The Lyrandar crew was nervous, yet still professional in their duties. Nothing, however, could mask the eagerness with which they awaited the departure of the three travelers into the Mist.
Once away in the rowboat the three carefully made their way toward the western shore, unsure of exactly how far into the Mist they would have to go before finding it. The Mist itself was damp, cool, and played tricks with sights and sounds – obscuring vision beyond a few feet, and swallowing nearby voices as if they were heard from afar. The Mist ended about a foot above the water, and water drained from wet hands as if forced from the skin by contact with the Mist.
After some time – difficult to tell just how long – they reached land and found that they’d been traveling northwest, instead of directly west. Seeing the value of being able to find their boat again, the three walked south along the pebbled shoreline until they reached the ruined footings of the lightning rail bridge, where they left the boat, tied themselves to each other with a length of silk rope, and began their walk westward, along the abandoned line of conductor stones.
Walking through the Mist was worse than sailing through it, and after another vague stretch of time the three stepped out, and into the Mournland proper. Before them should have been a miles-deep expanse of parks, rolling fields, and other lush nature preserves, long ago set aside for public use by the Cyran government. Instead, they saw an expanse of drab gray-green powder, punctuated regularly by alabaster-white husks of old trees, now leafless and dead. The footings of buildings were found here and there, but otherwise the Eastern Cyre Plateau was empty of life or most evidence of it.
Most evidence – which included neither the trees or the scouting party of warforged that shadowed the three for about 1/2 mile before being spotted, and deciding to attack. 4 warforged warriors, some with patchwork repairs, and two small scouts, armed with bows, attacked the party in a reasonably well-coordinated ambush. Underestimating the three travelers, however, they were quickly dispatched, while only causing moderate harm. Footprints suggested that they had come from the southwest.
Fast-forward to the edges of Metrol itself, across a dry arroyo from the stark plateau: the city was a shattered mess, with huge palaces partially toppled, city blocks twisted at angles from where they once stood, and the lightning rail line taking a different route through the city, cutting directly through many buildings on the way to the station. The city appeared to have been cut into pieces, partially rearranged, then repeatedly stomped on by titans at random, leaving some structures in ruins, while others were pristine.
Although traversing the ruins took some concentrated effort in places – scurrying over piles of rubble, avoiding unstable overhangs from half-destroyed buildings and the like – the team made steady progress through Metrol, following the altered course of the lightning rail. Bodies were seen now and again, frozen in time at the moment of their death, the moment Crye died. Eventually the great central station was in sight, beyond yet one more heap of debris – this is where voices were heard.
“I told you it was worth it! C’mon! Wasn’t I right? (munch, crunch, chew)…”would it take so much to admit it?," said the ghast as it and its two ghoul companions tore into the 4 years-dead flesh of an emissary of Thrane.
Since undead are just all wrong – unright? – the team quickly engaged, then dispatched the unholy creatures, with only minor injury – Finn having been bitten, but not seriously.
Then onto the mapping of the Orien station, in the wrong neighborhood and turned from its original facing. The station itself was largely intact, albeit with much debris spread around its outside, and the bodies of would-be passengers and House members & employees strewn about, as well. Conductor stones, uprooted from the ground, levitated around the building at odd angles, seemingly trapped in a moment, unmoving.
Unmoving, but not entirely benign, as the team discovered as they passed through the stones and received an electric shock.
The interior of the station appeared much as the outside: in disarray, but largely intact. The central control room was easily found and penetrated, and the logbook recovered, along with many hundreds of gold pieces and letters of credit, found on the many bodies of travelers whose journeys were cut short 4 years before.
The Orien yard, beyond the station and to the southwest, consisted of a warehouse, switching yard and maintenance facilities for the rail cars. As the team stood on the deck of the station and surveyed the rest of the compound, they talked of searching for lost cargo, forgotten parcels, and other things of potential value. The discussion – which Arko! was working to shut down with his commanding presence and razor-sharp reasoning – was interrupted by sounds…scraping…creaking…rumbling & tearing…from all sides. Within seconds the sources of the growing din were clear: the streets, buildings, and part of the yard itself…structures to the immediate south and west…were warping, twisting, and in some cases lifting up as is either pushed from below or peeled upward by some massive, unseen hand. The land and structures to the south and west, within seconds looked like corners of a great tablecloth, being peeled upward more or less in unison…and within seconds the entire station began to shift, turning counter clockwise as if on a great vertical axis.
Although almost dumbstruck by the bizarre event unfolding before them, the team noticed more movement to the west: a party of warforged, scrambling to hold on to parts of the warehouse, some lucky, some not. The 10 or more ’forged appeared to have been hiding in the warehouse when it began to move, and were now struggling to find places where they would not be entirely at the mercy of the moving buildings and streets. One ’forged, wedged between a retaining wall and a cargo crane, looked straight at the team, and fired a single shot with a hand crossbow.
Throughout the great shifts in the cityscape, alongside the scraping and rumbling, could be heard a deep moaning, emanating from around and within the city and the nearby buildings, slowly growing in volume as more shifts took place.