The party are now outcasts of Gathela. Their remaining option: use the Minnow to board a Fortress. But which one? They decide and their choice leads to the discovery of the outer wisp of an impending storm of chaos. The party is left with an impossible choice.
Orryn is gone. The rest of the party are left to pick up and move on. The street ahead is scorched and windows blown inward with the strength of Selene's fireballs. The door and door frame have splintered. Seven dead bodies are bleeding out on the stone street.
The inn keeper steps in front of them. He won't let the party leave until they pay. He is livid. Selene tries Charm Person but fails. He is now incoherent. He tries to punch Edwyn and hurts his hand on Edwyn's breastplate. Selene tries again with a second spell, Confusion, and succeeds. A couple of flailing attacks by the shopkeeper and he walks away from the doorstep to battle the wind. The party heads into the street and towards the front gate of Gathela. Orryn has still not returned but Selene knows polymorph can last up to an hour.
The party is vigilant and avoids areas they know where plainclothes Gathela police and spies gather. They spend a few hours purchasing food and equipment—they know they won't set foot in the city again—and then head to the front gate. Despite their anxiety, they make it through the entrance without arousing suspicion. They head to the Minnow.
The Minnow now has form, although they're still not sure how it will ever fly. It's abound 15 yards wide and 35 yards long. A back bulge in the stern is described to contain the engine. A bundled cascade of silver threads are being woven into the body.
The party helps with construction for the next three weeks and defends the site against regular attacks. Every night they keep an eye on the approaching Fortress.
The Fortress has moved from a prick of light to something with form and is cutting out a larger part of the horizon with each day. It's larger than the current construction, maybe a third the size of Gathela. The air stings and their Cauldron ledge is buffeted by frequent waves of hard air. The Fortress, surprisingly, has no identifying name. Each of the 20 foot high banner letters have been pried off the side of the Fortress. Andrazel can make the shadow negative of the space they use to lie.
The Fortress stops a half-mile away from the city. Pulses from its engines shake the ground.
Tormgar says the Minnow is done. Engineers working on the stern complete a ritual, flip a lever and its silver body shakes upwards a couple feet. It's airborne.
The party decides it's too risky to send everyone on a test flight, so Edwyn, Selene, and Andrazel volunteer. Orryn still hasn't shown up at the construction site, but the party is accustomed to his late appearances and unexpected disappearances. Andrazel is elected captain and takes control of the steering pole at the ship back.
The ship lurches, moves forward and off the shelf into the space of the Cauldron. It begins to list and drift. Its control is unintuitive, a mixture of physical manipulation and mental commands, but Andrazel quickly grasps it and the ships arights. Andrazel takes the Minnow out for a short loop, 400 years out and back, and lowers it back to the ground. It's ready for a longer trip.
The party, with Tormgar and Mayrani's consent, decide that the best path forward to make contact with the incoming Fortress. They prepare equipment for boarding. Again, to reduce risk, the crew is restricted to Andrazel, Selene, and Edwyn. Andrazel takes the controls and they take off.
They fly below the Cauldron clouds for a long as possible, and then rise upwards and towards the Fortress. The turbulence around the Fortress shakes the small ship. They grasp what they can to hold themselves inside.
As they approach, the figures pacing the upper periphery clarify into distinct Dwarven shapes, short and wide. Andrazel is the first to notice their gray faces and an uneasy displacement from normality. He pinpoints the difference as they approach. They look like Revenents, mortals killed by cruel fate and whose souls have returned to their bodies with the consuming goal of seeking revenge. Adrazel also spots among the Dwarven faces several other humanoids, possibly creatures from the Shadowfell.
They approach the upper wall and take a vector towards a clear space upon the deck. Grey bodies have gathered, armed, and are gesturing for them to land. They are at attention and prepared for battle but do not seem hostile. Andrazel settles the Minnow onto the stone deck. Around them is the full immensity of the floating town, and fifteen gathered and armed Dwarven Revenants and their Shadowfell companions.
Dwarves pride themselves in their craftsmanship. There is an understated flourish to their work, with intelligent joinery and detailed symbols of Dwarven heritage.
The Fortress has been stripped of that love. Overtly Dwarven symbols have been torn down or chiseled through. Major directional signs have been knocked down. Pedestals are empty of the figures they must have once stabilized. All color is gone. Fortress are designed to feel like towns; this feels like a barracks.
A Revenant approaches the ship, introduces himself as Turi, asks what they want. Selene explains that they're here to make contact, that they have escaped Gathela and are heading to the Cauldron. Turi says that they're not heading back. He says we will die, Gathela will die, and everything Gathela stands for will die. You can decide where to place your body.
The circular draw of the crowd shortens. Several Revenants look anxious for action. Turi asks the party if the want to test their mettle and they agree. Combat isn't forced upon them, but they party feels like sword and shield may be the better diplomatic weapon. They are approached by several Revenants and a Shadow Dancer. Everyone agrees that the damage done will be non-lethal.
Selene casts polymoph against the Shadow Dancer, turns her into a woodchuck. With her power removed from the battle, the party quickly pummels the Revenants to submission.
Tulsi approaches the party, asks what they want to do. Selene asks if they have a small ship that's available, something that could replace the Minnow. Tulsi says they do, they have two surface razing ships, but they're only available if the party helps out. He says if everyone in Gathela is dead, we can move on, and everything on the Fortress is yours.
Tulsi waits for the party's choice.