Still processing everything they have experienced – or been told that they experienced in a time that no longer happened – our heroes reach the very top of The Black Meridian, the space that was once the bridge of the flying dreadnought.
Now this space is an upended riot, where dozens of arcanites and constructs try to put out fires, repair systems and coordinate damage control efforts. Their leader, the arcanite mage Indigo-7 – a figure that Saga and Tibié have observed in recordings and visions – hovers in the middle of the room, directing the work. One ‘wall’ is dominated by a huge, complex control centre, a fair larger and more sophisticated version of the Planar Orrery that Professor Inkblotter assembled from scavenged remains. And everything connects to the ship/tower/dungeon’s Fate Core, a great column of moonstone within which fate threads tangle, knot and spell inevitable doom.
But is anything truly inevitable?
Or is there no fate but what we make?
Saga and Max use gravity crystals to float invisibly into the centre of the room, and Saga uses the power of the runes to make contact with Indigo-7. This strips away her invisibility, and all the arcanites focus on this intruder – allowing Tibié, who has NOT discussed this with her allies AT ALL, dashes forward to connect her magic orb, the Wyvern’s Egg, into the damaged control panel! Meanwhile, Indigo-7 attempts to draw upon the power of his Omen Key, which contains the power of the Wizard King, but feedback from the damaged Fate Core causes it to erupt with energy!
…at this point, a lot of things happen all at once.
Tibié attempts to take control of the cascading failures within the Fate Core, but they overwhelm her! Castiel sees the gnome wizard disintegrating into fate threads, but the bound devil Abraxas says he can help, so the paladin throws his magical chains into the mix even though it means loosening the fiend’s bonds. Bolstered by Abaxas’ power, Tibié channels the fateflow through herself and back down into the scrying chamber, past Vortigern and into the planar window – she breaks the fate loop! But in the process, she sees her own possible fates – becoming the new Archmage, being killed by skeletons, roaming a world consumed by dungeons – break apart, and she cannot know what (if any) fate remains, or how her very essence has been altered…
As the Omen Key sends Saga and Indigo-7 careening across the room, Mrrurrr captures and pulls it away with her necromantic powers. She’s still torn between presenting it to either the Prince of Shadows or the Lich King, so she chooses a third path – she steals the arcane power from the Key and hides it within a pocket of the Afterworld. Now neither of them can have it! …but within that knot of power, she detects a partial consciousness, a lingering engram of the Wizard King himself…
Indigo-7 is suspicious of Saga, although he feels some inexplicable connection to her. She tells him that the Wizard King is long dead and that the arcanites are free from servitude. Still dubious, he uses his magic to dive into Saga’s memories, revealing his own in the process – memories of a life cut short and repurposed long ago when the Wizard King reshaped unwilling humans into his arcane servants. Pulling free, Indigo-7 accepts the truth, tells his people that they are free – and throughout the bridge, the arcanites collapse, allowing themselves to finally die.
And in the aftermath of all this action, the great windows of the bridge open up, revealing an army of hundreds of skeletons surrounding the Black Meridian, as Jericho Xoth astrally projects into the room to dictate the terms of our heroes’ surrender…