The next morning, Mirumoto went to meet Niachi underneath the cherry blossom tree. He brought along a guard and Holo, who brought Rom. Niachi and Titus were there, waiting. Mirumoto was skeptical of their intentions but other matters were clearly on his mind. He made his case short and succinct: return the Kako and take Holo and in return he’d sign the partnership with the Resistance. The group didn’t stick around to find out what was bothering him or what he’d need help with as Sara had just returned from seeing Walker. Walker’s spells had revealed that the wakizashi Kako was actually one-half of the Key of Slow Time. When Sara revealed this to Niachi at the negotiation, he attempted to force Holo to give the key to them. She was not impressed and it seemed like there would be a stand-off until The Seamstress showed up and had them make Sense Motive checks to realize that Holo was in complete agreement with them, she was just putting on a good show. Once that was taken care of and the Resistance agreement signed, Holo suggested they go out camping. Reluctantly they did.
Out there she explained some of the situation: The Kako had been entrusted to her by a friend and she was going to look after it. The other half was a katana in Niflheim, the city of the Dwarves in Ominia. The party had Walker independently verify this. Rom revealed that Holo was the original lycanthrope, which had given her the power over him, but the lack of faith from her ‘grandchildren’ had basically stripped her of most of her godly powers. She congratulated him for finally figuring it out and confirmed the story. Apparently she had done a stint as a harvest goddess over the past few centuries in lieu of her original role and had received a visit from Olim’s favored saint. With all the exposition she was willing to provide, the party had Twilight return them home, where they sold some stuff, had Twilight start working on Really Interesting Name, and followed Holo’s lead in some mid-game stretches.
Stretching complete, they teleported away to Ominia, but the dwarves wouldn’t let them in. Titus got around this with the dwarven national anthem. Impressed with his performance of “Diggy Diggy Hole” (and the encore rendition of “I’m Gonna Be”, an ever-popular dwarven favorite), the gatekeeper let him in, his boredom relieved. Inside, they had a quick drinking contest, which Holo lost quickly and Rom won, as usual. In the morning they began asking around about old shrines. Walker’s scrying had revealed that the katana was in a shrine with the symbols of a cross on a radiant burst (Elohim), a broken mountain, and twelve grains of sand. Four shrines were said to be in the city: one to Olim, Khazar, Moridin, and Kolad. Holo didn’t know much about them but was a bit hesitant about the last one. Niachi, recognizing the trope of Suspicious Hesitation, deduced that the shrine of Kolad was important somehow (they never figured out why).
The Shrine of Kolad was old and zen-like. It was small enough that it only had two rooms: one with a sand-garden and an ancient cleric’s regalia. It did have an old dwarf who assumed they were pilgrims of a sort and asked them about their purpose and their interpretation of a wall scroll before showing them into the altar. As predicted, the katana lay on the altar. Sara took the Kako from Holo and picked up the Mirai. With Past and Future, she attempted to activate the Key of Slow Time. It was amusing. She poked the swords together, crossed them, hopped, skipped, sliced the air, and even followed (poorly) Niachi in a niten kata (a choreographed practice set of moves with two swords). Nothing worked. Raniy wasn’t much help, only suggesting the activation of the key might be the same as the activation for any other magic item. They sighed and handed the Kako back to Holo for the moment, but then they noticed the old cleric had vanished.
Thinking perhaps he had just retired to the antechamber they left the altar and found him, but he quickly cast off his cloak and revealed himself as The Ultimate Hero of Space and Time!. He asked for the swords very nicely, but instead Sara and Holo tossed them to Niachi, who was proficient with the niten style. Battle started off well with Niachi dashing in and out, Sara powering up, and Titus jumping in for ethereal hits. Xark was unamused and tumbled over to Raniy. Catching her off-guard, he knocked her out with his two swords in one hasty set of attacks. Realizing the danger, Rom used his Prismatic Brooch, knowing he could be next. The spray caught Xark slightly off-guard. Not enough to hurt him, but at point-blank range it’s hard to dodge all the rays. He was hit by several and vanished, teleported to another plane. The party wasted no time in getting out and requested an emergency evac from Twilight.
With both swords, they sent a message to Walker, asking for the location of the Gate of Slow Time. He graciously offered to take them there, if they were willing to give him the Key. They refused, offering to grant him access, but that wasn’t enough. So going off of Niachi’s description of the place, Twilight plane-shifted them right over, putting them 90 miles away. With nothing else to do, they cast Find the Path and began flying on Valorie’s old flying boat. After a few hours of not seeing anything, they began to get suspicious. Raniy and Sara checked the path. It still led forward, but they realized they’d been going slightly to the left. Rom was fervent in his belief that the spell had to be giving them the right path while Niachi reasoned that a path going forward and slightly left would just take them in a large circle. Rom’s fervor didn’t let up for a while and so they spent another few hours traveling along their orbit with no sign of the Gate. Eventually, Titus got bored and turned the ship 90 degrees left. Rom was grumpy, but two hours later, they came within sight of the island. Somehow, Sara realized, the spell had been thrown off. Either the place couldn’t be found, or someone had interfered with the spell. Rom and Raniy weren’t sure how that could happen.
With abandon, Titus piloted the ship toward the island, but as they drew close, Sara and Niachi made out a figure standing there. A second later, it cast a green ray at the ship. The ray struck and while the ship resisted, it rocked and creaked with the damage. It was Walker, and he was trying to kill them! Titus turned the ship hard to port and slowed his descent a little (not nearly enough, but they wouldn’t die, probably). Walker sent a meteor swarm, a fireball, and a freezing spehere at the ship followed by one last disintegrate as it drew close. The thing broke apart and everyone fell. Niachi aimed for the wizard, Mirai and Kako in-hand. Walker tried a last-ditch lightning bolt at the ninja, but the power of the Zohar gave him a chance to dodge and he slammed into the wizard. Recovering quickly, he tumbled away and back, flipping the wizard up and stabbing the swords through his body into the Gate of Slow Time. The swords began to glow and the Gate opened…