and Introducing: Fentin
The team recuperates in Chicago for a spell, upgrading ‘ware and magic and spending some of their hard-earned ¥, before heading to Wheels’ bar in upstate NYC to retrieve Chem’s van and do a job for Frosty Jane. Chem and Toast decide to sit this one out while they trick out the van and begin recruiting ex-corp scientists for a private lab and weapons R&D facility that they decide to co-fund in Atlanta. They get some disgruntled ex- Ares employees for the first batch of recruits ( Ex-Corporate Scientists), and Chem also recommends another former Firewatch member to fill the hacker/sniper roll that the team lacks- a man named Fentin. He’s a bit surly but seems to know his stuff.
Frosty explains that the artifact known as the Phaistos Disc is the key to deciphering and utilizing the full power of the set of navigational artifacts (comprised of the Piri Reis Map, Shantaya’s Compass and the Sextant of Worlds). However, the Disc has been impossible to unlock thus far, and she and Ehran the Scribe have only just gotten a good lock on the location of the key needed to do so: back into the metaplanes! The Hudson River Valley is apparently rife with alchera and other astral “bleeds”, and the team manages to find a spirit in the form of a friendly small-town cop named Abobo who seems to work for Lone Star Security Services, who offers to guide them. They accept, and re-enter the Plane of Man. They receive a warning from an earth spirit named Stand In The Rain that Abobo is not to be trusted.
They make their way to the council of Elders at Penn Yan once again, bypassing the line with Abobo’s help, and after relaying their quest are told they must past a test of intelligence, faith, and will, that none have yet bested. They see visions of what look to be members of both the Atlantean Foundation and The Black Lodge being killed with sorcery after failing the challenge. Each of the 7 spirits asks a question for each subject, and gives the team a brief time to answer. Love proves valuable, passing the first 2 tests, with Fentin taking the lead on the 3rd. They appease the spirits, and also provide some small tokens as thanks, before gaining access to a secret and long-guarded path.
They head deeper into the metaplanes, and seem to be travelling back in metaphorical time, based on the representation. With Toff’s skillful negotiating, they manage to pacify and angry spirit, that looks to have been corrupted by the AF and BL, amongst other magical influences, and prevent him from attacking a delegation from the ASPS working on astral cleansing. After showing him who his true enemies are, he provides them with the safe path through the maze he has been left to guard onto the final plane they must reach. Abobo leaves them here, telling them he can go no further but will see them on their return. They follow a glowing light that guides them through the maze, avoiding a variety of dead-ends, pitfalls, and other traps, which look to have claimed some previous adventurers. They enter a final chamber, and the light winks out. Sensing a still pool at the bottom, but unable to see it due to some trick of the mind, they take a leap of faith, and fall through into some sort of prehistoric jungle.
Following some hard to read track, they find evidence that a delegation from the BL made it this far some centuries ago- surprising given that magic was supposedly gone from the world at that time. The strange vegetation and some expedition notes they find that mention “the alchemist in Prague” suggest that this may be the origin of the mysterious “Voynich Manuscript.” They continue on, sensing a powerful magical force in the distance. Stands-In-The-Rain shows up again, and ushers them onward. They eventually enter a small grove of dead and twisted trees, and are confronted by a strange and powerful spirit named Delduwath that seems to feed on fear and death. Love recognizes it’s source of power, and is able to keep the team from fleeing (a certain death based on the ring of bones around the edges of the clearing), and keep them moving towards the spirit. They eventually fall through into a space between roots, where they are quickly enclosed by the hungry-seeming trees. Love tells them they must embrace the visions of their deaths in order to pass through the challenge, and they do (though Fentin is pretty sketched out).
After “dying” they all emerge to find the spirit waiting for them with a small stone “key” that looks like it will fit the Disc perfectly. They seem to have passed whatever test was decreed by whoever placed the key here, and are suddenly transported back to Earth. They find Abobo waiting, and show him the key in order to appease him, and pay him back for his earlier guidance. He seems satisfied, and departs. They link up with Frosty, who is quite excited, she tells them that once she has the chance to do some research with the newly unlocked disc, she will have more work for them.