In our previous session of Knights of the Astral Sea, we reached a significant campaign milestone with the defeat of Chairman Meow. Genevieve was now restored to the throne of the Autumn Court of Faerie (having dropped a house on the previous monarch way back this session). Having accomplished that, the players were somewhat anxious to get back to Tudor and help Queen Artoria's ongoing war with the mysterious Spanish Empire.
Lacking our usual chroniclers, I'll do my best to summarize things for the absent players and anybody else that is interested.
The session opened with the crew of the Lady Blackbird discussing their options in the aftermath of the counter revolution. There was still the matter of the Spanish Cardinal Vicente Diaz's interrogation and Lord Tybalt was eager to get started. So, over the course of several hours (with human party members assisting Tybalt in interpreting the very human memories of the Spanish bureaucrat), the party learned that Diaz was set up to fail in Faerie. The Empire's real business in Autumn (involving the transport of dozens of large boxes filled with disassembled machinery) was conducted by an unnamed and seemingly very competent "advisor" (handler?). Diaz, it should be said, was anything but competent. Being directed to advise the Autumn insurgency and manage things until a Spanish governor could be appointed, all he did was was set himself up for luxurious living in Genevieve's former palace.
It took a lot of invasive probing to discover useful information. That information included hints of a possible Spanish Homeworld and the path that Diaz and the others used to travel to Faerie. For the record, there was a gateway in the blasted remains of a pseudo-Britain [the Avalon of Theah], one world out from the Spanish Homeworld.
Before returning to Tudor, Tybalt suggested that the Lady Blackbird make a bit of a tour of the four courts of Faerie, in order to use Diaz to demonstrate the Spanish threat. This was especially pressing after information gained from Diaz helped the party to find the blasted remains of the region where the Spanish entered the Realm. Elspeth suggested that nuclear weapons may have been used to blow up the gateway (as was likely the case with Camaret-sur-Mer). At the very least, weapons of mass destruction were used to obliterate the pseudo-Britain on the other side of the portal. The party did not attempt a crossing for fear of contamination.
In Summer, the party retrieved Jude Averill, under house arrest by King Oberon for the "affection" shown to him by Queen Titania. Never mind that she had already achieved everything she wanted from the young mage.
In the Winter Court, the party granted Lord Garavan the right to conduct his own "interrogation" of Cardinal Diaz. He was returned in "reasonable" condition and mostly suitable for ransom, should the need ever arise (he was born into enormous wealth and achieved his rank through familial influence).
And so the party finally made ready to cross back over to Tudor. Unfortunately, they were left in a bit of bind. Other than Iris (who arrived on the Lady Blackbird after the excusion to the Cloudlands), the party members had all crossed over by following a very specific path on foot. Flying the Blackbird along that path proved to be extraordinarily difficult.
It may have been problems with the crosing or it may have just been the nature of Faerie, but when the party arrived back in Glastonbury, they soon came to realize that roughly a year and a half had passed in their absence. They learned this when captain Alastair Hawkesworth confronted them via semaphore from the HMAS Lemon Lander. Amazed and overjoyed at their reappearance (though heartbroken that Genevieve was not yet with the party), Hawkesworth called upon the Lemon Lander and other airships in the region to escort Lady Blackbird back to London.
In their brief voyage, Hawkesworth marvelled at the strange and obviously Spanish Airship. He also recounted what had transpired in the intervening months. It would seem that the war on Tudor had finally been settled, after decisive use of air power had decimated an armada of continental forces (local Spanish and their allies). In Scotland, Queen Mary's insurgency was put to rest and Kelley's treasonous faction of demon worshipers was purged from the Royal Society. For the moment, at least, the local and colonial populace had rallied around their Queen and the Dominion of Tudor was booming with new construction and renewed offworld commerce.
That offworld commerce was still limited to select out-bound paths, as mysterious Spanish raider ships (not unlike the Lady Blackbird) continued to plague the paths leading to the core worlds. Very little traffic was getting through, and what traffic did get through required enormous convoys for protection.
To make matters worse, the Spanish and their local allies had decisively won on Geneva, Mehrikah, and Murnau, cutting off nearly half of the known worlds from contact. Even on worlds that could still be reached, Spanish influence/espionage complicated efforts to secure invaluable orichalcum resources. At this very moment, Britannic forces were reinforcing the early medieval world of Daer and anticipation of a Spanish invasion.
With Hawkeworth's briefing in mind, the party landed in London as greeted warmly by Her Majesty the Queen. Artoria had grown into her office in the last year and a half and now seemed to possess an aura of stately command. Marcus also noted (to his dismay) that she also seemed to command an inordinate amount of attention from captain Hawkesworth. A lot had happened in the intervening months and clearly there would be some interpersonal issues that would need to resolved.
But first, the party had to get settled in Whitehall. Iris was welcomed as visiting royalty and Elspeth was charged with outfitting her in proper local attire as befitted her station. Jude met with his father and his subordinates at the Royal Society. And George Rasmussen was immediately enlisted to help rebuild the decimated Magickal Corps. Marcus, to his pleasure, was ale to locate the long-lost Sophie, who had absconded with the Fair Leonore shortly after the death of Lord Crabbe.
Finally, the session ended with war council with the Queen and her advisors. Echoing their own thoughts on the matter, the Queen orders the party to attempt passage to the Cloudlands in the Lady Blackbird. Their objectives are threefold: 1) recapture the Britannic outpost and restore the flow of gravity-defying etherium, 2) reconnoiter the Spanish outpost and cut off their access to Cloudlands resources, and 3) overthrow Iris' father and install her on her throne (if possible).