Eberron: Soaring Skies of Khorvaire

The Tceffessam and the Way Forward

In which the party is buried under ONE MILLION WORDS of expositionary transition.

You sit back and take in the scenery that whizzes past as your commandeered prison transport descends into the bowels of the bejeweled crystalline city of the abeils. Your heart jumps as you fly past multiple abeil-manned soarcraft, but they seem to pay you no mind. Thankfully. After what seems a small eternity, you finally feel your craft set down: Disembarking, you find yourself in the blasted and blown-out husk a crystalline building. Pehsemmef informs you that this was, once upon a time, a barracks of the tceffessam. Until two-and-a-half weeks ago, at any rate, when the abeils in whose service they had been descended upon them, intent on killing them to the last. The debris-strewn floors of the barracks bear witness to that, with dried and faded blood stains abounding and the occasional body too deeply buried to have been easily recovered by the abeil invaders.

You cannot help but wonder what would have driven the abeils to do that. Or, for that matter, just what the tceffessam even are. Or where they came from, as the five you have met all possess radically different anatomies and methods of communication. Upon inquiring with the prisoners you liberated, you learn that the tceffessam are “uplifted” denizens of the Arcanium and Arborium: Creatures raised out of the primordial struggle of life-and-death or freed from the shackles of servitude to the illithids by the abeils, then shown the wider world beyond what they had known. (“Enkindling within them the desire to keep the Defiler imprisoned,” to borrow Blasto’s phraseology.) Harozilat and Surrag were themselves natives of the Arborium, while Blasto and Nidrom were uplifted from the Arcanium. Pehsemmef became stand-offish when the subject of her own origins was broached, with the only information she would provide being that, “it was complicated.”

Taking stock of the situation and what your options are proceeding forward, you find the tceffessam are deadlocked and have spent a not-insubstantial amount of time arguing over this point. 18 days ago - you cannot help but idly wonder how, precisely, a place decoupled from the rising and setting of the Sun can have days – a cascading failure occurred in the Containment Fields northeast of the city, with much of the secondary containment systems being rendered inert. “Secondary containment”, a term you’ve often heard lobbed at you with little context, refers to the prevention of Bolothamogg from using the ambient magics of the Siberys shard which houses him, while “primary containment” refers to the integrity of the physical prison in which it is held. Much of the secondary containment systems were found in the northeastern zone of the cavern in which the Apiary exists, in the obviously named Containment Fields. No one was sure what caused the failure, though it was preceded by a series of strange commands emanating from maintenance areas in the Promenade. With many of the defenses against the Defiler’s usage of the Siberys shard’s inherent magics disabled, it was at most a few hours before it began enslaving the minds of its keepers: With willing thralls at its disposal to further weaken secondary containment, the width and depth of its control expanded so that within a mere day it had succeeded in taking control of the minds of some three-quarters of the Apiary’s denizens. It then set the military machine intended to contain it upon those who had resisted or evaded its control, including the vast bulk of the tceffessam. With control of the Apiary firmly in hand, it then ordered its minions to begin working on breaching primary containment, so that it could once and for all truly escape. Ominously, none of the liberated tceffessam know how far along the Defiler’s thralls are in affecting such, though the resources afforded by a city such as the Apiary should be sufficient to make it happen at a rather frightening pace.

Exterminating the masses of those who had resisted the Defiler’s control, however, was no easy task: Especially for the tceffessam, who were uplifted precisely because of the impressiveness of their talents and implicitly to give the keepers of the Apiary an independent force capable of operating against the abeil masses should something like this happen. Many, however, were captured in the initial crackdown: The less useful were summarily killed, while the others were sent to freshly created re-educated camps where they could be “indoctrinated” into Bolothamogg’s thralldom and turned against their former comrades in arms. Despite the weight of the abeil’s military and the psychological warfare waged upon them by being pursued by their former comrades, some of the tceffessam succeeded in evading capture and regrouping. Once regrouped, however, they had been unable to decide upon a course of action, ultimately dividing their forces in the hopes that one of the factions might find success. The courses of action pursued were:

1) A single tceffessam decided it would be most efficient to simply shoot and/or stab Queen Sitris’Aniram, the leader of the abeils, in the face. That man’s name was Wrex. It was his intent to, by himself, storm the Palace of Harmonious Order and then proceed to kill everything in his path until he made his way to the Queen’s throne room. And then, once there, proceed to undertake any number of excruciatingly painful endeavors that would have ended her life. A simple, but effective, way of breaking the hierarchy of the Apiary’s abeils: As the elf-bees were still more elf than bee, the decapitation of their political and social leadership would have thrown them into utter chaos. Judging from the resistance you encountered in freeing the tceffessam, however, you’re fairly sure that Wrex has not yet succeeded in fulfilling his mission. Surrag and Nidrom favor finishing what they presume Wrex has started, for just beyond the throne room lays the Ydnamron and with it the ability to end the threat posed by Bolothamogg once and for all.

The Ydnamron, as Nidrom points out to you, was one of the many redundant fail-safes built into the Ark. It is a soarship capable of operating within spess, intended to function as an lifeboat in the event that the Apiary was ever compromised. (It was never suspected that the entirety of abeil society might well end up contaminated.) The Ydnamron provides all the tools required to operate as a floating command post, with built-in access to the Ark’s internal transporter network and the ability to override all lockouts inhibiting the use of the transporter network and portal connecting the Ark to Eberron. Including those installed by Forgemaster Delthan. Were the Ydanamron to fall into the hands of Queen Sitris’Aniram, it would allow the abeils free movement throughout the Ark and could easily allow them to move, en masse, back to Eberron if a portal had been built planetside. While access to the Ydnamron is restricted and protected against infiltration by the contaminated, with sufficient resources, any lock can be picked or any door blown off its hinges: This particular fear is what animated Nidrom’s concerns about preventing the Queen from getting access to the Ydnamron.

Surrag, on the other hand, simply informs you that the Ydnamron also possesses a terminal with which the Purge of the Ark can be initiated. In light of the circumstances, it seems that it’d be most prudent to simply engage the ultimate kill-mode and then take the Ydnamron back to Eberron.

2) Two tceffessam, Aramas and Arail, led the remaining asari – numbering several dozen – to the northeast, intent on storming the Citadel of the Everflowing Aerotheria. (The asari, apparently, are a race that has had entire communities from the Arcanium uplifted. Those of you who speak Elven bite your tongues, as you wonder whether there is any connection between the word asari and the modern near-cognate derogative that roughly translates to “slattern.”) It was their intention to destroy the eldritch machine which provided breathable air to both the Apiary and Promenade, as well as the eldritch machine which maintained the magical barrier that prevented the atmosphere of the Apiary from venting out into spess. Activating the Citadel’s self-destruct protocols would accomplish both: Upon further inquiring, you also discover that blowing such up would eventually depressurize the Promenade, as it was the Citadel which made good the losses of atmosphere to simple seepage from the Promenade. As the tceffessam and abeils are not in vacsuits, it’s a fair bet that Aramas and Arail have not succeeded in their mission. Harozilat and Blasto both favor deploying what strength you have towards affecting such a plan, as it would “only” kill anything residing in the Apiary or Promenade that could not function in vacuum. Such a plan also, conveniently enough, should clear out the Promenade of any woeforged, as it seems highly unlikely that their necromantically animated organic bits can handle vacuum any better than your still-living parts.

3) The remaining mass of the tceffessam had set out for the maintenance corridors, in the hope of slipping out of the Apiary, into the Promenade, and then to the Celestial Foundry where they could re-establish contact with the Forgemaster’s forces and then reinitialize secondary containment and remotely purge what had to be from the Apiary. Luck ran against them, as they were overrun as they approached the closest maintenance access corridor: The one you all, incidentally, came through. Those who did not perish were shackled and made ready for transport. Prior to such occurring, however, the party intervened and freed them. Aren’t they lucky?

The remaining tceffessam are deadlocked: While two favor Option #1 and two favor Option #2, Pehsemmef remains torn and unable to condone the genocide of all those in the Arcanium and Arborium, while being equally doubtful that simply blowing the atmosphere in the Apiary will contain all the damage that has been done. They turn to you all to decide how to proceed: What say, oh venerable party?

Loot, Exploration, and Party Status
Loot
While in flight, you began poking around the interior of the soarship you “borrowed”. You discover a rather robust weapons locker, containing two shardcasters(each with 14 Siberys “spikes”, containing 3d4 worth of crystal damage), two snipehammers, three tactical gunblades, three compact gunblades, and six gundaggers. Additionally, you recovered a tactical gunblade, four compact gunblades, one shardcaster(w/14 Siberys spikes), and two gundaggers from the abeil jailers and soarship crew you killed. Mara’s keenly honed appraising eye puts all of them at masterwork quality, though she cannot be certain given that it’s radically different from anything she’s ever seen before. Examining the armory in the barracks you land at turns up no additional usable weaponry: It is barren of working abeil weaponry, though there are various broken iterations of such that were damaged during the storming of the barracks that may be looted.

No other immediately useful adventuring gear can be found in the ruins or from the enemies you have killed and looted.

Exploration
You are laying over in the ruins of advanced civilization’s barracks: These are circumstances ripe for exploration and looting. While the tceffessam argue with themselves, and you with them, you may do such. Characters may take as many notes as they so desire; they may, as well, actively search for things. What, exactly, they are searching for can be relayed to the DM in the coming down-week: You have, by the DM’s count, four bags of holding(I) at your disposal: Such will be assumed to be filled with stuff from the armory at the start of next session, the precise contents hashed out during the coming down-week.

Party Status
Due to the length of your layover, your spell and power points are refreshed and are now at full, and whatever leftover ability damage is out-standing is also healed. Ambient magical effects at their finest, folks.

You discover, while poking around your omnitool, that you have been reclassified as a tceffessam and that, apparently, you have been given new user privileges as a result. The arcane spell pool provided by the omnitool is now an individual, rather than party-wide, pool. Your luck bonus to to hit, damage, saves and Armor Class is increased to +2.

When not arguing over what path to take, the tceffessam set about making sure that the soarship is ready for whatever is in the not-so-distant future. Digging through the rubble, they dig out several battered but still functional heavy armaments not terribly dissimilar to and rather more advanced than the eldritch cannon that Burzam made use of when he rode to the party’s rescue, scavenging four from the barracks’ rubble and mounting them in fixed positions on the side and rear doors of the soarship. Seeing the soarship with its large, sliding side doors opened reminds you of when all of this started and the Citadel soarskiff that saved you from Scimitar: Whether it’s a testament to the advanced nature of Galifarian civilization or the amazing coincidences that’re produced by convergent technical evolution is better left unsaid. You also discover that the soarship itself has some integral weaponry that is rather impressive: Impressive enough, as you discover, that the backseater is expected to use them.

The question of who, if anyone, shall ride shotgun to Nidrom when you take your leave of the barracks lays before you. The upcoming gaming segments will rely heavily on branching party choices: You will be given two sets of tasks, with your party choosing to do one and having the tceffessam do the other. Therefore, it would probably be prudent to keep the tceffessam party at its current size of four and seat one of your own NPCs, Mara or Oagen, running the weapons and navigation of the soarship. At the same time, you may desire to seat a PC there, but in the event of stuff happening in-flight in the cargo compartment, said PC will not be able to take part in it. Or you may desire to simply leave the seat empty: Such is entirely up to you.

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