The return to the surface was a hazy struggle of darkness and water that seemed upset with them and not quite the sort of water they were used to.
At the end, the whale was nearby with its castle, and the red men with their blocky bodies and stubby hands were pulling them onto one of the boats resting on a cloud.
Jack was the only one among them not lapsing quickly into unconsciousness or the bends. With darkness falling, he and a deeply-disracted Shon’Ai locked the skimmers into follow mode, and Jack set off to Harmuth to keep their return date with Stastin.
Days and nights on the boat stretched together with pain and relief and broken dreams shared among them.
Eventually it was evening, and a shade cloth was above one of the low decks, strung with flickering amber lights. Shon’Ai brought them a tray of delicacies prepared in the way of her Sunset homeland. There were many colors and strange flavors among the food.
She told them she shared their memories of the time down in the Moyag’s Lair. She told them part of what their minds were wrestling with was a story and an information transfer from the Exotelligence, transmitted to them before it fluttered off into the dark sky. It showed them a tale of the planets sharing the Earth’s star. The great Jovian planet of storms and deadly pressures surrounded by the glittering jewels of life – a sea filled with fibers of brilliance supporting a whole ecosystem of astonishing beauty, a planet whose metal core had become blood and it and its cloud of satellites all living and working in the vacuum of space and terrifically alive. Then a dense package of wonders regarding the nature of matter and energy, a sort of codex from a foreign intelligence.
The Exotelligence download can be used to learn or improve the Numenera Skill or any science you are interested in. (1-time Enabler)
The experience below the sea can be used to acquire a Swim skill, Extreme Survival or any such related skill (1-time Enabler)
Shon’Ai told them that Takir had absorbed a good deal of radiation down in the Lair, and had forged himself some sort of cocoon, and was … recuperating; just, taking his time doing it.
They spoke of their experience and their fears, shared camaraderie and gratitude.
She offered them some gifts that might be of use, and reciprocal invitations to visit in the future were offered.
It had been nearly 2 weeks since they left to go down below the sea. The length of time shocked them but did not especially surprise them.
They returned Frund’s equipment to him, and astonished him with their gift of Garrolan. It seems his wife’s last days were upon her, and this gift would be awesome. He offered that if they had no other way to get back to Uxphon, and could purchase fuel for his boat, he could take them up-river, either to the destroyed Bargetown, or to a higher tributary.
They found Ariadoca waiting for them, having been seriously improving conditions in Abria’s kitchens at the Jewel Box. She told them how Jack had come back, seeming strange and intense. Waiting for the others to return from the boat, he became convinced that there were spies after them – potentially sent by the Nagaina. With the festival ramping up and Harmuth filling with folk from the countryside, Jack decided to spread the word that the servants of the Truth had not survived the Maelstrom (which was dissolved by the Amber Pope directly, with the Mayor’s help, if Jaehn was to be believed). Then he made a show of departing up the Tithe Road toward Uxphon.
Stunned and poor, the group could not pause to take things in. Hasver used a cypher to send a message to Brother Thom, asking for his help and perhaps transport. Shambo and Roz went to the Tentacles Rest, and through social engineering and excellent ass-kicking, they earned money to support their return trip.
Constable Erskin showed up with a lump and a message from Brother Thom that he was not able to come physically to their aid, but that he had located Jack and assured them the man was safe, if perhaps not entirely well. The Constable told them about a wave of violence in Harmuth following the dissolution of the storm – culminating in 2 (known) grisly murders. Talking over many things, they made peace with the Constable and she was content to continue her own investigations if they did their best not to fuel the Mayor’s self-aggrandizement.
In the morning, given free fuel at the behest of the Constable (wasn’t it the least Harmuth could do for its saviors), they said misty farewells to Harmuth and stole as much fuel as they possibly could before the attendant came back.