With the night blooming, Ananth began his investigations of the Corner Club in order to try and find a powerful Nano willing to teleport them to Ghan.
The bouncer, recognising his type and approving of his fancy clothing allowed him in without fuss and Ananth found himself in a bustling, dimly lit club full of Nanos and the occasional Jack discussing the finer points of various theories or arguing over the interpretation of similar. Gravity inside the club was warped, allowing a smooth transition from floor, to walls, to ceiling and many we sat on tables on all surfaces. In fact, the place was so busy, much of it was overlapped on itself, but out of phase so they could double up on the available space.
Ananth, suddenly feeling a little out of his depth, stumbled a bit looking to get in on a conversation but was luckily welcomed by another person reasonably new to the area. After some introductions, Ananth asked whether there were any representatives from the University of Doors here, and by luck there were, though as it turned out she was not in the best of states.
Xodan was a, so she claimed, Professor of Conceptual and Metaphysical doorways at the university and was on a sabbatical. An older woman, her expertise, exotic academic position and fading, but still attractive good looks had made her quite popular and she was terribly drunk, arguing with a close-minded Nano, whilst swigging heavily from a bottle of fine wine, in defense of her profession as the Nano thought the entire idea of travelling into concepts and metaphysics preposterous.
Anath interjected, and the professor took a shine to him. Eventually the arguing Nano left, finding his opponent had lost interest in him after this shiny bauble had shown up. After some flirting, some questioning and more drinking, Ananth managed to get her to open a door back to the university, which, once through, caused Xodan to collapse in a drunken heap and fall into a deep sleep in the middle of the lecture theater they had portaled into. Stranded in a strange place, Ananth was at a bit of a loss. He explored the corridors outside, finding a few other rooms and interrupting a lecture being given in another before coming across a janitor that look him to campus security. He soon learned that Xodan’s behaviour often resulted in drunken escapades during her sabbaticals.
After explaining his dilemma and that he was very interested in joining the university, security offered to open him a door to the Wall, where all prospective students were required to pass a series of tests in order to gain entrance to the university proper. They would leave a door open to the same time and place he left, more or less, such things were not an exact science so he could remain as long as he liked and leave any time.
After attempting to pass the tests, Ananth worked his way slowly past the first but was stumped on the second and, feeling quite tired consider he had been up all night so far, decided to head back.
The next morning when everyone awakes, it soon becomes clear money is real issue. The plan to capture some Rasters is still on the table but they need to make some money now, else they wont have a place to sleep for the night and sleeping rough is bound to attract the city guards attention considering they are already on the lookout for them by now.
Mafi and Ananth decide to try and gain entrance to the Nano Royal College behind the outer castle walls and, unsuccessfully, try to convince the royal guard stationed at the gates that they are expected. After annoying them by trying to sneak a peek at the approved entrance list, they decide to name-drop Darion, infamous assassin-thief and head of the criminal underground in the area, saying they are there in his behest. The guards are visibly worried by this and hands go to hilts, but after some discussion the two are escorted into the guard house for a ‘chat’ in an interrogation room.
The guard captain visits them and asks some questions, intimidated enough by two supposed agents of the powerful criminal that they are not relieved of weapons and are spoken to respectfully. the guard captain refuses entrance to them under any circumstances and tells them they are only spared incarceration or worse due to an uneasy truce with Darion at this time. However, he makes a counter-offer, telling them if they flip on Darion and provide information leading to his capture and arrest, as well as reporting back a successful mission and feeding him false information that will lead him into a trap, the guards may well be more inclined to help and even consider them heroes of Nebalich for ridding them of this menace to society.
The two agree and leave with their lives, but sadly no chance of help from the Nanos with the College until they deliver.
Meanwhile, the others search the docks for some short-term work and perhaps a ship willing to take them to the source of the Rasters that are menacing the Sere Marica trade routes. They find a ship willing to take them most of the way, after which they can take a lifeboat to the island on which the abandoned, derelict castle that the Rasters call home stands.
As they approach the area, two Rasters out fishing spot the ship and fly over, shooting with their head rays. At the parties behest, the crew retreat below and the party try to capture the two beasts. Using some cypher sleeping potion and rations, they lure one Raster down where it eats potion-stained meat and falls asleep, but not before knocking the cyborg Ananth in the water, who due to his metal skeleton sinks rapidly.
Due to a series if well-made shots of arrows with ropes attached, the next Raster is brought down into the sea and after a scuffle trying to rescue it and subdue it without being lasered to death, the party secure both beasts. However, the ship captain is not happy – he was under the impression they were going them of these beasts, not make them pets and he refuses to keep them on board as anything other than slices of meat. The party decide to take the trussed up, drugged Rasters with them to the island, making the lifeboat a bit cramped as a result.
Once on the island, the party enter the castle through a collapsed wall. It is dim inside and as they step in they realise the wooden floors are mostly rotted and unstable. Luckily, they make their way over them and notice stairs to the next floor and a strange panel by the large front doors, covered in grime.
An examination of the panel by the parties resident machine-speaker, Lyra, identifies it as a control system for the lights and doors of the castle and the power to it is still active. Choosing to stay behind and keep guard, the other venture upstairs into what used to be a huge banqueting hall. Most of everything has rotted away or been smashed and the thick, arid smell of Raster droppings hang in the air. The continue upwards, the next floor revealing open sky through a mostly broken, decayed roof. Clutches of raster eggs line the floors and 3 angry mother rasters turn on the intruders, anger in their eyes.
Narrowly avoiding too much damage from the rays of the Rasters, the party retreat downstairs, the rasters following clumsily as they are not used to walking on human sized steps of stone. Lya fiddles with the panel, discovering a basement access option and guessing which buttons to press, manages to open the door to the basement and they all rush to retreat into it. However, Lyra stumbles and treads on a weak part of the rotted floor, falling through it and leaving a nice hole for the rasters to follow. The room below seems to be some kind of laboratory and it becomes clear that the castle was built on top of a larger, older complex that existed before it. Examining the room, the party find notes about how to open another mysterious door set into the original structure on which the castle is built and they enter before the raster follow them into the room.
In the dark tunnel, clearly designed for a species far taller than humans, the descend down giant steps into a barely lit chamber filled with pulsing, fleshing egg-sacs and the door they entered through automatically closes behind them, sealing them inside.
In the dim light the spot two humanoids in the shadows and head towards them, but Ananth slips, falling on his arse and smashing some eggs. He feels something slither up his arm and attach itself to his back, as does Mafidan and Aeyon as they get involved. Meanwhile, the humanoids seem angered by the breaking of the eggs and approach, revealing themselves to be near-zombies, emaciated and barely held together. Mafidan tries to pull away the worm on Ananth’s back but it bites in hard, causing him great pain. However, soon they feel fine, better than they ever have before in fact, and are restored to full health as the worms integrate themselves fully into their respective spinal cords. Meanwhile Lyra wisely chooses to stay on the steps out of the creatures grasps. The humanoids now ignore the 3 parasite-bonded hosts and stare intently at Lyra, a warning not to approach lest they move to action.
Apart from Lyra, the group move forward through a passage in the rear of the chamber and come across a statue of a tall, humanoid woman of a similar stature to what would be expected of those that had built this complex. The statue comes to life and tries to communicate telepathically but the group have trouble understanding. Through some back and forth communication via sharing mental concepts, rather than words and sentences, they work out there is a creature called Devola that they can talk to about these worms and that the statue can guide them through the complex, which is mostly unlit.
They are guided through the complex which begins to become far more industrial in nature and eventually the statue leaves them at the entrance to a well-lit chamber full of generators and machinery. The group enter and are confronted by an immense purple worm-like creature with a series of tendrils adorning a tri-split maw, each one holding some kind of surgical implement or numenera device. The creature tries a number of languages before finally asking in Truth “Why are you here?”
What ensues is some back and forth bartering over the removal of the worms. Devola cares not the groups survival but she does wish a task to be performed and is willing to perform a removal as payment. However, she will need some specialist items not in her possession which the group must acquire if they wish to live, for the worms will kill them after 3 months. She tells them of a virus that seeks to consume all life which she wants stopped by the group and gives them information on how to find the parts needed for the operation. When the group eventually agree, she tells them of an ancient ‘conveyance’ in the complex that can take them quickly to the other side of the Black Riage and near to source of the virus she wants them to attack. She also tells them of several valuable items in the complex and how to find them.
The group get the statue to guide them via Devola’s instructions and collect the items, then head back to let Lyra know what is going on.