After dealing with Ape Romney and the gnomes, the group left to try to deal with Yakupinyage’s offer. Checking out the giant ruins the aaracockra lived on was of interest, but it was decided to return to Hest to try to get some suitable gift for Yakupinyage and to check up on happenings there. As it happened, eight giff had arrived in Hest, which soothed van Rijn’s nerves. van Rijn gave Phantine the magical tetsubo that had been captured from the oni as the loxo captain drilled the troops under his new command.
While Devin d’Ascoli indicated she wanted to return to her home, van Rijn suggested she be an agent for the Company in Hest, a role she agreed to, although she was concerned with her safety given that Master Lupo presumably knew her location. Clockwork van Rijn seemed very taken by her. She also started studying spells from Ariel’s old spellbooks.
Mercane Prime delivered the goods that had been bargained for, including several powerful spells that Andra began studying, as well as a large collection of books requested by Zell, more doses of Elixir, and a sizable chest of gold that the githzerai removed. The minotaur guard made eyes at Ariel, who was bemused at the attention she seemed to draw from randy minotaurs.
Styg used some of the Elixir to revive the Brain in a Jar, Captain Timeresh. After some initially philosophical questions about the experience of being a brain in a jar from Styg, he proved to be somewhat hostile but a font of information about the previous expedition to follow the trail of Zerthimon and the aftermath, when failure and frustration set in and the expedition was unable to proceed, leaving the githyanki among them to return to their old ways, turning some of the githzerai and enslaving or killing the rest along with the ee’ar who were part of the expedition, who uniformly refused to join. He laid out a breathtakingly nihilistic view held by the pirates, who he had said had returned to the path laid out by the founder of the githyanki race, Gith, as a predator.
However, once he got into a debate with Zell, it became apparent that Timeresh’s nihilism was born of desperation and despair and the githyanki unwillingness to return to the slavery of which the dual gith races emerged. Eventually he spoke to Zell in the gith tongue and said that he preferred oblivion or death to being a brain in a jar, in part answering Styg’s philosophical question about how being a brain in a jar was: The answer was truly horrifying, although so, it appeared, was staying in the Astral for too long. Zell was unsure how she would have reacted when he told her the state of the expedition, though she didn’t think she would have turned to piracy and would have chosen death instead.
In the end, after much discussion and debate with van Rijn and later Zell, Timeresh, in a fit of both guilt and pique combined, decided to take revenge on his former Lieutenant, now Captain Sitirthra, by giving the way he knew to the Star Leviathan corpse that made up the Gith Pirate base. van Rijn and Andra felt that with the information Voy was now gathering to update the charts, it would be likely to be able to find the pirate base.
Impassively but also somewhat disappointed, Styg indicated that van Rijn should power the treadmill that activated the van de Graaf generator after he removed the vaporized elixir keeping Timeresh alive. Zell discharged the voltage into Timeresh, who was destroyed and freed. Styg seemed at loose ends, but Ariel gave him the collection of captured alchemical samples (oni, stone trolls, etc.) and he brightened, turning his attention to such matters.
The issue of a suitably impressive gift for Yakupinyage was a vexing one and generated much debate. The mechanical crossbows captured from Yakupinyage’s apemen were repurposed into a ballista-sized mechanical crossbow as a gift for Yakupinyage at Ariel’s suggestion by the mechanical in Hest. It was felt that he would gain relatively little from it in terms of power but likely be very pleased. A few Trobriand gears were incorporated into the crossbow for added allure.
In addition, everyone who had been active recently seemed to be a bit… stronger.