Up-and-coming playwright Clementine Clairmont is seeking relatively competent individuals willing to help investigate a manner most perplexing concerning the state of her theatre…
The party arrive at a predetermined spot, at which they are met with the flamboyant - and seemingly highly temperamental - Clementine Clairmont. After introductions, and brief admiration of each other's wardrobe, the players are led to an abandoned theatre out in flux, in which they meet - the players. However, no sooner do they learn that this troupe are preparing for a spectacular all-Wayfinder performance of Clementine's opus, FOUNDERS: A New Musical, then they are confronted by a belligerent volley of flux bats.
“He's here!” declares one player. “The Phantom of the Theatre!”
Having beaten back the bats, the players are sent to the store cupboard in search of some missing props - armed only with panicked instructions from Clementine, and a hand-drawn list frightfully lacking in specificity. Truth be told, the task is unmanageable even before every item in the cupboard begins violently laying siege to them. As is, the party make short work of the walking furniture, and recover at least half of the more recognisable items on the list.
When Clementine greets them once more, she seems oddly distracted - and strangely forgetful of previous conversations they have had. Nonetheless, this can clearly be attributed to distress over the recent disappearance of the troupe's leading lady, Diane Christee. The party, she declares, must travel to the lower levels of the theatre in order to recover her.
The journey downwards proves slightly trickier than anticipated, as the party find themselves facing a corridor full of traps - not of flux, it seems, but magical. Most escape unscathed, but Balthazar and Vermillion find themselves poisoned, with the immediate effect of being unable to communicate via any other means than singing. Balthazar performs a ritual to cure himself of this hideous affliction - which, being only minorly disturbed by Simone's attempts to devour the mana crystal this requires, is largely successful. Vermillion continues to sing - and indeed, getting into the spirit of things, even to rhyme.
They emerge into what can only be described as an underground flux lair. It is here that they are greeted by what is presumably the Phantom - but, according to Balthazar, shows more marks of being a mage than an Anomaly. The apparition soon melts into the air - and light falls on a previously darkened corner of the room. Here, they find Diane, the leading lady, who appears less than shaken by her plight: indeed, she murmurs dreamily about how dashing her abducter appeared.
It is at this point that the Phantom appears once more - this time, as a creature of flux. The players are able to hold off its attacks, and (albeit with major reluctance on their rescuee's part) haul Diane back up to the main theatre.
Here, they find the players having lunch, and are invited to join them. It soon transpires that Clairmont has no recollection of asking the players to investigate Diane's disappearance, despite having spoken to the party previously. Meanwhile, the props manager whispers to the party that she recovered a wig the colour of Clementine's hair that was clearly not part of the troupe's standard kit backstage.
Clairmont begins to question Diane on her disappearance, during which it becomes clear that not only was this not the first time Diane has had encounters with the Phantom - he has been singing to her every night! In a fit of pique, Clementine declares that Diane is fired.
… Unwisely, it seems. As soon as she yells this, the flux Phantom appears, and grabs Clementine with the intent of strangling her. Meanwhile, he unleashes a flux orchestra on the players. It is only when Diane is persuaded to tell him to stop that he calls them off - after disappearing with Clairmont in tow.
The players - on the advice of the helpful Mag Grady - head back down towards the lower floors of the theatre. They soon stumble upon an eerie, narrow corridor of glass. Here, they come face to face with a number of flux creatures that resemble almost entirely accurate facsimiles of themselves… although, looking closer, one notices the paint and the wigs. These flux beings tempt the players with their greatest desires. After losing half their number to brief, successful psychic encounters, the party manage to move on.
They continue through the long, winding, seemingly identical corridors. It is here that they encounter a room full of odd, insubstantial shadow spirits. These flux creatures talk forlornly about the loneliness of their existence - and, after a while, it becomes clear that they are reflections of the Phantom himself. The players do their best to assure these creatures that they are not despised by all. They convince Diane to reveal her feelings, at which point she ardently declares her love for the Phantom. The angst shadows vanish.
They return to the underground lair: here, Clairmont sits bound to the pianoforte, terrified. However, the Phantom is surprisingly reasonable about the entire matter. Numerous death threats aside, the players are able to encourage him to reach an understanding with Clairmont: both he and Diane will be given permanent parts in the theatre troupe, and starring roles in tomorrow night's production. (The players' whispered advice that Clementine inform the Wayfinders' Guild of a wayward Anomaly if he steps one toe out of line… helps.)
Opening night arrives. The players position themselves throughout the theatre: some in boxes; others closer to the stage. Clairmont begins a stirring speech, informing the audience that this play is intended to glorify the Founders and their beginnings - only to be heckled by an unseen voice (identical to the Phantom's) declaring that the Founders would be ashamed of this city. To Clairmont's confusion, the voice goes on to suggest that Acryn will only be great again once the monarchy is reinstated.
Then, the shatterlings attack.
(Meanwhile, Simone immediately begins to attempt to devour Balthazar's mana crystals. There is a brief skirmish.)
The players fend off the shatterlings, only to discover that a ritual is taking place in the theatre: the 'Phantom' is standing at the base of the highest box - one containing a selection of Council members. Large cracks are already appearing in the architecture.
Simone immediately rushes over to shove as many of the mana crystals in her mouth as she can muster.
With no small amount of exertion, the rest of the party are able to beat back the shatterlings and put a stop to the ritual. Emilio wastes no time in executing the 'Phantom' - a measure which, as it turns out, constitutes overkill, as it transpires on later examination that the slaughteree in question had already consumed a poison capsule.
As gather exhaustedly round, the party spot a prone figure lying at the base of the box: Vermillion! And, clinging to him in anguish: Simone! The latter screams; the former shows no sign of a pulse.
Vermillion - to the relief of all - is soon revived by a dazed-looking Councilman White. Meanwhile, Balthazar and Simone haggle over ownership of Simone's sword; Balthazar, after being somewhat unfairly vilified by the party, seems to be at a disadvantage.
Our heroes - after a truly heroic amount of bickering - eventually get around to unmasking the Phantom, who appears to be an ordinary human woman wearing a purple cravat. Emilio, with his knowledge of the affairs of Acryn nobility, is able to confirm that this individual was probably one of the remnants of the Order of the Violet Cravat, a militant royalist group.
Simone and Balthazar continue to fight over the sword. (James' character) takes the opportunity to filch the Phantom's mask.
After a brief amount of wheedling, Clairmont is convinced to pay the party 36R - substantially more money than she had initially promised. She also agrees to reimburse Balthazar one mana crystal.
Emilio is hugely disappointed that he came out of the battle without some kind of wound that might scar aesthetically. Vermillion, obligingly, uses Stone Skin on him, and is able to chisel the most dashing facial scar he can manage.
Emilio, satisfied, goes to mingle with the noble theatregoers - including, most notably, Astraeus Cargan-Graves.
Balthazar returns Simone's sword.
Before leaving the theatre, Emilio has a private tete-a-tete with the Phantom. He demands that the Anomaly teach him his ways of seduction: how on earth does he get beautiful women throwing themselves at him like that? Is it the brooding thing? It must be the brooding thing. Perhaps he should die his hair. The Phantom offers him singing lessons: 20R for a month's course. Emilio accepts.
Vermillion uses his connections in the world of art to track the progress of FOUNDERS. It seems, despite its rude beginnings, to have created quite the stir throughout Acryn, largely owing to the novelty of the medium. Vermillion ensures that his part in the play's inception - indeed, his death in its defence - is widely known. He creates a promotional sculpture in honour of this musical debut.
[James' character] also attempts to make his involvement known. Though he lacks Vermillion's contacts, he gains a certain amount of recognition.
Rodrigo also does this - and takes up Vermillion on his offer of posing for a (shirtless) sculpture.
Sam, rather unsuccessfully, lobbies for a bigger role for the Leader in FOUNDERS.
Simone goes to the Wayfinders' Guild and quietly informs them that Clairmont's troupe appear to the working with an Anomaly. She is given a cursory finder's fee of 15R, but the Guild are largely uninterested - not that it prevents them from taking a chunk out of the profits of FOUNDERS.
Balthazar stares at his compass for a bit.
Emilio goes out to schmooze in high society - and, armed with a decent singing voice and a ludicrously aesthetically pleasing scar, manages to garner quite the fan following.
Balthazar does a one-mana ritual to allow him to draw scenes from FOUNDERS and imbue them with animation, so that the can be viewed at will. Vera loved the theatre.
Simone goes to the Watch and warns them about Balthazar. Balthazar goes to the College of the Stars and warns them about Simone. Each gains an enemy, and all is glorious stalemate.
Emilio sends word back to his family that he is making a big hit in the city. His family are very proud.