It's been a year since Tain Artifex released the Doomsday Device. It's time to pay the price for that choice...
The Imaginarium made their way up the mountains of Burkhan Khaldun. Up the trail path lies, the Rex Templum Domini or The Temple of the King waits for them. It has been a year since Tain Artifex released the Doomsday Device. He marches towards a fate he too does not know, but suspects that an honorable death awaits him. They pass through the temple town of Grex Nostor, and at long last they reach the temple.
Strangely, the Temple is in total disarray. Virtually everyone from Grex Nostor is here, as well as other travelers who wish to see what's going on. A member of the Scripto Indentato, Paget, greets Tain and the others. She says that with all that is going on today, she was told to get him up to speed. His trial is due to start soon, but in the meantime there was a swearing in of a new country, animals running amuck, and a strange man is causing a disturbance somewhere. Tain elects to wait out the trial while Gudrun, Tori, Ediniira and Beau elect to see what else is going on today.
Gudrun heads towards and ever growing crowd. A man by the name of Darbus Krelbourne is speaking to the secrets the Pontifate is keeping from the world. In his hand is a document called "The Spadefoot Papers", allegedly it is correspondence from the office of Eonin Vex. It speaks of the death of the Gods, that they are no longer watching over us. Gudrun pulls him aside to inform him he's lucky that he isn't already dead for speaking about the Pontifate in this manner in their own home. She learns that Darbus is looking to get justice for his son, Malthis Krelbourne Trangressus who was exied from the church for some confidential action. The man had never seen his son again. He made it his life mission to expose the truth's of the Church. During their talk Gudrun was able to convince him that she would carry this burden again, that she would avenge his son. Aceepting this, Darbus presumably went out to leave Grex Nostor and to start a new life, but not before asking Gudrun that if she ever met her son to ask him to come home.
Ediniira would find Leif and Farid. In the chaos, they lost Dhalia and Eik. Ediniira agreed to go help them. She would also get into contact with Mistress Weaver. Somehow, in this conversation, Ediniira would make it her life's mission to find someone named Trevor (a silly name no one would possibly have). She would go on to ask everyone she met if they were Trevor (They were not). Her first task bore more fruit, however. In a garden, Eik and Dhalia were cavorting with a plethora of exotic animals...in peace. A member of the Pontifate was there, his name was Aminus Creaturaex. He would go on to tell Ediniira that he alone took on the task of addressing order in the natural world. His mission is to eliminate Deviant creatures that spit upon the natural process. Ediniira was gifted a small mysterious vial, given the task to give it to a deviant she meets to help bring the natural world back into balance.
Before the trial began, everyone went in to see what this swearing in ceremony for a new country thing was all about. It appeared to be a ceremonial transfer from death to the growth of new life. Eonin Vex and Lenore Vindicta presided over the swearing in the Cult of Care under a new name, The Glale Republic. This marks an unsuspected change in the landscape of Poset. Not only are the Droamdo people united for the first time in known history, but now the Ponitfate has a foothold in the South Eastern region at long last. Additionally, they placed "She of Endless Flame" as the Republic's first leader.
In the middle of the ceremony Beau talked to Ava Vorinclex. They shared their similar ideologies with one another and those who deal in death. She outright admitted to burning town the Temple of Absu, a fact that did not bother him in the slightest. The Order of Wee Jas and a Monk of Death prove to be quite the pair.
Meanwhile, Gudrun was disturbed by a being that looked like Egon Ward, standing close to Eonin's side in the ceremony. By chance, she sat next to a hooded man that confirmed her suspicions, it wasn't just her seeing things. The man gave her a letter that said "meet me at Blaegrity" and left, but not before telling Gudrun that there may be a way to act against the new God of Death.
With the ceremony concluded, Paget came to Tain Artifex. It was time for the trial to begin. Filing in, members of the Caravan were present, along with people of Grex Nostor and by the looks of it...people of Trost. Also in attendance were Syrup, Briggs Brighton, Ephram Kleft, and Judge Talbain. As customary in such a trial Tain sat in the middle while those for his character lied in his right and those against on his left. Then entered Pontifex Papus Karma Servatorex, he sat down and the tribunal would officially begin. From the left, Pontifex Tempust stood up. He began to speak ill about Tain's character. It became clear he was acting as the prosecutor and forum leader in this tribunal.
What would follow was analysis of Tain's character. Was he right or wrong to do so. While many tried to tell the full truth...the truth of Eonin Vex's presence, Karma denied this outright. To Tain it was clear that his title of Scapegoat was going to be used to its full effect. It really was going to be all on him. With this in mind, everyone would argue what Tain deserves. Most realizing that the Church is Tain's life and him being exiled would be worse than death. So, several members tried to argue for an honorable execution.
The tribunal would take a strange turn when one last man on the pro-Tain side began to speak. He gave his name as Zeke. He began to speak on how Tain in truth is the greatest ally of chaos he had ever seen. That without chaos, there is no order. This man went on to say that Tain's chaotic act should be embraced and that, perhaps, that is his destiny. When Tain started to get deeply uncomfortable with what this man was saying, the doors to the court room burst open. Men and women clad in robes began uttering a familiar spell to some Imaginarium present, it was much like that day in Lamalon during the Festival of Spirits. It nearly worked again, until Papus Karma rang a small bell. The mist faded from the room and the cultists were calmed and amiable.
Tain Artifex would spring to life and examined a subdued cultist. As he takes a medallion from one of them, Papus Karma approached him for a report of what he found. Upon inspection, the Papus knew definitively that they were of the Prashanus family. The man, was likely, Ezekial Prashanus, a believer that he was a true heir to the throne of chaos. Knowing full well where they were going, the Papus gave Tain a test of character. To follow them down into the quarantined levels and deal with the Prashanus cultists. Tain was happy to accept, as it was his duty to do so.
Taking Gudrun, Tori, Ediniira and Beau, the group would begin their descent into the lower levels of the temple. They were met by several ambushes by the Prashanus family clad in full metal armor, hiding in the rubble and detritus of a part of the temple long out of use. While not a real threat to the Imaginarium, the team realized that time was of the essence and the cultists knew it. Knowing there was no choice, but to engage they pressed on until they found an iron gate. A cat laid on a pillar near the door meowing strangely at them. They considered what to do with the door, but they had actually encountered a different locked door on the way there that caught their attention. Tain would bash through the door, even shattering the bar that kept it closed.
On the other side of the door was the being known as Egon Jaas. Egon was open to speaking with his former travelling companions. They exchanged many questions about his being. He revealed that the God version of him is growing still, that their defeat of him in the maze put him in a deep sleep. The image they have been seeing is an aspect of Egon Jaas taking the form of his former self, much to his chagrin. Egon knew that the Spadefoot papers were forged by the Cralewood Cats, and that the cats wished to move into the next floors. He could teleport them through the door, but he requested they consider a quid pro quo. All he asked was that they consider killing Eonin Vex, thus feeing Egon Jaas to do as he pleased. Tain pondered this, but said that he'd have to ask his superiors first. Finding this acceptable, Egon gave them one final warning. The Prashanus family were made aware by Eonin Vex that the lower floor was afflicted by the Gnarled. They should be prepared for that before they teleport in. Terrified, but determined, the group suits up and allows Egon to teleport them in.
Further descending, the group enters the Gnarled floor of the temple. It seems that nature had taken this floor as its own. Tori also noticed layers of silk lining the walls. Upon closer examination, she noticed it behaved a lot like metal. It was completely untouched by the Gnarled condition. Taking this knowledge the group decided to sneak through the area. They remained mostly successful getting around without incident and picking up some treasure along the way. That is, until they encountered a Shrieker.
The Shrieker is a mushroom that, when it detects a presence close enough to it, will emit a loud screech. The group realized that soon all the Gnarled plant life they snuck around will likely come to see what's going on. Though they were also accosted by large silk worms that packed a surprising punch. Feeling as if they would die if they didn't find shelter, the Imaginarium fought to save themselves from a horrible fate. In their struggle they found a hole that went...somewhere. Taking the chance, they all jumped in, the monsters they fought with their minimal intelligence had lost track of them. To their surprise, they found themselves in an old library covered in silk. A garganutan silk worm was there. It turned around and asked them politely what they are doing there.
This creature introduced himself as Vikrim the First. Upon request, he told the group his tale. The Infernal Butchers, the Cefeng branch of Excluders, had at one point brought silk worms to the Gnarled Lands. Possibly for some sort of experiment, but he couldn't say for sure. He was born there. The Pontifate had learned that Vikrim was a deviant. His silk was metallic and would give those who fight in clothing the option to act as Excluders as well. He was taken to the Temple of the King where he created silk in confinement. That is, until one day, where Malthis Krelbourne Transgressus released him. Vikrim spread the Gnarling throughout the whole floor. All Vikrim knew what that Malthis had done so to keep something in a lower floor from spreading up, knowing that the Gnarling would contain it.
Taken to Vikrim, the group would pity the poor creature. They told him of current events of the world, they promised him new reading materials as all the books in his silk library are Gnarled beyond use. He said that he'd happily give his silk as a trade. Now knowing the value of his precious silk he still said that the entertainment he'd get from new books and knowledge would be just as valuable to him.
While they rested with him, he told them that a key was taken from him by a being that was attached to a wall. It seemed to like the key and took it, not with malice, but because it seemed nice. It merged into the wall and Vikrim never saw it again. The group knew they needed that key so they began a search for this creature.
Beau would later find it in an otherwise closed off room. The being said that its been around so long it forgot its own name. The creature said that its able to teleport to walls within the confines of the Gnarling, implying it came from the Gnarled Lands proper. When Beau asked about the key, the creature said it had a lot of things. He'd be willing to trade for things, provided he would get something that was: Fresh, Cute, Dazzling, Expensive, and Somber. Together the group would work together to get him these things.
For something fresh: he was given a new name. That name? Marigold!
For something cute: Beau gave Marigold his mask. Marigold wears it now, feeling cute.
For something dazzling: Gudrun gifted him the memory of a beautiful ballet performance he can treasure for all time.
For something expensive: Tain cracked a pen over a piece of paper making an Ex-pen Sive. Marigold took it as at the very least he'd have a story to tell.
For something somber: Beau would give Marigold his trowel. To represent the somberness of death.
In exchange, Marigold gave many odd trinkets: a brass ring that can't be tarnished, a divination card with a character on it that looks shockingly like Gudrun, a knife from a family member of Marigold's he no longer remembers, a rock that looks like a gemstone to Beau but a piece of coal to everyone else, a rusted iron key and the key to the door they were looking for. With that Marigold thanked them for the new things and said he'd be happy to meet them again one day. He merged into the wall off to some other wall.
Making their way into the next room, the party powered up a lift by mulching dead plant matter. They would descend to the bottom floor where they would face whatever awaits them. At the bottom, Eonin Vex was waiting. A giant dead eyeball was bulging through a hole in the floor. A golden beam connected the eye to to Ezekial. Egon Jaas sat and watched from a nearby pew. Eonin would reveal that the eye belongs to the corpse of Therizdun, the rest of it lying in The Sinking. They were performing a ritual to put the dead God's presence into Ezekial to take his place as the God of Chaos. He went on the say that speaking into the ears of leaders is one thing, but the next step is for the Pontifate to whisper into the ears of the Gods themselves, they just need to come back first. In true Wee Jas fashion, Eonin opted to bring the destructive Gods back first to wipe the slate clean.
Tain would challenge his idea, literally. He said that his role as a servant of St. Cuthbert literally must challenge Eonin's idea of change. Whichever one loses is right. Beau refused to fight Eonin as he thought that a clean start would bring a change, and hopefully it would be a better one. After exchanging of blows directly with Eonin, several party members opted to attack Ezekial, himself. The gold light blinking red faster and faster until Tain dealt the final, killing blow. Eonin was displeased with this, but mostly to his admission he didn't know what would happen if the vessel dies.
We learned what would transpire when the body of Ezekial instead merged with the eye. A pile of corpses would spring forth from the hole, moaning in pain. The party and Eonin team up to take on this corpse god, as Eonin decided it would be best to cut his losses. There is no benefit to keeping a mindless corpse god around, especially as it may very well grow into the next floor, becoming Gnarled. After a grueling fight with necrotic energy flying left and right, Gudrun killed the corpse god and left a hole open to the Sinking below.
Eonin had disappeared, and all that was left was Egon Jaas. While Eonin had said this before, but Egon confirmed. It is likely okay for now that there is a direct hole into the Sinking as there is Gnarling above. Even that realm below wishes not to be Gnarled. With this area neutralized, but no one wishing to stick around for the oncoming Sinking, Egon teleported them back onto the upper floor.
Tain went back to the courtroom to continue with his sentencing. Simply stating that the deed was done. Papus Karma stood up and said that final deliberation would be made in private, inviting Tain to his office. The two sat down, and Karma said that he wished to make his final call man to man. He took off his mask and introduced himself as Malthis Krelbourne Transgressus. He apologized for making Tain trudge through a place created by his own actions, but it proved necessary for Tain to see the truth, to test his resolve. The titles of Scapegoat and Choicemaker have a hidden purpose. These individuals are those who prove an unflinching loyalty to the Order ex Quo to the bitter end, this is the reason why death is not the best use of their skills.
Throwing him a satchel, inside the mask of Lenore Vindicta. Malthis said that Tain would be exiled from the Pontifate, at least it would seem that way officially. In truth, Tain is now able to act on behalf of the Church in a way that a normal member cannot. At times that will be as Transgressus and at times of great need...as Pontifex Papus Lenore Vindicta. With strengthened resolve, Tain left knowing what he must do and that he must keep this whole endeavor under wraps. To everyone. When he came back out into the courtroom, he left with the face of a defeated man, though the face of the Papus would secretly be close at hand.