Astrid and Orin found themselves within the Arcanamirium’s school grounds just a heartbeat after they stood together in a Tamran tavern. They were accompanied by the cleric and scholar, Anthony Arkwright, and were straight-away met by one of the professors of the school, Magistress Fathom. Ms Fathom stated her intentions to train Orin personally, waiving the bulk of his tuition fees and any delay in training.
Leaving Orin to his own devices, Astrid and Anthony departed the grounds and made their way to the Forae Logos, Absalom’s premiere library and the center of human knowledge in the Inner Sea – if not also the world. Astrid thus began her own journey, and for the next several weeks she devoted herself to the research of the Initiative’s enemies: the Silver Mount, so jealously guarded by the Technic League, and the Dominion of the Black, whose influence time and again asserted itself in her affairs. She attempted also to research the enigmatic Book of Stars, given to her by the druid Gogmurt, yet was surprised to find not a single record of any book of its like within the Forae Logos’ archives. Setting aside this mystery for now, she pondered her next line of research.
While Orin studied, he also visited the House of the Cresting Wave on the neighboring isle of Escadar. There he was reunited with his mother, Majistra. Her joy in reuniting with her son was overcast by the dire news of the gillmen slain in the fall of the House of the Rising Tide. Orin’s own declarations to seek power enough to destroy Chevaghol seemed to give her little comfort.
Realizing the cost of the path he knew he must pursue, Orin turned to his next difficult conversation with his brother, Shalako. The gillman had at least come to Tamran with the final refugees from Lake Encarthan. Contacting him through the mental powers of the Frozen Heart of Orphys, Orin shared his intentions with his brother – and then he shared his difficult decision to step down from leadership of his people, giving it instead to his brother Shalako. Shalako took the news hard, concerned for his brother, but ultimately did not refuse the responsibility. He ended their conversation shortly after, leaving Orin alone. And so Orin resumed his training, heart hard against the aboleth who had terrorized his people for so long.
Thorgur arrived in Fort Ramgate, meanwhile, to something most unexpected: a hero’s welcome. Though accompanied by the heroic gunslingers, Hudson and Amber, nevertheless it was Thorgur Fireborn who received the attention of the dwarves of Fort Ramgate – refugees from High General Ravenguard’s coup which he had barely escaped but four months before.
Leaving Thorgur to his people, the gunslingers sought out Hibok Marbleaxe, Kraggodan gunsmith and old friend. They found Hibok working a new smithy, now named the Adamantine Forge. Hibok welcomed them with open arms, and in no time at all, they were working the forge with the dwarven gunsmith, their hearts set on learning what they could about the technology they themselves wielded.
Thorgur eventually came to meet with the Queen-In-Exile, having won her own moot amongst the free dwarves of Fort Ramgate, Rarrel Greathammer. Thorgur, initially put off by the comfort and freedom exercised by his people in this human city, soon learned the truth. It was, by and large, little more than a ruse to put off Ravenguard’s spies. In fact, the free dwarves were already plotting a return to their home. And so Rarrel revealed her daring plan: to dig a tunnel from beneath Mount Ramgate to the Mindspin Mountains, from which the dwarves could enter Kraggodan and put Ravenguard’s allies to the sword.
Mollified, Thorgur soon began training of his own with the dwarves and rangers of Fort Ramgate, seeking to hone his battlecraft in preparation for the next inevitable fight.
And so the weeks passed, until Thorgur was summoned to Fort Ramgate’s Longhouse to speak with Lady Governor Elizabeth Saewe. Bringing his companion, Hudson, with him, Thorgur made his way to the Longhouse and was surprised to also again meet Forest Marshal Weslen Gavirk. Weslen revealed himself to be the cause of the summons: Crystalhurst, home of the ancient druids of the Fangwood whom the Initiative had aided during the Dead War, thereby securing their participation in the Battle of Fort Ramgate, had been entirely silent for nearly three months. Accustomed to some reticence to socialize with the Nirmathan community, Weslen was nevertheless bothered by this total lack of communication. Unable to commit a squad of rangers to comb the Fangwood for the hidden druid village, Weslen instead brought his concerns to Lady Governor Saewe. Elizabeth herself now asked the Initiative to look into the matter.
The trio agreed and set out on horseback before lunch. Hudson’s keen eye and tracking skills led them through the Fangwood without incident, and they came at last to Crystalhurst in only a handful of days.
The cause for silence was immediately apparent: the village had been burned to the ground months ago, and there stirred no signs of life there now. Yet Hudson also detected fresher prints, less than a week old, leading away from the village. Deciding to follow this trail, the group pressed deeper into the Fangwood.
They came shortly to a disturbing sight: a band of druids, albeit pale-skinned, had gathered near a babbling brook in silent reverie. Yet it was the sight of their victim that gave the group pause: one of the druids appeared to be expelling a foul mist from her mouth, some sort of attempt to infect her victim – a victim Hudson recognized as Kelvennan Duskwalker, his summoner ally of old.
Back in Absalom, Orin had completed his wizard training in a mere five weeks’ time. Anthony offered an eloquent dinner to Orin and Astrid to celebrate. They discussed Astrid’s discoveries over dinner, as well as Anthony’s own research – though he had turned up sadly little new informations in his efforts – and mused their next steps. For the time being, they intended to stay in Absalom – Orin himself had not yet exhausted his options in the city, and intended to visit a church of Aroden in pursuit of his goals.
Orin and Anthony walked Astrid back to her townhome, property owned by House Reykal, a group of Brevoy-loyalists who served Absalom’s Low Council and had many holdings within Absalom’s Petal District. Orin, intending to make the most of his evening, then set off to find a church to Aroden, and Anthony went his own way.
Yet as Astrid prepared to turn in for the night, she was surprised in her room by unknown assailants – at least at first. She could not fail to recognize the steel grip of the gearsmen who held her, however, for she had met their kind before: servants of the Technic League who had accosted her in Kraggodan, seeking after a book and the knowledge she possessed from it.
And so, it seemed, the League had once again caught up with Astrid Rogarvia.