, and as the Serradic magehunters prepare to sell their lives dearly against the draconic incursion, the alchemist grabs the remaining potions and begins to reverse the process he wrought upon the explosive. He succeeds too well, and even as Francesco hurtles out of the front door, Project Sunder's 'GodBomb' finally goes off.
From her vantage on the side of the Temple Gina witnesses a great flash of fire and then sees that in the distance about a quarter of the city is now ablaze. However the strange distortion in her perceptions appears to have gone. Within the Temple the priests are concluding their ceremonies, and great Presences begin to enter the priests as the gods of the Empire arrive to attempt to bring the Tyrant King into the fold. The Liaran god resists and some sort of divine battle breaks out. Unable to perceive all that is occurring here, but certain of her own inclinations for victory, Gina calls the blessing of the Leader down upon the Tyrant King. There is a savage, triumphant roar and the Temple blasts apart. The priests within lie dead, their mortal forms proving inadequate to sustain their divine patrons through so vicious a battle.
Victor's body is instantly destroyed by the blast, save for his godtouched bloody hand. As his soul drifts loose he is visited by the Traitor, the Tender and finally the Tyrant King each of whom offer him some chance of redemption should he accept their philosophy. He denies them all and feels himself crunched between the jaws of the indignant Tyrant.
Liarus burns, but the majority of its citizens have survived. Eventually the blaze is brought under control and though about a third of the city has been consumed by the firestorm and (strangely targeted) minor blazes that erupted in its aftermath, the metaphysical breach has been sealed. The temple of the Tyrant King lies in ruins, its god's rejection of his Serradic peers evident to any that step into the shattered ruin.
Gina reports back to Commander Ravensfall, bringing him a letter from Sabrina reassuring that she is happy and well and filling him on the state of Liarus and the unfortunate explosive death of her compatriots. Well paid for her efforts she heads home to report to her mistress and inform the family Leader Priest of the developments.
A day later, Francesco meets with the Commander and spins a tale of valour and nobility as he explains how he bravely stopped the insane efforts of Victor Darrish and saved Liarus from total destruction. Aware of the whiff of bullshit but not really caring so long as Liarus stands and his lover is appeased, Julius pays the young noble and sends him on his way.
Duke Corlo Graves is pleased at Francesco's success in ensuring the partial destruction of Liarus, particularly of the family assets which were inaccessible under Serradic rule but well insured against such misfortunes. He promises to do the nobleman the honour of taking dinner at his home in the near future.
Somewhere in the depths of Acryn's bureaucracy a clerical error sending supplies and personnel to a disused iron mine is corrected. Officials from the Ministry of Public Works are despatched to reclaim any misplaced assets and see them safely delivered to an abandoned manor house.
Francesco - Paid 70R by Julius Ravensfall and is given 100R worth of library books as a gift from his pleased uncle. He has also acquired the services of three beastmen lackies who hope to one day see their humanity restored.
Gina - Paid 80R by Ravensfall and has further strengthened his appreciation of the Rosamile family. The Tyrant King is pleased that she acknowledged his divine majesty - you may use Exultant Roar twice per adventure.
Victor - Having heroically sacrificed himself and defied the morality of the gods that gazed upon him at his death, his soul now wanders the Hunting Grounds, chasing or chased by others who have had the honour of being consumed by the beast king itself.