In other news: Still deaf in one ear. V. annoying. Tempted to rant about it.
Cameron spent the night in the Falklands memorising the route that the group must take around the islands, turning in late as is his custom. He shares what he knows with the others over breakfast, while Jorgen fills in the others on the quest he's agreed to undertake. Morgan sits, listening quietly.
Once the group have packed, they make their way to the boat. As they travel, they discuss the detail of traveling between the islands and how to rescue the ring, coming up with (and discarding) a whole range of plans. In the end, they settle on using the trawler's lifeboat to nip between islands, using the trawler as a base camp.
Taking the boat to the first island, the group explore. Cameron casts his mystical senses to the winds, trying to detect thoughts on the other islands. His probe uncovers a cluster of thoughts on the fourth island in the sequence, and discovers that one is focused on a magic ritual. Deciding to conserve his power he tells the others to be on their guard and returns to the boat. Though time passes and taking the boat between the islands is a bitch, they don't encounter the other minds. The going is tough, but not necessarily dramatic, until they make landfall on the fourth island. Despite Cameron's warning, he and Jorgen walk forwards — and find themselves on the first island again, having encountered a path left by the Walker on Dark Roads. Fortunately, Morgan was more wary and when she noticed the others vanish, she went back to the boat to find them. None of them noticed the dark shadow watching from overhead.
Despite general disappointment (and more than one cry of "Oh, Hell!") our heroes are undaunted. They start their path anew, this time taking the time out to find a different landing site on the fourth island. Unfortunately, night presses in and they return to the trawler to spend the night, Jorgen taking the first watch. He settles in with coffee and a mechanics textbook.
The roar of an engine disturbs his rest. Hearkening back to his time in his home kingdom, he wakes the others (including the boat crew). They realise that it's probably a Royal Navy lifeboat wondering why a trawler has dropped anchor, but it's got them worried. Jorgen pours water over his hand, using it as a connection to the sea. Touching the water beneath him, if only for a second, is enough for him to use his Eternal Guardian ability. He learns that it is indeed the navy, worried about the fishing vessel at anchor. The captain defuses the situation over the radio, and the navy leave them alone for the night. Though Cameron takes watch, nothing further disturbs their rest.
The next day sees our heroes continuing their route. They're on Vindication, three from their goal on the island of Montagu, when they all feel a powerful flash of magic — they're too late. The Walker on Dark Roads has beaten them to the Interstice. They press on regardless, and five hours later step on to Montagu. Through a natural arch in the volcanic stone, they see a grassy plain, the bright sunlight contrasting with the dusk around them. Without another thought, they step through.
On the other side of the arch is a small patch of grass, likely a campsite or communal area. They don't have much time to study; Cameron jumps at the sight of a large stone "dragon", though Morgan notes that it's been cut clean in two. So far, so easy. Walk on some islands, wait for the Darksiders to do away with any magical guardians, and you're good to go, right?
Heading along a rocky spur towards a cave, the characters get their first sign that something is wrong. Rocks close over the cave entrance, and the water to either side starts to boil. Soon, a tidal wave is bearing down on them. Morgan and Jorgen — neither particularly athletic — manage to reach the cave, and Jorgen is able to carve them a shelter. Cameron has no such luck, and is swept into the bay. It takes him a further half hour to reach the causeway once more, ducking and dodging otherwise fascinating magical fauna. Once there, the huge wave starts to build once more. Cameron, figuring that this is a magical effect, uses his minor Splendour power to avoid the trap and join the others where Jorgen has broken through, into the cave.
Inside the cave, our heroes can see lit torches. Two goblins hold the torches, trying to avoid the light that they cast. A regal orc with draconic wings — whom Jorgen pegs as one of the Togaririm, followers of the Shell of Beauty — is venting his frustration at getting no further. As Jorgen goes to confront him head on in a battle of wits and ideologies, Cameron looked for the next step, and Morgan kept an eye on the goblins.
Donovan Cain, The Walker on Dark Roads, manages to be both incredibly eloquent and rather petulant, his arguments as to why the weapons "must" be used coming across as nothing more than the whining of a spoiled child who has discovered the existence of a new toy. Jorgen happily plays the role of parent, accepting the beauty of the devices themselves but convinced that they must never leave this interstice.
Cameron, meanwhile, has noticed a stick of driftwood sitting on a natural altar. Morgan drags a goblin with her, shedding light where he directs as Jorgen makes offers that Donovan refuses. With the light, Cameron is able to read the pictograms around the ceiling and walls. For a seasoned Mystery Archaeologist of the Splendor (and one channeling Conviction at that), he's able to get a workable translation in a matter of minutes rather than days.
As the others argue, he grabs the stick and thrusts it into a disguised recess in the ceiling. The floor shakes and thunder booms. Lightning strikes the stick, wrapping it in glowing sparks. Needless to say, this interrupts Donovan and Jorgen quite effectively. Before they can do more than turn to see what's happening, Cameron has struck the stick against the door's stone. Everything goes white.
Our heroes arrive on a field of bones. Looking down, they see the corpses of elf, troll, human, and all the other Clades. Jorgen runs through some quick calculations in his head and figures that they're on the surface of a ball maybe a mile across, in some strange Otherspace. There's no sky, just blinding white. Every two hundred yards or so, just hanging in the air, are incredibly ornate magical weapons. This panel from Planetary 14 sums up the general effect.
Donovan grins wide. He's the poor kid who's just found the key to the candy store. His wings beat fast, and before the others can move he's off, grabbing a bow from where it hangs and pulling up. With a cry of "Nobody will know where you fall on this world of death!" he takes aim. An arrow of blazing magical energy forms against the bowstring. Cameron and Morgan grab a large shield to hide behind, Jorgen standing for long enough to draw a bead with his experimental pistol.
Donovan shoots the arrow. Jorgen pulls the trigger.
More next time.