Part 4 of our first Album Adventure, based on Assembly by Theatre of Tragedy, a gothic metal/electronic band from Norway. Assembly was released in 2002 by Nuclear Blast.
The brothers Sarromere, heirs to the Iscobal throne before their mother was deposed, are seeking out something called the Operator Key, an artifact hidden in their exiled mothers tomb in Ancuan, in the hopes that they can use it to save their home city of Dynafel from the machinations of a machine that has twisted a Dream Sallow to it's own purposes.
Getting the Players Involved
If the players were in the last adventure, they are already have a reason to help the brothers, but if not, the brothers are looking to hire whatever help they can get. The path from Dynafel to the Ancuan tomb is long and who knows what dangers may await them on the road or their destination.
Play, Superdrive, Let You Down
In a small aldeia just outside of Dynafel, the brothers have settled down to rest and recruit help. A woman there draws a lot of attention, clearly out of place, a noble among peasants. She clearly doesn't fit in this world, more suited to the airs and graces of high-society than those working in the fields of Iscobal day in and day out. Despite that, the local have taken to her and she has earned their respect, drinking at the bar with the common folk, easily beating whatever drinking challenges they throw at her, whilst still maintaining her air of nobility and grace.
The brothers are clearly taken by her, her mix of common and noble charms oddly compelling. The fact that she is a noble beauty might also go some way to helping in that regard as well. She wears a close-cut golden dress, half-gown, half-kimono in style and carries a large sword with her cut from some translucent green material, circuitry designs etched into the blade, the end of the blade lined in a sharp gold trim. Her blue eyes are cold and distant, as most nobles are when looking down on the lower castes, but the coldness is tempered by her fiery red hair. Careful inspection, beating a difficulty of level 8, may reveal she was once physically male through subtle signs in her physical appearance, but has since undergone various alterations, perhaps with the help of the numenera, to become female - regardless of what the players discover, she is clearly a woman completely comfortable with who she is.
The small aldeia is just on the outskirts of the mists and the mists are all they talk about. Rumours and gossip are abound, but the main tale of the hour is the attempted assassination of the King and Queen. The woman's take on the whole matter is that it was no attempt at all, but that it was the work of a ghost that hunts in the fog and many of the common-folk are inclined to believe her, though many mutter about the Sarromere brothers previous attempt that lost the King an arm and an eye.
The players most likely want to get out of town as quickly as possible, especially if the brother get recognised. However, so captivated are the brothers with this woman, they insist that she must be convinced to accompany them on their journey. She looks extremely capable and her wits could do them all some good if they need to deal with the common folk again on the way to Ancuan and beyond.
Asking around about the woman quickly draw her attention and before the player can learn much, they are confronted by her. She introduces herself as Lady Alizarin, a noble from Milave touring the Steadfast on her wits alone as proof of her fitness to take over her family house. The players may know that Milave has no royalty, but that doesn't exclude nobles or an elite caste. The brothers certainly know such things, being royalty once themselves. At a difficulty 7, the players may notice she isn't being entirely truthful. However, nothing says about her background can be either disproved, nor rings completely false, so the players can only a sense that she isn't giving them the whole picture. The players may also note that the brothers and the woman seem to recognise each other with a difficulty 5 task. They don't reveal any previous relationships, even if confronted, at most saying they must have met as children during their royal court days consorting with other nobles.
What the lady wishes to know is why the players and the brothers are so interested in her. She flaunts her beauty and watches those attracted to her react with a detached amusement, but she knows that those lusting or love-struck don't ask the kinds of questions in the way the players are. The brothers reveal their mission and offer her employment, which she accepts.
Quite frankly, I've been slumming it for too long and as fun as that may be, some adventure with some companions of my own station would be delightful.
She flirts openly with the two brothers and ignores the players for the most part unless they interfere and when the brothers take a room at the local inn, she joins them both in their shared room.
Lady Alizarin 5 (15)
- 6 points
- Deception as level 7, seduction as level 7. Mild telepathic abilities - Lady Alizarin can communicate mentally, transmitting words and sensations, by touch
- Lady Alizarin uses her heavy blade artifact to do most of her damage. However, if absolutely necessary, she activates an additional ability of the blade to produce a blast of cold that freezes everyone solid in short range around a point she designates. Targets take 5 points of damage and then remain frozen until they beat a difficulty 5 might roll to break free.
- Lady Alizarin is interested in getting whatever she wants as the whim takes her. She enjoys charming people and benefiting from their affections and she keeps things casual and fun, adapting herself to her surrounding, acting more noble and high-brow around high-society, but willing to drink and laugh and make lewd comments with common folk at the local bars. She acts friendly, charming and open in a way that makes it very hard to dislike her and even if sensing she is guarding herself, it is hard not to trust her.
If the players proposition her, she politely declines, though hints and flirts that a later rendezvous if a definite possibility. For the time being, she is occupied with her new employers. The players, suspecting something, may wish to spy on her. Doing so without her noticing is a level 5 difficulty but all they see is her sexual exploits with the brothers. If she spots them, she stares flirtatiously at them, an amused smile on her face, but doesn't stop what she is doing, nor alert the brothers to the players intrusion. Players that watch everything see that the sex turns to violence, with her beating the brothers, paddling them with the flat of her strange blade and striking them with her open palms. The brothers neither defend themselves or call out, taking the punishment almost eagerly until she leaves them nearly unconscious. Afterwards, she simply gets dressed again, returns to her own room and goes to sleep.
The Next Day
Leaving the next morning, the brothers appear a little bruised, but the seem fine and reveal nothing, brushing aside any words of concern or worry. Lady Alizarin remains coy about any enquiries into the brothers condition or last nights activities.
The brothers want to make good time, and so they purchase a group of Brehm from a local breeder. On reptilian coursers the group can make it over the border into Ancuan before nightfall. The tomb is in the Northern border of Ancuan, just South-East of Gtharren and as they near the lonely stone tomb and ramshackle farm nearby, the moonlight reflects off the huge Gtharren crystal, illuminating the mausoleum.
Lady Alizarin dances in the moonlight and makes a sweeping gesture towards the tomb.
Shall we, darlings?
The players might expect the brothers to be offended by her flippant treatment of their mothers tomb, but they seemed thoroughly cowed and follow her lead. She leads the way, acting with as if she's been here before, and waves for the brothers to push open the crusted, overgrown stone doors of the mausoleum. It's a difficulty 2 task if the players choose to try first, but the brothers can manage it by themselves with a little straining.
Inside, the tomb is pitch black, but Lady Alizarin's sword lets off a faint glow enough to see an immediate distance. The lady leads the way until they reach the burial chamber, where she waits and guides everyone in, using the light from her sword to show the way.
You should hurry. Boys, you know what to do.
The burial chamber is small and in the centre a stone coffin lays on a raised plinth. The rooms walls are all carved with arches about 2 feet in diameter, in columns and rows lining the walls from top to bottom, resulting in twenty alcoves in total. What is in the alcoves through the small arches can not be seen easily in the dim light, but with a level 2 intellect task, the players can see an intricately patterned metallic sphere. A further level 1 intellect check reveal that these are gazers (pg. 56, Ninth World Bestiary) and that they seem dormant - for now. Attempting to interact with any of them in anyway activates all of them, as does interacting with the coffin.
The brothers touch the coffin and it shimmers in light, rippling out from their hands.
Thank you boys. I'm afraid I'll have to let you down now. You wont be the heroes you were hoping to be. You should have let me go, but now you've lost control. You pushed the line too far - I deal with the killing of things. I do not deal with things already dead - not ghosts and certainly not the filthy tombs of crazy, old women. You've wasted your time here and while you've been an entertaining distraction, now you're absolutely useless. Bye-bye!
With that, Lady Alizarin casually slays the brothers in a single blow. She turns to the players.
Before you think of avenging these two, I suggest you open the coffin and take what you came for. They were going to kill us both you know, activate the gazers in those alcoves and watch them burn us to cinders, ashes to join their crazed old mother in death. They wanted to be heroes - the only heroes. Childish, really.
If the players attack, she attempts to freeze them all and flee, otherwise she watches with curiosity as they push the lid from the coffin. If they demand proof of her claims or ask questions, she rolls her eyes in a bored expression and extends her hand, asking one of them to take it. The players touching her have they minds flooded with thoughts and images, a mental recording of the thoughts she herself had stolen from the brothers during their intercourse.
People are so much easier to read when they have what they want, and what they always want is me... Satisfied?
She winks, and continues to wait.
Inside the coffin lay the remains of Queen Sarromere. Around her neck and clasped in her hands is shiny, metal panel, about as big as a palm. Despite appearing to be metal, it feels like glass and is very cold and heavier than one would expect. Lady Alizarin keeps her distance and looks disappointed.
Hmm. Not what I expected at all. Keep it. You may go now.
The players are free to leave with the metal panel, but if they remain, Lady Alizarin looks at them disdainfully, shooing them away. If they try to take one of the dormant gazers or explore the burial chamber further, she tuts disapprovingly.
I said you may go. I really do not suggest you tally any longer. After all, aren't the poor people of Dynafel still at risk? Aren't my dear friends King and Queen tiKalloban still deathly ill? No need to worry about me, my dears. This lady can take care of herself just fine. Along with you now.
If the players continue to stick around, question her or confront her, she scowls.
Fine then. I hate to see you be so rude. Dreadful behaviour. I bid you good night. Enjoy your tomb.
With that, she leaves, but before she does she swings her sword to the ground, hitting the stone floor with a loud crack. Ice shoots out from the impact, sealing the corridor. The players here her humming a tune to herself as she walks away, but more disturbing is the pitch black they are plunged into as the sole source of light walks away and the twinkle of tiny lights from the walls as the gazers reactivate, awoken by the shock of the impact.
The players may decide to just attack Lady Alizarin outright, and if they do so she attacks back in earnest, to the fullest extent of her abilities, but tries to flee down the corridor to the surface, sealing in the players behind her. A fight also wakes up the gazers, that join in, attacking both the Lady and the players indiscriminately.
What the players decide to do from here is up to them. The lady is either dead, gone or they may have managed to incapacitate her. The brothers are likely dead, but the players may have been able to prevent their fall at the Lady Alizarin's hand. In any event, their mission still stands and the mystery of just what the deal is between the brothers and the Lady remains, as well as the odd behaviour of the lady herself.
What is the deal between the Sarromere Brothers and Lady Alizarin?
Lady Alizarin is an unashamedly sexual creature and enjoys casual encounters. With her telepathic abilities, she also wields sex as a weapon, using it to get close and break down others mental defences. She finds that her abilities work far better and can extract far more information when those she is touching are in a state of euphoria and arousal focused on her. The scene at the inn was a revisit of their previous negotiations regarding the assassination job, but having learned about the brothers masochistic tendencies, she made use of them both as a consensual excuse to hurt them for her own personal satisfaction and to further open them up to learn more.
Her powers are not uni-directional however, and during their intercourse she informed them through touch of her displeasure. She did not want to be hired again, nor did she want to deal with the brothers, however, she has goals of her own, goals which this key of theirs might satisfy so she was allowing them to live as long as they obeyed.
Lady Alizarins goals involve her sword. Her odd behaviour and personality can be explained partially due to the fact that she is in love with the artifact she wields. The artifact is a machine intelligence which she can communicate with telepathically by touch, which is why she is rarely without her blade. It is capable of taking upgrades (which is how she acquired the ice powers) and she is curious, base don what she has learned of the key, whether or not she might be able to use it to allow her beloved to escape it's body. Upon seeing the keey, the sword tells her it's incompatible or unsuitable, which is why she loses interest. However, the brothers are of no use and having crossed her, deserve no less than death.