A Nibovian Wife, Diruks as drugs, the Talking Dead, the Muse, the mysterious Origin of Symmetry. Somehow it’s all connected, and the nexus point is at the end of a strange compass.
Following the compass leads them to Yenth-more precisely, the portal to New Yenth. All is not well in Yenth, strange black spots have been flying through and around the town during the day, shining a sort of black light that smothers the daylight away into darkness. The black spots have been swarming around the portal, and this has led others to believe it is some kind of attack or invasion from the strange citizens of New Yenth on the other side.
Whilst the black spots are raging, the portal has been closed off by the local militia to prevent any travel. The surrounding area has also been sealed off for people’s safety until the black spots can be dealt with.
Upon arrival in Yenth, it becomes clear the compass is pointing them directly to the portal. Any questions about the portal brings both suspicion and fear against the players and they are filled in about the recent events with the spots.
In addition to the spots, there has been a steady increase in crime recently. Murder, theft, assault, Yenth is going to hell and worse, people seem to care less and less about it.
As they explore the town, an Aeon priest will beckon them to one side and have words with them.
Excuse me. You are new to Yenth, yes? Good, I see that you are. That means you might be able to help me. Have you seen the black spots? I think they are responsible for recent the troubles. Now, without further data it's merely guesswork, but I think these 'spots' are parasites, feeding off people's innocence and inhibitions. It's why crime is up and common decency is all but gone. Being new here, you haven't been affected yet, so perhaps you can do the town a service? Take this jar and try and capture one, when you have secured a sample for me, I might be able to find a way to get rid of them.
Before the players leave, or if they ask how they will find him again, he says.
Oh, you'll want to find me again. My name is Abacas, I would say meet at my workshop in the portal house, but with all the ruckus I've been locked out of my own abode. For the meantime, I have a room at the inn over there. I'm sorry I have very little to reward you with, but I'm sure that if you can get me to my workshop after securing a sample, I can rustle up something.
No matter whether the players capture a spot or not, Abacas’ investigations will take time and fiddling about with some things, he only manages to confirm it will take several days to devise some kind of counter-measure. He is a man of his word however, and gives them a cypher which should prove a useful tool for slipping past the protections around the portal.
Sneaking into the portal building with the aid of the cypher is easy enough, but the town for the meantime is still in a state of chaos, so being caught is still a problem. However, something strange seems to be happening to the portal itself.
Examinging the portal to New Yenth, the players come across something more akin to mirror. It reflects an image of the players, but the reflection is slightly different. Teh characters seem happy, almost euphoric - as if they are on Bliss. Trying to communicate with themselves yields no results, their counterparts on the other side of the portal mirroring their speech and motions, though with an intellect task of 3, the players can determine that their copies never replicate anything they might consider unhappy, sad or otherwise emotionally negative.
Whilst exploring the chamber and examining things, a yell cries out from outside: mad rantings of an attack and suddenly there is an explosion, blasting the players through the portal and knocking them unconscious. When they awaken, they find themselves in New Yenth and the portal is gone, along with their counterparts.
With no choice but to explore, the players have little to do but look around the town of New Yenth and figure out if they can find a way home. The sun in the sky is different, birds flitter about and insects like butterflies and drgaonflies are abundant, in fact, almost swarming, as if they are counterparts to the black spots back in their native dimension.
The natives of New Yenth are strange, but welcome the players without much fuss. They are as concerned as the players about the portal disappearing, having no records of any such event ever happening before in all of history. With trade cut off, they are resigned to having to live 100% off the local land again, and not everyone is happy about those lack of luxury goods.
When asked about the duplicates selves, the New Yenthians don’t know what they are talking about. This is the first time they have seen the players and there were no copies of them here. New Yenth has no Aeon priests (in fact, they only know what those even are thanks to trade), but they happily offer them the assistance of their wise advisors.
The wise advisors listens to the players description of events and thinks.
This world of ours is older than your world. Time here has passed faster, differently. But things are not so different. People are people, there are fish in the sea, blossoms on the trees. It’s a new dawn, a new day. Perhaps you should be asking yourselves, is it a new life? We don’t know how to open or create a portal, but perhaps you could find a way, in time…
He sketches out a rough map of the area and points to an area to the North.
At night, those that sleep here shine in sync with shining of the stars above. Some kind of power exists in this place, perhaps it might provide you some way to get home. People that sleep there become… detached from reality, from time. Free from linearity, you might find a way to travel back to when the portal still exists, but such things are dangerous and I can only tell you that no-one has ever come back quite right from a journey there. Come, let me show you.
The advisor guides the players to a hut just next to the advisors building.
This is my daughter, she went to the Cursed Lands to build a future and this what happened to her.
Inside the hut is dark, the windows covered in drapes to shut out the light. A woman sits hunched in a corner and sat on a series of cushions. She rocks slowly back and forth, babbling to herself, repeating the same phrase over and over.
Paradise comes at a price…
She flinches away if touched, but takes no other actions except to resume her rocking and babbling. The wise man looks at her sadly.
She sometimes becomes lucid, claiming she has a son. But that is impossible. She was born sterile, she never had children, never adopted. Whatever she did out there, it worked, but at a cost. From the moment she came back, things changed around here, peoples fortunes were better, harvests reaped better results. But this… this was not a price I was willing to pay. Still, if you want to go to the Cursed Lands, it might be your only hope to return to your world. Just be aware of what it might cost you.
Assuming the players decide to investigate the only lead they have, the Cursed Lands lay a few miles to the North. Travel there reveals just how alien this Ninth World is to their native one, with strange plants and animals they have never seen before in abundance.
Standing in the clearing indicated on the wise mans map, is a Philethis, its mirror-dome mask glinting in the sunlight. It beckons them over.
The philethis doesn’t seem to be doing anything, and just silently observes the players. It doesn’t respond to any actiosn they take, but never allows itself to be touched, slightly gliding out of reach of any attack, esotery or cypher ability, mocking them if they make any such attempt against it.
Useless device, it won’t suffice.
The players can choose to just ignore it and sleep in the designated spot, or try to go elsewhere nearby. In any event, sleep soon comes, supernaturally so. Even those characters that find they don’t need to sleep find themselves strangely lethargic and they fall into a deep slumber.
The PCs wake up one by one, the Philethis ordering them to remove their disguises. The PCs are powerless to resist and comply, removing their ‘disguises’ by ripping of their own faces to reveal the shiny disc of a Philethis beneath - they are all Philethis themselves! As they reveal these true selves, the landscape changes around them, flickering as if multiple versions of the place and events are all superimposed on top of each other.
The mirror in the clock, the hour of reflection, the past of future self, all shared of one connection.
The Philethis that woke them up speaks the above and then disappears. The PCs are left as Philethis, alone in the Cursed Lands with this weird new form of vision.
The PCs now have a few options. High tier PCs can do almost anything with their new found powers, but even first tier PCs have options.
Heading back to New Yenth, the PCs are met with fear. Communication is impossible, something abou their temporal phase shifting making them sound like they are speaking nonsense. However, their new sight allows them to see the gate from the past and they can exit through it back to their home dimension. On the other side, the remain as Philethis, but through past-future visions can see the Bliss-clones of themselves.
Let the hunt begin.