Zeitgeist

Chapter 1 - Island at the Axis of the World

The party is assigned to work security at the launching of the Coaltongue. The adventure starts after they have already done all the boring work of preparation and canvassing, so now their mission is to ensure the dignitaries’ safety during the ship’s brief maiden voyage. As the sun sets the ship weighs anchor, and the PCs are sent to make sure Duchess Ethelyn attends a speech by the king. When they check on her, they find she has fled, and that her handmaiden is leading a plot to sabotage the engine. Right as a naval band starts to play Risur’s national anthem and launch fireworks, a desperate chase and fight develops below decks. The PCs have to stop the assassins before they cause the steam engine boiler to explode, annihilating anything nearby with fire and a hail of shrapnel.
In the aftermath, the party receives accolades for saving the king. Hundreds of miles away armies prepare for a potential civil war. Then a week later the party is called to meet with tiefling Lya Jierre, the Danoran “Minister of Outsiders.”

She explains that the duchess has attacked Danoran territory—Axis Island—and has kidnapped her cousin Nathan Jierre. She has agreed to let Risur handle the task of removing the duchess, and she quickly briefs the PCs on the oddities and dangers of the island.

The PCs are just supposed to accompany and assist more experienced infiltrators, who will create an opening for the Risuri assault fleet. But when an accident kills the infiltration team, the PCs are the only ones in position to finish the mission. Their ultimate goal is a sea gate which protects the entrance to the fortress’s harbor. By stealth, trickery, or open assault, the PCs reach the lighthouse that houses the sea gate controls, open the gate, and signal the fleet to attack.

At this point they may think they’re out of harm’s way, content to let the military take control of the fortress and capture the duchess. But the high elf liaison of the Unseen Court, Asrabey Varal, has stowed away on a Risuri ship, and the PCs spot him as he heads for the duchess, killing anyone on either side who gets in his way.

Asrabey has come under orders from the Unseen Court to execute the duchess. In their fey logic, that will prove that they did not endorse the duchess’s assassination attempt, and it doesn’t matter how many rank and file soldiers they had to slaughter in the process. The PCs have a chance to intercede, and they can decide the duchess’s fate, as well as whether Asrabey takes Nathan Jierre as a hostage. The party’s actions here will have rippling consequences throughout the rest of the campaign.

Once Asrabey is dealt with, the PCs have only a few hours before Risur has to hand control back over to Danor. They can collect a few enigmatic clues to what Danor was up to, but then, as the highest-ranking representatives of the RHC, they are responsible for the official hand-off. Lya Jierre arrives, thanks the party for their help, and casually mentions that she’d like to invite them to her wedding next year, since she is the Danoran woman the king plans to marry for his peace treaty.

The PCs leave the island, but they have met many powerful individuals who will be enemies or allies later on, and they have the first clues toward a mystery that will forever change the world.

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