Diving below the rough waves of the Parthian harbor, the party followed the lead submersible, piloted by the Caliphate Admiral, quickly realizing that he meant to pilot the craft right past the giant sea monster to escape through The Curtain, the outer wall of the harbor. Red, realizing the craft’s power source could be “rigged” to explode, proposed that in lieu of following the Admiral, they could turn their own craft into a bomb, aim it at the monster attacking the Parthian Fleet, then blow the hatch and attempt to swim to safety. With no auto-pilot, the party knew success was not guaranteed, so they tried to steer their craft into the battle zone as close to the creature as possible before abandoning ship.
Leaving most of their heavy gear behind, they fought the shock of the frigid late-winter water, emerging on the surface just in time to see the underwater detonation of their sub connect with the shrieking monster as it slid beneath the waves. Amidst the carnage of oil fires, smoke and sinking ships, the party struggled against cold and exhaustion before spotting a floating ship mast they could cling to. As half the party slipped beneath the water after succumbing to shock and exhaustion, Sartorius and Tiberius managed to pull everyone to the safety of the mast and securing everyone with ropes before themselves falling unconscious.
Following the battle, an oarsman piloting a rowboat came across the party while searching the floating wreckage for survivors. As the oarsman pulled the otherwise unconscious party aboard and rowed them towards a massive warship, a weary Tiberius looked up to see that the mast carried a new flag consisting of familiar elements…The Black Tower of Eastmoore, now capped by a white sunburst on a field of Red. Tiberius barely had time to contemplate the implications of a flag combining the banners of the Temple of Lannados with Duke Moorfell’s before slipping back into oblivion.
Sartorius and Tiberius later awoke to find themselves being tended by a nurse in a small ship’s cabin. She explained that they were aboard the Prophet’s Praise, part of an Amarian Armada sent by Duke Moorfell to aid the Parthians with the Caliphate Blockade. Eyeing each other suspiciously over the ‘convenient’ timing of Moorfell’s arrival at the tail end of the battle, they thanked her as she departed the cabin. Quickly assessing their surroundings, they found their companions bundled up in beds nearby and a pile of their clothing drying out nearby. On deck, Tiberius saw that along with the crew of sailors, the ship sported a full contingent of Seraphim soldiers. Fearing that they might be trapped if the ship headed back to sea, they were relieved to find that the ship would set in at the Tusks, the Parthian dockyard, within the hour. Discretely, they prepared for a quick departure upon docking before anyone aboard might recognize them.
Upon deboarding, the party found the Tusks bustling with both Parthian and Amarian crews. The Amarian Armada was still patrolling the harbor, but a third of their ships had docked right along side the wounded ships of the Parthian Fleet. The party was met by a member of the Parthian High Council, Ani Coultana, who discretely confirmed that the Amarians had ‘conveniently’ shown up at the end of the battle, had routed the remaining Caliphate ships out of the area and were taking credit for killing the huge fire-lobbing monster. Coultana had her soldiers escort the party (including the still unconscoius Red and Winton) to The Debutante, an upscale inn where the council had arranged for their rooms. Before leaving the docks, however, Tiberius heard strange whispering and thought he spotted someone familiar dressed in a Parthian Naval uniform, but lost him in the crowd.
At the Debutante, each member was shown to a private suite by a servant named Jerome, where they spent the night relaxing and catching up on some much needed rest. Tiberius and the recently conscious Red received invitations from an old friend, Fraa Oleander of the Wight’s Rook Consent, to join him at the University Faculty Club for lunch. On the way to the University, Red gave Tiberius and Sartorius the guided tour of the city before Sartorius split off from the pair to do some shopping.
At the Faculty Club, Red and Tiberius were reunited with Fraa Oleander, who introduced them to his colleague, Professor Dar’un’Rah, an expert in ancient history and artifacts. Rah, in turn, introduced them to two others, his prized student, Indianapolis Jawns, and Roben, the famed Matth’ari inventor whose request for political asylum brought the Caliphate down on Parthis in the first place. Roben explained that it was her discovery of the Azure Pyramid in the ruins below Matth’ that lead to many of her incredible inventions, including airships and guns, in turn leading to the Matth’ari’s miraculous economic renaissance. This, in turn, led to the attention of the Caliphate, which showed up on the Matth’ari’s doorstep demanding submission and a turnover of the pyramid and any related technology. It was the Matth’ari’s refusal to submit to these terms that led to the destruction of their homeland and the resulting genocide. Roben explained that the Caliphate tracked her to Parthis, where she had fled, but noted that the Council refused to give her up.
Following Roben’s story, she and Fraa Oleander requested that the party return to the ruins of the City States of Matth to secure the pyramid that Roben hid there. Oleander also indicated that deciphering the purpose of the “code” underlying all of the pyramids would require at least one more. Dar’un’Rah requested that his student Indianapolis, himself an accomplished archaeologist, accompany the party on their mission.
Walking back to the Debutante with Indi and Red, Tiberius rounded the corner of a side street and barreled right into a Seraphim Captain, who proceeded to push him to the ground, warning him to ‘watch where he was going.’ After the laughing Seraphim Squad wandered off, Tiberius noticed that the man had pushed a crumpled note into his hand, requesting a meeting at the University Archives at midnight, but warning of danger.
With several hours to kill before the meeting, the group returned to the Debutante where they linked back up with Sartorius and had a few drinks. Sensing that the environment was a little to ‘tame’, Indy suggested a local bar called “There was a Hole”. Amused and curious, the party couldn’t say no. The party arrived to find a kitschy three story tavern, with three wrapping levels of open balconies overlooking a massive hole in the cobblestone floor of the building that resembled a giant water well, complete with a bucket large enough for five men. The waiter explained that the bar was built atop the ruins of some ancient labyrinth and that adventurers occasionally went in (but not always out) under the simple rule that you keep what you bring out. On their way out of the bar, Tiberius spotted Demitri dressed in a Parthian Navy uniform, and was suddenly sure that it was Demitri that he had seen on the docks. With Red, he approached Demitri as an old friend, but Demitri acted like he didn’t know either of them. He asked where the party was staying, and promised he would stop by later to sort out the confusion. As they left the bar, Red was sure to his bones that Demitri was lying to them, though neither he nor Tiberius had any idea why.
The party reached the Archives several hours early, hoping to outmaneuver any ambush the Seraphim Captain might have planned. They found him in one of the main chambers of the Archives. The Captain indicated that he was “a friend of Jame’s” and part of the secret resistance against the increasingly morally dubious actions of Grand Inquisitor Magnus and his loyal servants inside the Temple of Lannados. He explained that Inquisitor Moren, Magnus’s number two, had been dispatched along with the Amarian Armada on some secretive side business, and that he was in the basement of the Archives with a light detachment of body guards.
Tiberius and Indy proceeded to sneak down into the basement, where they located one Seraphim standing guard and a palpable oppressive feeling of evil in amongst the maze of books. After a botched attempt by Indy to slip his dagger into the Seraphim’s back, the rest of the party sprung into action, racing down the stairs at the sound of the commotion. The Seraphim, pale and with sunken eyes, raised his sword and sliced through Tiberius’ armor like sackcloth, cutting deep into him with an unnatural biting cold. Off in the wings, a dark shape hovered out of the stacks, seeming to drink in the shadows as it headed towards the party…