With Casandralee's AI core in tow, the party left the Dominion of the Black hive behind. Their goals now pointed them toward the heart of a more human sort of villainy:Starfall. Starfall was the capital of Numeria, and as such it was the seat of power for the tyrannical Technic League. The party needed to infiltrate this place to get to Silver Mount and confront Unity, as Silver Mount is in the center of the city. Before going into the lion's den, the party decided to first visit many of their allies to learn all they could about Starfall. On the way, Longdreamer the giant moth appeared again to Luna. Longdreamer told the Lunas that they were needed for a mysterious quest elsewhere and took the two of them away for the time being. Soon after her departure, the sound of motivational insults wafted down the road. Shecks had returned, and he came bearing gifts. Shecks had used his time away from the party to finally track down a non-technophobic and wealthy marketplace to sell them at. He used Nerosyan, the capital of the triumphant crusader state of Mendev. Once there, Shecks finally sold the spacesuits he had gradually Mended and acquired a massive fortune in gold. He used the gold to purchase various useful magic items for the party, and also a Megaphone of Building for himself. The function of this device would not be revealed until later.
After the goodbyes and greetings were taken care of, the party cycled around Numeria to learn about Starfall. The Technic League spy they had captured in Iadenveigh told them that they answered to a man named Ghartone and gave some basic information about the Technic League's compound. A return trip to Torch to visit Khonnir Baine gained more useful information. Baine told them that the League controlled access to Silver Mount, and that the party should work to destabilize them to assist in the attack. He recommended that the party exploit the political and personal rivalries of the League captains in order to do so. As a side effect, an attack on the League might yield tools that would be useful to an exploration of Silver Mount. Finally, the party consulted Therace Holiyard, the Technic League brain in a jar that they had saved from the Mi-Go caverns. Therace provided a detailed description of the League compound, particularly the upper and ground floors. He also provided information on the League's captains. These were the true rulers of Numeria, with the infamous Black Sovereign being little more than a hedonistic puppet.
The group consisted of the following:
Akradenn, a male Shoanti wizard with a quick temper who focused on technological melee weaponry and armor, Avernethy Mendaini, a male Varisian wizard who focused on skymetal properties and alloys and held an interest in astronomy, Elias Embervale, a male Taldan wizard with a metal eyepatch and a knack for explosives, Ghartone, a male Garundi alchemist/wizard who was the official liaison to the Black Sovereign and specialized in pharamceuticals, Gryne Rasik, a female Chelish witch with shadowy allies that worked on biotech and cybernetics, Krastus, a male Garundi wizard who experimented on cybernetic animals and undead, Nalkii Berekna, a female Kellid wizard with a cruel sense of humor and an expert's knowledge of security and medical technology, The Shade, a female Kellid bard with connections to the local merchant guilds and backed by mysterious technology, Sila Desaulis, a female Taldan sorcerer who specialized in robots, Sterklinder, a narcissistic Ulfen wizard who specialized in nanotech, Zernebeth, an Ulfen wizard from the witch country of Irrisen that had once been the leader of the Technic League. Finally, there was Ozmyn Zaidow, a male Kellid magus and the current leader of the League.
The party's brain in a jar friend recommended Zernebeth as a potential ally, given her grudge toward Zaidow for taking her position.
After finally completing the long list of names, the party made it to the gates of Starfall. According to the Technic League's laws, anyone who owned advanced technology must bring it directly to the marketplace and sell it to the Technic League upon entering Starfall. Shecks hid all the party's advanced gear in a portable hole with the exception of a single worthless zipstick, which he dutifully surrendered. As the party explored the city, it quickly became clear that some people were allowed technology. You needed to have a badge from the Technic League, but the badges were not specific to their owners.
Shortly after this discovery, a horde of mad monkeys appeared out of nowhere and stole just enough badges to allow Ghartok and Rob to use their technological gear. Whoever sent those monkeys will have to remain forever a mystery, as it certainly couldn't be the helpful little gnome who chased them out of sight with commands spoken in Gnoll.
Sheck's bardic social skills also played a valuable role in collecting rumors from the crowds. Eventually, he actually managed to hear every single rumor in the city. They are reproduced here in no particular order.
“The Mockery’s growing bolder; it’s just a matter of
time before the Technic League cracks down on them.
I hope I’m not in the crossfire when it happens!”
“The Technic League is really in charge of Starfall,
not the Black Sovereign. Old Kevoth-Kul just spends
his time drunk in his palace.”
“Ever since Ozmyn Zaidow took control of the Technic
League, things have gotten worse. More and more
people have gone missing from the city, too!”
“There’s an underground tunnel that connects the
Technic League Compound to the palace, but it’s not
often used these days, because it’s guarded by the
ghosts of previous Black Sovereigns.”
“The Technic League has thrown in its lot with a host
of outsiders from the Plane of Shadow!”
“One of Starfall’s nobles is supposedly looking to sell
a rare and powerful technological item at the next
“There’ve been more sightings of spine dragons on
the slopes of Silver Mount!”
“Something inside of Silver Mount has awakened… I
heard it’s some kind of ghost from another world!”
“Kevoth-Kul can usually be found in his throne
hall, but not always—he spends time elsewhere
in the Palace as well, particularly in his harem, the
Sovereign’s Lounge, and the baths.”
“The Palace Guard doesn’t mind visitors to the
palace, provided visitors keep to public areas.’
“Tek Makul, the leader of the Palace Guard, seems
awfully friendly with the Technic League.”
“The Black Seers are worshipers of Zyphus—they
see every misfire and malfunction of technology
as a sign from their god. They serve neither the
Black Sovereign nor the Technic League, but seek to
protect the Palace itself."
“The Sovereign’s consort is a woman named Kul-Inkit,
but she and the Sovereign haven’t been spending
much time together lately—in fact, she rarely
emerges from her quarters in the southeast dome.”
“The Technic League has always maintained a presence
in the palace, but recently one of its captains, a man
named Ghartone, has become an in-palace liaison
between the Sovereign and the League.”
“Strange creatures in live the palace: giants,
barbaric gargoyles, strange plants, poison-breathing monsters, and even enslaved outsiders."
“The ghost of the first Black Sovereign haunts
the chambers below the palace, and guards the
Sovereign’s vault as well as a secret escape tunnel.”
“The Black Sovereign’s pride rarely lets him turn
down a challenge of combat, but he won’t fight a
large group alone!”
“Ever since Ozmyn Zaidow took command of the
League, the pace of the research he’s demanding
from the other captains has begun to drain resources
faster than ever from their holdings.”
“The robots the Technic League uses as enforcers or
minions don’t always follow orders—something else
must be influencing them.”
“Somewhere under the Technic League compound,
strange sadists from another plane aid the League
in experiments exploring the interface between
flesh and machine.”
“There are three sublevels under the complex—
the deepest one is where special prisoners of the
League go. Once prisoners are sent there, they’re
never seen again
Once the party was finally done tracking down every rumor, they decided to look into the "Mockery" group that the rumors had mentioned. The Mockery was a resistance group lead by a man named Dral-Mok, a native of the city. The party also took care of some more shopping and upgrading of gear while trying to set up a meeting. Around this time, Ghartok switched to a laser pistol and began trying out new methods of gunfighting. Eventually, the party's reputation got them a meeting with Dral-Mok. Some Mockery members lead the party to a seemingly abandoned tenement and asked them to wait a short time for Dral-Mok to arrive. The party quickly grew impatient as the long 30 minutes rolled by. Ghartok caught and ate a rat off the street. Rob used his hat of disguise to grow a long and illusory white beard. Shecks got out his magical Megaphone of Building and accessed a unique bit of magic that he could only use once a week. Over the 30 minutes of waiting, Shecks hurled insults at the tenement to magically construct a luxury apartment in the room. Meanwhile, Elron simply stoically watched all the foolishness and waited patiently.
Eventually, Dral-Mok arrived. After getting to know the party a bit and confirming their opposition to the League, Mok explained his plan to defeat the League. “The Black Sovereign, Kevoth-Kul, once cared for us. He protected us and led us, but no longer. He is lord in title only—in all else he stands defeated, for he is nothing but a puppet of the Technic League. For me to openly state as much is traitorous, punishable by death, so know that I speak the truth. The Technic League keeps the Black Sovereign as one might keep a pet, and I would see my lord set free from their yoke. I know not if he would agree to step up against them if he can be freed… if not, then he must be put down, as one would a rabid dog. As long as he appears to remain in power, the Kellids of Starfall will remain docile. But if he were to rise up or be put down, they would revolt. The Technic League has grown complacent—if Starfall were to rise up, the League would be forced to spread its resources thin to try to keep control, and at that moment, a well-trained group of mercenaries such as yourselves could infiltrate its compound and defeat its leaders all at once… Especially if you could find an ally within their ranks!”
Having no better ideas, the party agreed. Relieved that his nation might finally be free, Mok listed two starting points that he thought might work to make a later attack on the League more likely to succeed. The first was to deal with a drug dealer named Doc Hellbroth. Hellbroth was the main supplier for the Black Sovereign's various drugs, and removing him would force the Black Sovereign into withdrawal. The other opportunity had inadvertently been provided by a local nobleman who was attempting to illegally sell a powerful technological item at the underground Night Market. Mockery had learned that the Technic League already knew of his scheme, and that they were sending a captain to arrest him. If the party could ambush and assassinate the captain, it would be a solid blow against the League and possibly provide useful gear.
The party decided to go after Doc Hellbroth first. Hellbroth was based in a tavern/drug den called the Red Reaver. The party went to this place and spoke to the bartender. She was a Tian woman named Saoria. Shecks was eventually able to persuade her that the party wanted to offer to supply the Red Reaver a new kind of drug by bluffing with a magic bottle of ordinary smoke. Rob attempted to assist, but wasn't particularly helpful this time. It turns out that Soothe isn't actually a respected drug in any circles outside certain lipless psychopaths.
Saoria lead the party into the back rooms of the tavern, past the Oblivion Rooms and into a drug lab. She then asked the party to wait and locked the door behind them. Instead of waiting, the party pilfered everything that wasn't nailed down and then went looking for Hellbroth themselves. They eventually found him studying cybernetic gear at a table. A clockwork golem stood guard nearby. As soon as he realized that the party was here to kill him, Hellbroth brandished his custom-made bombs and ordered the golem to defend him.
A short fight broke out and was quickly ended when Ghartok shot them both dead.