Day 3, Monday (continued)
The party excitedly spend the day making Creatives for the Upwelling Ceremony. Alfios spends most of the day on his guitar, practicing a song he wrote. Molander at first looks lost on an idea, but when he sees Alfios and his guitar, he has an idea. Ralf, the goblin, creates an electrical box that he can power to show images with his electro-cuff. Mildred finds some canvas in a shop and paints it blue.
They return to the bar, finding Kwela, still looking uncomfortable, and Billius, the Loxodon they met on their first day, training to become a server at the tavern. “I already know my way around, mind as well make some money doing it.” Lufus seems pleased to have someone helping. Lufus tells the party that he has a Creative ready to go, but refuses to show it to them.
They get the news that Isaachi left the Healer’s Hut to go home. He arrives at the bar later in the day, wearing gloves, but nothing else of significance happens. The party beds down for the night.
Day 4, Tuesday :
The party rises and packs their bags for the journey. They head over to the Lonely Goblin and meet up with Lufus who is in the middle of sending Kwela home. She is sweaty and has clearly just dropped a tray of food. Lufus swings by and tells the party, “I have to finish training Billy before we can head out. Biscuits and gravy are on the counter, just help yourselves. I’ll be out soon.”
Mildred stops Lufus to tell him that Kwela is working nights next door at the “massage parlor.” Lufus looks frustrated as he explains that she isn’t supposed to have a second job. Milly at first is indignant, “Well, why not?”
“Because of this! She could claim she was injured at my job, and it’s hindering her performance here. It’s all liability. Do you think I can afford to have more of that?” He sighs. “I’ll talk to her after the Upwelling. I don’t want anything to dampen my mood.”
Lufus emerges after they’ve finished eating to head out. He has a small knapsack on his back. He tells them, “I couldn’t rent a cart – with the horses acting all strange like they are, I can’t afford one to run off on me. We’ll set off on foot, but it shouldn’t be too long a journey – only three or four hours at most.”
The party walks awhile, and Lufus tells them about his Guardian days and again, mentions Ursula, the merfolk who he was enchanted with. He tells them, “She needed someone to protect her, and after I was injured, I realized I wouldn’t be the right person for it. I started my bar. I make do.”
The party questions him on the Simic Combine. Lufus jumps into a very scripted response: “Where other cultures are divided by species, caste or role, within the Simic Combine, members are divided by Clade. A Clade is a group that’s focused on a specific aspect or project. There is the Hull Clade, focusing on protection, defense and durability. The Fin Clade focuses on the movement of creatures, flying creatures mostly, and the movement of resources. The Crypsis Clade is camouflage and magic, meant to hide knowledge and operations, but not as sneaky as the Dimir, of course. Then, the Gyre Clade, who focus on redirecting or nullifying magic as well as advancing nature.”
A loud clap of thunder and some rain forms not far from them and two wild boars come out of the bushes to attack the party. After a short battle, one pig runs away and the second is speared. They prepare the meat, making it easier for transport and head back on their way.
Lufus mentions how strange animals have been acting again, and the party asks him why he thinks it is. He says some superstitious nonsense, like always, and the party tells him about the metal-encased creatures they found. (Now being dubbed “the metal meatballs.”)
Lufus is horrified and enthralled at the idea. The blobs of flesh disgust him, but the armor encasing excites him. He asks about what they found and ponders for awhile.
The group arrives at the entrance to Zonot 3. A lavish entrance and archway are surrounding. Everything they can see is covered in ribbons and festive – people are giggling and laughing, like they’re in line for a carnival. Visible in the line are loxodon, vedalken, humans – some hybrids, some not. A couple of odd extras seem to be the guests of others. A sulky Orzhov with an umbrella to block out the sun, a pensive centaur from Selesnya, a Rakdos entertainer who seems to be refraining herself from doing a cartwheel.
The large archway covered in blue and green ribbons sits in front of a stone staircase, built into the ground and leading down into what looks like the largest well ever built – easily ½ mile across. It would be ominous if it weren’t for the shouts of laughter and the bright colors of the crowd. Any unease they feel about the chasm is gone before it really forms.
The stone staircase has a wall on the outside portion, and when leaning over it to see the bottom, the party can make out an oasis pool with a field of green laying next to it, covered in genetically enhanced bright blue flowers. Inside the pools, through the crystal clear water, they see merfolk of every kind – some who look like sirens, beautiful and fierce, and some who look like true fish-people – the merfolk. Lufus looks longingly into their faces.
The Ceremony of Creatives
The party mills about while the crowd grows larger. Suddenly, a trumpet sounds, and rising from the water is a beautiful fish-like mermaid: the Guildmaster, Zegana. She rises from the pool, suspended and surrounded by a crowd of armored merfolk who protect her with their spears. She speaks in a quiet voice, but the crowd silences to hear her and she is audible from every corner of the huge area.
“The Upwelling is the partner of the Holdfast. While our Holdfast celebration in Winter celebrates the anchored beliefs we have to protect all of Ravnica and planes beyond and our isolationist ways, the Upwelling celebrates the expansive, upwards motion of the tides. We celebrate our influence and the growth of the world here and beyond. For each guest and member of the Simic, we all present a work of the mind or the hands to represent this ongoing change, this evolution, and continuation of our world through the ages. As these celebrations grow numerous, our library becomes larger, and the amount of knowledge we must gain grows greater. The Library of Innovation is a treasure to all who live here and behold it. If anything is sacred, it is such. We now ask each of you to present your Creative to the rest, bearing in mind that we grow on each other’s failures and successes.”
A few of the creatives they witness include:
- One hybrid man – a stoic Guardian – presents a large wooden table, covered in tiny buildings and trees, meant to represent the area he knows and loves. He communicates that he traveled as far as he ever had by the time he was 18 and carved each section to as much detail as possible. The buildings outside of his radius he drew fuzzier and fuzzier. He communicates that a lesson can be learned: We know less the less we travel.
- One mermaid sings the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard, though you can understand absolutely no word of it. You all feel a tug in your heart as if you’ve lost someone you love dearly, even though none of you can pinpoint who you could be thinking of.
- A human child stands up at one point and delivers an absolutely scathing monologue about betrayal and emotions that you’re not sure he should be able to comprehend at his age. He sits back down, looking happy at his performance.
- One large woman attempts an interpretive dance that makes everyone uncomfortable.
- A loxodon presents a wooden puzzle, full of complexity, made by his own hands. He explains the premise of the puzzle – to create a structure – and hands off the puzzle to a child, who fumbles with it awkwardly for a few minutes and hands it off, frustrated. Everyone from a grandmother to a mermaid attempt it and none succeed. One scientist is handed the puzzle and while he drops it, twice. He manages to make the pieces into a uniform pyramid. The loxodon laughs, snatches it back and reverts it back to its original form. A crowd gathers around the scientist to ask how he did it and the goblin only laughs nervously, escaping the crowd to head towards a food booth.
Lufus excitedly stands at this point, pulling out a kaleidoscope which he passes around to the crowd. He announces that it will look different to every person. Each person in turn using the kaleidoscope gasps and yells the colors and patterns they see, each different from the last.
Alfios is the first in the party brave enough to perform. He enters the center of the Zonot and pulls out his mandolin. He announces that he is glad to be there as a guest and has a carefully-worded song for them to all listen to. He plays a chipper tune and sings,
“Where is the sun? Doo-doo-doo-doo. Where is the sun? I don’t know – not alright…”
Molander stands eventually and gives a haunting melody with no words, letting it echo around the cavern. Ralf stands and presents his electrical box and makes it work for the crowd. Some scribes approach him, asking for a prototype to keep in the library, and Ralf gives him the box he made. Mildred presents her blue canvas, bullshitting that it can be interpreted differently for each person and that’s what makes it unique.
A loud band finishes the Ceremony of the Creatives, and the food lines grow immediately.
Lufus tells them of an inn they can stay at for the night. It is owned by his cousin Rupert. They’re being charged only half price. He reluctantly asks the party if they can afford their parts of the price. He’d gladly pay for it but he’s strapped for cash. He informs them that it is in the eastern wing of Zonot 3, built into a cave face and called the Siren’s Inn.
The party notices the loxodon that created the wooden puzzle and ask with curiosity after the scientist who fixed it so quickly. The loxodon says, “You mean the guy that ruined my puzzle?”
“What do you mean?” Alfios asks.
“It was meant to be unsolvable! I worked so hard on it.” He hands it to each of the party in turn and none of them can make it work. He looks pleased then, and tells them that the goblin’s name is Blendy and he works for the Hull Clade. He points them in the direction of Blendy’s lab and leaves.
They walk over to Blendy’s lab and push open the large doors. They open easily and find a great, empty room. Beakers, tables, cages, anvils, and all kinds of tools are scattered across tables all over. In the back of the room, they can see the goblin scribbling at a small desk, pushed against the wall.
The goblin is fidgety and high-pitched. They tell him about their adventures so far, all except for what they know about the Izzet. The goblin takes all of this in, asking questions here and there for clarification. He looks shocked by the news that the creatures were attacking and while at first unenthused by the finger they show him from Isaachi, begins to scribble furiously, taking notes after a closer look. He becomes angry and frustrated at the intrusion when he finds out that they killed several of them.
When they finish, Mildred goes to threaten him for information.
“Oh pish posh,” Professor Blendy says. “No need for all that.” He goes to close the door. “We made the creatures. I assure you, however, that they have no more a brain than moss.”
The party is perplexed by this information.
“We wanted to test LectoSteel some more, since the Izzet scrapped the project. The recent electrical storms have made it quite easy for us to gather and work with it. We’ve created these small armor cages -” he kicks one that was laying by his desk, a prototype. “and we wanted to see how effective they were. While we could test them with the normal ooze’s, we decided we wanted something a little more realistic.”1
He clears his throat and explains, “We injected an ooze with some organic material which caused it to grow regular skin, muscle, tissue, nerves – just like you or I – again, lacking the brain. It worked as a great creature for the cages. No moral quandries about testing on animals, and their nervous systems are “complex” enough to operate the cages, which function on the electrical impulses.”
“But why were they in the sewers? Why are they attacking people?”
“Now that… that I don’t know. Well, I do know why they were in the sewers. We sent them there. There’s an entrance in Zonot 3 that we let them loose in. We got the first set mostly back. about 80% – lost 4 of them out there some where. We sent out the second set awhile ago. They’re all a week late.”
Blendy looks around at the party as if surprised, again. “Could – do you think you four could help? I need them back.”
The party confers for a minute and decides to help.
Blendy nods, thankful. “I will do some research while you’re gone. You’ll want to wait ’til morning – it’s rather late now. I have a few things you can use. I have a whistle here, we used it to corral them in the lab. I can only give you the prototype. I also have some collapsible cages to hold them.” He hands Mildred the two cages, a crude map of the sewers, and the whistle. He warns them about the sewer merfolk and their disgusting habits down there, but says no more. He then becomes engrossed in his notes and ignores them for the rest of the time, only nodding distractedly when they talk to him.
The four head to the inn that Lufus told them about. They are offered dinner at half-price from Lufus’ cousin Rupert. Rupert is also superstitious and has crab claws instead of tentacles. He carefully picks the lint off Mildred’s shoulder before offering them all seconds. They refuse and head upstairs to the room Lufus is already in.
Lufus is sitting quietly on the bed. They ask him if he saw Ursula and he shakes his head. “I didn’t see many sewer merfolk today, but she wasn’t one of them.”
The party looks at each other meaningfully and ask him, “What – what does she look like, Lufus?”
“Beautiful. Green. Dreads and beads. Mystical… I’m ready to turn in,” he says quietly, and gets under the covers of his cot.
Day 5, Wednesday
The party wakens, heads down and grabs a spot to eat from Rupert, and heads for the sewers as soon as possible. Lufus refuses to come with them and tells them he’ll see them back in town that night.
They journey through, picking between forks in the road and examining the flow of water. They find a pile of boxes. Upon searching, they find various trinkets – all moldy or wet and all sorted into piles. They find a vase of marbles, a bowl of buttons, a pile of glasses… things of the like.
The water swells occasionally from the pool next to the path and when it does, the smell grows stronger. They eventually find the central system, with the drainage pipe in the middle of a concrete island. They approach the center and begin to discuss what it does. Their voices bring out a few sewer merfolk.
One is bright iridescent blue with tangled hair. Her hair is filled with slime and goop and she avoids eye contact, shyly. Her tail splashes out of the water and the party sees that the end is made of metal. The second is dark purple, with hair pulled back, tied into what looks like a piece of rope with trash and metal sticking out in strange positions. Her neck and chest are made of metal. The third is swampy green with wild eyes. Her hair is in dreads with beads tangled within. She makes intense eye contact with each and every one of them. They notice her hands are metal.
Mildred immediately blurts, “Ursula?!”
Ursula’s face grows dark and she jumps out of the water at Mildred, hands extended. Mildred dodges the attack, and Ursula lands back in the water. The purple one attempts to grab Ralf’s ankles and gets shocked by his electro-cuff, she screams, gills pulling forward, and swims away.
Ursula comes back out of the water, glaring at them from a greater distance. Mildred asks, “What happened? Why are you so mad? We know Lufus!”
Ursula’s face only darkens further. “I hate him, you make no case for yourself.” She goes to attack again.
Alfios casts “Heat Metal” on the metal of the purple’s chest, but there is no effect. This confirms what they suspected: the metal is the same LectoSteel. Ursula is hit with a shock again from Ralf, and the trio swims away through a drainage pipe.
The party continues to search the sewer, finding creatures behind more piles of boxes. They attempt to cast spells that would effect them had they had a brain, but they are no effect. Eventually, they manage to capture two of them, and kill the rest they encounter.
They turn around to head back to Zonot 3, carrying their bounty.
1An ooze is the normal experimental substance that Simic use. They use them to tamper and evolve before performing on themselves.