The Age of Man

Episode 18- A Ship of Cards

We played several rounds of Lamarckian Poker to represent the many tasks of designing, building, and mystically awakening the the airship being custom built for the Quiet Men. The odds turned in their favor, and they unlocked a lot of the ship’s potential with a relatively small amount of its own quirks.
During the weeks and months that passed while the ship was being constructed, the Quiet Men heard news of many portentous events:

  • The rail line to Nantyr was completed, connecting it to the network of quick travel and trade with the rest of the Empire.
  • Shifter tribes have begun driving out settlers from the edges of Tillianus (the province of Tillith), and seizing their land and goods.
  • The cannibal tribes were put down or converted, and the ‘cursed’ islands have been cleared of tribal settlements. There is a small force of the Forged in place to keep the islands from being resettled.
  • The Forged arrive in Nantyr, and begin construction on new military buildings.
  • After visits with dignitaries from Draji who came for the Exposition, a formal trade partnership has begun. For the first time, merchant ships from the Empire have been shown safe routes to Tenopec, a port city in their Kingdom. Their people provide exotic spices and crystals for the food, minerals, and objects of artifice that the Empire produces.
  • Piracy and naval attacks on the western coast have begun to increase dramatically, but the Empire hasn’t been able to track down their base of operations.
  • A troop of Forged were dispatched to the fringes of Tillianus in order to pacify the Shifter tribes, but they vanished.
  • Adonia is invited to a private ceremony held by Dario Gilan, a local priest of Satet. Among other things, she learns that the Devotee Harshit Fordial spends about half the year in Nantyr (he is currently nearing the end of his typical stay), and they have noted a number of clandestine meetings both in and outside of the city. Some of the meetings were with Dragonborn in strange, foreign dress. They have also noted that Petros Denn, another Devotee, has been spending more time in the city than usual. Denn and Fordial often work together on public projects, and occasionally have secret meetings together, but Denn has also had people in his employ quietly following Harshit. About 2 weeks ago, Harshit met with a single Dragonborn in the poorer part of the city. After the meeting, a group they know to have been working for Petros jumped the Dragonborn and took him captive.
  • Valentine has occasional dreams of a blighted forest at night. Animals and savage shifter tribes rut and kill in a wild frenzy. In the distance is an ancient hill, and the stones atop it are shuddering. The hill twists and rises to reveal a bear like beast of tremendous size. It claws the sky, tearing down the moon and stars, and devouring them. He awakes as the beast roars, blackness pouring from its mouth. He has a foul, gummy taste in his mouth, which reminds him of the flavor of Night Ivy.
  • The goblin tribes have begun to migrate south, which has military strategists fearful that they are amassing under a new leadership in preparation for another cycle of war. The Erathin Counsel and Emperor Menes are debating whether to increase production of the Forged to support a push south into the desert, rather than waiting for the inevitable attacks from the savages.
  • A team of Quiet Men in Tillith have gone off the radar.
  • Oz’s brother sends a letter to him.
  • Trade and cultural exchange with the Ngati Maru has revealed that they once lived on the plains of a temperate continent, but were driven to abandon their homes and seek to settle in islands because of the spread of the Drow, foul elves who corrupted the land as they conquered it. They fear that the pirates are scouting forces that seek the weaknesses they need to expand.
  • The Dirigible company is doing well, as they are providing craft for both reconnaissance and battle.
  • Nantyr is building a military school in Nantyr, with a focus on airship command.
  • Word comes that one of the Quiet Men is being held in jail, awaiting transport to the capitol to confess selling out the Forged forces that vanished.

After completing the ship, the Quiet Men gather at the top of the Dirigible Company’s docking tower to meet the ship as it rises from the workshops in its first flight. As it approaches, white dragons sweep down from the clouds and attack. During the battle, Grouse is knocked from the tower and plummets to his death, and the Dragons seem to be on the verge of sending the others after him when Grouse begins to wake the others from sleep- it seems that some vestige of Sin’s psyche lashed out at them before being absorbed into their ship, The White Wyrm.

Episode 17- Artifact Aquisition Montage

The next few months pass in a blur, as the Quiet Men use the airship to track down the remaining artifacts needed to purchase their own private and customized vessel from the Dynamic Dirigible Company of Nantyr:
We see Argent opening the puzzle box, and receiving a memory of standing in a strange open air temple when the sun sets abruptly. Night passes and then day at an ever increasing pace until the days pass in brief flickers before the memory fades out.
The airship passes over the desert in search of Ankheg royal jelly, coming to rest above a cluster of giant aphids as they eat their way through a patch of vegetation. They pool their knowledge- knowing that the Aphids secrete an energy rich dew that the Ankheg harvest for food, they prepare a poison that will leave the Aphids untouched but drive the Ankheg to madness. The plan works, and the Quiet Men make their way into the hive, passing the torn and dismembered bodies of most of the colony. In the Ankheg Queen’s lair they do battle with the most potent and loyal of the Ankhegs and dispatch the Queen herself. While loading up casks of royal jelly, they discover the unconscious bodies of several Goblins who seem dressed in the civilized garb of the Empire. When awakened they prove to be the remnants of a group of Empire loyal Goblins who were sent to recover an artifact of the Goddesses of Night from a temple in the southern Shifting Desert (their adventures were highlighted in Episode 8). They believe that if they can acquire the statue of the Gods of Day as well that it can be used to free the Goblin tribes from the curse. It seems that the curse was actually leveled against the Annunaki themselves, but that the artifacts were used to redirect it to their loyal followers instead. Argent recalls seeing the statue in his Tower, but since he cannot recall how to enter the tower he keeps it to himself.
We see Adonia using her gift to see her companions’ futures- Before she sees the images of their future she sees a brief glimpse into their counterparts in the alternate world: The once savage version of Valentine glowing with the light of Sokar as he and the starfire infected Oz lead soldiers of the Red Tide on a march into Morne, and General Goran working with Argent to determine what would be needed to drive the gods from their world.
The sounds of Redd barking in the hold brings the party running to find some of the Gnomish crew standing hypnotized before the statue, near where some dirt has obscured one of the protective sigils. The dirt is removed and the crew returned to normal without much trouble.
The Quiet Men are locked in a snowy mountain battle against four huge worms, who radiate intense heat that they use to burrow through the ice and snow. As they cut down the first two, the ground rumbles and the Legendary Remorhaz of Giantsdoom Peak burrows up beneath the party to protect her children, and the true fight begins. As the beast is slain, and begins to sink into the ice pack, Oz leaps into the carcass to carve out its burning heart.
The airship returns them to the frontier city of Nantyr, to deliver their goods to the Gnomes and begin construction on their own vessel, using the Dragon egg found in Sin’s temple to infuse it with power (and adding the heart of the Remorhaz as its furnace). The artifacts they acquired will be used to empower other vehicles for the Gnomes own purposes.

Episode 16- An Evolving Partnership

The Quiet Men follow the transformed tribesmen’s directions to where the children are being held. While Grouse circles around in stealth, freeing the children, an old woman, and the wizard Gerard Gamble, the others approach from the opposite side and draw off the remaining warriors of the tribe. It is clear that whatever transformation was affecting the scouts has taken much deeper root within these creatures, whose waxy faces have begun to sprout tentacle like growths. A vicious battle ensues, but with Grouse and Gerard flanking the twisted natives they are brought down. From the old woman they learn that the Ngati Tama have been grinding the strange granite of the cursed island and feeding it to their captives before eating them, and this is causing them to ‘evolve’ into something alien and foul.
The team loads the liberated captives onto the airship and sails for the main island. They begin to pass over a battle between the Ngati Maru and the Ngati Tama, where the friendly Maru are taking heavy losses. The Quiet Men choose a spot and drop their Kraken Seed amidst the attackers, watching it sprout into a huge, devastating beast that immediately begins crushing the outrigger canoes (and bodies) of their enemies. With the core of their fleet torn apart, the remainder flee.
The heroes return with the children, after a careful inspection showed that whatever transformation had happened to the Tama had not begun to advance too far for them to recover. In spite of a brief dispute between Argent and the women of the Ngati Maru, things were resolved and positive relations between the Empire and the island nations were solidified. Gerard Gamble explained that he was surprised to see Argent again so soon, since when he had encountered him a few years before he had given him vague directiosn to Peron’s Nail, a fabled artifact of the Kingdom of Draji that is believed to point the way toward the heart’s desire of whoever holds it.
The airship returned to the Eastern edge of the cursed island, to excavate one of the giant stone heads. As they began to dig it out, they found roots of stone extending like tentacles from the submerged mouths of the statues…whatever the tribe was being transformed into had obviously worked the stones in their own image in ancient times. They loaded the head on board and set sigils of protection around it to prevent any influence from leaking out.
With their work done, Gerard completed the teleportation circle that will allow convenient trade with these distant islands. As the airship lifted off, troops began to march out of the circle- Forged warriors arriving to aid the Ngati Maru in purging the corrupted tribes (and extend the influence of the Trysain family).

Episode 15- Off to Sea

Before leaving the temple, the Quiet Men listened to a few of the stories of the other people as they awoke. Many sat in silent darkness for the whole time, while others told tales of varying strangeness about their day in another version of this world. They spotted Naomi Trysain among the slumbering victims of the Possibility Beast, but when she finally admitted to being awake she claimed to have seen only darkness.
After their return to the inn, Lieutenant Commander Sasumon came with detaisl of a mission- the Quiet Men would head to the Ikurli Islands, to find out what has become of the wizard Gerard Gamble and the ambassador (Hugh Barrow) that were sent to create a permanent teleportation site that would enable regular trade to the distant islands. Since the islands hold one of the items the Dynamic Dirigible Company desired in exchange for a custom built airship, the party arranged for the use of a standard airship to retrieve it while on their mission.
During their travel, Argent prepared a mystical gem that would allow rudimentary understanding of the native tongue. They made contact with the Ngati Maru, the tribe Gamble had been negotiating with, and found Hugh Barrow to be safe with them. A rival tribe, the Ngati Tama had kidnapped Gamble and many of the tribe’s children and taken them to the cursed islands to the south. The Quiet Men agreed to make rescuing the children their first priority in exchange for the Maru launching a distracting attack to leave the village stripped of some of its defenders.
Taking the dirigible silently from the southern edge of the islands, they slipped as close to the village as possible before setting out on foot. As they grew close to the village they drew the attention of some outlying guards and engaged in a quick fight to kill them. The last of the warriors surrendered, and outside the heat of combat it is clear that he is ill in some way. His skin has a damp, waxy quality to it and his pupils are wide and glassy. As the session ended, the prisoner is preparing to lead them to the children.

Episode 14- Awakening

As they fell asleep in the other world, they awoke in the temple of Sokar…

Valentine was the first to awaken, and he immediately called for the head of the temple to record what he experienced, in case the memories might fade or vanish like a dream. As his companions awoke he had scribes record their stories as well, in order to determine if there experiences were indeed shared. From all appearances, it seems that they all experienced the same events, though no physical evidence remained…and sadly, Grouse still wears the cursed form of a goblin.

Episode 13- A Trip To The Zoo

Celestial Event- Palith continues to be devoured by Caiphon

While keeping an eye on Rego Trysain’s manor house, Adonia literally ran into a man deliver a stack of hats to a nearby haberdasher. When he had left, the reflection of Caiphon’s purple light reflected in a puddle drew her eye to an envelope laying on the street. Opening it up, she found 5 tickets to the opening of the Zoo’s ‘Possibility Beast’ later that afternoon.

She returned to find Valentine feeding Red, the dog that he recently acquired (and not a shapeshifting assassin- really), while the rest of the team relaxed inside. She shared the tickets with them, and they set off to see the show.

At the Zoo, they stood in line for some time, winding their way through the grounds of The Morgan Master’s Menagerie of Magnificent Merrymakers and Monsters. In the cages and open air preserves they caught sight of massive bears with pure white fur, a monstrous beetle the size of a small horse, and a tentacled panther that seemed to pace just outside its own cage.

Eventually the line brought them to a large mesh cage, and keen eyes caught sight of mystic runes that seemed to ward the fine mesh even further. At first glance, the creature inside the cage seemed to be a small rodent, but as they watched it suddenly became a brightly colored bird and flew to the top of the cage. A short moment later it was dropping to the ground as a badger. A professor from the College of Natural Sciences gave a brief presentation about how experiments into serendipity and probability had gone awry, and this creature was the unexpected result of the accident- a creature that shifted through all possible forms. It is no mere shape shifting, but a fundamental change in its reality, and even its history. As the beast continued to swap forms, great lenses were put into place around it, to aid in study as well as to allow onlookers to get better views.

The Possibility Beast then transformed into a strange, almost bird shape formed of purplish light, and as the lenses played that light across the crowd the Quiet Men felt strangely disoriented. Suddenly, the world slipped sideways…

Episode 12- A Golem Promise

Adonia’s scouting uncovered the location of a camp belonging to Trysian a half day’s ride from the city. The Quiet Men rode out to investigate, and were able to determine that Oz’s theory was correct- Rego Trysain was preparing to reveal that he has a military force of sentient golems.

They returned to the city to discuss what they had found, and Adonia shared further information- the families involved in the conspiracy were some of the first conquered by the Dragonborn, and had risen to have a great deal of influence even while suffering under the yoke of slavery. Their conspiracy to evolve into the perfect servants of the Dragon Gods had begun before the old Empire fell, and during the revolts, they were placed in positions that gave them great opportunity to earn places of importance within the new human empire. The party agreed that a military strike against the Emperor was much less likely than a long term strategy of replacing the military might of the Empire with their own creations, so that when the time came, there was no need to defeat the empire, they would already control it.

Lieutenant Commander Sasumon arranged a meeting with Emperor Menes, and the Quiet Men met with him in an unassuming home, where he received them privately. He seemed to accept their suspicions, and indicated that some of the political maneuvers he has seen take on a darker implication now, and that his plans to retire in the near future would have to be delayed. He also made it clear that he was aware of the Fluid, and trusted their loyalty to the Empire.

The Quiet Men were asked to watch over the Emperor during both the dedication of the Skyfire Observatory as well as Rego’s presentation. Argent was able to sense that a member of the Fluid was standing in for the Emperor. Both went smoothly, though there were signs of coordinated goblin activities within the crowd at Rego’s presentation. Rego presented 100 soldiers to the Empire, and promised many more- so that the Empire could grow, remain secure, and focus on arts, science, and philosophy rather than war.

Episodes 10 & 11- A Problem With Pirates

Celestial Event- Over the last month or so, the fickle guide star Caiphon and Palith, the star of lust and fertility, have been growing closer in the night sky. Now, it seems as if Caiphon is devouring Palith, growing brighter as the star of lust begins to flicker and die.

The Quiet Men arrive at their meeting with those who claim to be able to supply them with 2 creates of the highly addictive night ivy that has been hitting the city streets. There contact was a sun-blackened Elven pirate. No one was terribly surprised when the pirate and his hidden companions attempted to murder the Quiet Men for the money, rather than make an honest trade.

In a brutal battle, our heroes manage to kill or capture their ambushers, while keeping Valentine from giving in to his addiction to the ivy. They were told that the drugs were on the Dark Gull, but figured out that he was misleading them in an attempt to distract them from the Albatross, where the drugs were actually hidden. The battle weary heroes turned over the prisoners to Inspector Kyri, and raced to the docks with some of the guardsmen.

When they arrived the Dark Gull and the Albatross had both slipped away from the docks, and ropes of fire blocked most of the ships from being able to pursue them. Casting a careful eye over their options, Grouse realized that what they had originally mistaken for a shallow barge was the flat deck of Captain Gnomo’s submersible. They commandeered the vessel, and slipped under the fire and the Gull to close on the Albatross. Grouse began a mystic ritual to call forth winds, while the others went up to the flat deck to rain attacks upon the Albatross, hoping to sloww it’s escape long enough for Grouse rite to give them the conditions they needed to unleash their Kraken seed without endangering themselves and Gnomo.

Argent and Adonia rained magic down upon the sails and the crew of the Albatross, while Oz drew as much of the Drow’s fire as he could. As the Albatross began to slow, the captain of the Albatross drew out a blowgun looking device, and launched his own kraken seed in an arc past the submersible. Oz threw himself off the submersible and struck the seed as it was just a few feet from the water, knocking it into the water right at the base of the Albatross’ hull.

The Kraken burst forth, lifting the entire stern of the boat out of the water as it’s tentacles wrapped around the boat…while others lashed out toward the submersible. The captain of the vessel ducked into the hold of the ship, his purpose unknown.

Oz, dragging behind the sub like a fishing lure, managed to barely twist out of harm’s way. Everyone scrambled to fire parting shots as they dragged Oz up, and then fled inside. Gnomo forced the sub to dive deep, and the sound of the hull straining under the weight wasn’t enough to cover the sounds of destruction above.

After they waited out the kraken, they surface to see the shattered pieces of the Albatross sinking below the waves. Several chunks of the pier had also been torn apart before the creature expired. Witnesses reported that the Dark Gull had sailed into the darkness during the chaos.

Exhausted, the party returned to their inn to rest and recover. Over the next few days they worked on a few projects- Argent deconstructed the field communication device to discover that it did not hold any means of being listened in on. Adonia and Grouse made initial business overtures to the Richten brothers of the Dynamic Dirigible Company of Nantyr for the construction of a custom craft to be infused with potent magics, and learned that the Gnomes are open to a business deal, assuming that Argent could teach some mages to employ similar techniques for them in the future, could acquire rare mystical ingredients to power such spells, could arrange for them to get solid contracts with the military, and could arrange for Rego Trysain to use the dirigibles as part of his big revelation at the Exposition.

Lieutenant Commander Sasumon arrived, and the Quiet Men share with her the information from Adonia about a powerful conspiracy amongst several noble houses, who are using the The Devotees of the Hour and their personal influence to subtly work towards the resurrection of the Dragon gods and their own transformation into a superior draconic race. Sasumon leaves to consider their options, and to arrange to privately warn Emperor Menes.

The following day Timith arrives, and gives the party an invitation o have dinner with Rego Trysian, now that he has arrived in town. The group goes, though Adonia uses a potion to obscure her identity. During dinner Rego is quite polite, and tells them that he got word that their group had acquired a dragon egg while in the ruins outside of Abdera. He is quite interested in purchasing it, and mentioned having 30,000 gold on hand if they could help him acquire it. The group told him they had turned the egg in to their superiors, and would look into it’s location. Adonia took a look around, on her way to the toilet. She took note of a small altar to his dead wife. She seemed disturbed to see her pictures so well cared for, but returned before his absence would be noted. Before parting, the team did mention the Dynamic Dirigible Company of Nantyr, and encouraged him to use their vessels for his big presentation. While he told them that his presentation would change the very nature of life in the Empire, he would not share what it was he was showing.

The Quiet Men made their way home in Rego’s carriage, and then set Argent to work on a fake dragon egg, which Sasumon would have worked into the military inventory to delay and distract Rego’s search for the real egg.

Episode 9- Jumping at Shadows

Setting Information- A recap of the Races of the Empire

Date: From the 1st Day of the month of Newyield to the night of the 7th of Newyield

The Quiet Men are settled into their inn, The Traveler’s Ease, and have begun to explore the city of Garshen. The city is overflowing with people preparing the city for the Erathin Exposition. Valentine sends word that he is looking into a new drug that is being sold in the streets, and will return after he investigates. The group discusses what they should do with the dragon egg they captured from Sin’s temple, and Oz shows them a flyer for the Dynamic Dirigible Company. They discuss the possibility of Argent using the Animus of the dragon egg to infuse such a vessel, and to make it a living ship bound to their service.

Adonia continues to keep a subtle eye on preparations in the wealthy section of town, Argent joins the design and engineering team in laying out the Starfire Observatory, and Oz begins to venture out from his sulphur and incense laden room to see a bit of the city. Grouse also hears about a new drug, and finds out that it, along with a fair chunk of gold, was used to purchase a Kraken Seed, which when immersed in water transforms into a massive, tentacled monster that seeks to destroy everything around it for the minute or so before it fades away. Valentina returns from aiding her church, after failing to find the source of the drug, which he calls Night Ivy. It is extremely addictive, in spite of the fact that it causes hallucinations that are terrifying. A weaker form of the drug grows naturally in the forests where her people make their home, so she was asked to look into it, and only found dead ends.

Grouse and Argent begin to look into the drug trade, while Valentina watches from a distance to make sure they stay safe. They discover that the dealers are taking some pains to avoid being busted by the overworked city guard. Donning magically enhanced disguises to appear to be seedy investors looking to buy large amounts of Night Ivy, they purchase a sample of the drug and ask for a meeting with someone high enough up the food chain to sell them a large amount of the drug.

Meanwhile, Adonia spots Timeth, one of the secretaries who takes the calls from their field communication device. He is touring the most luxurious parts of town in the company of Naomi, a minor cousin of Rego Trysain. She trails him to discover that he is staying at The Lantern, a luxury hotel and spa. She arranges for Grouse to perform at his hotel while she watches from disguise. Timeth sees him performing, and gladly speaks with him, while Naomi looks on pleasantly. It is clear that Timeth is an honest, but naive, man who assumes that Naomi’s interest in him is genuine, and there are suspicions that she is a skilled actress. Timeth tells them that they should come to dinner with the Trysains once Rego arrives in a week or two, and Grouse accepts.

While wandering the city, Argent and Grouse come upon an intricate puppet show, with intricate backgrounds cut from paper and animated as part of the story. One of the people watching is familiar to Argent…a young girl named Esmet that he saw in a village while acquiring his last apprentice. She recognizes him, and flees into an alley and nearly into the arms of a mugger. Though frightened of Argent, he and Grouse manage to calm her enough to get her away from the mugger. Argent explains that the apprentice (her childhood friend) disappeared during the war and is likely dead. Grouse gives her money to be delivered to his family, and they part ways.

Oz tours through the part of the city where stone work and statuary is being prepared for the exhibition. He sees a group of artisans from the swamp town of Vow. They are just finishing up a statue of their hero, Valentine. Oz is confused, as he firmly recalls his companion as a woman. He speaks with them and they show him several works of art that portray even the entire group, but in each of them Valentina is shown as a man. He is given one of the smaller paintings, and brings it back to the group. They become suspicious that some form of potent magic has been used to cloud either their perceptions, or the perceptions of the artist. When Valentina arrives, they ask her some careful questions that reveal that she is not their companion. Oz thumps her soundly as she tries to flee, and the group quickly subdues her. Argent brews up a potent diuretic, and they feed it to her. When she awakens they question her, telling her that she will die a slow death to the poison in her system if they do not get the answers they want.

She reveals that she and a number of her tribe found a dryad infected by the potent night ivy, and they experimented with the drug. In the terrifying visions they felt a presence, a terrible thing that whispered to them about how he could help them destroy the Empire that sought to destroy their way of life. They learned to call it forth, and it encouraged them to organize their strike upon the Exposition. When they saw Valentine, one of their own willingly in service to their oppressors, they captured him. They called upon their terrible ally, and he bound Valentine in magic that drew his destiny and identity into her. As long as Valentine still lived, she would take his role in the universe, and the longer she had it the more it would truly be hers. In doing this, she had begun to realize that they had gotten in over their heads, and that if they would agree to free her she would tell them where Valentine was. She also warned them that if the leader managed to draw the blood of the dryad that the entity would come, and they would all be destroyed. The group took the information, and Oz gave her a glass of mineral water and placed her hanging in his closet with the diuretic still burning in her stomach.

With the help of Adonia’s ability to scry from a distance, they scout the shifter camp, and decide to call upon Valentine’s church for aid. The church arranges for a distraction and lends both swords and healing to their mission. Under the cover of the distraction, the team focuses all they have on bringing down the dryad and the leader, and they manage to prevent the creature from being summoned. They recover the Kraken Seed, and quickly drag the real Valentine out of the pit they were keeping him in, horrified to find him covered in bloody runic scratches, his eyes black and gummy with the signs of Night Ivy use.

Episode 8- Far and Near

We began our story far to the south, in the depths if the Shifting Desert. A group of champions from each of the major goblin tribes, each in service to one of the human gods, had journeyed to a temple built to house the myriad crude idols of the goblin deities. They had come in search of a stolen relic from the Temple of Seshat, which they hoped would be the key to breaking the goblin curse and freeing their people from being born into savagery.
Led by the goblin priestess Oxoginia, the group disabled the last of the traps preventing access to the relic. They picked up the relic as the sounds of enemies approached. Ogres from the southern desert and vile goblin necromancers flooded into the chamber to spring their trap. The initial onslaught was brutal enough that the heroes feared they might fail in their task. As they fought their way toward escape, Azog (the Orcish follower of Sokar) caught site of something strange in the mirror near the wall- his reflection moved on its own, reaching out of the mirror to grab a strange box on the floor. The strange reflection shouted to them that if they had no other choice, they could hand the relic to it, so it could be spirited to safety.
Having little faith that this strange creature would keep its word, the group redoubled their efforts and began to make headway, slaying the ogre and the monstrosity assembled from dozens of dead goblin parts. As they pushed toward the hallway that lead out of the temple, another surprise appeared- a powerful Dragonborn sorcerer appeared to block their path. Wearing an odd symbol of a black eye on a black field, it called ice and fire to block their way, as spectral hobgoblins flickered in and out of sight, striking at their flanks.
Purk, the Rat Master of Satet, charged forward, his rats driving into the Dragonborn before him. He forged an opening for his companions, even as they hacked him to bits. Urlau the Gnoll also gave her life, refusing to give up the flank so that Oxoginia would remain safe. Their sacrifices allowed the rest of the goblin champions to flee the temple and begin the long dangerous journey home.

Meanwhile, our Quiet Men were making their way south along the river to the city of Garshen. On their journey, Oz seemed withdrawn and contemplative. He often inspected his arm closely in the firelight before turning in, obviously unhappy with what he saw, but unwilling to discuss it.
When they arrived in Garshen, the city was bustling with the preparations for the Empire Exposition, a quadrennial event that showcases the latest advances of art, science, magic, and philosophy. Less than a month remains until this huge event, which will draw people from across the Empire, and even from distant kingdoms around the world.
The party received their pay, and were encouraged to relax and enjoy the city for a while after their recent struggles. They passed on the option to remain within the military barracks, and acquired rooms in a nicely appointed inn to enjoy their free time. Valentine was called by the church of Sokar to aid them on a project, and sent word that he would return when he could. Grouse began to perform around the city, spreading tales of his master Argent, while harvesting rumors and fans alike.
The city is putting much of its efforts towards the Exposition into the building of the Skyfire Observatory, which will allow scholars to unravel the mysteries of the prescient reflections of the Aurora that appear in the Borealis Lake. There is also a great deal of buzz about Rego Trysain, whose family is expected to reveal something that will ‘revolutionize the way of life in the Empire.’
Argent has begun to meet with scholars of magic, giving his odd insights into their field. Grouse has built a large following, and caught the eye of the small goblin population in the city. Oz spends most of his days in meditation, the smell of sulphur and minerals wafting from his room. Adonia has acquired a number of disguises and outfits, and spends her days subtly exploring the city.


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