|A long chat about politics with Srosa. A brief soujourn to the Outlands to search of Thalazzar’s familiar. A deal with a Tanari with an unnatural “thing” for Baatezu to take care of the small issue of a debt. Errands to run in Valparaiso interrupted by ninjas!|
The crew of the Daisy Cutter has done its best to avoid you the entire time you were aboard the ship back to the Mazari. More than once, when you would come out to wander the deck at night, you would catch someone from the night watch staring at your tail.
If they noticed they’d usually just mutter and walk away. After the first time it happened, on subsequent evenings you noticed that the night watches had been doubled. It did not take you long to notice, either, that the crew had begun to post a minimum two person watch around Frankie around the clock, including at least one Clockwork on every watch. She tried to avoid it at first, but Sparks was insistent and no one seemed to care if you’d notice. Not that you saw much of her, even in the cramped quarters aboard the airship. Between her doing her best avoid you and your newly nocturnal habits, you might have been in different cities.
So be it. All of the Companions were given a room to share. T’Self, however, spends all of his time with Frankie. Rin remains dead, and Nimbus is somewhere aloft in the rigging. Even though Tiberio is more nocturnal than most, he is nowhere near as nocturnal as you have become and he has spent most of his nights strumming his lute gently at Tallim’s side. All others are dead or gone. This leaves you alone a great deal of the time to work on your scrolls and arcane research.
None of your found items holds more obsessive interest for you than the small sandstone taken form the Thala Sanat. What powers must it hold? What secrets must it unlock? How much faster can this bloody airship move? How you long for a proper laboratory. Something like Mastof had had, and your Companions had detonated.
“Time enough,” you mumble. Your red scaly tail quivers with delight as you absently stroke the box in which the Onestone is safely locked, as you have become wont to do.
You have learned that, for some reason, healing magic does not extend to Dentistry. That has its own specialized school of magic. Once he finds the proper scrolls, it takes two full days for Keratone, the Clockwork with too many fingers, to grow you a new set of teeth. It hurt.
The voyage home gives everyone a welcome respite, but all is not easy with the Companions. Everyone is lost in themselves. More than ever, you are lost to one another. You still can’t convince yourself that the creature that spends his days in the frigid upper reaches of the Daisy Cutter’s zeppelin rigging is really Nimbus. For all his strangeness, the Nimbus you knew was still clearly human.
Having learned so much of one another in Baba Yaga’s Hut - too much perhaps - the hard won camaraderie of the past month has evaporated, like mist in the desert. Nowhere is that clearer than in the rift between Frankie and Thalazzar. They were never going to be friends, to be sure, but all had noticed that something like a grudging sort of respect had emerged between them.
All of you know of the exchange between Thalazzar’s and his merciless Kobold deity. All had heard the god’s command that he find a way to destroy the Gnome. News of this had traveled quickly on board the Daisy Cutter and Frankie’s Uncle had taken extraneous precautions to keep her away from Thalazzar and never leave her alone.
“Gods,” you mutter to yourself, with more than a little contempt. Can they not resist meddling? Artemis’s Gift rests uneasily in your lap. It feels heavier than it ever has since your confession to Baba Yaga of your wavering faith. Did Apollo know? Something about it sounds off.
Mnemonium had nothing to say to you when she visited. You know that there are some who worship her. Seeing her again makes you remember something she had told Frankie about the One: “Do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the One. It is not as our gods.”
Tallim stirs again. Another fitful sleep. Keratone can heal her body, but not her mind; not her soul. She is sorely addicted to Dream.
“Gods,” you mutter again with a sour strum of your lute. In your mind’s eye you see the faces of Alexandro and Gwen Farmer – your dead brother’s wife and your nephew. The faces by which Apollo would haunt you to do his bidding.
You strum again. You are not startled to note that it sounds to your ear like the contemptuous laughter of Baba Yaga.
Sroasa's Warning: “Cauldron is in rough shape. The crime was always bad there but it has exploded and continues to grow as each new group of refugees arrives. The federal government exists there in theory only. A Keeper was brought from the lines to deal with the trouble and he lasted a week before he disappeared. Senator Magnus Mohr and his stooges have helped the Lord Mayor maintain order, but they behave more like another of the city’s mafias, albeit a popular one. Of mafias, 'ware a brutal new criminal organization has cropped up there recently. They are called the Blood Robes and they answer to a mysterious figure called the Master.”