Tisiphoni Bissara leads the party down through the corridors in the interior of the Palace, passing constructs and clockworks going about their business with a surety and purpose that would be unnatural in living things, until she arrives at a vault door guarded by a quartet of Iron Golems that come to attention at her approach. The vault door opens into series of other doors with similar guards and defences until the 4th door opens out into a vault crammed with innumerable chests, podiums bearing items and curiosities and piles of jewels and coin from many different long lost lands. As the party are led towards the centre of the vault, they see there a podium with 3 items upon it; one is a Staff of polished dark wood shod in iron that seems to thrum with power even to those ignorant of magical matters, the other is a fine ring of mithral and gold bands that sits upon a small pillow, and the last and most ominous is a small globe about 8 inches in circumference, seemingly made from some black crystal or glass and shot through with slowly swirling golden flecks of colour.
Advising the rest to stay back and touch nothing (even here the vault is guarded by defences that will act before Tisi can call them off), the Clockwork Queen invites Fullica Atra, as the only Draconic speaker, to step forward and join her on the podium beside the black orb. Indicating to place her fingertips to the orb surface when bidden, Tisi places her own elegantly tapering mithral fingers to the orbs surface, and it seems to react immediately, the glowing golden flecks swirling a little quicker and brighter even as the blackness of the orb seems to deepen and intensify. At a nod from Tisi, Fullica places her own fingertips to the crystal and immediately feels the power from the Orb sending heat into her hand. Tisi calls out in Draconic, politely requesting for the one within to come and talk, and moments later Fullica feels something large and powerful seem to move just beneath the surface of the Orb and suddenly what seems like a pair of eyes like molten gold come up from the depths of the Orb and regards Tisi and then Fullica; Fullica is struck by the power of the gaze for whilst radiating wisdom and intellect unlike what she is used to dealing with, it also seems conveys patient suffering. In a wry and weary voice the owner of the eyes speaks into their minds in Draconic, asking what is required. Tisi greets the speaker with respect and a compassion so far unseen in her demeanour, and says that someone new wishes to speak to him. The eyes turn to rest their gaze upon Fullica, and she explains that she and her people would like to free him from the Orb. She feels a new sensation, and a prickly and sharp sensation suggesting pain and discomfort on a great level and this seems to cause the expressive eyes to narrow from pain and discomfort.
The voice says, in some degree of pain and difficulty, that if that were true he would be indebted, and Fullica confirms this again; the eyes wait for a moment before saying quickly that he is bound by The Sisters of Agonizing Compliance, and she must learn their names to fight them before, in a roaring howl of agony, the eyes are dragged away from the surface of the Orb back into the depths, and Tisi and Fullica release the Orb from the unbearable sensations radiating from it by now. Tisi then leads the party from the Vault to talk in her Solar. There, she advises what she knows of the Sisters, that they are Evil Outsiders of a race called Kytons who dwell in the Hells but mostly in the Plane of Shadows. A sado-masochistic race of beings who believe pain is the only path to truth with all else being irrelevant, they are race to which no pain or torment is taboo. Sadly, whilst the collective name is known to Tisi, her own library holds no further information on the exact names of the Sisters.
The idea occurs to Fullica and the others that there is one on the Island who may well know more of them, and with some degree of reluctance they all decide that speaking to the Devil Kyssamon may be necessary. Tisi can move him from the circle he is in just now to one within the Palace, and within the hour has done so, with the suave and urbane fiend remarking that this change of scenery is a slight improvement. He is accompanied as usual by the Imp Kassovicus, otherwise known as The Imprint. The party ask if he knows the names of the Sisters, and with an amused laugh he states that he does, and in fact has been in their company back in previous ages. In return for their names, he wishes to be free from the circle and if/when Accitaine returns to the world be permitted to depart for his home in the 9 Hells. The party take a backseat as some horsetrading goes on between Tisi, Kyssamon and Calliszia Myinarra over the terms of the agreement, and after an hour, the deal is done.
Kyssamon reveals that the names of the Sisters are Kedda, Giira and Lictor, and if one wishes to force them to appear, one must state their names quickly lest the ladies stop them from speaking. He also advises that only weapons that are imbued with the power of Good (he quirks his mouth at this) can get past their formidable protections, and since the only person who can cast that particular spell is Jorik, they must prepare for the next day. The plan is this, that only by entering the Orb (actually a demiplane) in a reverse summoning carried out by Tisi can the party defeat the Sisters and destroy their seat of power. This dangerous, for the journey is one way unless the party can defeat the Kytons, which will end the Orb and deposit all living occupants back again. The only ones who can go are Calliszia (as wielder of Divine power) and the 5 she has blessed as Agents, namely Fullica, Jorik, Geesje Van Kuipers, Skal Dreissel and Zeru Otxoa. This disappoints Bernie Ven Gillanders, ever keen to experience something new, but so it goes.
The party decide to rest and prepare for the day ahead in different ways. They witness the wakening of the Forges below the Palace, as new Clockwork Soldiers are being created. They see the huge storehouses filled with many ingots of steel, adamantium, mithral and other metals, the varied types of Clockwork Constructs from small Scouts to varied artisans, through the threatening Clockwork Leviathans, Clockwork Dragons (decidedly dangerous looking) and the formidable awe inspiring Clockwork Goliath, a 45 foot tall giant that shakes the ground when it walks. Zeru allows one of his pistols and Bernie a Musket to be borrowed and examined by Tisi and then her artisans, for they seem useful weapons that can be incorporated into her own warriors. Skal finds out more about the tragic lovers bodies found on the Scorpion Isle, that they were a wife (Magira, a Wizard) and husband (Kaethon, a Soldier) who fled the aftermath of the civil war when Kellestine became dangerous from the mind affecting poison that affected her. That they came to a sad end is eased by the knowledge that they died before the passing of Korvaio and so would have went on to the afterlife.
Geesje tries to make some new arrows but makes a pigs ear of it, before thinking to ask if the Forges could make her some, which they do. Fullica identifies the items she has found, with one being an Onyx Figurine of Power (can become a faithful dog once a week) and the other being an Iron Flask, which appears to have a resident. This is a curious arrangement, for whatever is bound within can be released and made to serve for up to an hour. The party decide that whatever is within can perhaps be made to assist them when they get into the Orb, as time within the Orb (according to Tisi) is static, the better to hold a Dragon in a state that stops it getting older and more powerful, for this means that since time is immaterial, a minute may as well be an hour and and an hour may as well be indefinite.
As the evening comes and gives way to night, the party rest and prepare…
On the 23rd of the Aft of Spring, 520 AC
The party rise and check their equipment, spells and extracts and assemble in the main audience chamber, where the Orb and the ritual trappings are arrayed. The podium they rest upon is surrounded with Clockwork Soldiers, Clockwork Mages (a curious variation) and the formidable Clockwork Goliath (seemingly one of the Awakened Constructs with a soul). Tisi awaits and is ready to carry out the ceremony, and as they all watch, she begins. It doesn’t take long for her to do what needs be done, and she gives the nod for them all to step into the circle with the now pulsing Orb. They take a deep breath and take the step in, for the 6 of them to feel a bizarre and odd stretching sensation as they are snapped into the Orb in a moment of twisting and unpleasant nausea.
It takes some moments for them to get their bearings, and as they raise their eyes from looking at the marshy unpleasantness of the ground underfoot, they see misty grey skies above them, with hundreds and likely thousands of chains hanging from the mist. The chains are varied, with some being as thin as a finger to some being up to 10 feet across. All seem to sway and writhe in a wind nobody can feel, and all are covered with barbs, blades and spikes. It is in the distance they see a great spire that seems to jut up into the misty skies, but they also then hear a deep baritone voice behind them speak in greeting.
“You did come. Forgive me for doubting your ability if not your intent.”
They turn and see the magnificent yet sad sight of a great golden dragon, suspended 20 feet above on a myriad of chains that impale and worm their way around his great frame. Despite this, his steady golden eyes look well upon them….