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Eberron 1098 YK
Part 1: The Last War to the End War
- The Daanvian Manifest Revolution: Daanvi is Coterminous for 100 in 400 years, and this next century is a coterminous Daanvian period. While it had previously been assumed there was no known effect of either coterminous or remote periods for Daanvi, modern artificers have come to realize this was actually not the case. In fact, when Daanvi is coterminous, the connection between all manifest zones and Eberron are stabilized and strengthened, and some rarer manifest zones make a reappearance. When remote, they are weakened across the board. Some of the horrors of the Lycanthropic Purge during the last Daanvian Remote period may in fact be a result of economic hardship brought on by weakened manifest zones. As a result of this, the next century becomes what at first seems like a new golden age. Fernian forge-fires burn hotter, flight magic in Sharn makes the building up of the city cheaper than ever, and the soarwood forests of Aerenal actually grow fast enough to counter the overaggressive farming for airship construction. Dragonshards grow faster, and the drop in price actually leads to new technological developments, rather than a market crash as the Dragonmark Houses had feared. However, people began to realize that too much of a good thing can be very, very bad.
- The Eternal Summer / The Jagged Winter: Mid century, when Fernia became coterminous as a part of it's normal cycle, everything seemed normal. It was hot, and the fires of industry burned brighter than ever. But the scheduled end to the coterminous period never came. For almost 2 and a half years, Eberron was locked in a coterminous Eternal Summer. The winter period had no snow, even in the northern mountains, and drought and famine soon followed as waterways dried and crops withered. Most crop production was taken off plane, and areas of Everice that began to melt were colonized as new farmland, and some consider the new melted glacial territory of Everice to be the next Xen'drik. It was only when Risia became coterminous that the Eternal Summer finally broke. Panic was ripe, and the Children of Winter claimed this winter would be as long as the last summer, and the cleansing of the land was finally at hand. But luckily, after the normal, albeit intense Risian winter, both Risia and Fernia began to behave normally again. Talk of overharvesting Manifest Zones breaking the natural cycle began in earnest, and regional instability began to run wild as fear took hold, replacing the calm of the last few decades of post war recovery.
- Droaam's Fury: After years and years of pushing and bribing and gifts and implied threats, Droaam had finally managed to wrangle together representatives from each of the nations for the talks that were believed would finally lead to Droaam becoming recognized as its own nation. Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same way, and a suicide bomber, believed to be a Thranish Purified from the telltale energy signatures found after the explosion, detonated an arcane explosive in the middle of talks. The retaliatory bloodbath has been felt to this day. At least one of the Daughters of Sora Kell, most likely Sora Teraza, was said to be badly injured in the attack, and was being held in petrified stasis so the Coven wouldn't be broken with her death. In retaliation, Droaam stopped all measure of peace talks, and began to organize it's armies, taking land as it expanded it's terrain deep into Western Breland, all the way to the Dagger River in places. There is genuine fear as to what will happen if those armies ever make it all the way to Sharn. This will help to push the growth of Arcanix over the next century. Of course, given Sora Teraza's incredible foresight, some wonder if maybe, somehow, this was all a part of the Daughter's plan all along.
- The Reborn Empire (Marhuat na'Kurar, literally 'The Empire, no longer dead'): The clans of the Dar had been working in secret for many years, until one of the clans got its hands on four of the six legendary artifacts of the Six Kings. This was enough when coupled with a strong and charismatic leader and propaganda laced through the dream of the empire (Uul Dhakaan) to rally the Dar under a single banner, and nearly half of Darguun was taken over before anyone even knew what was happening. (I have deliberately not specified which of the clans took power or which four of the six legendary artifacts they have taken possession of as is fitting of an open story set in Eberron, but there are some obvious candidates for both in Exploring Eberron. Personally I think either Kech Ruuska, Kech Volaar, or Kech Ghaalrak, and it seems like the crown, the sword, and possibly the breastplate are found, while the rod and horn are still missing. I couldn't find what the sixth one was.) The borders have thus far been extremely tightly guarded, and it is unknown what the Dar are now up to, though occasional raids have sprung up from Khyber across Khorvaire, suggesting a knowledge of Khyber planes akin to that of the ancient dwarves. All that is known for sure is that they will do anything to find the remaining two relics, and then... maybe nothing can stop them.
- The Warforged Extinction: The Lord of Blades, a charismatic and powerful leader who rallied his people to his banner in the name of reproductive rights, led his assault on the surrounding nations, but after a series of bloody raids meant to intimidate the breathers instead rallied the other nations to fight against a common foe. A great force, the only truly unified force since the days of Galifar, swept through and even into the Mournland. Thousands died, more to the horrors of that land than to the Warforged themselves, but when it was over, reports came back that the Lord of Blades was slain. Anti-Warforged sentiment had never been higher than during this time, and many of the remaining warforged were slain by angry mobs, and some were even said to be government sanctioned purges to keep citizens on the side of their governments. By the time the bloodbath was over, the number of living warforged remaining in the world has become tragically small. By the end of the century, most people assume they are in fact an extinct species, a relic of the last war left in the dust of history. With how things went, those that remain don't do much to correct that erroneous belief. Some say the Lord of Blades never actually died, and those few still loyal to his cause show that their prayers to him still grant power as proof. They say he is waiting, a Genesis Forge in his possession as he works in exile. And that he will return with a grand warforged army when the time is right.
- A Game of Dragonmark Houses: Post war Eberron has never been weaker and more divided, while the power and wealth of the Dragonmark Houses continues to expand, and more and more of the Korth Edicts were disregarded. With national power fractured and debts mounting, the Houses began to amass more and more power and influence, sometimes even in exchange for debt forgiveness. By 1067, Arcanix has been expanded into a Dragonmark House run Corpocracy, with voting power split evenly among the Dragonmark Houses. While still officially part of Aundair, enough wealth trickles into the rest of Aundair from this regional base of corporate power that they do nothing to stop them. (Not that they have the power to do so anyways.) By the end of the century, Arcanix is the second largest city in Khorvaire after Sharn, and arguably the most wealthy.
- The Siberys Race: Airship technology has greatly expanded over this century, as regional instability makes the attractive nature of vessels not dependent on the infrastructure of bridges and the Lightning Rail come in higher and higher demand. Airship production expands drastically. As the technology improves, so to do designs of airships, and they are less commonly build like heavy sailing ships, as it becomes apparent that a ship need not be watertight if it floats in the air. Airships are more plentiful, and much cheaper than they were in 998 YK. New and creative designs emerge, and even the occasional airship powered by non-elemental creatures emerge. One of the most famous examples of this is the Flagship of Jaela Daran, Keeper of the Flame, whose massive ringed airship, The Couatl's Grace, has a pair of crisscrossing rings burning with silver flame rippling wisps of rainbow light as it soars through the sky. Some say it holds the actual soul of a Couatl inside its Khyber Shard. Whether true or not, the Thranish Government does nothing to dissuade these rumors, and may in fact be spreading them itself. They even say the light of The Couatl's Grace burns away the fog of the Mournland for a mile around. If so, Thrane may be able to safely traverse the Mournland with an army, which makes several other nations very nervous. This airship boon has also led airship tech to reach higher and higher into the sky, and it is anyone's guess which will be the first nation to reach the Ring of Siberys, or even to land on one of Eberron's many moons. (See part 3 for who I think achieves this, how, and where. I never specified the first nation in the race, just the first permanent lunar colony.)
- The End War Cometh: After most of a century of hardship and a crumbling power structure due to expanding Dragonmark House power, the national governments have begun in earnest to train armies and accrue weapons. While they call these a deterrent, referencing the weaponry the other nations are accruing as their reasoning, or the hot zones of Droaam, The Reborn Empire, or the constant Valenar raiding parties (some of whom have begun to favor airship raids further outside Valenar territory), in actuality there is an unspoken understanding among the nations. The only way that Galifar can be restored and grind these emerging powers under heel is by one decisive victory. An End War, to resolve these old conflicts once and for all, no matter the cost. Even if the price is another Mournland. Naturally, the Dragonmark Houses are more than happy to capitalize on fear caused by this, and Ghallanda Vaults are beginning to spring up around the nations, selling supposedly Mournland-proof bunkers, should the worst happen.
The time of the End War, as history would come to call it, are steeped in rumor and myth. Several key events are known, as the aftermath is felt to this day. More will surely be discovered as ruined wastelands are reclaimed by the people of Khorvaire.
- Prelude to War: The last few years before the war, people knew exactly what was coming. There was an energy to the nations. Recruitment efforts were up, as young humans and khoravar who only had stories from their grandparents about the horrors of war to ward them off, or tales from the longer lived races, still warning caution, grew eager for supposed national glory, and a chance to right old wrongs from the Last War. Even the term "Last War", changed in people's minds from meaning 'the war to end all wars', to 'the war before the next one'. Soldiers were trained, weapons were being openly built, and selling Golden Dragon Vault tickets became House Ghallanda's single most profitable enterprise, despite no real assurance that the Vaults could actually shield against a Mournland type event.
- The Death of the Korth Edicts: With war imminent, and the nations demanding more and more weaponry and technology from the Dragonmark Houses, despite still being unable to pay them back everything owed from the Last War, the Dragonmark Houses made all nations a sweeping offer. All outstanding debts from the Last War would be forgiven, in exchange for a complete and permanent end to the Korth Edicts. The nations knew the Edicts were pretty much only there on paper by this point anyways, so this was eventually agreed to by each of the nations, save for the Mror Holds, who did not want to give Clan Kundarak that kind of power over the other clans. As a result, the dwarves of the Mror Holds stayed almost entirely out of the End War, and focused their attentions on the fight with the Daelkyr coming up from below. After the war, the Dwarves become more isolationist, though this has not been for a lack of effort, especially from House Kundarak, to sweet talk the other clans. There has been little give, as clan feuds hold more importance over their lives than multinational corporations offering wealth.
- Magebred Supersoldiers: With public sentiment against Warforged still strong, House Cannith was finding efforts to push for the creation and sale of new Warforged were not gripping the nations enough to make sales happen, despite the Treaty of Thronehold meaning less and less every day as war became imminent. They were able to create a new Genesis Forge and create warforged creatures, but not in numbers enough to be more than a curiosity of the war. However, another power from the Last War had been filling the power vacuum left in the Mournland, that of Empress Donata and her Magebred Superhumans, a secret project of House Vedalis finally coming to light. Empress Donata made a deal quietly with House Vedalis. If they continued to make and provide her with custom supersoldiers for her own nation and its needs, she would make her warriors available as a Vedalis Supersoldier Mercenary Company. Her new nation got the growth that the Lord of Blades and his Warforged had never been able to get, and Vedalis got a new wartime market. The quickly grown soldiers soon proved formidable and dangerous under the mysterious magics Empress Donata put them through, but unquestioningly loyal. This should have been a red flag to future trouble, but Vedalis only saw the gold, and the program went into full production. By the time the war ended, the Vedalis Supersoldiers were as feared as the most battle-hardened Warforged Juggernauts had ever been, especially augmented as they were with Mournland magic from their Empress.
- The Mourning Fury Plague: It is widely believed that the plague that ended the war was not an accident, like the original Mournland may have been. It came from nowhere, didn't resemble anything naturally occurring, and was utterly devastating. A series of explosions ripped through several nations over the span of no more than a couple days. This spread a noxious gas which resembled the creeping gray mist of the Mournland. When this gas was exposed to most things, it did nothing. But it was when it was exposed to any sentient humanoids that the gas reacted. Any sentient being withered to dust in moments when exposed to the gas, and only their souls/spirits/ghosts remained, instantly driven insane with a bloodthirsty rage as they moved through walls, floors and defensive structures on a suicidal rampage. What's worse, they could tear the souls out of those they attacked, and the number of Mourning Furies increases.If not for House Jorasco and House Kundarak's quick (some say suspiciously fast) discovery of a shield ward able to repel these Furies, or the efforts of those with a knowledge of repelling spirits, its possible the Plague might have eventually lead to the extinction of life in Khorvaire. Instead, there were only large areas of the continent that were lost throughout the nations. Sending stones in each sealed Golden Dragon Vault were alerted with how to ward themselves, but soon contact was lost with many of them, and it is unknown how many were able to protect themselves in time.
- The Accords of Acquiescence: While it was never formally declared invalid, the treaty to conclude the End War, 'The Accords of Acquiescence', did incorporate many of The Treaty of Thronehold's more reasonable provisions. And unlike the Treaty of Thronehold, the Accords did list Droaam as a recognized nation, along with adding The Reborn Empire and removing recognition of The Mror Holds sovereignty, a pressure play to attempt to bring the Dwarves in line with the other nations under the authority of the Dragonmark Houses. While the Dragonmark Houses never formally took anyone over, or made demands for their own sovereign nation, there was a curious lack of a single provision in the entire document that did not in some way benefit one or more of the houses. It was basically understood that they now held the real power in Khorvaire, and they would not be limited by national borders like the nations were. In a strange reversal of fortunes, each nation was more like an isolated province in a Dragonmarked House owned and run Khorvaire. The Houses were what held the glue of this new treaty together. And for the first time ever, a provision was added that people of any nation could apply for corporate membership, which granted them the same rights and protections as members of their house, but under the authority of that house above all. With such large swaths of Khorvaire ravaged by The Mourning Fury Plague, this became the easiest way to cross national borders in search of opportunity or a place to live. The time of the nations ended, and the time of the houses officially began.
(I realize that some of the stuff in this part sounds more sci fi than fantasy, but do keep in mind that 66 years took place between the first manned flight and man landing on the moon. And we are going as far as 109 years after the invention of the Elemental Airships.)
The time after the End War can best be defined as the great rise of the Dragonmarked Houses. The remaining nations of the old world are broken, damaged and bankrupt. Great swaths of land are blighted by The Mourning Fury Plague. Droaam, The Reborn Empire, Valenar... even the Inspired smell blood in the water. There are rumors the Dragons of Argonnessen are stirring, and the Dwarves are fully embroiled in resurgent fight with the Daelkyr. And the Dragonmarked Houses are no longer even in name bound by the Korth Edicts or the Treaty of Thronehold. The state of current events can best be summarized by talking about each of the houses individually.
House Cannith: After the Day of Mourning, House Cannith was fractured into three factions. Rather than reconciling however, each of the three parts of the house specialized their efforts, much like the split between House Phiarlan and House Thuranni both possessing the Mark of Shadow. These are Cannith Energy, Cannith Life, and Cannith Futures.
Cannith Energy (Can-E): Can-E has focused their efforts to research in new arcane methods and powers. They believe that use of Elementals as a power source is both dangerous and cruel. The terrorist group ELF - Elemental Liberation Front's recent efforts to liberate all bound elementals have given them more focus to this front, sensing a change in popular opinion about use of sentient elementals as workhorses. Their main focus at the moment is in trying to achieve Arcane Fusion, a theoretical energy matrix created from the energies of Khyber, Eberron, and Siberys shards all interplaying which can supposedly create exponentially more energy than simply harvesting the magical energy within each of the three types of dragonshards individually.
Cannith Life (Can-L): Can-L spawned from the old core of House Cannith, and were the part of the house that tried to sell new warforged at the start of the End War. They have gone through a massive revamp, and are now marketing their new product, a much more advanced version of warforged-like sentient living construct they have coined Lifeforged. These Lifeforged look almost perfectly humanoid, save for the ghulra on the forehead, which can only be seen with an arcane glyph held to the forehead by someone with the Mark of Making, causing the otherwise invisible Ghulra to glow. Lifeforged have brought new complications to modern life, with arguments about humanoid rights for bought humanoids that are all but indistinguishable from the 'real' thing. While people found it easy to call large stone and wood Warforged inhuman, having one that you can't even tell was built has changed the very meaning of what it means to be real. Though this hasn't stopped the mass use of Lifeforged in the more dangerous tasks of Mourning Fury land reclamation or lunar colony construction.
Cannith Futures (Can-F): Can-F was mostly known for it's developments in the years after the Last War, when it developed the technology of the Genesis Forge into a series of miniaturized Creation Forges in an assembly line, greatly accelerating the industrial revolution, allowing for the complex and quick production of technologies otherwise requiring Artificers and trained Magewrites to produce. They have come to the forefront again, however, in a group project with House Lyrandar. Several years ago in the ruins of Xen'drik there was found a strange device (the Helm of an ancient spaceship, powered by arcane energy, crash landed countless thousands of years ago). Reverse engineering this discovery, the space race flew past the simple landings among the Siberys Rings that the old nations had achieved, and the first extraplanar colony was established on Eyre, the moon associated with House Cannith. Can-F has been in the forefront of research developed from this feat. Though some question the wisdom of establishing a colony on a moon tied to the plane of Xoriat, Can-F says it promotes invention and discovery, but some fear what will happen if something accidently breaks open a portal to the plane of madness in persuit of 'discovery'.
House Deneith and House Tharashk (now House Denashk): The events of the End War were traumatic and messy. House Deneith and House Tharashk were both intensely involved in the fighting, especially in the End War's early days before the House Vedalis Supersoldiers came to prominence. House Tharashk found it's old contacts and alliances with Droaam had put it in opposition with Breland more often than not, and its monster mercenaries were becoming less vogue as the atrocities in Western Breland made the news. House Deneith was as involved in the End War as they had been in the Last War, selling their services as guards and soldiers. However, the Vedalis Supersoldiers dug hard into their profit margins, even with the war as bloody as it got. Making an alliance with The Reborn Empire, acting as their muscle outside their iron curtain in former Darguun territory, they too found themselves attacking Breland (and Zilargo) more often than not. The Trust of Zilargo hit Deneith hard with a series of revealed scandals and covered up wartime atrocities their House committed. The two houses, both bloodied and increasingly unpopular, made the unusual decision to merge into the first Merged Dragonmark House. While still against House rules to intermarry between dragonmarks, (though developments with House Tarkanan may soon change this), the company merger has made House Denashk a corporate powerhouse, and still the primary paramilitary corporation of the modern world. Beyond this, the House Deneith side is getting into transportation as they gain access to hidden routes through Khyber across Khorvaire from their Reborn Empire allies, and the House Tharashk side still holds one of the strongest holds in the energy market, as they are the great locators of Dragonshard Fields.
House Sivis: The future development of House Sivis was hardly a surprise to anyone. The nature of their arcane communication continued to develop and expand over the years. By the end of the century, Sivnet, an arcane interconnected mental database, an internet displayed through either cranial implant of arcane dragonshard constructs called Sivs, or the less invasive Holodisplays, built from House Phiarlan Shadow Projector technology to display data in illusionary two dimensional and three dimensional space, was built and widespread. Some of the later Golden Dragon Vaults were built with early Sivnets, and those sealed within were able to keep in touch with the outside world. Though a concerning number of them fell silent when the bombs fell. No one knows the fate of those Vault residents. Or if House Sivis knows, they aren't saying.
House Phiarlan and House Thuranni: On the entertainment front, House Phiarlan has been at the forefront of Holomovies, with all forms of the entertainment industry being either directly or indirectly tied to the Mark of Shadow. Illusionary magic tied to the mark has coupled nicely with the arts and theatrical training common to the Houses, and entertainment is a massive industry, with Holo screen celebs making the fame of the Thunder Guides of the prior century seem quaint. On the espionage front, there is little known about the future developments. But then, there wouldn't be, would there? What is known is that it is not a coincidence that the Hollywood of Khorvaire is in Zilargo, in the shadow of The Zilargo Trust.
House Lyrandar: This house had very good years as the Elemental Airship market rapidly expanded over the years, taking more and more of the market share from House Orien as more of the Lightning Rail lines were damaged or blocked off by events of the End War, even as routes reopen as train cars are shielded with Fury repelling wards. Business has been good between their sea and air routes, plus the occasional space route to the Eyre lunar colony. However, the years of prosperity may be coming to an end, as a series of nasty deliberate airship crashes into government and dragonmark house structures (including Thronehold Castle) via protests by the ELF have begun to erode the popularity of the airship market somewhat.
House Orien: One of the few things that have kept House Orien profitable is the fact that House Lyrandar cannot ship in either the bulk or scale of House Orien, so they still remain the shipping kings. They have expanded this into a Sivnet industry where people can order things online and expect them to be shipped to their doorstep in a matter of days. They don't talk about it much yet, as the technology is still emerging, but House Orien has made several recent breakthroughs in teleportation technology, and while it is still expensive, it no longer requires a Greater Dragonmark to use, making this potential new market look very promising, and soon House Lyrandar may find themselves losing their years of leading the travel market. Of course, House Denashk's newly discovered Khyber travel routes may dig into the profit margins of both these Houses soon enough.
House Medani: While most of the Dragonmark Houses have grown and changed over the years, House Medani seems content to, like it always has, just remained in the background, not drawing attention to themselves, the house forever forgotten when people try to list them all. And that's just the way they like it. House Medani to this day sells their services as counterespionage experts, even countering House Phiarlan, House Thuranni, House Sivis, and House Kundarak efforts in this front. As a result, House Medani has perhaps unintentionally earned a place as the guardians of Sivnet privacy, and have taken to Sivnet security with a level of skill normally attributed to House Kundarak physical security. Beyond this, their investigative branch is as active as ever.
House Kundarak: House Kundarak have grown too powerful.' This sentence is probably most commonly attributed to the house of late, a famous line from a recent Holomovie. They own the world's banks. They own the world's secret treasures. If rumors are true that they bought the Zilargo Trust, then they also own the world's secrets. I'm not saying sinister Rakshasa or powerful dragons are pulling the strings behind the dwarves... but that's only because House Kundarak probably owns them too. The only bright side is, if you own all the money and know everyone's secrets, you can't be corrupt, and are as much a threat to your enemies as your allies... that's good, right? Right?
House Vedalis: House Vedalis became famous during the End War for the production of their supersoldiers, and they have capitalized on this fame since then by developing and expanding the market of custom babies. They have developed their magics to allow from everything from gender to IQ to physical prowess to be tweaked before the baby even leaves their mother's womb, and Paragon Humans are becoming more common with every year. (Apart from the obvious physical and mental superiority of expensive Paragons, the only way to actually be sure a person is paragon is via an invisible House Vedalis Glyph on the inside crook of the left elbow, only visible when someone with the Mark of Handling holds a unique detector rod to that location. This glyph contains a datastream of all modifications made to that person at any point in their life.) Between these and the Lifeforged of Can-L, there is a growing rift between 'normals' and 'the forged'. They also still offer the services of their supersoldiers, though Empress Donata is preparing to make her own play on the global stage, though her plans were slowed down while the Mourning Fury Plague tore through Khorvaire as the End War ended. Apparently the Mourning Furies grow even more dangerous when exposed to the Mournland, which is somewhat hard to imagine.
House Ghallanda: When the Mourning Fury Plague tore through Central Khorvaire, it was the Golden Dragon Vaults of House Ghallanda, built for a hypothetical second Day of Mourning, that saved more lives than everything else combined. While it may have been House Jorasco and House Kundarak that developed the wards which repelled the Furies, it was House Ghallanda who housed, fed, and watered the millions of refugees hiding out in Vaults throughout the nations. Though efforts have liberated more and more of Khorvaire from the Mourning Fury over the last few years, there are still a considerable number of Golden Dragon Vaults sealed as the plague ravages above them. Who knows what House Ghallanda might get up to in these Vaults? (yes, that is a Fallout reference.) Regardless, House Ghallanda is the house most beloved by the people, and profits have never been higher for them since their efforts at the end of the war.
House Jorasco: House Jorasco has always been the center of healing for the modern world. Body Augmentation and graftings have become more popular as of late, as have both permanent and temporary body changes, everything from extra limbs to arcane tattoos. However, their greatest contributions to the modern world have been their campaign to shield against and wipe out the Mourning Fury Plague. They provide the divine energy shields needed to power the barriers on a scale that religious organizations could never achieve, which are sustained by House Kundarak warding technologies, and powered by mundane dragonshard dust. They are at the forefront of the massive efforts to repel the Furies, and while they insist they target areas to clear objectively and strategically, there can be little doubt that money talks, and those willing to pay get their areas cleared of the Furies sooner.
House Tarkanan: Even 20 years ago, the idea of including House Tarkanan on this list would have been laughable. This would be if not for the invention of the Khyber Syphon, a device that draws the more hostile and volatile energies of Aberrant Dragonmarks into them, leaving wielders of these marks more akin to a dragonmark house where each member possesses a random and unusual power. As a result, this former criminal organization has rebranded itself as a center of arcane development, due to the unusual things they can now do with their magics. In fact, it was a bearer of the Aberrant Mark of Contagion working with House Jorasco and House Kundarak that allowed them to isolate the powers behind the Mourning Fury Plague so quickly. Jorasco and Kundarak got the credit, and in exchange the two Houses proceeded to develop the Khyber Syphons and pushed for House Tarkanan legitimacy. Rumors still follow the new house of criminal efforts and hidden mad aberrants kept locked away, and probably will for many years to go. The fact that the Khyber Syphons require aberrants to be registered and that they must wear their Syphons at all times and be occasionally interrogated by the equivalent of a probation officer have left some among the house increasingly dissatisfied, even with their newly found legitimacy.
House Vol: The Mark of Death was not extinct. This was a shock that rippled through the dragonmarked houses when the mark was rediscovered very recently. Before the dragonmarked houses could say or do anything, the Blood of Vol took the families with the mark as Religious Icons, and as a result these people exist in a strange limbo where they have gone from hidden in fear to desired by both a major religion and the dragonmarked houses as a whole. And there is talk that the Blood of Vol plans to establish a new lunar colony on the lost moon of Cyra as some sort of holy quest, which can only be found when led by their Mark of Death bearing holy leaders. Of course... the Dragons of Argonnessen have been getting extremely restless of late. That can't be related to any of this... can it?
OTHER NEW FACTIONS
The Coming Storm: An offshoot mix of the Children of Winter and Ashbound who became dissatisfied with the organizations after the failed claims of apocalypse promised by the Eternal Summer and the Jagged Winter, focused through Gatekeeper Druid training. This druidic faction claims to follow the will of The Devourer, and that they will restore the planar balance that has been offset by years and years of overharvesting of Manifest Zone energies before permanent damage to Eberron is done through the scale of the imbalance.
The Unsheathed, or The Unsheathed Scabbard: With the fall (and supposed death) of the Lord of Blades, his most loyal followers, each named after a blade or other weapon of war, went into hiding. Though they have not seen or heard from the Lord of Blades since the attack, their prayers are still answered, and some of the more devout claim to hear the voice of the Lord of Blades still speaking to them, and letting his will be known. They have not made themselves known yet, but are believed to be preparing for the day they can 'unsheathe' themselves in violence, and lead the coming battle and bloody violence as the Lord of Blades returns from his exile (or is reborn, depending who you ask) with an army of newly created warforged.
Thanksgiving Special: Carvin’ Marvin’s Marvelous Meat Emporium
One story that has always stuck with me was the one about a man from her hometown, who she claimed made the best Thanksgiving turkeys you’d ever taste.
When my grandma was a little girl, there was a man who ran a small meat shop in her tiny town. I’m not going to tell you the name of the town, because they don’t want to be overrun by tourists, and they don’t want to have to share their turkey.
My cousins and I have dubbed this story “The Legend of Carvin’ Marvin”. The town’s local meat shop was called “Carvin’ Marvin’s Marvelous Meat Emporium”, and, as you’ve probably guessed, the proprietor’s name was Marvin.
The whole town knew Marvin, which wasn’t exactly a hard task to accomplish, given the tiny population.
Everybody loved Marvin’s meats, but they all agreed that the Thanksgiving Special was the crown jewel of his business. Everyone in town would wait impatiently for Thanksgiving every year, just to get another taste of Marvin’s delicious turkeys.
According to grandma, one week before Thanksgiving every year, the whole town would wake up to a red envelope taped to their front door. Inside of that envelope? They would find an order form for Carvin’ Marvin’s Thanksgiving special.
The order form was very simple. It already had the family name and home address at the top. There was just one thing to fill out. A single question – “Would you like the Carvin’ Marvin’s Thanksgiving Special?” It was so simple that you didn’t even have to write out your answer. There were two check boxes. One for yes, one for no. After checking a box, you put the form back in the red envelope, and left it on your door to be picked up that night. If you checked the ‘yes’ box, you would simply include payment in the envelope. The envelopes would all disappear from the town’s front doors that night.
One week later, on Thanksgiving day, a fully prepared Marvin’s turkey would show up on your doorstep, with instructions on how to keep it warm until serving time.
I told my grandma that I wished I could try one myself. She agreed, but added that Carvin’ Marvin was already an older man when she was a little girl, so it was unlikely that he would still be alive today.
This set off my curiosity.
When I went home that night, I decided to see if there was anything online about Carvin’ Marvin and his marvelous meat shop. I knew that I wasn’t likely to find info on a small business that closed before the internet even went online, but, it was worth a try. If nothing else, sometimes people post on message boards about stuff like that to see if anybody else remembers it.
I searched the name of the business, which brought up nothing.
Next, I tried searching his name. That brought up a few things, but not what I was looking for. Mostly just websites that mention the name Marvin, but not the full name.
Finally, I tried typing in the name of the town along with his name.
There was a subreddit for their town. And, in that subreddit was a thread with his name, which was near the top of my search results.
My hope turned back into despair as I clicked through only to find that the post had been removed.
So, I searched the sub for his name.
I knew that if anybody was going to have any information to share, it was going to be someone from this town. And this town’s subreddit is the only place I knew of where I could find anybody from this town online. So, I decided to make my own post.
My post title read: Carvin’ Marvin’s meat shop, anybody?
And my post’s body read: Hey, everybody. I’m looking for any information that anyone might have on a meat shop called Carvin’ Marvin’s, or the guy who ran it. Anybody know anything about this?
I posted, then went to bed.
The next morning, I went to check on my post and see if anybody had replied. And… nothing.
But, I noticed I had a direct message. I clicked, opening the chat box. There was a message request from someone named u/davids1953. I accepted the request.
The message read: “What do you know about Marvin?”
Curious. He’s asking me what *I* know about Carvin’ Marvin?
“Not much. My grandmother told me about how great his Thanksgiving turkeys were when she was a little girl. I was hoping to find out more about him or his turkeys.”
I checked back a few times throughout the day to see if he replied. Nothing.
Around midnight, I finally received a response.
“Delete your post and I’ll tell you more.”
Delete my post? Ok… Why did I need to delete my post for him to give me information?
“Why?” I replied.
The next day, I went on and checked my post again. The post was gone. I didn’t remove it. It was just gone.
There was another message notification. It was davids1953 again.
There was no message. Just a link to a website – carvinmarvins.com.
I stared at it for a minute, thinking, is he serious? There’s a website for a small-town meat shop that no longer even exists? My curiosity got the best of me. I clicked.
All that was there was a black screen with some text, saying “See you next year.”
I went back to the reddit message and asked, “What’s that? There’s nothing there.”
He replied, “Click the text.”
So, I went back to the site. The text didn’t look like a link. I clicked it anyway, and a window popped open asking me for my email address, promising to contact me when the site is open again.
This looked like it could be shady, so I used an alias throwaway email address that gets forwarded to my real email. After clicking submit, the window closed, leaving the message “Thank you” on the screen.
I went back to reply again to davids1953. But, I couldn’t. It was like the message was locked. I clicked to his user profile, and… It said the user doesn’t exist.
Cut forward to the following November. Literally one week before Thanksgiving, I received an email from the name “Carvin’ Marvin”. At first, I was shocked, but then I remembered that I had given my throwaway email to that website. I clicked to open it.
It said, “Hello Steven, Orders may be placed from 12am tonight through 1am tonight,” along with a link below it to carvinmarvins.com.
I looked at the email for a few seconds. Then, I looked at the time. It was 11:55 pm.
I had to follow this and see what it is. I clicked through immediately.
Nothing. A blank screen.
I looked at the time again. 11:56 pm. Alright. Maybe I screwed up by going in early. The email said orders could be placed beginning at midnight. I’ll just wait a few minutes and try again.
When the clock finally reflected 12 am, I hit refresh on the browser tab.
As if some magical web server just went online, a website appeared.
On the screen, a single question asked, “Would you like the Carvin’ Marvin Thanksgiving Special?”
Below it, two check boxes. “Yes” and “No”. Nothing else.
I clicked “Yes” to see where it would lead me.
The next page asked for payment info.
I had to think about this. Did I want to order the Carvin’ Marvin’s Thanksgiving Special that my grandma had told us so much about? If Carvin’ Marvin’s really does still exist, and I can get one of his famous turkeys for my grandma for Thanksgiving, I would be the greatest grandson ever. And if I use credit card to pay, and it turns out to be a scam, I can always file a fraud alert and get my money back.
I made the decision. My risk/reward assessment told me that it was worth it if this was the real thing. And if it turned out not to be, I lose nothing but an hour on the phone filing a fraud claim with my credit card. So, I did it. I entered my payment info.
The next page asked if I would like it delivered to my own house, or to someone else as a gift. I decided to have it delivered directly to my grandmother’s house, so she could be surprised when it shows up.
After entering delivery info and submitting the order, the screen went black with white text that said “Thank you.”
I closed out of the tab and went to bed.
As Thanksgiving drew nearer, I grew progressively more excited with the prospect of having one of these legendary Carvin’ Marvin’s Thanksgiving turkeys showing up on my grandma’s doorstep. If this was real, I couldn’t wait to try it.
Thanksgiving morning, I got a call from my grandmother. She sounded very excited when I answered. She said that a Carvin’ Marvin’s turkey was on her doorstep when she woke up, and there was a tag that said it was a gift from me. She asked me how I even got it, as she thought that Marvin was far too old to be alive. I told her that I found that the business runs online now, and that he must’ve handed it down to his kids or something.
When I arrived at her house, everyone was there, having fun, talking, sitting around, waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. My grandmother was making a big deal to everyone about how I found the legendary Carvin’ Marvin and ordered one of their turkeys for us. I was happy to be the center of praise for once.
At about 4:30 pm, my grandmother announced that dinner was ready, and that we could all come to the dining room now, to eat.
As the others began walking into the dining room ahead of me, a strange thing began to happen. I started to hear gasps, followed by silence as each of them entered.
I wondered what the heck was going on. I walked faster toward the dining room to find out what was happening.
When I reached the table, my view was blocked, so I started trying to stand up higher to look over the others’ heads. But, I couldn’t see anything.
I finally decided to work my way in between my relatives to get a look at what they were seeing.
As I used my hands to part them, and slide in between, I began to fill with dread as I first saw a small glimpse that slowly began to reveal itself, as if I was moving in slow motion. I felt the blood draining from my face as it became more and more apparent what they were looking at.
At the far end of the table stood my grandmother, smiling widely, her arms spread apart in a welcoming gesture.
“Thank you, my lovely family, for being here today to celebrate Thanksgiving with me. And thank you, my dear grandson Steven, for finding this lovely Carvin’ Marvin’s turkey that I never thought I’d see again in my lifetime. You’ve made this old lady very happy. I’m very excited that all of you will be able to finally taste the best thanksgiving turkey you’ll ever have.”
The rest of us stood silent. Looks of horror dripped from the faces of everyone around me, staring at the table.
There, in front of us, in the center of the table, was a very large platter with what appeared to be a human body, skinned, basted and deep fried, arms and legs folded up underneath it just like a turkey, held together with heavy twine. The eyeballs bulged out from the sockets, as did the deep fried tongue from its mouth.
“Oh, where are my manners? I forgot to remove its head. You have to flash fry these things while they’re fresh, and still alive, you know.”
With one fluid movement, my grandmother picked up her arm, butcher knife in hand, and sliced right through the neck, the head dropping to the floor, making a loud thud.
My little cousins were now screaming in terror.
With her head still down, she aimed her eyes up at us, and said, “Sit down. It’s time to eat.”