The Fate of Sprocket

The Formation of the First Circle

Fate threw together our Exalted into the building where all adventures begin: a tavern.

In the Nuts and Bolts Bar of Traza, commonly rumored to be a hang out for those friendly—or at least not hostile—towards Solar, Kunai was looking for his Cult of the Illuminate contact, Gronk, Bendil, and Professor Helios were just having a drink, and Trevan Eseldor was asking for directions to the location of his political contact, Prefect Jonas, so that he could request for assistance to aid in the defense of Turith.

Suddenly, a short Enforcer burst in with four golems, demanding to know where the Anathema known as Mr. Myth was. When no one answered, he began accusing everyone of being supporters of the Anathema and threatened to bring them all in for questioning. Bendil rose smoothly up to tell the enforcer that he was probably actually looking for the “Bolts and Nuts Inn” in Sicta, while Trevan notices that the golems are marked as Factoria and politely asks if he actually has any authority in Traza.

The Enforcer angrily replies that Factoria has authority over all of Sprocket, just when a Traza Enforcer shows up, overhearing the declaration and denounces it. While the two Enforcers argue, Professor Helios identifies Gronk and Kunai as probably Solar due to their orichalcum weapons, Kunai motions Gronk over for the same reason. Bendil notices this and is always out for adventure, whereas Trevan’s sense to uncover intrigue and avoid this scene causes him to follow as well. The bartender—an Illuminate agent—opens a secret door for Kunai, and the group passes through unnoticed.

They arrive in a dark alleyway near the ground floor of the island. Gronk, growing up as a gladiatorial slave and being not as familiar with the need for discretion, lights up his caste mark to see by. Astonished, the rest of the group also reveal their caste marks and discuss their reasons for being here. They all agree to band together for now, and Trevan forms an oath that none of them would intentionally betray one another.

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Finding Mr. Myth

Kunai explains what the Sidereal are and Gronk learns that he’s being hunted for reasons other than being an escaped slave. Kunai also explains that there’s a non-Gold Sidereal somewhere on the island, and the group decides it is in their best interest not to have one around.

Trevan inquires with Prefect Jonas about the state of affairs on the island. Learns that there’s some heavily guarded shipments of something that is suspicious. Borrows a book of laws from him. Also learns that the annoying Enforcer from Factoria’s name is Surril and is a huge thorn in the side of Traza. He learns of the basic background of the island.

Meanwhile, Professor Helios goes to the library to search for clues of a Sidereal in any history of the island. He discovers an odd inconsistency in the map of the tunnel network below the island with an amazing level of scrutiny.

The group investigates the tunnels and finds a trapped hidden door. Trevan points it out just as Gronk activates it, but it manages not to hurt any one. After traveling past that door, eventually they get to a glowing golden wall.

Professor Helios ascertains that it would not be dangerous to touch it, and does so. The wall opens up. The group walks through and sees a figure working amongst dozens of gadgets. Professor Helios, to his surprise, recognizes him as Professor Smith, who has to be much over a hundred years old by now—he was old when Helios was a student, and Helios is now himself old.

“Uh, are you… Mr. Myth?”

“Smith! Smith, damn it, why do they always get my name wrong?”

Professor Smith was a Twilight caste.

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Sunken Orichalcum

Professor Smith explains that the golden barrier the group encountered earlier only allows Solars to pass through, and gives an explanation of his history. He had come across this island when the Water and Fire were just demesnes, and settled a dispute between the two sister spirits by building the manses for them. Then he set up a hidden shop here so he could work on his artifacts in peace, not caring very much that a city ended up being built on top of his workshop.

He was also at some point, one of the Regents, long enough to ensure that his workshop would not be discovered and would have sufficient power, then abdicated to avoid the cut-throat politics and to concentrate on creating warstriders. He notes that he was pretty sure one of the other Regents is the Sidereal, and another is one of the Fair Folk.

Professor Smith has a request for the group—to find large quantities of orichalcum. He has heard rumors of this in the Traza district. The group realizes that they may be the odd shipments Prefect Jonas had mentioned earlier—especially since Prefect Jonas noted that the items seemed unusually heavy.

Kunai scouts out to identify the warehouses that may be housing the orichalcum, and discovers that some of it had just been transported to a steam-powered ship. He sneaks on to the ship, but is discovered. He kills the golems aboard the ship and one of two Enforcers, but not before they accidentally cause the ship to blow up instead of speeding up. So, the orichalcum sinks to the sea floor and one of the enforcers escapes.

The next morning, Trevan has tea with Prefect Jonas to ask if there are rumors of odd things happening. He learns that a ship blew up, but the superior officers believe that they were messing about with the engine and that the survivor has become insane, babbling about a monster with a giant scythe. Satisfied that the circle’s involvement has not been revealed, Trevan thanks Jonas for his time and tea. Prefect Jonas again complains about Enforcer Surril, and Trevan promises to check into what he might be able to do, in exchange for some supplies being diverted his way.

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The Infamous Pirate and Orihalcum Recovery

When the group checks out the warehouse during daylight hours, they are amazed to see the infamous Captain Virgilio Nobeard. Since the captain was already known for being a Solar and the group needed to recover the orichalcum sunk in the sea, they enlist Virgilio to their cause and also agree that when they free the slaves of Kuz that they will be given a spiel about joining Virgilio’s pirate army as an option.

The group spends the day doing two things:

  • Finding a winch to attach on to one of Virgilio’s ships to hoist back up the orichalcum.
  • Interrogating Enforcer Logan in the mental asylum about where the ship was going and to plot out the likely places the ship had sank. They also learned of an interesting pattern the ship had to sail in order to activate a hidden door.

At night, the group launches their assault to recover the remaining orichalcum. They discover a new type of golem with orichalcum blades during the fight, but handily win it. They recover 200 pounds of orichalcum.

Trevan suppresses his Temperance and writes a forgery using his Linguistics but with Virgilio’s supplied words of Manipulation to make this attack look like a plan involving Surril. When he has tea with Prefect Jonas the next day, Jonas exclaims happily that Surril seems to have been demoted or something, and thanks Trevan if he somehow had anything to do with it.

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The Fire Goddess

The group delivers the 200 pounds of orichalcum to Professor Smith, as well as their notes on the fact that they were building golems with blades made of the stuff, and Professor Smith exclaims that they shouldn’t have enough heat to do this. He yells for Carta, and to the group’s surprise the fire spirit appears and floats down.

Professor Smith inquires about whether Carta has been re-directing any energy to them, and Carta replies that no, she has not. She has noticed, though, 4 Fire-aspected dragon blooded wearing an interesting emblem. Trevan has Carta draw the emblem, and it turns out that they are from the Red Flare Army, the army that appears to be marching towards Turith and that Trevan is seeking defense against.

Trevan instills in Carta a dislike for the Red Flare Army, despite their fiery nature. Carta expresses a desire for more worshippers, and Trevan introduces Captain Virgilio to her. Captain Virgilio dedicates two of his ships to fly her banner, and Carta is pleased to have such a famous pirate sing her praises. Carta asks what Trevan and Virgilio would like in return, and Trevan states that one day he may need training from her, and Virgilio replies, “What manner of generous gift shall we say that you gave us, to represent the fullness of your glory?” Carta decides to give him a 4-dot fire hearthstone.

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The Sidereal's Plan

The group discusses their various plans with Professor Smith, and Professor Smith suggests that he can build a drill with some of the orichalcum if they want to launch a subterranean assault against the slave pits, but it will take some time. The group agrees, and Smith begins building the drill. Smith also says that he can build up orichalcum artifacts of their request, but if it uses too much orichalcum, he will be missing some warstriders. Trevan puts in a request for a necklace of Solar charisma.

Meanwhile, the circle now decides to sail to the delivery location of the orichalcum. Following the dubious instructions of the half-insane surviving enforcer, the group found themselves in a hidden waterlock, lowered into what seemed to be a secret factory. With the only light being the lanterns on their ship, the group was attacked by multiple golems, which they handily dispatched.

Then came on the lights. They were surrounded by hundreds of more golems.

A figure with grey hair sat about 100 yards away at a dinner table applauded the group and invited the group to dine with them, commenting, “I thought you would find me sooner.” It was the Sidereal that they had been looking for. Accompanying him was one of the Fire-aspected dragon blooded, wearing an emblem of the Red Flare Army.

The group outmatched, and Kunai failing his valor check, decide to join the two at the table.

The Sidereal, calling himself Silver, explains that their goals may not be at odds as much as the group believed. While not part of the Gold faction, Silver was also not part of the Bronze faction, preferring to be independent. Silver did not believe that the Solar should be hunted down, but neither did he believe that they should be restored as the primary rulers. He believed that they should be allowed to aid for the first few hundred years of their lives until the Great Curse corrupted their virtues and then be forced to… release their exaltation. Since no one in the group had objections to terminating those, Solar or not, who showed immediate threat to Creation, Kunai no longer needed to kill the Sidereal.

Silver gave the group three guesses each as to why he was building golems with orichalcum blades. No one guessed correctly in the first round. In the second round, Trevan reasoned that the threat must have something to do with the Abyssals, as golems cannot be made undead.

Silver confirmed his suspicions. One of the Regents was secretly an Abyssal, and Silver reads that something terrible will happen to the island, and thus needed powerful assistance. Assistance that he was hoping that we would provide. Silver also revealed that there were three other manses besides the Fire and Water manse, and that together they enabled the true purpose of Sprocket: a First Age defense fortress.

The group agrees to band together against the Abyssal threat if Silver pledges an oath supporting Kunai’s idea of Celestial Deliberative where all three types of Exalted ruled and to aid the circle in securing Sprocket. Silver agrees to do so, and Trevan seals the deal with an Eclipse-oath.

Trevan asked why the Red Flare Army is advancing towards Turith. Silver explained that it was a misunderstanding—initially, he thought the Abyssals would target Turith first, but diverted course to Sprocket, so he had been directing the army there. The nature of the Red Flare Army was to not reveal their reasons and to kill any scouts trying to report their movements. Trevan demanded reparations for the scouts of Turith so slain. Smoldering Cinder, the dragon blooded, grudgingly agreed to the blood-money and also offered his apologies.

Silver identifies one of the manse locations as being near the slave arena in Kuz. Gronk and the rest of the crew become even more determined to assault that stronghold and gain control over the manse.

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Arena of Glamour

The group prepares to free the slaves and locate the manse. Virgilio tricks a tour of the facility out of one of the guards and learns of the layout of the place. Gronk also contributes his memories of the place.

The group waits for the drill to be completed, and with Professor Helios at the helm, they attempt to drill into the prison cells for the slaves. Unfortunately, they miscalculated the distance a bit and rise right into the center of the arena.

“What’s this? We have new combatants entering the arena! And a return of a crowd favorite, Gronk the Unstoppable!” declares a booming voice, the source unseen. The crowd cheered, for the group had just arrived in the middle of ongoing combat.

Suddenly, the drill and the hole shrink and the arena walls rose to be over a hundred feet tall. Glamour was being used. Trevan is the only one to see through it, but has no luck convincing the others that it is not real.

The group fights first a group of dogs with little difficulty. Kunai rescues one of the slaves from the dogs’ attacks before rejoining the battle.

Next, the pit fills up with glamorous water, and sharks are released. Gronk and Kunai begin dispatching the sharks themselves, while Virgilio and some of his pirate followers coordinate attacks against them. Trevan desperately grabs onto a shark and holds on until Gronk kicks it into submission.

Finally, the voice announces the final battle. A horrific huge beast made of moving skin and eyes appears. The crowd flees in terror. Even our stalwart Exalted were afflicted with uncertainty, but they stood firm.

The behemoth was incredibly tough and inflicted some grievous wounds on the Solars, but ultimately the group won and shattered the altered form of the Fair Folk’s Sword grace. But the Fair Folk had one last glamour for the group and escaped as Kunai jumped up to the booth where the voice came from, and Gronk tossed up the remaining members.

The group then freed the slaves in the facility, giving them option of joining Virgilio’s crew. Many of them did.

When the group returned to the arena, they had found that the behemoth’s body had largely disappeared and that the ground had collapsed, revealing the center of the manse. There, a hearthstone of Wood stood.

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The First Ringing of the Bells

Helios noticed that the ground below the Wood manse was a little different. Darker in an unnatural way. So the group uses the drill to downwards and discovers some tunnels about 25 feet in diameter that look lined with ultra-hard compressed bone, an inventive and horrifying substance.

The tunnels appeared to be extremely echoic, and noise traveled very far. The group hears a raspy voice say, “It seems like such a waste. Your master would not want us to dally.” Kunai estimates the distance as a mile away.

A sigh is heard, and a female voice says, “Fine, Tars. Let us begin.”

Then the sound of bells were heard.

The group gains an urgent need to beat each other silly. While the Solar Exalted retained enough control of themselves to not use lethal attacks, they after fighting for hours they tired out and lost consciousness. The last thing Trevan and Kunai saw was a girl standing over them.

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When they came to, they found themselves disarmed, but apparently well taken care of. That same girl seemed to be tending to them. Trevan sat up and addressed her. She was shy and did not speak, but wrote words on a pad and sent images to their heads and Trevan learned that she was Misena, the water spirit. She had rescued Trevan and Kunai, but their compatriots were not there when she came back. She had also seen a different female figure with an umbrella lined with bells, and the vision of her was filled with fear.

Their equipment was in a separate room, and Trevan and Kunai were introduced to Larsika, a night caste who was above ground at the time but managed to escape the effect of the bells. Misena and Larsika explained to the two what had happened above ground: the two had been unconscious for the last three days, and above ground the people grew insane at the effects of the bells and tore each other apart.

  • 90% of Factoria’s population just seemed to have disappeared. None of the regents seemed to be around.
  • Slave and enforcer conflicts were happening frequently in Kuz
  • In Lusin, there were rumors of strange war machines killing everyone
  • Half of Cartan was on fire—Carta seemed to be crazy, despite her spirit nature presumably protecting her from the bells
  • A strange plague afflicted Sicta
  • In Traza, the two regents were in deadlock with a cold war. Little actual fighting had occurred, but the distrust had locked down the entire area.

The three Exalted agree to band together to fight against the Abyssal. Trevan binds Larsika to an Eclipse-oath that she will not betray him intentionally and states that he will not betray her either. Trevan also promises Misena that they’ll do what they can to help Carta.

Together, they set off to determine what has happened to their allies. Misena grants them an artifact that allows them to summon her, provided that they are on the coastline, and delivers them onto the coast of Factoria.

Most of the buildings seemed to be in ruin. The group goes to the secret factory where they first met Silver, and found him dead, with none of the golems activated—it appeared that he had been surprised and quickly given the mortal blow before he had a chance to raise his defenses.

Trevan put his investigative skills to use and discerns that Silver had died of a puncture wound that cleared straight through his body, but did not find a bullet or arrow. He also saw that after Silver took the mortal blow he did not die immediately, but dragged himself to the specific spot where they had found him. Underneath his body was a hidden compartment on in the floor, and inside they found a journal and 5 rings.

The journal detailed the functionality of the rings—they controlled golems, but also allowed the use of golems as an avatar with direct control. The journal also showed the history of Silver’s influence on Sprocket, how he decided to leave Smith in peace, creating the golems to combat against the Abyssal, but did not expect the bells. He feared for Professor Smith.

The group took some golems with them and proceeded with grim expectations towards Professor Smith’s factory. Along the way, they encounter and defeat a group of zombies and a rolling ball made of toothy maws, constantly chewing and apparently the source of the tunnels.

When they arrived at Professor Smith’s forge, they found it in disarray. Inside was Carta, who looked incensed and immediately accused them as being the cause.

Trevan and Larsika talk down Carta from attacking them and later got to the root of the issue. Carta had witnessed the capture of Professor Smith by two figured enveloped in darkness, but was unable to stop them. Smith had been a long time companion for Carta, so she had become distraught and began burning much the surface trying to seek vengeance.

Trevan declares that they are looking for Smith as well. The group searches for clues and take inventory of the place. Most of the warstriders that Professor Smith had been working on were gone, but they found some pieces that were artifacts in their own right.

  • A magitech HUD helmet for Trevan that enhanced his perception, awareness, and visual investigative skills
  • Gauntlets that enhanced Kunai’s killing power
  • A bow that allowed Larsika to use her essence arrow but not count against her charm activation

They discover boot marks that indicate that one of the assailants was heavy and one was much lighter, and they begin to follow the trail.

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There's Apparently Solar Everywhere

The trail led them to Lusin but became cold after the two stepped into the watery parts of the sewer. Trevan, Kunai, and Larsika decide that they’ve had enough of tunnels and go up to the surface.

Surveying the area, it appeared that this part of the city had been wiped surprisingly clean. They see active smoke stacks towards the direction that Professor Smith had been taken—they suspected that this was the source of the rumored war machines. They also spot a new figure with a shield and sword.

The two parties introduce each other. Radiant Oncoming Storm was the individuals name. Storm recognizes some of the artifacts being worn on the group as orichalcum and guesses that between that and the fact that they were still alive that they must be Solar. After checking for intent, Trevan and Storm agree on a mutual non-intentional-betrayal pact bound by an Eclipse-oath and to band together for now.

Just in time for giant corpse creatures and a weird child zombie emitting a whistle to attack them. The group discovers that Storm is Dawn caste and has six arms during the fight, which were put to good use.

They approach the factory and find yet another individual standing in front of the factory, appearing to contemplate how to get in and survive.

The figure introduces himself as Roberts, an “honest” merchant seeking to repair his ship. They agree to band together in return for later helping repair his ship.

Kunai sneaks inside the factory, and discovers a bunch of zombies and Professor Helios. Only Professor Helios was now an Abyssal and had just finished his Bonestrider. He sneaks back out and announces that he has good news and bad news.

“Good news: I found Professor Helios. Bad news: I think he wants to kill us.”

At that point, a huge door opens and out steps the bonestrider.

“Is that Professor Helios?!”

A battle ensues, with the bonestrider wielding a shadow blade and absorbing zombies. Helios rages on about how he had gained true power and that the group was weak for not realizing it.

Everyone but Kunai has difficulty even damaging the vehicle, but Storm and Roberts both defend him from terrible blows of the shadow blade as Kunai used his scythe to break through the bone and decapitate Professor Helios.

Inside the bonestrider were more parts of the warstrider, with items of interest for Storm and Roberts.

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The Second Ringing of the Bells

After defeating Abyssal Helios, the group searched the bone factory to clues to Professor Smith’s whereabouts. They noticed forges consuming dead bodies, soulsteel pillars, but no professors. They did find a diary belonging to Helios that named Smith a fool for not yet realizing the power of necrotech and lamenting that many of the bodies had to be sent elsewhere.

While the group continued searching, a dreadful sound befell them. The ringing of bells again.

Up on the surface, the bells had less of an effect than when they were in the tunnels, but unfortunately Larsika was afflicted. Trevan quickly pinned her by applying his sais to pressure points and Storm disarmed her bow. Kunai stood ready with a brick ready to knock her out if the formidable archer broke free and recovered her bow.

For what seemed like an eternity, but was actually half an hour, the sound of bells subsided. But then the group was attacked by a group of ghosts and their human thralls.

The ghosts blinded half the group and cast an immobilizing net, so the group was stuck without easy avenue for escape. Kunai turned invisible to prevent himself from being an easy target. Roberts, avoiding both the net and blindness, began cutting his way to the side to attack the ghosts from a hidden angle. Storm and Trevan set up a defensive perimeter to guard Larsika, the only member immediately able to attack the ghosts with her holy arrows.

The defense was definitely needed. The ghosts, recognizing Larsika as their only immediate threat, attempted to surround her with 8 thralls, which both Storm and Trevan valiantly fended off. After their attack, Storm’s retaliation knocked many of them unconscious, and the ones that were unfortunate to stray near Kunai’s invisible location also met a swift end.

Roberts, finally making his way to the ghosts, swings over with his whip and swings down his blade, which the lead ghost just barely manages to block. Larsika slings a few more holy bolts and the ghosts decide to retreat.

Storm recognizes a troubling fact from the fight—the ghosts did not seem disturbed by his true sunlight anima and the shadowlands did not seem to be any less oppressive. Suspecting that somehow an Abyssal manse or something of similar effect was nearby, he urged the group to leave the area, lest they be stuck in a place where essence recovery was not possible.

The group decides that it was time to disable the bells, though at great cost to the city. They travel back to where the drill was left, to discover that the arena entrance had been collapsed. Luckily, Storm demonstrated both the power of his six arms and knowledge of earthwork and quickly assembles a tunnel.

They return to the Wood manse to discover that while damaged, it was still intact. Storm shows the group how to attune themselves to the manse for enhanced mote recovery, then deciphers the workings of the drill that was left there.

While Trevan proved a slow student in learning how to operate the drill, Kunai did not and drills to the ocean in order to flood the tunnels. As the tunnels begin to flood, he uses the water stone Misena gave the group to summon her, thus escaping from drowning himself.

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