One day while visiting the floating sky city of Aeraveska, you are given a letter by a messenger dove with a shimmering bronze seal on it. It is marked by the Mechanist’s Guild, and the letter comes from none other than Alkari Corvus; the guild’s Grand Artificer.
The letter writes that the artificer suspects there is a terrible conspiracy going on, one which he cannot trust to many of the locals–and those he does trust, would be recognised instantly whilst trying to uncover the truth. Alkari writes that he’s heard word of your good deeds in the city, and wishes you to meet with him and discuss preventing a possible disaster.
Should you go to meet with Alkari, you’ll find him in the Mechanist’s Guild. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, though covered by rust like most other things here. But there is a sense of faded glory about the place, with its high columns and vaulted ceilings.
If you enter you’ll be greeted by the receptionist, who has curly black hair and dark skin. She is wearing a copper-colored dress decorated with small, shiny bronze cogs, and shimmering bronze lipstick. Upon seeing the letter, she’ll smile warmly and give you directions for how to find Alkari.
His office is at the top of one of the towers, overlooking the surrounding city and sky. When you knock, Alkari will open the door using a complicated rope-mechanism he can peck from his desk. He looks reminiscent of a raven, with smooth, black feathers and a belt along his waist with an assortment of gadgets. A small set of goggles rest on his forehead.
Alkari thanks you for considering his offer, and gestures with a “hand” tipped wing (much like a raven’s foot) for you to sit down in a couple of chairs draped with thick moss. They appear to be welded together from different cogs and scrap pieces of metal, but polished to a high shine, though there are some patches of rust in the depressions.
Once you are comfortable, Alkari will explain in a solemn voice that he has heard wind of terrible rumors. Rumors that there is a conspiracy amongst one of Aeraveska’s lowest slums to blow up the arcane generator which holds the city aloft! You must go there at once, Alkari pleads, and investigate these claims. If they are real, you must do what you can to stop what he fears is a growing rebellion from the malcontents on the city’s lower levels.
He’ll then pull a small, rolled up map tied with a red ribbon out from one of his desk’s draws. Then he’ll hand it over to you, saying that it shows the locations where most of the rumors of violent discontent have been reported. He’ll also offer you a small pouch of gold doves; some of the city’s original currency, which are highly valued.
Should you go to the area, you’ll find it is among the very lowest of the city’s slums. The whole area is made of retired timber skyships, which have been nailed together with more planks of wood. The use of such a short-lived material so close to the long-drop below tells tales about the slum’s desperation. A few patched hot-air balloons have been jerry-rigged to add extra lift to heavier parts of the structure, too.
On top of that, these slums have some of the foulest fumes wafting amongst them; exhaust from the arcane generator that holds the city aloft far, far above. Litter that can’t blow away in the often-strong winds cover the walkways. The sides of ships the locals have made homes in are broken in places, or heavily carved out with graffiti. And the often-scarred residents here wear stained, ragged clothes, often with torn strips of cloth over their nose and mouths.
Because of this, the locals will notice you right away. Many of them regard you with dour looks, while others might try to jump you for your valuables. If you try to ask anyone about the conspiracy, however, they’ll coldly say they don’t know what you’re talking about before excusing themselves.
Should this happen, you will be jumped by a group a few minutes later–once the individual you questioned has had time to run off to tell their contacts that a stranger’s been asking around regarding their plans. If you manage to defeat the group, the other locals will begin attacking you also. They may be poor, and many of them even drug-addled, but they’re a close-knit community with nothing much to lose.
Once the fight reaches a certain size or hits a certain number of casualties, the leader will emerge and try to reason with you. She’ll come out of one of the rooms, with her hands up in the air as a gesture of peace. She is wearing red, worn-through fingerless gloves, and a bandana tying up thick locks of auburn hair. Holy stockings cover lean legs, while a dress that has been patched far too many times drapes her wiry frame.
Her ears are adorned with steel or carved wood earrings, and she has a belt covered with different tools along her waist–predominantly knives. She’ll introduce herself as Kathorne, and say that she seeks an end to this violence for her people. Then she’ll say that you came here asking about their plans, so as a peace offering she’ll explain them to you. Then you can decide for yourself what you wish to do with that knowledge. Fair?
If you listen, she’ll explain with a relieved sigh that yes, they have been planning to blow up the arcane generator which holds up the city–but it’s not as bad as it sounds! They have a mechanist friend who works for the guild, and he told them there are safety measures in place so the city won’t just crash. It’ll drift to the ground.
She continues to explain that her people have been forced to live in these slums due to the overpopulated city’s stagnant economy. There are too few jobs and too many people–we can’t work even if we want to! On top of that, it costs money to get down to the land below, so most of us can’t just leave. There are so many people in the slums, all over Aeraveska, breathing in the toxic fumes from the arcane generator. Most don’t make it beyond 30! All her people want is to leave and start a new life somewhere else, somewhere far away from this dying city.
If you are swayed by her reasoning, she’ll breathe a sigh of relief and thank you, before sending a group out to rig the final explosives and set them off, now that the Mechanist’s Guild is cluing on to them. Before the crowd disperses, she’ll tell you where you can find her in her hovel should you need to.
About an hour later the explosion will destroy the arcane generator. The bones of the city will shudder terribly, and it will slant as it begins a steep slide through the sky, crashing down towards the earth at terrifying speeds. The emergency systems will engage, slowing the descent somewhat magically, as well as sending a barrage of parachutes up behind the doomed city.
Upon impact with the earth below, some of the old and rusted buildings will crumble and collapse. 10% of Aeraveska’s population will die.
If you go to find Kathorne afterwards, her house is among those that collapsed. Should you make your way into the ruins, you’ll find her crushed body, as well as a journal. In the journal Kathorne wrote that she knew the fail-safe wasn’t fully functioning due to the city being so old and in such a decrepit state, but she believed the risk was worth it for her people.
Should you refuse to aid Kathorne in her plan instead, unless you can find a peaceful resolution (such as paying for their passage off the city), her and her people will put up a vicious fight.
Once you tell Alkari about what has occurred however, he’ll puff up all his feathers in distress. Then he’ll remark how horrified he was that they wanted to rely on the failsafe systems, which were created at the city’s founding and might be just as unreliable as much of the old, run-down city. It could have ended in many, many deaths–without even regarding where Aeraveska would land. Shaking his head some more, Alkari will solemnly pay you even more of the golden doves as thanks for making the right choice against what could have been a convincing argument. Thanks to you, he emphasizes, many lives were saved, along with our great city.
As you leave, he muses to himself thoughtfully that perhaps the Mechanist’s Guild can find some way to allow poor citizens to leave, if they wish.
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