Cypher ~ The Unbound

Chasing the Northen Tales

Honey badgers just don't give a fuck

With the party resting at the workshop in Crete, Salvador Dahli knocks on the door, asking about the laser beam he saw last night. Although Sevatar is reluctant, Tylar goes with Salvador to attempt to replicate the explosion. Tylar is told that the crystal is unstable due to missing runes, which may be found on the Lance Stone. Guards visit the rest of the Others to ask about the dangerous beam, which Sevatar deflects. Sevatar and Idrius then go to the townhouse to see if there is a bounty on the beast in the north, which there is (so long as concrete evidence is provided). The group decides to go north to hunt it at Idrius' behest, and see the Lance Stone on the way. 

The party boards a sleek airship and flies over a small town named Briar Glen, nestled between two rivers. Once near the Lance Stone, Tylar jumps off the airship to take a closer look while the rest of the group land at Domswich. It is a town with stone buildings, more closely nestled together to suit the cold. The party visits the House of Bards and questions the landlord, Orlando. They find out that the wanderer Dave is believed to be ill rather than cursed, and the disappearing townsfolk are unrelated. They are told of Joel Billy, a survivor from The Breach, who is currently living in the local poorhouse. While the majority of the party leaves for the poorhouse to speak to Joel Billy, Idrius ventures to the local townhouse for any recent information regarding the beast. He is informed that Nuxvar has fallen into silence, and that the airship captains will no longer fly there. An old aquaintance of the party was the last to head towards it- Captain Ned Guppy. The rest of the party goes to meet Joel, and he tells of how a tall thin stranger appeared in The Breach, and was not welcome. Once some townsfolk tried to forcibly remove him, they were dragged outside and killed, while shadows appeared from nowhere and began to massacre the remaining inhabitants, with Joel as the only escapee.

Meanwhile, Tylar sets up camp just outside the sickening radius of the Lance Stone and begins to study the runes on its surface. At the end of the day, after much vomiting and study, he sleeps between the Stone and a herd of horses, and has strange dreams. The rest of the party visits Guppy's airship, and he regales them with his account of flying toward Nuxvar – about a half-hour's journey from the city, he discovered a stationary airship with only one survivor, Zachary Price. He also looked at Nuxvar through a spy-glass, and while he did see some movement in the town, he also saw some burning buildings and got a thoroughly creepy vibe from the place. Guppy agrees to take the party to Nuxvar when they are next in Domswich, so long as they stay there only during the daylight hours.
According to Guppy, Price told of how his airship was attacked during the night while docked at Nuxvar. He hid in a cupboard, while the rest of his crewmembers fought an unknown assailant. Price heard screams but did not come to their aid, and when he emerged in the morning all his crewmates had disappeared without a trace, except for the signs of the fight they had. After returning to Domswich with Guppy, Zachary immediately begins to travel as far south as he can, warning all he comes across to never head north again.

The next day, the party travels south to meet him and perform tests on the Lance Stone, to the detriment of all. However, they do discover many important things – a binding rune discovered by Honsu within the strings of reality that he sees around the Stone, which Tylar records along with the 16 other legible runes on the Stone's surface (thought there are many more he is as of yet unable to read). Idrius discovers a link between the runes on his heart and on the Stone, and Edgar finds evidence of Others arriving at the Stone around the same to time party arrived in the Nexus. 

The next morning, the party heads over the plains towards Levohaka, a town on the western base of Mount Ozmez, where Idrius has been told that he will find the source of the lycanthrope stories – a man named Maurice Tontonian. After a meal fit for gods, the party finds themselves being followed by four dog-sized honey badgers, who are gaining ground on them. Tylar attempts to distract them with an offering of food, which they eat, but it desn't work – they continue to follow the party. Though Sevatar decides to run to try and escape, Honsu and Idrius choose to stand their ground to fight and protect the slower members of the party. After an intense melee which defies the laws of physics (Honey badgers don't give a fuuuuck, and Honsu responds in kind), the group finds itself carrying two warm and precious honey badger carcasses toward Levohaka.

Upon reaching their destination, Edgar speaks to Beth, the bartender of the local pub called The Low-Level Trader. He asks him about any thin, tall strangers in raggedy clothes. Beth tells him about a man named Rasputin, who seems to be an Other with powers similar to Sevatar. Edgar goes on to ask him about the whereabouts of Maurice Tontonian, who lives in a hovel on the outskirts of town. Tylar, Idrius and Honsu trade Beth the badger carcasses in return for 12 gold, some honey badger stew and the party's lodgings for the night. Idrius then ventures into town to find the local blacksmith, who happens to be a greatsword enthusiast (to put it lightly), and has the pommel of his last greatsword attached to a shiny, finely engraved new one that he buys. He finds a new friend in the blacksmith, who promises that should Idrius return, he will have a master-crafted greatsword waiting for him.

Once reunited with Idrius, the party goes to Maurice's hovel to ask about the disappearances of the villagers in Northrun, and learn more of what they thought to be the beast – a man named Oliver (who had been called Dave by the party), who appears to be accompanied by, or perhaps has the ability to summon, shadow demons similar to those eating the party's extradimensional belongings. Maurice recounts that, while sitting in his farmhouse on the outskirts of town on the night that the beggar Oliver was forced to leave, he saw the town appear to be engulfed in darkness, and heard the sounds of its townfolk dying. He chose to stay in his home, and saw the fire visibly dim, as though something dark was covering it. Once morning came, he explored town a little, but saw no one. In each open doorway he passed, it seemed as though something was hidden inside, lurking in the darkness, after which he fled to Luvohaka.

The group decides to return to Domswich the next morning, in order to fly with Guppy to Nuxvar to investigate. While the rest of the party sleeps, Idrius stands watch with some of the local guards and learns of the organisational structure of the Asmarian's civil protection forces. Sometime during the night, while alone, he is approached by a mysterious and beautiful figure out of the gloom, who cryptically introduces herself as Anima, a goddess of sentient life in the Nexus. She tells Idrius to go see Stephen Exposition, who will answer one question truthfully about anything. He lives at the top of a tower in a town next to Old Man's Lake. She also offers Idrius a gold coin, which he accepts. After bungling the conversation with her completely, Idrius is left alone again to ponder what he was told. He decides not to tell the rest of the party about the visit, and also determines that the coin he was given is the Fortuneteller's Coin, a cypher.

The following day, the group walks down back to Domswich. They pass by a several herds of horses, and Idrius decides to approach them peacefully to discover why the Nexus' inhabitants are so fearful of them. As it turns out, horses are psychic, and one talks to Idrius in his head. They are highly intelligent, and think lowly of men, particularly after men tried to ride them. Although it appears that the two races have a great disdain for each other, the horses allow Idrius to leave unharmed and he returns to the rest of the group to continue travelling south toward Domswich. 

At the outskirts of town, they are stopped by men in green tights hiding in a fake bush by the side of the road. Sevatar convinces them that he is one of them and passes by without his wealth having been 'redistributed', but Tylar gives them poisoned brandy and takes everything they had claimed to return to the townsfolk of Domswich. Sevatar is horrified at this, but Idrius approves, and the two argue about the correctness of Tylar's actions, during which some of his shadier decisions come to light. In town, Tylar returns everything that had been stolen, and the group is told that anyone wearing double green ribbons have bounties on them. They reunite with Old Mildy, who had stayed in Crete but knew to meet the party in Domswich, and they settle in, preparing to leave on Guppy's airship toward Nuxvar in the middle of the night so that they arrive there at daybreak.

The group also discovers the cruel dark magics of lactomancy, while Sevatar and Idrius coin the term sagimancy, a combination of extradimensional science and local magical powers.

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