Some Imaginarium Members find themselves trapped in the Gnarled Lands.
Following the events of the Bowels of Blaegrity, Helper August, Lieui, Jared, Floria Heartswynde, and Tori Schutle were transported to the Gnarled Lands. Unprotected, the group seemed doomed as Gnarled Peoples began to shamble toward them. Their only hope was a mysterious man who awaited them on the horizon - wearing a black cloak and hitching up his horse to a covered wagon, he was also unprotected but didn't seem concerned.
During the clamber to get to him Tori was touched by a gnarled hand. The group reached the man only for him to say "Some peddlers dredge through the mud, it’s a beautiful night for a walk," a phrase which triggered a latent memory in Jared who recalled the response to it was meant to be "We Live in Confusing Times." This caused Lindsolf to reveal that he was, in fact, a Bloodhunter; and as such dispensed with the rest of the Bloodhunter Cypher in favor of getting away.
On their ride back, Lindsolf identified that Tori had been Gnarled and would die within a few weeks. He explained that they were going to Flicher Mach, a "Warm House" of the Bloodhunters located in the depths of the Gnarled Lands. From there, he would eventually be able to help the players find their way home.
Upon arriving at Flicher Mach, saw something frightening hanging from the banners - the sign of the Riddle. Despite this oddity, Lindsolf brushed it off, saying that it is a very old sigil representing the Simurgh - all knowing and most ancient of all birds, though he dismissed it as mythical.
Suddenly, the group were 'attacked' by Atikin Finch, who Lindsolf called 'Solfried' and proceeded to lead back into his room. He explained that the Warm House was home to injured bloodhunters, and that the party just needed to kill time until the passage out opened a few days later.
Lieui went to speak with 'Atikin' and learned he was actually an elderly Blood Hunter by the name of Solfried Prashanus - apparently a rebel against his evil family, Solfried had infiltrated the Fold years ago posing as an evil wizard to ensure they were not going to ever get too close to the edge of madness that seeking the Riddle brought. In the years, it seemed Solfried had developed Alzheimer Disease and was simply fading away.
In addition, the Imaginarium met Diego and Dradgozella - twin sibling bloodhunters who were seeking a particular crone: Granny Schwarpwood. Apparently the subject of a prophecy, they believed that she would be responsible for something terrible if she was left unchecked. Sadly, Diego had been afflicted with a burden and as a result eventually be turned into a tree and die.
In a long conversation with Lindsolf and Boreman, Lieui learned that the Simmurgh is an immortal bird and that interested him. He also learned about the concept of an "In the Know." Basically, the position is filled by one permanent fixture of each Warm House who's job is to know a secret deemed too valuable to lose but too dangerous to be common knowledge. Only one person may know this fact at a time, and it is passed on before death. The current In the Know for Flicher Mach was Solfried Prashanus , but owing to his particular affliction may render him unable to pass on his knowledge before his passing. Remembering Solfried's reflections of his past life, Lieui realized that he constantly referenced a daughter as well as the city of Shavatte. He could not remember his daughter's name, but also had previously been stationed in Donnahue Mach - another Warm House in the Gnarled Lands which apparently had been overrun long ago and its secret lost. The possibility that her name was there, and that the name might trigger his memory excited Jared who lead an expedition the next day.
Before departing, the group spoke to Glennick - a Blood Hunter Alchemist trying to cure Gnarling. While unsuccessful, thus far, he had created a potion called Ironblood that rendered the drinker immune to the effect for about a day. Taking several samples, the group set out for Donnahue Mach.
Upon arriving, the party came into contact with Sir Shepherd - wounded after a quest to measure Full Mountain, he recognized Floria and called her a deserter. Angered, he said that he would not accept her help and left.
Upon entering the Mach, the first thing that the group noticed were three sarcophagi. Each containing a gnarled corpse of the same pale race that the Harvester had been (similar but not the same as Ticualtzin). Each had the name of a god embossed in an archaic language - "Cuthburt," "Wee Jas," and "Tharizadune." The architecture seemed ancient beyond all recognition, more ancient than anything seen before; though explanations eluded the group - only that Armani's account may not have been the full picture.
Further in, the group found a ritual circle where some profane rite had been performed - a notebook in Jared's handwriting described inhumane acts to summon the spirit of a Rise Being (counter to the sinking in many ways, though how is unclear). This being had been trapped successfully, but was unintentionally gnarled as a result of this and thus corrupted.
Deeper into the Mach, the group found strange fermentation tanks - seemingly fragments of the dead god's bones were kept in water, developing a fluid that spread (and likely was the origin of) gnarling. Jared remembered spreading the fluid himself, though could not recall why.
Finally, the Cosmic Artisan appeared to the group - asking if Jared and Helper August had succeeded. Apparently, they'd been on a quest to cure gnarling in the hopes to free Valencia Saturnis (the rise being) who had been afflicted. The group learned a little more, that Jared was actual Jared 'Godred' and was the In the Know - apparently the Rhakshaza Cefeng became involved in his desire to summon a rise being to combat Sinking (like a good blood hunter, committing inhumane acts to fight evil). Whatever he knew - perhaps the reason why Gnarling must be spread by the bloodhunters or even its origins - was too important to lose, hence his trapping in a teddy bear's body - a bear belonging to Floria Heartswynde, Valencia's daughter.
With all the secrets laid bare, the group decided to confront Valencia who had been kept alive so long through the use of Liyal the Book of Time. In a touching reunion, she and Floria said their last goodbye before she gave the book to Tori (the book of time reversed her Gnarling repeatedly so that she would not be killed within a few days), but this cost her her own life.
As the group left, they encounter the Hanged Man - who now took the form of a Ticualtzin like pale skinned creature, hung from a noose of flowers outside the Mach where a corpse had once been. He thanked the group for freeing the place of gnarling so that he might be back home, but refused to elucidate further on his, or the god's, identities.
Returning back, the group were able to tell Solfried his daughter's name, but the trap was sprung - the name was actually the trigger word to free Doom from his stone prison. He revealed himself to be the actual Solfried Prashanus , the actual in the know who was aware of the Simurgh's location. This being the answer to riddle. Tearing the information from his mind, Atikin gloated - he'd used memory modification on the Mach to make them believe his story and had manipulated the group into doing his dirty work. Beating them easilly, only Jared was able to resist his mass hold person spell. Atikin walked up to him and asked "Do you want to try and stop me." Jared responded with a "No" and Atikin left for Mt Aluvia, the top of which was the Simurgh's roost.