Outline (will expand later)
1—Arrival at the Village of Osmus
—Margal, Shilko, and Yasimod join a caravan for the easiest passage into the Black Riage, and from there, to Shamash. They first journey south to the capital of Thaemor, Thriest, and then proceed directly southeast and onto a winding mountain trail that leads to the very small village of Osmus, passing by the old cliff-side Colm Academy along the way.
—S and Y halt a 200-member group parading in honor of Osmus, leader of the village named after him, to offer goods to trade and ask for safe passage on the Cloudbridge.
—Osmus and his Evaluator offer an augmentor harness, a pair of music-making gloves, and toll-free travel in exchange for a pleasant-feeling cloth, a motion sensor, and a request to represent him in a debate with the odlarks on the meaning of suffering and how to fix it.
—Shilko shows off his music-making gloves to Margal, tapping his fingers together and caressing her face when M asks what they’re up to. She procures supplies for the next leg of their journey by foot, as the caravan will go no further south or east.
2—Debate among the Odlarks
—A climb into a ruined city carved into the mountainside rock goes successfully.
—Odlarks lead S and Y to an indoor amphitheater where they meet Chirrup, their challenger.
—Chirrup takes the view that suffering comes from longing to fill a void, so anything must be done to fill it. If you knew that your mind was incomplete, he argues, or was broken by a traumatic event, would you not do anything within your power to make it whole?
—Shilko responds with a long argument about the meaning of suffering with various sources quoted, and then says that without suffering, how can one feel joy? Life is dynamic and unpredictable, or it is not life.
—Yasimod adds from his personal experience that one must take the good with the evil. He was treated differently because of his deformities and cybernetics to help fix them, so he lives to fight evil without losing the good.
—Chirrup is impressed and gives S and Y a tour of the grup factory in honor of their victory. Shilko gives the transdimensional gate to Chirrup, who gives it to the whole odlark tribe in turn.
3—Zarg Fight and Conclusion
—After the climb back down, S and Y see the village of Osmus under attack by four zarg warriors and their shaman leader.
—Margal helps kill three of them, Yasimod kills two and throws a corrosive shrapnel lutin device to slowly kill the rest. However, the townspeople see what Y looks like underneath his cloak when Tablebeasti fumbles an attack roll, so Elder Crasni tries to rally the villagers against him and Shilko. Only Osmus’ timely arrival defuses the situation, but he tells Margal, S, and Y to leave ASAP and turns down Shilko’s request to legally free Y.
—Shilko privately tells Y that he considers his “jimbo” a free man now. Regardless, Y stays in the party willingly, and they continue toward the Cloudbridge toll house.