Our heroes voyage to Axis Island to help capture the Duchess and prevent a war.
After a debriefing by Minister Lee, Leocamp Assurgent find themselves the heroes of the hour. They have prevented lives from being lost, they have saved the Coaltongue from a watery grave, and are honored with the presence of the king himself. Aodhan learns all of their names and spares to each a few sincere words of thanks.
For the next few days, the press endeavors to get quotes from the constables, and while Utsusemi basks in the attention and avows his support of the king’s vision for an industrialized Risur, Talus remains humble and Nex avoids questions entirely. Lethe, as a druid and Skyseer, finds herself singled out for inquiry about the Duchess’s extreme primalist beliefs. The elf maintains that balance must be struck between the Old Ways and the new. The public and press, at least in Flint, seems to be split on the issue.
The Duchess has escaped to her stronghold in Shale, where she still has political and military support. Sokana, condemned for treason, is taken to Slate, to the dungeons of the king where she is to await the gallows. The Flint branch of the RHC, including Leocamp, busies itself over the next few days rounding up suspected primalists and sympathizers to Ethelyn, though the most high profile have already fled to seek protection in Shale. The public braces itself for civil war.
After a week, Leocamp are called into the office of Assistant Chief Inspector Stover Delft for a special assignment. Awaiting them is one Lya Jierre, Danor‘s Minister of Outsiders and scion of her nation’s ruling family. Delft explains that that the Duchess has successfully employed her naval forces to take a key Danoran holding in the Yerasol Archipelago called Axis Island. There, the technologically advanced nation has several steel mining facilities and a military base. Ethelyn’s rebels presently occupy the heavily fortified base. Lya says that to avoid her own congress’s declaration of war, the Risuri themselves must oust Ethelyn and hand back control of the island to Danor.
Leocamp, as the agents with the most recent contact with Ethelyn’s minions, are to provide support on the mission to Risur’s navy and a more experienced cell of RHC operatives. Delft admits his reservations in allowing the novice team such an important and dangerous undertaking. He lets it slip that Risur’s own higher-ups demanded Leocamp’s participation in light of their recent public heroics, a decision that Minister Harkover Lee pushed through.
Talus, a veteran of the last Yerasol conflict, explains that Axis Island is known for its unstable magical events and was named for it’s tendency to confound compasses. “As if the other planes were attempting to bleed through.” During the war, Risur did not think it was prudent to slug it out with Danor over a few square miles of rocks and scrub.
The mission, as explained by Lya and Delft, is for Leocamp to sail with the Risuri navy to Axis Island. There, the navy will remain at a distance while Guardant Bull of Slate’s constabulary avoid the Duchess’s perimeter defenses and penetrate the island’s interior through a sea cave. The cave opens into a mine. Bull are to take point and secure the mine, then head overland to the Danoran military base with Leocamp as back-up. Once at the base, the more experienced constables will sneak in and open the sea gate before signaling the fleet. The navy are then to storm the fortress and capture the Duchess. After the dust settles, Leocamp are to look for clues and perhaps interrogate the Duchess and her associates.
Lya makes a personal request. She wants the constables to ensure the safety of one person. Her young cousin, a scholar named Nathan Jierre, was on the island when it was attacked, and she’s worried the duchess might have harmed him because he’s a tiefling. If her cousin is still alive, Lya asks them to keep him safe until she can pick him up and bring him home. When pressed, Lya admits that her people, including Nathan, were studying the island’s phenomena. Lethe senses that Lya isn’t being completely forthcoming, a notion Delft privately agrees with. He asks the constables to be wary of anything suspicious.
Leocamp spend the better part of the next day upgrading their gear and receive a few mission critical supplies. They get water breathing potions and also scrolls that will allow them to walk through walls and signal the navy with a pyrotechnic display. The scrolls, provided by Minister Lee, are specially prepared to allow anyone to use them regardless of magical skill. Leocamp then board the RNS Impossible, a swift clipper ship, and rendezvous with the navy in the evening. There, they reunite with Captain Smith, who was an attendee of the Coaltounge launch. Dinner at the captain’s table forces the team to contend with Smith’s penchant for philosophical debate, and he reveals his general mistrust of Lethe Greenbark, who was seen aboard the Coaltongue in the company of the Duchess. Again, the elf is forced to reaffirm her commitment to Risur, which seems to satisfy the blustery captain.
Present at the dinner are Guardant Bull. Their cell consists of a half-elven druid named Tanya who proudly speaks of urban spirits, a brawny human warrior named Seven-Foot Dan who wears a spiked chain for a shirt, a sly illusionist named Letmas, and an extraordinarily cultured goblin thief named Burton. The two teams strike an accord after some icy first impressions. Burton and Utsusemi get along famously, eagerly talking shop about subjects relating to their shared trade.
During the trip, Nex attempts to get to know Tanya, but is disappointed with her platitudinous response to the loss of his family. Burton engages Utsusemi in a test of skill, attempting to sneak within striking reach of the perceptive dromite, though he does not succeed. Talus busies himself at his teammates’ suggestion that some aboard the ship might be sinful in nature, and focuses on a certain sketchy-looking sailor who eventually begs the constables to call the gearman off. Lethe finds that rumors of her brief rapport with Ethelyn and Sokana have reached the crew of the Impossible, who regard her with unrestrained suspicion.
Nex utilizes his skills as a seaman to get in good with the crew, and hears first-hand their qualms about his elven teammate. They are concerned about her loyalties and apprehensive over Lethe’s tattoo of the dead goddess Srasama, which they associate with Vekeshi terrorists. Nex brings word to Lethe, and the two discuss options for subtlety when working alongside less-enlightened humans.
Eventually, the night of decision falls. The Impossible breaks from the naval fleet, hoists black sails, and enters an Axis Island cove under the cover of darkness. Guardant Bull ready themselves to dive overboard and trail a rope through the sea cave. They command Leocamp to wait for their signal that the mine on the other end of the cave is secure. Tanya leaves her hound companion behind.
Minutes later, the rope starts vibrating fitfully and Lethe notices Tanya’s dog has gone feral. She immediately surmises that the other druid is dead. Leocamp takes to the shark-infested water, and Lethe commands a harmless fish to scout ahead and report back their fellow constables’ fate. It returns with grim news: The mountain, it says, has swallowed them up. Following the rope, the heroes find all but Burton fatally crushed beneath fallen boulders, though the goblin’s leg is pinned.
Quickly thinking, Leocamp use Burton’s own passwall scroll to free him. He says that the Bulls had a strange, temporary sensation that they were walking through a swamp inhabited by yellow frogs before the cave ceiling collapsed. The heroes leave the maimed goblin behind and endeavor to complete the mission themselves. After weighing their options and remembering that the Duchess likely has the beaches under magical surveillance, the Sea Lions press on through the dark of the cave.
Leocamp finally emerge in a round cavern that appears to be the base of the mine. Scaffolding leads from the water to an apex platform and cave about forty feet above them. The heroes immediately see a white-haired man scramble up to it and from behind the cover of some barrels, unload his pistol at them. From his accent and angry words, it seems this Donaran man has confused the team for more of the Duchess’s rebels. The rest of Leocamp hang back out of firing range as Utsusemi attempts to reach the Danoran unseen. However, the dromite is the first to see the old man is not alone. A creature of shadows intercepts Utsusemi as he pulls himself onto the lowest dry platform. The monster puts a ghostly hand through the dromite, sapping his strength. The rest of the constables scramble to defend their teammate only to see another monster, an elemental composed of earth and stone, clamber down toward them.
Nex maneuvers through the shallow water to a decent firing position and shoots the shadow stalker. The bullet sails harmlessly through its incorporeal body. The gunslinger notices behind him in the center of the chamber a great plinth of gray stone rising from the water line to the ceiling. A splinter of white marble extrudes from the stone, covered with ancient pictogram carvings. In a tiny nook carved into the tip of the marble splinter sits an oversized gold coin.
Utsusemi drops away from his shadowy assailant and looses a beam of psionic cold that does manage to wound the creature—slightly. Realizing that conventional weapons will otherwise have no effect on the shadow stalker, Leocamp brace themselves for a difficult contest.
Our heroes voyage to Axis Island to help capture the Duchess and prevent a war.