Caravan Carnivale

Episode Seventeen

Hostile Takeover

Disembarking in Tolia, Fo made haste to rent a room and provide the party with a new magic door by which to travel freely to and from the Caravan. The party stepped from the brisk autumn chill of Amstreiche into the summery breeze of Tolia, seeking out Quoben Qualls’ uncle who had designed and built the Silver Hurricane mechanical armor-suit.

This uncle – Nyburn Volnutt – turned out to be the sole proprietor of an engineering atelier, where the evidence of his genius (and lack of practical sense) was apparent in the scattered projects and prototypes cluttering his workspace. The party asked about details on the Silver Hurricane suit, and Nyburn expressed remorse for its loss – and little sympathy for his reprobate nephew Quoben. He also let slip that his most recent endeavor – funded by wealthy interests in Ebregos – had run aground in the wake of some industrial espionage by an inscrupulous competitor: the prototype for his Mechanical Logic Engine had been stolen enroute to his Ebregoi investors by agents of Phaddeus Hexum Memor, a notorious manufacturing baron from Acquardente, half a day’s ride to the north.

The party took notice of a peculiar clockwork boat prototype in Nyburn’s workshop and began a conversation that led to Barabal introducing the concept of the screw propeller, promising to revolutionize sea travel by removing wind as a primary concern for propulsion. Nyburn set about thinking on a way to make a practical version of the mechanized ship, and the party set out to retrieve the logic engine.

In Acquardente, Fo put on his best air of nobility and infiltrated P.H. Memor’s facility under the auspices of being a wealthy and demanding potential customer. There he discovered Memor’s latest product: small gnome-sized rotund automatons articulated for menial labor. A glitch: whenever the machines found themselves too close together, they began to stutter and pop – a gentle nudge to set them on a direct collision course led to a bright flash and both machines falling to the ground inert and smoking – also revealing some sort of magical crystal power source inside.

Via a magic door quietly drawn by Fo behind a heavy curtain, the party emerged in a moment of surprise, with Lolth grabbing Memor and absconding with him back to the Caravan. There he was interrogated, proving to be stubborn and arrogant but keen on working out a deal that would see him provided with direct trade access to the frozen North. The party returned to his mansion for a smarmy business dinner, where more automatons served them food while demonstrating the troubling proximity glitch.

After dinner, Memor took the party down to one of his workshops – dark for the evening – where the assembly process for his P.H. Memor Automats was carried out. When discussion turned to the Logic Engine, he became suspicious and turned on the party, donning a large and intimidating mechanical suit not entirely unlike the one built by Nyburn Volnutt. When he attempted to activate the machine by attaching crystals like the ones driving the Automats, an unexpected reaction caused a large green explosion, demolishing the suit and kerploding Memor’s entire torso. The explosions triggered a chain effect, and in the distance pops and bangs could be heard across the complex. Crates of crystals inside the party’s location detonated as well, showering the room with glittering shards.

The explosions left the air thick with a green fog, which began to waft its way down to the docks – Fo followed it while the rest of the party returned to the Big House to search for the Logic Engine in Memor’s study. The party ransacked the study, liberating a tidy sum of gold and blueprints that revealed Memor to be a career intellectual thief – most of his designs having in fact been stolen from other less successful inventors. Key among them was a schematic for a military version of the Automat, code-named “Sluggernaught”.

In the dockside warehouse, Fo found a colossal crate, which exploded in a brilliant pillar of green light before he could get it open. The party scrambled down to the pillar just in time to see it fade away, revealing the contents of the crate: an enormous bronze automaton clearly built for war. It lurched to life, took a few moments to figure out its own body, and then proceeded to attempt to smash the party into bits.

Lindy took a punishing blow, distracting the giant while Alsahiir and his genie managed to wind a rope around the monster’s knees. This was able to knock it down, granting easier access to party members who scrambled up to the glowing pods on its shoulders, breaking off their covers and revealing racks of crystals inside. Destroying the crystals, the party managed to bring the giant to a halt, and pried open its chest to reveal a highly-developed iteration of Nyburn’s logic engine concept. Alsahiir was able to do some quick reverse engineering to determine that the machine as designed was built to use the crystals – infused with human souls – not as a control mechanism but a fuel source; the unexpected overload of soul energy had allowed the collective tortured souls to exert their will through the metal body via means not accounted for in the machine’s design.

Catching their breath, the party resolved to spend the night cleanly extracting the logic engine from the giant using tools scattered about the warehouse.

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