Over the past week dark clouds have begun to fill the sky, the air has become dusty, and an oppressive heat has set in over the city of Acryn. Concern is ever growing of the impact the ensuing drought will have on this year's harvest, and whilst Wayfinders and Priests of the Tender have stepped up their efforts to keep both Flux and Consensus farms safe for now, there is worry over how long this can last. People look to the Peak of the World, from which loud cracking and rumbling sounds have been heard, drowning out even the sounds of the thunder that makes its home there.
In response, the Council has put out a call for adventurers to take certain steps to deal with this crisis. Applicants stand to be greatly rewarded if they succeed, but must be both martially capable and willing to deal with one of the city's allies in a suitably diplomatic manner.
The party (all of the above minus Brother Miller, with Nobody taking the appearance of the Archmage) meet at City Hall where clerk Kris Fletcher gives them the details: the Council believe that the rising heat is the work of something in the Peak of the World, but things get so hot on the approach that nobody has yet managed to get near it. Following communication with Concerto, a joint mission between Acryn and the island nation has been proposed, as they claim knowledge of the creature responsible and know of the location of a useful weapon against it. The party are to head to Concerto’s dock on the South coast and meet a delegation there, find out what the plan is and then carry it out so long as it seems reasonable. 27 Riel each is promised for learning of the plan and attempting it, with a further 54 each should the heatwave be resolved.
The party head out, dealing with some Flux bandits who have wandered onto the road and arriving at the dock, where Queen Aria and her entourage meet them. Aria confirms that the being responsible is the fire spirit which Booker became, explaining that she wishes to ensure that he is dealt with, ideally saving him if there is some way this can be done without harming the Tender in the process. She suggests that she may be able to restore some of who he was, though there is some disagreement as to whether this is a good idea. As for the weapon, Aria indicates that her island’s records suggest that in the past someone or something managed to tame volcano out to sea, somewhere to the West of Concerto, and that this place may now provide some information or resource for doing something similar. Otto is hesitant at the suggestion of meddling with anything divine, but goes along for the time being, if just to see.
The combined party sail Aria’s boat out onto the ocean, dealing with a giant Flux jellyfish and eventually arriving at what looks to be a volcano island, but entirely frozen over. To those with the means of identifying such, the whole thing is Consensus, but feels somewhat divine. Various ice creatures attempt to repel them, which convinces Otto that this is a bad idea, and he waits on the boat as the others head into the frozen volcano, having his familiar keep an eye on things. Bartholomew digs his roots down to get a feel for this place, and gets the impression that if it weren’t for some outside influence, this ought to be a live volcano on the point of eruption. The party make their way through more creatures to where a huge icicle seems to have been thrust into the volcano.
Attempts to communicate with the ice god having no effect, Aria tests holding a sword to the icicle, and it becomes shrouded in a freezing mist. Confirming that according to her records this should now be of great use in their mission, the others follow suit and frost-imbue some of their weapons. Bartholomew experiments with holding a small tendril against the icicle, which also seems to become imbued. Their messing around with the source of the freezing seemingly having disturbed the god, there is a rumbling and more ice creatures begin to appear. The party flee, save for Nobody who attempts to grab the entire icicle and make off with it. Transforming into Dragonborn form to better shrug off the relentless assault of the ice creatures, he slowly drags the icicle with his four arms outside. As he goes, the entire volcano seems to roar and begin to move, turning its ire on him, and with each step the icicle slowly seems to melt away into nothing. Once he is outside, it is gone, some of its nature seemingly absorbed into him.
The angry living god-volcano continues to attack Nobody as he attempts to return to the boat, only to find it already sailing away, Aria having made the call after some argument among the party that he didn’t seem to be returning, and that they should leave before the volcano kills them. The argument continues with Otto quite upset that their meddling in the divine has caused something like this to happen. He is more so when Nobody emerges, still in Dragonborn form, from the shadow of the mast having used his abilities as a shadow-elemental. Now reading as somewhat more divine than before, he claims his superiority and there is a tense standoff as Otto begins making preparations to bind him away whilst the rest of the party try to keep the two apart. Eventually Nobody transforms back without anything too untoward happening, but Otto is most displeased at the party’s willingness to side with what is clearly an insane and dangerous creature, to the extent that once the eels which interrupt their argument are dispatched and they return to shore, he makes preparations to return to Concerto instead of joining the party in their mission to the volcano.
Now down to four, the party make their way back to Acryn, fighting some bears on the way, where Armand attempts to get them some extra support by calling on Brother Miller for help. The newly-bolstered party head to the Peak of the World, meeting the Thunderer and his followers, who is somewhat annoyed about the Peak having got far too hot for their liking. Armand challenges him and they fight, Armand ultimately being victorious, and the Thunderer concedes that they may be able to do something to resolve the heat, and sees them on their way. Armand attempts to ask him how he manages to maintain his personality and how he can not be swallowed up by his divine nature, but the Thunderer replies that he just does.
The party navigate the hazards of the volcano and fight through animated lava beasts, kept safe by the chilling aura of their frost-imbued weapons (or in Miller’s case, by being shirtless and used to this sort of thing). As they approach its heart, they feel an odd presence washing over them: the last vestiges of what Booker was. Brushing these aside, they head into the depths where the malevolent fire spirit that was once Booker awaits.
The party begin fighting him and his fiery minions whilst Aria begins trying to prepare a ritual to counteract his heatwave and bring the volcano under control. However, Tuireann has possessed Bartholomew and, seeking to allow it to continue until it destroys Acryn, takes control of Aria and forces her to swim in lava. Brother Miller hears her screams and drags her out, and although Tuireann/Bartholomew comes over to finish the job, still aware of something trying to control her Aria manages to down her emergency-escape artefact potion, vanishing in a flash of light and instantaneously returning to a secret passage within her castle on Concerto.
The fight continues and Tuireann instead turns on the party, having Bartholomew attack them. He is dropped and the battle rages on, the party having a difficult time but just about gaining the upper hand and bringing the fire spirit down. One of Aria’s living statues, having made its way into the volcano, brings the party a message the queen has sent using Scribing-linked books from her castle, explaining that she had to make a quick getaway and that it will be a long time before she can get back. She indicates that whilst her plan may still work, they’ll need to somehow keep things contained until she gets there. Nobody finds that he can cause things to begin to freeze over, and starts to spread ice. As he does so, he also enacts a miracle of the Splintered Man to attempt to give Booker back some of what he was. The Splintered Man gives Booker a personality that reflects his memories of him, a reasonably good impression, but when Nobody attempts to revive him to see if this has worked he immediately vanishes into flame.
Nobody disappears into the shadows cast by the flames and the two begin a rather abstract elemental fight. Meanwhile, Armand is trying to work out what he can actually do to help in this situation and after mooting some possibilities and deciding that none of them are going to help, Tuireann suggests with some consternation that he should just use his power as the Revolution to overthrow the existing ruler of this place, the fire spirit, forcing it to submit and bringing about his will instead. Armand enacts a miracle, which breaks up the abstract fight as a large metaphorical fist lands between Nobody and Booker, exploding them back out into the real world in their usual forms. The fight continues here and Booker is once again dropped, whilst Tuireann attempts to deal with the party again and is also dropped.
Armand and Nobody try to work out what to do with Booker, whilst Brother Miller attempts to fix Bartholomew’s Tuireann problem by dipping him in lava and burning it out of him. Nobody beings to freeze over the entire volcano as Aria’s statue attempts to keep Booker alive but under control, and tells the others to leave as the ice spreads. They make their way out, and Nobody is seemingly left in the heart of the volcano frozen in the ice.
Outside, Bartholomew comes to and Armand explains what he’s missed. He’s sad that they left Nobody behind and asks if he’s dead, but Armand tells him that they shouldn’t go back now as the whole place is rather dangerous. Once things have settled down, Brother Miller makes his way back into the frozen volcano to see how things are looking whilst the others wait outside. It seems like the ice is melting around the edges, and whilst it will last for some time, it will eventually all thaw. At the heart of the volcano he finds Booker and the statue encased in ice, but no sign of Nobody. For now the heat seems to be subsiding, but it’s unclear if that will last should Booker get free again somehow.
They discuss what to do next, Bartholomew suggesting a Tender miracle, though the party can’t come up with a sensible way in which a Tender miracle could help here. His attempts to heal the ice don’t seem to have any effect, and so it doesn’t seem like a miracle will be much use. Paige suggests a ritual, though her available rites don’t seem well-suited to this situation, and so they head back to Acryn to see what they can work out there.
They return to the Council and give a full report, Armand providing a full debrief and using College contacts to get some mages ready to put a more long-term solution in place once Aria returns. Bartholomew asks for the party’s help in dealing with his Tuireann problem and they agree. Using the Tender’s power he pulls them all into his soul where the forest of Tuireann is burning. Servants of the dragon attack, but are eventually driven off, curing him of the draconic influence. His soul remains on fire.
Aria eventually arrives by boat along with Otto and the two are brought up to speed. They all head back to the volcano where preparations to keep things under control with a ritual are underway. Aria goes to where Booker is frozen and, unaware of what Nobody already did, uses her implement to rewrite his memories to support a narrative in which there were two fire spirits, Booker and Cinder, where Booker hated Acryn and Cinder loved the city, and Booker had died in the process whilst Cinder, Aria’s relatively poor reconstruction of what Booker was like, had remained. She then rewrites her own memories to support this explanation somewhat, thus satisfying her insistence that the fire spirit which Booker became must die.
All of this proves to be largely moot, though, when Otto, backed by most of the Council after Armand calls for a vote on the matter, proposes a further ritual to ensure that Booker is bound away somewhere far from Acryn, namely within the labyrinth of Valknut. With a 5 mana ritual he empowers his implement to be able to use its abilities on an entity and Booker, now believing himself to be Cinder as Aria’s reconstruction of the original Booker with an additional personality that is the Splintered Man’s reconstruction of the original Booker, is sealed away within Valknut.
Over the coming days things properly settle down and the ice melts, returning the volcano to its normal state, the heatwave stopped. The Council pays the party the full 81 Riel each promised, deciding to give Otto and Brother Miller 54 Riel each for their various involvements despite neither of them being along for the full adventure.
Armand goes to visit the Thunderer again to ask more about how he managed to hold onto himself after ascending, but the old god can’t offer any more understanding, claiming that for someone like him, things just work. The Thunderer returns to the area near the Flux peak of the mountain, along with the drake Zmeu and his followers. Armand attempts to get his mastercrafted shield repaired, and manages to arrange somebody who can fix it up for 90 Riel. He also puts his printing press to use, spreading the word of what happened and highlighting and painting the tragedy of what happened.
Nobody awakes, having stepped through the reflections in the ice at the last moment, surrounded by a thick mist. The ground around him is covered in snow. After getting his bearings, he realises that he successfully made it to the Splintered Man’s realm. The frosted-over blades of grass he is standing on seem to be reaching out towards him, and he gets a sense of hostility or at least disapproval, but they quickly freeze solid. With some experimentation he finds that he is still able to manipulate shadow, but to some extent the ice that now seems to form around him. His default blank face now seems to be somewhat encrusted with frost, but there are no signs of any other significant changes at this point. Not in this form, at least…
Your soul is literally on fire. You have an almost constant sensation of heartburn. Anything trying to influence your soul is WEAKENED in psychic combat. However, if you are trying to use your soul to any effect, it will also be on fire and this will cause problems at GM discretion.
Your body or part of it is in some way imbued with an element of the natural world. There are slight changes to your appearance which you may define which should become more pronounced the more points you spend in this tree.
Unfortunately, your imbued nature also comes forth at times when you are not consciously holding it back, and sometimes you may wake up to find that whilst sleeping some amounts of this element have formed around you. For some elements (eg. Ice) this is mostly just an annoyance, whilst for others (eg. Fire) it can be deeply problematic.
Once per encounter you may bring that nature forth, allowing you to make a standard call appropriate to this element by melee:
While in the environment of your imbued element, gain the effects of both Survivalist and Master Survivalist.
Once per adventure you may permanently (or if in Flux as permanently as Flux will allow) turn your immediate environment into your imbued element. For the rest of the encounter in this area you gain effects based on your element (an at will effect and a power every 30s):
You may use this ability to retire. This will cause the area you have altered with your element to be significantly larger and you can shape the form it takes.