[This is another fill-in writeup, written from memory more than a year after the session was run. Details are definitely missing, and errors are not unlikely.]
The research camp was a place of horrors, so perhaps it's lucky that the party didn't go there. Heavily guarded by crack combat troops, the camp was run by a mad magician-scientist; the Lunar equivalent of Doctor Mengele. His experiments included turning some of the prisoners into monsters: near-mindless, shambling hulks. Some he even fused together into hideous amalgamations.
His primary means of controlling the monsters was a specially-developed technique. It involved forcing prisoners to enchant one of their own bones (usually taken from a finger); the resulting matrix allowed the holder to command absolute obedience from the donor. However, these techniques and monsters were not the primary purpose of the camp, and were reserved for prisoners who had exhausted their POW (souls, in effect) making magic items for their captors.
That was the primary purpose: to force highly skilled, magically powerful enemies of the Empire to use up their own souls producing magical weapons and armor for the armies that had conquered them. Why they were co-operating was a mystery yet to be solved.
There was a second camp, the party discovered. It lay several days journey directly to the west of the first camp, and was known as "the village". Unlike the research camp, it was located in one of those rare and terrible dead areas where magic could not exist, and even the gods could not manifest: a Convergence. Between the two camps lay a mountain, the body of a dead Air god. Leaving the soldier to return to his camp, the party returned to the road where they'd first seen him. The breathing of the dead god was an uneasy distant rumbling in their ears.
Not much further, the road forked. The east branch led to the research camp that they'd recently approached (but not entered); they followed the western branch. Along the way, Gormuz's curiousity got the better of him, and he was attacked and infected by a disease spirit. They also had a brief encounter with an odd character, a hunter who had a number of unusual pets and mainly hunted the borderlands of the dead area; strange animals lived there. He was not a Lunar, but a free agent, and was highly competent. However, he didn't stay with the party for long.
On reaching the village, they found it a strange place indeed. The lack of magic was a very strange feeling, although it instantly freed Gormuz from his infection/possession. The village was heavily guarded by soldiers, but the residents seemed to mainly consist of women and children. There were many schools, which was odd.
There were also many guards, and the party was swiftly spotted. Pulling out their credentials as Lunar Agents, they demanded from the village Commander that he hand over Amadea and Sed. He was extremely reluctant, but could not defy their authority. Still, he was suspicious. A great troll, dragonewt, and bizarre meat elf, Agents of the Empire? It seemed incredibly unlikely.
He delayed as long as he could, sending his fastest messenger back to the Lord who oversaw both camps for instructions. But the party wasn't willing to wait for the days that it would take for a message to return, and the commander couldn't force them. So he insisted "as a "courtesy" on assigning six of his best officers to escort the party and prisoners. The party didn't like it, but couldn't outright refuse.
The guards were heavily armed and armored, with gear manufactured in the research camp; +6 full platemail, and +6 weapons, along with other useful accouterments. Even their horses had well-enchanted leather barding. They weren't stupid, either (the guards, that is, not the horses); they soon realized that the party was NOT heading toward the Lunar capital, but actually in the opposite direction. They made arrangements for one of them to ride off in the middle of the night and bring a message to their lord. But the party struck first, and killed them all.
Collecting all the magic that the guards had been carrying, they headed swiftly back toward their employer's base at Apple Lane. Sed was co-operative, but Amadea protested. She wanted them to rescue her husband, who'd been in the research camp. The party insisted that she come with them to see High Commissioner Gar-El.
[That was, incidentally, the answer to the mystery. The prisoners in the research camp were co-operating even to the point of self-destruction because their loved ones were being held as hostages in the second camp. What was so terrible about that place that powerful priests and rune lords would sacrifice their own souls to aid their enemies? Simply, that because they were being held in one of the Convergences, any hostage who died there would not have an afterlife, but would instead be forever gone. The Lunars were holding hostage not just the bodies and lives of their loved ones, but their souls. To cap things off, and as a final betrayal, they were making a rigorous effort to convert all of those loved ones to the Lunar faith. The children, in particular, were separated from their parents and being raised in the Lunar faith, receiving daily Lunar schooling. Luckily Sed was the sullen teenager type, and the teaching apparently hadn't taken in his case.]
Copyright 2012 by Peter Maranci. Revised: December 10, 2012. v.1.0