Forced into the desert canyons by the prevailing Iron Winds, a jack, a nano, and a glaive find themselves in each other’s company once again. Their destination: Uxphon. A city built on a network of pipes feeding a subterranean machine whose purpose has escaped from local memory.
A day’s travel north, they reached the city at dusk. Shopkeepers closing up for the evening eager to beat the previous day’s totals beckoned the party toward their wares. A handsome, swarthy blacksmith tried to impress the travelers with his sludge cutters, crude weapons forged from slime that aggregates on the warm pipes of Uxphon. Hemingway cracked one of the weapons to show its inferior construction, and Derris was quick to act. He banned them from his shop, but not before Jabber pocketed a sludge blade.
A curious figure emerged from the shadows to appraise the group. Tall, skinny, and covered in rings. He found nothing of interest, and retreated back from whence he came,but offered his services if they return to him with something more interesting.
As the bitter cold set in and the sun retreated over the mountains, the city streets became deserted and quiet. Bictor recognized a lone flashing sign as that of the fortune teller Sabazia, renowned for her ability to predict the future…for a price.
They entered her shop and reluctantly paid 2 shins for their fortune. She told them they would enter the Baron Tichronus’ estate and find the missing villagers. Straightforward enough, and they had heard mention he was out of town on business serving the Amber Pope.
To his estate they traveled, a curious route that seemed to take them in a circle, but the Estate always remained on the same side, no matter where they turned. At this junction, they decided it would be best to enter unnoticed, and get out of the cold or surely freeze. Hemingway climbed to a second story balcony and helped the others to follow. Once inside, they found themselves on the second floor of the Baron’s tower study. Some poking around from Hemingway and Jabber revealed a hidden panel. On the panel was a set of characters: circle green em and a blue circle. Bictor flipped through several texts in a matter of minutes, examined the Tichronus family crest, and correctly guessed the order the buttons were to be pressed. Below, a false floor slide aside, revealing a black emptiness below.
Hemingway rappeled into the darkness and dropped a glow globe to illuminate the chamber, revealing hundreds of eggs of different shapes and sizes, and curious horseshoe crab like creatures guarding them. The party then decided to explore the rest of the estate, finding nothing but a dozen or so sleeping servants in the kitchen, and bad poetry from the Baron to the Lady Iselka (which Bictor saved for later). Jabber woke one servant, who quickly dismissed him as an associate and went back to sleep. The explorers decided to revisit the egg chamber and lowered themselves down to the spongy floor. Here, Hemingway and Bictor were beset with what Bictor correctly identified as “Nagainas” in the fray, knowing full-well the peril they were in. Hemingway activated a cypher and began flailing at the parasites. As he made contact, they teleported a short distance away. Jabber and Bictor helped him from a distance, and managed to fend off a few of the creatures, just as three humans with parasites lodged on their spine made a dash toward Hemingway, tendrils wildly trying to grab him from behind.
Then, as suddenly as they had attacked, the creatures retreated into the fibrous material coating the walls. A single figure emerged from the same material in the southern part of the chamber. A statue, carved from marble. A blue, milky white substance leaked from cracks on its face, and a faint glow came from within. They could feel it trying to communicate, but it "sounded"muffled and barely discernible. Jabber’s telepathic cypher broke down the barriers of communication, and he found himself transfixed by this oddly beautiful creature. It warned the group not to further disturb the chamber, and if freedom from their affliction is what they sought, only the Matron Devola could help them. Bictor remembered references made in passing to both of these creatures in the Baron’s narcissistic writings.