Tensions came to a boiling point after discovering that The Shadowwas actually Horace’s father. The imprisoned king refused to give any explanation for why he betrayed his own party, but did reveal that Daven had lied about his death. Despite his haughty and arrogant attitude, Bartleby assured the party that all of his actions were carried out for the greater good, and that he had a plan for removing Espher from power. Unfortunately, he had forgotten it during his imprisonment (being alive for 300 years does horrors for the short term memory), but had it written in a scroll that was in Marlowe Ironhorn’s possession.
After lengthy deliberation, and to the chagrin of Horace and Abbidon, the party agreed to release The Shadow under their supervision. Upon arriving back at the Fool’s Gold Tavern, The Shadow nonchalantly shoved his dagger in the doorman’s throat. He explained that Espher used the prohibition to identify criminals and traitors for the purposes on keeping tabs on rebel activities. Lud, the doorman, had been on Espher’s payroll since The Shadow’s imprisonment. Horace’s younger counterpart was not happy with his father’s violent leadership style, and even worse he appeared to be engaged in some sort of romantic relationship with Horace’s childhood crush, Rosaline.
The Shadow retrieved his scroll, which had been stored inside Marlene, and announced that they would need to reunite his old pirate crew, find a ship, and sail to Espher’s island palace located a few miles of the coast of Bastion. The party agreed to help, and celebrated their successful mission in The Spire. During the evening a strange man wearing dark silk robes and glasses approached Abbidon and informed him that his employer had a business proposition for Abbidon, and that he should make his way back to Oslo’s Grove as quickly as possible.
The next day the party set out to reunite The Shadow’s old crew. All of the original members needed to be united, according to The Shadow’s plan. Even Infected Ted’s corpse was retrieved from the ocean depths. The party found Geoff Svalbard, a crippled boarding party leader who wielded two axes and rode a polar bear. Oliver Silver, a world class helmsman who spent his shore leave as a whore at the Silver Goose. Telkan Aidan, a mild mannered cook who had established his own restaurant in one of the Shadow’s old ships. Felix Grandbarter had also served as the crew’s requisitions officer.
After gathering the crew, The Shadow began preparations for the invasion of Espher’s palace.In the meantime the party headed back to Oslo’s Grove to investigate the mysterious business proposition. During the flight over, Abbidon had a vision in which Gantz assigned Alysha a mission in Fen. At Oslo’s Grove the party discovered that there was widespread dissatisfaction among members of the Mercenary’s Guild, because of declining funds.
Abbidon visited the businessman who worked for a company called Simulacrum. The representative explained that Oslo’s Grove was built over a large deposit of manacite, a magically potent mineral that was used for large scale spells like the barrier around Fen. He also revealed that Simulacrum was run by someone named The Archivist, a name that was frequently mentioned by Gantz and The Archlords. Abidon refused Simulacrum’s offer and the party left to head back to Bastion.
Once they arrived, The Shadow’s crew set sail for Espher’s palace. As they neared the palace, Espher approached in The Shadow’s old flagship; The Rebellion. He revealed that The Shadow had made a deal with him to exchange Bartleby’s freedom and ship for his old crew members and the party. Espher took Kadghar and Murphy onto the ship, but before Abidon and Vanya could board, Marlowe blew up their ship leaving them stranded in the ocean while Espher and company sailed off.
As Abbidon and Vanya began to head for Espher’s island, The Shadow approached them and asked them to gather three pieces of parchment from the palace, in exchange he would tell them everything he he knew, and explain his past with the Mercenary’s Guild.
Meanwhile Kadghar and Murphy were taken to a clinic where they reluctantly accepted a vaccine for the plague that had run rampant in Bastion. The palace was built from steel and advanced clockwork technology that was only seen in the fallen Cloud Empire North of Deep City. They were taken to a large dining hall and Espher’s servant explained that Espher did not wish to harm them, but wanted to discuss the conflict between the Empire and the Guild over dinner.
During this time Abbidon and Vanya made their way up to the palace, and found one of the pieces of the document Horace spoke of. It was written in a strange language, but a translation on the back revealed it to be a dissertation on time travel written by Lorian Luskan.
Espher entered the room with Horace Junior, who had been treated like a prince during his brief stay at the palace. Abbidon and Vanya joined them shortly thereafter. Espher explained that he was originally a soldier in the Cloud Empire’s army 300 years ago. During that time the two empires were at war, it was during this war that the Mercenary’s Guild was originally founded. The Cloud Empire used a chemical called Grave Winter to put its soldiers in suspended animation during transport across the continent. Espher was preserved indefinitely after his airship crashed, until the Archlords unfroze and recruited him.
Espher believed that while working for the Mercenary’s Guild, Horace Senior traveled to 300 years in the past and instigated the war between the two empires, using it to create the guild which he would later use to fight the Empire in the present. After the guild was formed Horace ended the war by causing a massive Grave Winter leak which froze the entire Cloud Empire. Espher informed the party that the crystal was frozen inside his old capitol ship
Dinner was cut short by the arrival of the party’s airship, which was piloted by Horace Bartleby himself. Espher dismissed his presence initially, but agreed to reopen negotiations when Horace informed him that someone named Alvin was in his custody. Espher left to go to the war room and instructed the party to remain where they were.
After Espher left, the party followed him up to the war room while collecting the pieces of Luskan’s dissertation and freeing the members of The Rebellion’s crew. The party learned that Espher had engineered the plague that struck Bastion to seize power and distributed it through the city’s illicit liquor trade.
Cashius Rex awaited the party outside of the war room inside a Cloud Empire Mech. The party swiftly defeated the Mech, but Cashius still pursued them. Horace saved the pompous general from the exploding machine, but at the cost of a physical injury which, for some reason was deeply unsettling to him. Horace ran off as the party recovered from the fight.
As they pressed into the war room they encountered both Horace, the younger wrestling the older to the ground demanding some sort of explanation. When the party came closer they realized that the younger Horace had a scar over his eye, identically placed with the one on his father. Horace screamed and wept as he came to the horrifying realization that the man he had spent his entire life hating for the deaths of Thorin’s party was not, in fact his father, but an older version of himself.
The elder Bartleby sat down with the party and imparted a lengthy explanation of how the world got to be in the situation it was in, and how he was involved in it. In a parallel history, there existed an empire far more powerful than the one they currently faced. Their technology was superior to anything imaginable in this day and age, and eventually one of their citizens discovered the secret of time travel. The man called himself Adam and he used his newfound powers in an attempt to become a God. Eventually he succeeded, however in doing so he destroyed the world. Adam was devastated at the destruction he had caused, and set to create the world over again. This world, like many before it, was an experiment preformed by Adam in an effort to return the world to how it was meant to be. He used The Seers to help harness his powers, but eventually they became fed up with aborting all of Adam’s failed realities and fled to Earth. The Seers were later executed by the religious fanatics of the Ziggurathurian Empire, however one survived the ordeal. Gantz vowed to avenge his brethren and resume Adam’s quest to restore reality to its intended state.
So began the war for the crystals. Horace eventually found a way to travel through time himself and began fighting back against Gantz and the archlord’s attempts to collect the remaining crystals. He tried to do this by aiding Thorin in his quest for self preservation, but no matter what changes he made Thorin either died or recanted his quest and joined the Empire. Eventually Horace gave up on his old friends and betrayed them, so that their children might survive to undertake the quest that fate had doomed their fathers to fail. Horace eventually attacked and burned down Oslo’s Grove so Abbidon would be forced to undertake his father’s quest.
Horace advised that the party maintain a friendly facade with Espher, so that they could collect the crystal at the bottom of the ocean. With that being said Horace’s younger counterpart adamantly refused to continue a quest that would cause him to end the lives of millions of people and betray the men he had grown up admiring. His future self bluntly told him, that the boy didn’t have a choice. If the younger Horace did not repeat the (mis)deeds of his older counterpart, it would create a time paradox which would undo the chain of events leading to the Guild’s creation and the formation of the party, in essence, destroying the world.