Session 23: The Titan’s Toll

Yeeted & Yoinked
Chapter 2: A Different World

Location: outside Old Vasselheim, Othanzia, Issylra
Date: 3 Sydenstar 845 PD (calendar of Exandria:
Party Members:
Rinn – half-elf sorcerer/rogue
Stubby – half-elf artificer
Tāmerai – gnome bard
Fisch – bear fighter

Absent Party Members:
Bob the Therapist – changeling warlock with a couch for a familiar
Tunk – bugbear monk

Previously on Yeeted & Yoinked…
The four ersatz adventurers went for a closer look at the spire of power shooting up from the Platinum Sanctuary. They were followed by two automatons programmed to protect the spire, who quickly became their escorts as the four gave indication that they were acquainted with Viktor Vonn (three-finger salute and “learn from my mistakes”). They discovered a likely route inside that could bypass the spire entirely, or could go directly towards/into it… All right, it’s a poop chute, a sewer entrance, and Pennywise — or as it’s D&D, Copperwise — is probably waiting for us down there. Also they learned where the magical spire of power was coming from, and determined that water did affect the spire’s power, but would not be as likely to “put the ‘fire’ out” as to cause an arcano-chemical reaction and alter the power and possibly put the ‘fire’ out.

Agreeing that they would handle this last, the group then make their way out of the city in the company of the constructs-cum-honor-guard, scavenging some nice little shiny stuff out of the few houses that aren’t fully looted yet.

The party then left the city, following animal trails for about an hour, and reached the fallen body of the titan felled by Vox Machina some twenty-five or thirty years prior. Bandits living in or near the titan’s body took one look at them and peaced out, hollering terrified obscenities and panicked questions of WHAT those THINGS were with the four adventurers.

The Adventure Continues
The party post up to the titan’s body (Stubby: Race you! ONE TO THREE GO! — she and Rinn take off, while Fisch and Tāmarai discuss what a titan is and why Stubby wants to kick it in the toe). When it fell, it fell face-first, so its toe is easily accessible. Stubby fulfills her dream of kicking it. The act dislodges a pebble, which she keeps. She sends Sentri flying after the bandits and in a wide spiral to make sure they’re really gone and not coming back for a surprise attack. Finally, the young artificer enlists Fisch to hammer-and-chisel off a good, big chunk of the stone. Her Uncle Grog has something called “Titanstone Knuckles,” and she reasons that if she could also get some titan stone and turn them into stone knuckles, that would sure as heck be a Thing, and a very very thingish Thing, at that. 

The chunk goes into the Bag of Holding, and then the four walk alongside the titan’s corpse to its head. As they approach, they see a sign: Thar Amphala Excavation Site. There were actual archaeologists actively working through the site when The Incident occurred, apparently: tools were dropped wherever they were as people ran for the city to find family members, other survivors, or to loot (someone always does this, during or after a disaster, and science is chronically underfunded, so it was probably looted by the scientists themselves, let alone everyone who came after). Everything’s weathered, as naturally it would be. The environment even here, outside the city, is still affected by the ecological nastiness (red diarrhea-dirt, grey dead dirt), but even just one day later, it’s already receding. Either that, or the earth-sickness didn’t quite reach this far to start with.

Other areas look much more complete,d in terms of excavation and study. Large sections are organized; items are sorted, stacked, labeled, categorized… and, of course, some have fallen over and not been re-stacked. There’s still miles to go with this task, but the grid layout and the model of what the tower is expected to look like when they finally get inside looks like the work could be resumed fairly easily with not too much confusion, if the scientists found their way back here. The model shows an architectural style that none of the four are familiar with. It’s ugly and unsettling, pure function and no thought at all, apparently, to style or form. Brutalism meets midcentury-modern. The absolute worst. Architectural violence.

Most of what they find, however, is just odds and sods, nothing of value. There is, though, a drawing carved into a piece of stone, labeled in Dwarvish. Gnomish being written with Dwarvish characters almost as often as with its native script, Tāmarai sounds it out phonetically without issue: Ghervis + Aimon.” Fisch’s question prompts a discussion of what the + sign means. “So, they are probably mates,” Tāmarai explains, and Fisch replies, “They’re probably dead.” The bald practicality of the statement causes a mad case of funeral-giggles in the other three.

That errand complete, the four head for Fisch’s “shiny dragon.” The constructs lead the way to this, too. Fisch notes that the dragon doesn’t look enough like a dragon, it looks more like armor, which he would like to have. “You have armor,” he points out to Rinn and Stubby and even Tāmarai. “I have some, but it’s not very good.” Tāmarai looks Fisch over with a searching, detail-absorbing gaze, then

gives a very “that’s settled” nod, as if something has been. (It’s the private promise that she will make a way to get Fisch some really good armor.)

They follow the constructs, roughly perpendicular to the path the bandits took. Up a hill, down a hill, around a hill, to a small, ice-fed lake. There in the lake, ice water trickling into it, is a gorgeous, glorious, clockwork dragon. Its wings are broken. The left hind leg is completely gone. The metal shows a strong patina. The whole metal carcass is forlorn, limp, and very possibly beyond repair. This is an ex-windup dragon. This windup dragon is no more.

As they approach, the constructs stop, silently consult one another, and turn around to walk back to their post by the spire. Job complete.

Near the dragon is a grave site. It’s not very fresh, maybe four-ish years old. The name on it is Ryo Yelmoira — yes, the empress’s spymaster — and it is carved well, with care. Someone did their best. The grave looks well tended, and there are flowers planted by the headstone.

Tāmarai notices some relatively fresh, big-person-sized (elf, human) footprints. They must be fresh, because it’s dry and breezy, and any prints here would be blown away after a day or two. The person is a toe-striker; there’s no tread on the soles, but at least one nail is coming loose on each heel, and one of the soles looks to have a crack in it. Stubby sends Sentri to scout around to try to find whoever left them, hoping it’s Viktor.

While Sentri searches, the four take their time looking at the windup dragon. It’s shiny. It was piloted from the inside, they realize, looking at a seat and steering handles in the cockpit right around the neck/shoulder region. Someone’s also been going through this for a long time. Wires are pulled, items are missing from places that look like something should be there. Someone’s either looting, or making repairs. There’s a partial hand-print — two fingers and a thumb, but nothing from the back half of the hand — of grease and oil and yuck, as if someone had leaned on one of the walls for balance (the whole inside is tilted) and then pushed off of it. Stubby becomes hopeful as she sees it: it’s dry, but not extremely so, which may mean it’s as old as a couple of weeks, but as young as a couple of days.

Based on the wear and tear of the metal on the outside of the dragon, it crashed right around the same time that the grave of Ryo Yelmoira was made. Tāmarai takes a rubbing of the headstone — or at least, she attempts to. A crossbow bolt goes whizzing over her head. Thank goodness her thought processes are quick: she does NOT stand straight up to look where the bolt originated. Instead she ducks behind the stone, peeping over the top with just her eyes (and big hairstyle). They all hear cranking, ratcheting sounds as whoever it is gets ready for another go. Quickly, Tāmarai holds up a three-fingered salute above the headstone and calls out, “LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES!”

A creaky old voice calls back, “Eh? What’s that??” and now they have met Viktor Vonn. He questions them to find out why there’s a talking bear with them, why they’re here, their relationship to Vox Machina, and their non-allegiance with and mistrust of the empress. He goes whey-faced when seeing Rinn, but doesn’t say why.

It turns out, Viktor has been transporting parts from the dragon to his cabin for most of these five years, slowly stripping it down in between doing what it takes for a lone man to survive in a sick and dangerous place.

They enter the cabin through the root cellar entrance. Viktor didn’t construct the building; this is some old hunter’s cabin, or maybe a farmer, or just someone who didn’t care for city life. The interior is a tinker’s playground, with supplies and everything a person could need to tinker — save tools, of which Viktor doesn’t have many at all. Stubby shows him Sentri as the bird comes back to her, and he admires it greatly. He also admires Aegea, the gauntlet, the recording device, and Rinn’s gloves, all Stubby’s work.

Viktor gets more and more hopeful with each revelation, and more so every time they show him anything powered by a crystal. Soon he grabs stubby by the lapels and asks her excitedly, “Do you have a residuum gem?”

They have to disappoint him in that regard, but they do tell him the news of his children and grandchildren, and the resistance.

“This is my fault,” Viktor tells them, sitting down and holding his head in dismay. “I was betrayed. Twice. I thought our leaders weren’t helping us. You know the story of Vecna. They said it was the will of the gods. They let people die. Children! They didn’t learn from their mistakes. And in twenty years they still hadn’t learned. Lydia, Ryo, and I just wanted democracy. But then it became a protest. I thought we were going to make change. But then Lydia… She is working with Arkhan the Cruel. Uses my devices for death.” Viktor’s Tinkertop Bolt Blaster, or any of the other incendiary devices. What did he make those for, planting daisies? They heroically remain silent and do not bring it up. “I had to stop them. I crashed my dragon. Built those things,” he nods, indicating the general direction of his constructs on their way back to the Platinum Bastion, “to protect it and hide it. Anyone snooping, they beat. I don’t know why they like you,” he adds. They explain it, all holding up that three-finger salute. “Ah. Should’ve thought of that. Damn. Well, I fought with the other two, and I had to kill Ryo. Vanya was with me, my copilot. We thought maybe if she pretended to be Ryo, she could spy on Lydia and stop her. But so far, all we’ve done is destroy the gunpowder and prevent that. We had to give up everything — the family think Vanya is dead. And Lydia’s still in charge.

“It’s just a good thing Vanya is being Ryo. I know she hasn’t been turned or discovered because I still haven’t been found here. She sends me letters with a bird sometimes. The last time I saw her for my own eyes, though…” he scurries to a dresser and pulls out a drawing. 

It’s Rinn. 

Vanya Vonn, drew a picture of Rinn standing on the deck of his transport ship out of Nicodranas, wind blowing his hair back. Very pretty. Tāmarai mutters something in Xhorhasian, face expressionless. (“What the…?”)

Rinn stares. He remembers that moment, but saw no one at the time who was drawing him.

“Vanya,” Viktor goes on, “went to Zadash to get the last piece of the puzzle.” He taps the picture. “She said we needed you to help stop the magic.” Apparently Vanya speaks multiple languages, can do magic, and trained with something called Vollstruckers. Only Rinn knows what that means, and he’s already gobsmacked from seeing the picture of himself so he can’t tell the others what the Vollstruckers are. They underwent some sort of organizational purge and reform a few years back, but they’re still very feared as boogiemen. “I used to tease her, saying she was a magical spy. But she didn’t like all the schooling. Said it was sad and dark and scary. She came home about a year before the protests began here. But she and I, we’ve been working. I asked my other kids and grands to keep at it. Stop Lydia from making the spell to kill that nice person in Whitestone. We didn’t think using that thing would make Lydia immortal! She’s drawing… something from that spire, some kind of power. Cut her, she heels. Fireball, she gets back up. It’s awful!” he points towards the spire in Old Vasselheim proper. “That spell. She said it was something like a ‘light beacon’, and she can siphon its power to keep her alive.”

Light beacon.



A coldness creeps into Tāmarai’s expression, then a fury that is even colder. “She” an uncomfortably long quiet follows that softly spoken word, followed by another word so soft that even ‘whisper’ seems overly ambitious a term for it, “what?”

“That’s why we need to stop her,” Viktor responds. “We stopped her from getting all the power she wants, but we couldn’t think of another way, other than to — Okay, part of this isn’t my fault! I had nothing to do with the damage to the elemental planes! But you know how there are these ‘way’-lines,” he begins, and someone supplies ‘ley-lines’ as the proper term. “Right. They’re important, and the light-stuff is coming right from the center of a bunch of them. It’s pouring over… what did Vanya say… She said the extra-planar power that was funneled through all this dangerous magic items caused a disruption and sealed the gateways. There were four of ‘em.”

Stubby opines that Lydia wasn’t someone who was on the side of the rebellion and then had her heart turned. Viktor agrees, she was never really with them. “She’s calling herself a Briarwood. She’s evil.” The group inform him of the evil that they know about. “She also uses Vox Machina’s Vestiges of Divergence to create time rifts to come back here. Are those the gateways you mean?” They aren’t. Viktor’s explanation leaves them all realizing that Lydia sealed rifts to the elemental planes guarded by the Ashari. Keyleth has told Stubby in the past that those rifts couldn’t be closed fully without causing a magical surge that could power a lot more damage than leaving them opened, because they’re the natural end-points of an intra-planer ‘tunnel’ connecting the Prime Material to the associated elemental planes. The damage to Pyrah and the other Ashari settlements probably came from this.

From what the group have managed to learn about Evil Vex from the other timeline, Keyleth was probably the only member of Vox Machina left alive to kill her, so Lydia’s probably got just as much grudge against Ashari peoples as against Whitestone itself.

As they muse over this, Viktor’s bringing out his lab books with drawings, calculations, and so on. “I need more power. An old, power, large gem. Maybe one from before the Calamity…”

The three immediately consider the stone of Flynn, but mentally reject it as being too dangerous, and no one mentions it at the moment. Viktor goes to check some of his books on evocation and dunamancy, written from the viewpoint of an artificer’s base of knowledge rather than a wizard’s. “This is my plan,” he shows them excitedly. He wants to take two gems and ‘prism’ them into each other, fuse them into a liquid state, and pour that liquid into the spire of power and light. Based on his calculations, which the group compare with Emror’s book, Viktor’s idea should work. Someone will need to funnel a spell of lightning, plus a spell with graviturgical power, to make it actually work. It would destroy both gems, though, and all their power and magic would go into the liquid.

The casters go over the calculations again. It should work. They feel that the viscosity of the liquid would be something similar to mercury, and it would also probably look really really pretty. Considering, too, that Kord said through Oren that the spire needed to be drowned, this might indeed be the exact thing they need to do.

They decide to use the Flynn stone.

Viktor enlists the help of the three non-bears to get his gem out of the dragon, while Fisch goes off to talk to the other awakened animals he knows and let them know to look after Viktor and help him feed himself. Rinn’s Gloves of Negation turn out useful for absorbing energy as they rip wires out of the stone inside the dragon (there were more, and now ALL the energy is flowing through just four wires, so it’s painful for Viktor to do this alone). Still, they all get just a wee bit singed. Even Tam, who’s only really there to take notes.

“When you build a device like this,” Viktor tells Stubby, “make sure you have a failsafe to bleed off excess energy. Learn from my mistakes! …Do you want to make the liquid now?” He’s excited to try his plan, now that there’s a gem he could use. They do, but they don’t want to administer it yet. Once the spire of power goes out, everyone will notice, and they’ll be on a very sudden, tight timeline. They want to warn the Vonns and other allies of the Resistance.

Afterward, they and Viktor discuss how to get messages to Vanya/Ryo. The main plan seems to be that Viktor will use a ring of disguise that Vanya gave him (she’s wearing the other, posing as Ryo) to go into town and speak to everyone, re-forming the Rebellion that has gone so far underground. They also realize that they could get Vox Machina to start sending messages too, through the trees. Especially once the fire goes out, that will be much faster. 

Tāmarai gets the communication stone out of the Bag of Holding (with help) and addresses it. “Hello, Whitestone, are you there? Whitestone, please respond.”

A white-haired, bespectacled man in his late middle years becomes visible. “Yes, Stubby, are you —VIKTOR? You’re alive! My gods, man, we thought you were dead! Where are you all, and is that… You didn’t kill a brass dragon…?” They all, with Viktor, catch Percy up on the haiku-version of events (leaving out the part where Vex was evil in that other timeline, and that Lydia is Vex III). “Your mother, Stubby, is taking care of an issue with the Ursine Brigade, or she’d be here to tell you these things. I’ll let her know the moment she returns.” They discuss their plan to put out the fire, and Percy immediately recognizes the issue. “Yes, if you put out the spire, everyone would notice. Like a signal fire in reverse. But, hm. We’ve been able to successfully send a few letters through the tree in your residence. It’s a little irregular, and sometimes the tree will throw the box right back into Kiki’s face. Knocked her out once, quite amusing. Not to her, of course.”

“Look, deRolo Boy.” Viktor gets down to brass tacks. “You’re the adventurer. How would you split the party?”

Percy considers the options he’s aware of. “You’re such a small group that splitting you would mean someone was alone, which is dangerous, so it had better not be you, Stubby.” He sighs wistfully. “If only you had Grog. Or a Grog.” They inform him about Fisch, and he’s delighted that things are suddenly looking up. “Odds of success are higher if you four handle pouring this liquid. And Viktor, your calculations look right to me. Tāmarai,” he adds, turning and changing the subject, “If it would aid you, know that the contract we made with your House has been settled. You were meant to teach Stubby languages and culture for a year; you’ve kept her alive for five years. You’ve more than fulfilled your obligation, and are free if you wish to be.”

“I,” Tāmarai begins, then pauses to think. Nods. “I am her governess.”

“In that case, keep an eye on that young man.” Percy’s voice is low, and he leans into the communication stone as if that would keep his words just between them. It doesn’t work. Rinn blushes. Tāmarai, however, is not. Even as she says “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” her subtle nod reassures him that yes she does, and she will make sure that Stubby’s virtue and physicality remain as intact as she herself wishes them to be.

Sitting back, satisfied, Percy asks, “What messages shall I send to the Vonns?” The basic message to everyone: Get everything in place. The Rebellion is back in business and we’re having a Grand Opening in a few days. Watch the spire. It will go out, and the empress will be at her most vulnerable. Attack then. We will join you almost immediately and beard the lion in its den.

Stubby tells Percy that Vanya was with the Vollstruckers for a short while. That gives Percy quite a turn as he asks what she’s doing, or planning, or… Stubby informs him that Vanya’s the one who brought Rinn into New Vasselheim. Viktor seconds this. “She made sure he would be here! …How did you get here, anyway?” 

Rinn mentions the last ship out of Nicodranas. Percy’s alarm grows. “The last ship? Very last? Sailing across an ocean where most ships sink? We don’t send anything there anymore, because we can’t. Four of our ships sank, and no more will even try. But is it possible that Vanya surreptitiously arranged for your travel, Rinn?” 

Rinn doesn’t know; he simply asked which ship was leaving the soonest, and got on it. 

“Right. Is it possible she was on the ship with you?” 

Rinn doesn’t know what she looks like. Viktor describes her, but very, very poorly. “Singed hair. Her mother’s nose, my eyes. Her chin is… blimey.” He mimes a big — no, an enormous chin. “Big nose. Her face is face-shaped. She’s got all her fingers…” Right. Couldn’t possibly mistake her for anyone else.

They arrange to use Viktor’s fireworks to send messages from New Vasselheim to the party in Old Vasselheim as well, in case it’s needed:

Yellow: Everyone’s dead, we lost, don’t bother coming back, all is lost
Blue: All clear, come on in, the Rebellion is a go
Purple: Requesting magical assistance quickly

Stubby outlines the plan one more time so they’re all sure what it is:

1. Stubby and Viktor will create the magically charged liquid from their two gems.
2. Rinn will use his gloves to absorb excess energy, to be stored for later use, while Tāmarai uses her graviturgical spell to momentarily dampen and ‘squash’ the power flow. This should put out the spire.
3. Go inside. Theoretically, find the Beacon and bring it out again.

4. Go back to the Birth Heart. Fire one of Viktor’s fireworks about every hour until Vanya sees it and opens a tree into the Birth Heart. This should give enough time for the party to get back to the Birth Heart and step right on through into their own garden, and begin the rebellion (unless warned off by fireworks from the city).

The final aspect of the plan that Percy can handle is the most encouraging they’ve had yet: Once the spire goes out, Keyleth should be able to open a tree to the Birth Heart or the tree in the Tal’Dorei Embassy garden. Pass messages, goods, even people back and forth. She should be able to get them home. Or, at least, to Whitestone.
“Pike’s going to find her now — I’m sorry you missed Aunt Pike, she just came to bring me some tea, good timing. Anyway, Kiki’s managed usually to get the trees to cooperate about once every other day or so. If she starts trying now, then theoretically it should get through in the next two or three days. That should give you time to do whatever you’re doing. It sounds logical. Certainly likelier to succeed than making trammels, that was ridiculous. I hope— *flicker* *freeze* *flicker* — I love y—!”


1 titan pebble

1 cubic foot of titan stone

1 very good sketch of Rinn