The Daughter of Time is the 22nd episode of The Chain. It aired on July 24th, 2019.
The Chain of Acheron are still licking their wounds from their battle with the Black Iron Pact. They are greeted by a Dragonborn Knight who doesn’t exactly trust our heroes. King and Boots decide to join the Knight’s quest, while the rest of the party try to go deeper into Ringwell. However, Time is not on their side.
When last we left our heroes, they had battled a faction of The Black Iron Pact and barely prevailed, with the wizard member of the opposite party escaping at the last moment. A dragonborn paladin walked into the crypt and demanded, “Who are you?
The dragonborn is chewed up, as if it’s just been in a massive fight. She looks exhausted, and leans on her sword momentarily, before saying, “Six of you! The gods shit on my pillow as I go to rest my head!”
Judge suggests that she put down her weapon, that they just want to talk. The dragonborn replies that she knows blackguards when she sees them. She points to Judge and says, “I’m no newly hatched babe. I know the signs of evil.”
Boots demands, “Who are you? We just took out seven or eight of the Black Iron Pact trying to break in. We’re the good guys.”
She says, “A Gith and a hell knight. We have a saying here in Capital, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ These are strange times. What happened here?”
They continue arguing back and forth as they try to decide who should be answering to whom, until they finally convince her that, as the Chain of Acheron, the last of the hell troopers, they do not oppose her. She tells them there’s one of the Blackiron Pact left hiding in Ringwell who cannot escape. They ask if it was a wizard and she says she killed the wizard. She says she fought them in this room and since then has been away, recovering. She’s examining the bodies and says these are not the same villains she fought. She said these are the ones they sent after they discovered what the first group found. She says that of the ones she fought, one escaped, one she slew, and one went into Ringwell, using a ring to get through the door.
Splitting the Party
Boots asks if she knows a way through the door so they can chase. She says she doesn’t know how the witch did it. They ask if maybe one of the vanquished here has a way to get through the door. She replies that they can plunder their kills after this has been sorted out and stomps off, saying over her shoulder, “I’m not a mercenary.” Judge sets Buts to looking at the door to see if she can figure out a way through. King and Boots follow her out of the room, while Slim, Copper, Leech, and Judge stay with Buts and loot the bodies. King leaves Slim in charge.
On the bodies, they find: a magic breastplate +1; magic leather armor +2; a magic rapier named Dancer (a +2 rapier. If two of your attacks against one creature hit in one turn, you gain one extra attack against the same target) -- all made of black iron. They also find a vial of silvery oil, a potion of what appears to be embalming fluid, and a spell scroll containing circle of death. They also find an ornate ring with a blue gemstone set into it. It bears signs of having been made in Alloy. Judge casts identify on the ring, which reveals itself to be a ring of air science (ring of elemental command).
Leech casts find familiar and Odie returns. “Ha ha, I’m back! Are you a zombie?” and starts pulling on Leech’s ears. Leech offers Odie a taste of the silvery vial and he appears to disappear, becoming more and more transparent until he can’t be seen, and then popping back into existence. He also offers Odie a taste of the embalming fluid and he goes, “What? What? No!” and points at Leech. They appear to be potions of etherealness and detect thoughts.
Buts is very interested in the door. In the course of her investigation, she determines that the now empty geometric channels used to contain the gold, which is now on the floor. Around the door is a frieze. In one of the arcs in the frieze are inscribed words. She calls over Leech, who has demonstrated an ability to read ancient languages. She tells him she thinks it’s old Caelian. The first sentence is written forwards; the second sentence is written backwards. As he reads them, there is an explosion, throwing Buts away from the door, sliding along the floor. Leech is thrown further, into the diamond dust. A bright light appears
A giant robot looking thing appears and says, “This effect cannot be uncaused.”
Meanwhile, King and Boots are trying to talk the paladin. “What are you vagabonds doing down here?”
King says, “We’re trying to stop the Blackiron Pact.”
“The deuce you are.”
They ask what she’s a knight of and she says she’s a knight of the Falling Star, sponsored by the Church of Saint Ysabella, the Judge, the Bright, the Even Handed. She says she works for House Navarr and that they’re happy to have them as patrons.
Boots suggests that, as the enemy of one’s enemy is one’s friend, perhaps they should work together to defeat the Blackiron Pact. She pauses in front of a closed door, sighs, and says, “Are you ready to fight?”
King replies, “If we must.”
“There is no time to rest. Let us see where this fell creature went.”
They try to stop her from opening a door, telling her that perhaps she should take some time to rest and let them heal her. Boots asks if she knows what’s behind the door. She says that she knows somewhere in the complex is another member of the Blackiron Pact and if they escape she’ll be shamed. They confirm with her that she saw one of the Blackiron Pact go through the door in the other room, which she closed behind them. She says that she was guided by the hand of Saint Isabella to close the door, that it being open was wrong, and that the other surviving member must be somewhere here.
Boots is holding her hand to keep her from opening the door. She demands, “Let go my hand or it is battle between us.”
The Prismatic Wall
She opens the door and makes a triumphant sound of discovery, drawing her sword. Behind the door is a circular room, about 30 feet in diameter. The walls, floor, and ceiling are made of glittering marble, with another door on the opposite side. In the center of the room is a glowing glyph, surrounded by a shimmering wall of light, similar to the prismatic light that they’ve seen surround Slim’s sword. Inside the prism is a human female, who has also been in battle. The knight says this is the escaped combatant. She seems well composed and somewhat wary. The dragonborn knight runs in. “This is our quarry,” she shouts.
King, from outside the room, casts hold person on the Blackiron Pact member inside. Nothing happens. The dragonborn knight swings her sword, hacking at the prismatic wall. They can see that it hurts her, as if she’d swung her sword into a solid metal wall. There’s a spark of energy, but otherwise the barrier is unaffected. When the knight recovers, she hacks at it again and again, but nothing happens.
Boots says, “Lady Knight, stand back.” She stops, but it’s not clear if it’s because Boots asked her to or if she’s exhausted herself. Boots asks her to ready an attack in case this works, then he plays the mandolin to cast dispel magic, but it sounds different. Normally it’s a full and entrancing sound; today it sounds more plinky and boring, and the spell he tried to cast fails. Boots steps backwards behind the knight so he’s not in the light and tries again to play the mandolin, with the same result.
The woman behind the prismatic wall raises one eyebrow and says, “Perhaps I can negotiate with you.” The knight yells, “No!” and attacks the wall again. Boots says, “She’s not in a talkative mood, but I’m always down for a chat. You appear to be the last one left.”
She replies, “I may be the last one here, but I doubt I’m the last one left.”
Boots asks if she created this wall or if she was trapped her. She says she was trapped. Boots hassles her about walking into a room with a glowing glyph. She says it wasn’t illuminated like this when she walked in. She says, “Perhaps there a payment can be arranged.”
Boots says, “Well, I am a mercenary,” and the knight spits on the ground at his feet. King reminds Boots that if she’s Blackiron Pact, she works for Ajax. She says everything may not be as it seems and invites King into the room, but he declines.
She tells Boots that she might have information of great value to them, depending on who their employer is. Boots walks a step forward and touches the wall. It sparks, but it feels like solid glass, and buzzes slightly, like a Van de Graaff generator.
The woman asks Boots, “Who do you work for? Who pays you?” She invites King into the room again, and again he declines. She says, “You’re the Chain of Acheron. I’ve read the broadsheets. I know you need allies.”
Boots says, “We’re not exactly ally material. You work for Ajax.”
They banter back and forth a bit more and she says, “Is it this?” pointing to the ring, which she then removes and throws on the floor. Then she asks, “Do you have the means to bring this wall down? If you do not, there’s no reason for this and I may be trapped here forever.”
An Inexorable Foe
The action then cuts back to Judge, Slim, Leech, and Copper, who are facing the newly appeared Inexorable, who had just intoned, “This effect you cannot uncause.” Slim gets the sense that it is some kind of cop. Slim steps up to the inexorable, which looks like a wheel. The spokes of the wheel are all hands, which pull it forward in a kind of perpetual motion machine. As soon as he gets near enough to attack, he calms down. He feels like there was an edge that he didn’t even know he relied on that is now gone. Slim hits it twice with his sword. It glows for a second and it spins around in place and begins to vibrate. Leech sends Odie to harry it, then moves next to some other party members before casting eldritch blast. Both bolts hit it. Leech notices that his eldritch blast doesn’t look the way he’s accustomed to it looking -- now it’s got sapphire streaks in it and his sapphire rod glows. Leech also feels oddly calm and as if he’s lost his edge.
Copper shoots him with a hunters mark, then Bigcat also attacks, biting it. Judge tries to place a seal on it, but it doesn’t work. Then he attacks with his greatsword, slashing the thing twice. They realize that when they’re near this thing, they can no longer take bonus actions. Judge backs up and the thing tries to slam into him as he moves, but misses. As he retreats, he feels his normal edge return to him. The inexorable, Time, follows Judge and this time the attacks land. It slams into Judge three times. It speaks again and says, “The forms must be obeyed.” Judge tells it that they’re there on behalf of the Sapphire Sky to protect what the Emperor warded. It responds and says, “Nil nisi nullius.”
Back with Boots and King, the knight continues to seethe with anger and righteousness while Boots speaks with the trapped woman. Boots asks, “Who are you and why would we help you? Are you a member of the Blackiron Pact, as it would appear?”
The knight grabs Boots by the shoulder and says, “Do not speak to this woman. She is the enemy. She will beguile you and lie.”
Boots says, “I know.” The knight pushes away from him in disgust. Angry with his baiting, she sheathes her sword.
The woman says, “Why don’t you invite your friend in?”
Boots replies, “Because. Appearances can be deceiving. Who says he’s my friend?”
She says, “Is he your friend or your commander?”
Boots says, “Some of column A, some of column B. You’ve asked a lot of questions and answered none of mine. Who are you? Are you a part of the Blackiron Pact?”
She says, “Violentia de Ellezano. I answered one question, not it’s your turn. Do you have the means to escape this trap?”
Boots says, “If I did have the means to take this wall down, what is to stop this crazed dragonborn from cutting you to pieces?”
She says, “She can only do so if I grant her the ability.”
Boots says, “Maybe the three of us will gang up and jump you.” She says, “You can try.”
Boots asks if she’s actually part of the Blackiron Pact or if this is a disguise. She says it’s a disguise. Boots asks what she is and she says a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. She says that their enemies are her enemies in almost all ways, then observes that it seems they don’t have the capacity to free her. Boots agrees that it appears they do not.
At that point, she essentially calls an end to the negotiations and turns her back on them, sitting on the other side of the cage.
Back at the fight, Slim attacks the inexorable of time. He actives the psionic crystal to amplify his sword, which is wreathed in prismatic power. Then he attacks, slashing it twice again. He distracts it with his second attack, making it easier for the next attack to land. It turns and slams into Slim in retaliation. Leech tells Odie to keep harrying the inexorable of Time, then shoots some sapphire infused eldritch blasts at it, which miss. Leech cries out, “The words said, ‘The cycle must be broken. The cycle cannot be broken.’” The inexorable turns to face Leech.
Copper activates his healing spirit, then attacks, hitting it with two arrows. Then Bigcat attacks. In response to Bigcat’s attacks, the mechanisms keeping it operational begin to fly off, then it seems to be sucked away, maybe into another plane.
Meanwhile, Boots sees King gesturing to him and walks out of the room to talk to him. King tries to recall if the Chronicle has any reference to a prismatic wall like this prison seems to be, but can’t recall anything. Boots says that this creature is being weird and he doesn’t think it’s human. It seems to actually be stuck. If this was a trap, it had ample opportunity to spring it. King points out that it seems to want to get all three of them into the room. Boots suggests King try to see what he can get out of it. King says to the knight, “You said you thought it was some kind of god-father.” She says, “Some priest of Ajax.”
King says he’ll go talk to her, priest to priest, and see what he can learn. She says, “Very well. I will accompany you.” King says, “Do you really think she’ll talk in your presence?”
The knight says, “She’ll talk.”
Boots asks the knight what her name is. She says her name is for her friends. He introduces himself as Boots. She says, “You may call me Knight,” since Boots still didn’t actually give her his name. Boots tries to distract her by asking if she’s ever seen something like that and casts a hypnotic pattern. She says, “Yes, it’s a lute, or a mandolin. The distinction escapes me.”
Then King points her at the prismatic wall and asks if she’s ever seen anything like that. She says she hasn’t. King asks if the knight thinks the woman is actually trapped. She says she thinks the woman is using that barrier to protect herself because she knows the knight would cut her down.
The Cycle of Civilizations
The non-human members of The Chain continue examining the door into Ringwell to examine the frieze around it. They represent a story. It shows the rise and fall of civilizations, and after the first two falls, what appears to be the establishment of a cult. After the first fall, the figures appear to be worshiping a figure on a burning pyre. The second cult reveres a gravestone with a figure buried under it. The third empire, which appears to be Caelian, worships a mausoleum with a figure inside. After the first two cults, there are images of some kind of barbarians arriving and wiping them out. After the third cult, there is no barbarian invasion -- instead it shows the building of Ringwell. The words that Leech deciphered are written in Draconic and, as he related, say, “The cycle must be broken. The cycle cannot be broken.”
The seal on this door still appears to be intact and about five feet off the ground is a hole in the door. Leech asks Odie to look through the hole in the door and uses his eyes to see that the hole is some sort of tube with nodules and holes, which they deduce is a keyhole.
King goes inside the room to talk to the priest to see if he can get more information from her and asks the knight to stay outside. She says, “Fine. I yield. What is your name?” King introduces himself. She says, “I am Lady Orozivaar, Knight of the Falling Star, and this is my lot.”
King asks why she’s down here and she explains that she heard about a haunting. She saw three members of the Blackiron Pact sneaking around and she followed them down here. She asks why they’re here and King tells her that they’re to stop the wards of the Emperor from falling into the hands of the Blackiron Pact;. She’s confused by this, as there hasn’t been an emperor for years. Boots tries to explain to her that they’re the good guys, but she doesn’t recognize any of the organizations involved and she doesn’t believe their badges of knighthood.
While King goes to talk to Violentia, Boots stays in the hallway with Lady Orozivaar and plays a song of rest. She leans her head back against the wall and doesn’t complain.
When King walks into the room, the ioun stone floating around his head plummets to the ground. He picks it up and puts it in his satchel. He notices that the smell of magic that always hovers around him is gone. King casts light, but nothing happens.
He tries to speak with the woman, who wants to know if he can dismantle her prison. He says he’s the closest thing to it she has. She thinks that sounds like a “No,” and says she doesn’t think they have anything to talk about. She says she doesn’t think the means to allow her to escape lies within these walls. King asks what she’s doing here and she says she ran and was trapped her. He says that’s not what she was asking and she says she knows. King examines the glyph on the floor and recognizes it as some kind of anti-magic trap.
She asks what their interest in Ajax is. King says he killed their former commander and his friend. She says, “If you can find the means to release me, then we can bargain. Until then, we’re wasting our time.” King and Boots depart, but Lady Orozivaar stays behind. They rejoin the rest of The Chain in the sun elf’s prison room, where they’re still examining the keyhole in the door. Buts comes to. King and Boots explain what they found. They put the armor and breastplate in the bag of holding and Boots asks if he can see the rapier, which he decides to wield.
Buts says she doesn’t think that the cylinder turns the magic off. She thinks the magic is permanent and that whatever goes in the keyhole will just allow them to go through the door.
A Psionic Solution?
They discuss the anti-magic trap and think maybe Slim is the only one who can make a change there since he’s psionic. They go back to the anti-magic room through a curving corridor. Slim examines the wall and finds flecks of mica in it, which reflect the prismatic light from the barrier in the middle. The woman says, “A Gith. Welcome,” and stands up, approaching him.
Slim says, “Quiet, creature,” as he examines the wall. As he’s thinking, the woman says, “I applaud your industry.”
Slim touches his gem to the wall. The gem glows, then fades. She watches him with interest. “You carry a piece of dragon, cut from its flesh. I’ve never seen that. How did you come by it?”
Slim doesn’t answer, busy examining his gem to see if there are any changes to it.
The dragonborn paladin walks into the room and stands next to Slim as he examines the cell. She says, “I am Lady Orozivaar. What manner of creature are you?”
Slim doesn’t respond; he thinks it’s a dumb question.
Slim uses his psionic mage hand to try to trace the inner circle. It manifests, but it can’t pass through the circle. It also can’t manifest inside the prison. If he tries, it manifests outside. Slim tries to misty step inside the prison, but instead he reappears on the other side.
Lady Orozivaar walks out of the room, saying, “The Church must be told of what’s happening here.” Realizing they don’t want the paladin to tell anyone where Ringwell is, Judge places a seal on her and then casts suggestion to try to convince her to stay and help them. She turns around and says, “You are quite helpless. You might need my aid.”
Judge disarms himself, leaving Exile in the hall, then enters the room. Judge wonders if the dragonborn paladin might be more successful using the gem against the prison, but Slim isn’t willing to give her the gem to test it. He says she can place the tip of her finger on his gem. She touches it and, uneasy, asks, “Where did you come by that? It fills me with unease.” After Judge explains what they’re trying to do, Lady Orozivaar concentrates for a moment. The prismatic wall seems to thin, but then Lady Orozivarr passes out.
King says, “It now appears we may have a way to bring down this wall. Do you want to talk to us now?”
She says, “You’re awfully optimistic.”
Eventually, she tells them that she had sent agents to infiltrate the Blackiron Pact, but they failed, so eventually she did so herself, masquerading as one of them.
Slim asks the Navigator on the Somnium Tenebris if it knows anything about a wall like this. It replies, “The barrier you describe registers as a type 5 mentalic shield.” Slim asks how that can be dissipated and the Navigator says, “With psionic energy.”
Slim holds the gem up and he uses the psionic energy from the gem. His eyes glow and the energy blasts the wall. The whole wall in the area of the blast reacts wildly in response. King says they’re doing to keep working on this problem and they’ll be back. She says, “I believe in you.”
Boots checks the door on the other side of this room, which leads down a corridor to an empty room. King carries Lady Orozivaar as they explore. They find a silver door that’s ajar. The room behind it is made of metal. It looks as though there are bumps and uneven surfaces throughout it. Closer inspection reveals that there was once something here, but the metal has been pounded flat. As they enter the room, Judge notices that it’s starting to get cold in the room. The temperature drops dramatically. A mist materializes around Boots, Judge, and Leech, who entered the room.