It starts with the "Numenera Main Theme," the fantastic "Restart" from DigitalRepublic.
As they head for an inn to plan, panic electrifies the streets. The sky overhead darkens as if by eclipse, while bright flashes of heat lighting flicker and dance. A smell of ozone fills the air, and static electricity seems to trickle over everything. A voice speaks, simultaneously in both ears...to every man, woman, and child in Qi. Possibly even the Steadfast...
I am in Truth he that is called Durranet VI, Keeper of the Keys of Saint Calaval, who Sought and Found the Truth. I am the Father of the Steadfast, who has ascended to the Throne. Let all who would Speak the Truth and Seek the Truth know me, and witness the Truth of these words.
O my Sons and Daughters, I am in fear. The Eidolon of Those Who Went Before has shown me the Storm. I have seen the Lightnings and heard the Thunders. I have been torn by the howling Winds. It rises in the North, O my Steadfast, across the fields of Cloudcrystals, it grows in the black hearts of those who reject the Truth. It is a seed, a cancer growing in the minds of the Barbarians who cling to superstition and deny that great and glorious First Truth, the words that bring solace and comfort to all Mankind...Nothing Cannot be Understood. The spirit worshippers, the Gaians, those who deny the Eidolon who raised Men from the Drit, they sharpen their swords, yea verily even now they sharpen them! They assemble their legions, and they are coming for your children, your lands, your blessed Order of Truth. Like a living darkness exhaled from the jaws of the Traducer they spread across the sky, blotting out the Light, the Sun, the Truth. I say unto you, my Steadfast, they come out to extinguish that Holy Flame Saint Calaval returned from the Dying and Reborn Sun.
They come! They come! But to all of you I say in Truth, NOT ON MY WATCH.
O ye Nine Rival Kings, from Navarene to Milave, from the Sea Kingdom to imperial Pytharion, all of you who make your habitation between the Black Riage and the Secret Seas, lay aside all differences and be as One in the Truth! One Body, One Spirit, One Kin, holy and pure and True. Hear the call of the High Father Above to defend what is right and real. Arm and armour yourself for the Crusade! Raise your armies, ye Princes of Men, lift your weapons ye Knights, gather and form O Soldiers! For night falls and the Sons of the Light must rage against it. The Jihad is upon us for the sake of Truth!
The skies lighten, the words fall silent. Life returns to normal, but all is changed. The Amber Pope has never before spoken to the masses this way. Who are these Gaians, these enemies of Truth?
The characters ponder this, but also how to pursue their quest. Are the two connected? It would seem a stretch, but the Wastelander's strange visions urge him to think so. They debate whom to turn to for aid...one of the Nanos has contacts in the Order of Truth, and they are always keen to sponsor investigations into new numenera. And yet, under the laws of the Steadfast, the Order has the right to select any numenera recovered for itself from any expedition it sponsors. This leads to the other alternative.
The Jack knows of a collector, an extraordinarily wealthy and reclusive man in Qi by the name of Drakoven. The story goes that he sponsors expeditions for numenera all the time, and charges only one price. Anything recovered must be given to him and "scanned" by a strange machine in his possession. It is then returned unharmed to those who recovered it. Darkoven seems interested in knowledge only.
They go to him.
(This will turn out to be one of those choices that shifted the entire direction of the campaign)
Drakoven (Level 6, 7 regarding numenera) is a quiet, still man in simple black, neither overlarge nor imposing, but radiating a chill nonetheless. He meets them and after examining the crystal reveals a portal in his possession. He sets the coordinates to those in the crystal. They have but to prepare and step through...
Once ready they find themselves on the base of a smooth, black, inverted pyramid, high above the seas. On the centre of the the monolith is a door that opens every 39 seconds and stays open exactly 13 seconds. They jump through.
The gravity reverses, so now down is up and up is down. They are in the centre of a black metal labyrinth.
Once inside they find a fearful anomaly...the interior will not conduct sound of any sort. Not a word, not a tap, not a scream. Navigating the maze to its centre, they find a large round room filled with smoky black quartz crystals, some are several meters high, others litter the ground. It is a treasure trove. They find several Mass Nodules, Disrupting Nodules, and Invisibility Nodules. They even recover a Thought Storage Sphere. Strangest of all, in the bones of a long dead explorer, they find a curious cube or carved brass the size of a fist. Before they can investigate, the horror within the Shadow Table descends....
It is a Wraith, a thing of tenebrous shadow devouring living matter to exist in this dimension. Level 5, Armour 2, Damage 4. They must defeat it to survive...