Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Riddle of Blood e10 : Houses of the Blooded


The Riddle of Blood
Episode Ten


Houses of the Blooded

The acts of vengeance between Ti'Ann Burghe, Duchess of Dundar, and Madelyn Yvarai, Duchess of the Box culminated with the death of Kythranus Yvarai.  But the need for blood to seek revenge for split blood meant the story was far from over.  Kyocera, Kithranus' estranged brother still sought to avenge his sibling's murder, even if he had no idea who was behind it.   And while Circe Yvarai, Kithranus' late wife and the infamous Mother of Monsters, was long dead, the echoes of her passing remained resonant in the presence of the demoness Liliandra, who relished in a Shanri where none seemed to know how to best a demon.  Not even Quan Wei Yvarai and her husband Yao Lin knew how to handle the events that spiraled around them, even if Quan Wei was touched by "the balancer of Shanri" known only as the Dara.  Tears, blood and regrets were surely to come as Gaius Mwrr sought to remain within the former Bronze Inquisitor's favor, and Viktor Krev entertained an eight-long Romance with the same woman.

In the end, the Riddle of Blood was made clear.

Rumors spread in the coming Seasons.  Of Puzzle Houses found empty, or of coffers and chests found opened without effort.    More frightening were the rumors of many Airships having been purchased in the last few Seasons, and the man who built them all, Cavilo Steirner being found dead in his very own throne.

The players added their own "Rumors" to the mix:
There are whispers in the Senate halls of Madeline Yvarai being behind the burning of the theater in Reidon Yvarai's second Province, the Red Throne.  Some even believe that she has been building a Secret Army to strike Ti'Ann Burhe.  However, many say Ti'Ann Burghe herself knows of the growing army and hopes to preemptively strike.  Given her having gained the support of 30% of the Senate, many fear the time of the Bronze Inquisitor is now. There are also whispers from many of the younger Ven that "We have been here before," (a rumor supported by the origin story revealed in the previous game).  Others are starting to learn about the presence of the demoness, and Jocelyn Yvarai - Quan Wei's mother - has realized how the Aspect of the Dara can be revoked.  

A man matching the appearance of the Mad Emperor was sighted in The Red Throne as well.  And many say the Personal Guard of Reidon Yvarai, the Blood Guard, have rebelled against their new master and have left to join Madeline's troops.  

These rumors, however, are less worrying than others:

For some say Orks have been witnessed marching in groups, and carrying a banner that resembles the sigil of the House of the Wolf.  And that one Ork, horned and wicked, even bears in its talons a ring of the House Banin.

And worst yet, an Eclipse looms - one which the Serpents say will last a full season - and this will not permit any Food to be produced.  A tragedy given the season to come next is Winter.

This is the finale episode of The Riddle of Blood.

Act One

Reidon Yvarai is having wine with Dano and Obus Sinjin when an Ork is captured by his men. The Ork, it seems had hoped to kidnap the Ven, which sounds inconceivable to the others. But as they consider who sent this female Ork to him, they learn of a small army of these things amassing outside the Castle walls! As Reidon peers out, he sees the banner that the Orks hold high: House of the Wolf. The Orks demand to see the Ven, and Reidon decides to see exactly what these monsters hope to achieve firsthand. He fearlessly heads down to speak with them.

Quan Wei Yvarai travels to Talida Mountain to visit her mother, and while the two spend time meditating upon the dreams of the Suaven, they find disturbing truths awaiting them.  The Dara exists as the light which casts the Demon's shadow.  That which the Dara has, the Demon is permitted to have.  Quan Wei realizes that by having family, friends, artifacts and a province to her name, she has allowed the Demon to have the same benefits! These realizations weigh heavily on her mind.  The next morning, she finds herself waking in a small tent far from the temple.  Though most of her injuries have healed, she learns that Josephine was fatally wounded in her struggle to save Quan Wei from the temple's collapse.  A massive Ork had surfaced beneath the temple and its hideous strength tore the structure down.  All the dreaming Suaven within were slain.  As Josephine feels death wrap around her, she hands Quan Wei the Pearl, and gives her a knife, telling her to use her own life to activate the Pearl's powers and send her immediately to either someone she can trust, or the demon to kill it.   Quan Wei slides the blade into her mother's heart, and wills the pearl to send her to Viktor Krev, the only man she trusts.

Gaius Mwrr meets with Ti'Ann Burghe, and learns that the rumors of her rising influence are true.  She indeed has become a new power house in the Senate.   She welcomes him and the two talk openly.  She tells him that she knows about his ring: the Ring of Phobos.  She claims it once belonged to a wolf who was great with the sword but pitiful in Romance.  The man's name was Tiall Banin and he had lost both wife and daughter in a battle against a massive Burrower Ork.  He returned from the battle with the Ring and kept it safe.  He once owned Gaius' Province, and was the one who had built the altar beneath the grounds for the Vashna.  When pressed, Ti'Ann shares the story of Kali, Tiall's daughter, and how he had collected her tears and her blood to forge the Ring.  She has him swear to NEVER use it upon her, and relates how the father had once vowed that she would die by his daughter's hands.  And how the ring embodied that daughter.

Kyocera Jalan dines with his guest, Ming Tal - sister of Quan Wei - and the two talk about Kithranus.  Kyocera deflects most of the discussion, not certain if the woman knows of his connection to him.  Not that many, after all, are aware of them being siblings.  Ming Tal, however, keeps suggesting she knows more than he realizes.  When Kyocera notices a female reflection motioning him to come closer, he suspects something is up with the woman.  Eventually, she asks him if there is anything he wants.   The two dance a seduction at the bed, with Kyocera soon sliding an Artifact Key from around her neck.  Kyocera tries to use his Blood Mirror to spy on Ming Tal, he realizes he cannot see her in it.  She is someone else.  The two passionately indulge in the physical contact while they both try to outwit each other.  But when Kyocera hopes to draw his Bloodsword from nearby, he finds her already caressing it, and offering once more to fulfill his desires.

And as the Orks with the banners begin to gather outside his Castle, Kyocera realizes the woman is a demon.  She reaches a hand out to him and asks him what he wants.  She offers to grant his desires.  He decides to flee and hide out in the woods.

Viktor Krev finds Quan Wei appearing and the two realize they have to act soon.  They use the Pearl and see the demon is in the bed of Kyocera.  She is eager to confront the demon, but Viktor warns her to hunt down Jaymen Steele first.  He explains that the Mad Emperor, one of the Fashuva, was the very one who allowed Demons to enter Shanri.  "If we do not destroy him first, more and more demons can simply come."  Quan Wei tells him of their need to find Kithranus' Blood Sword: The Taltos.  It was capable of slaying any Demon, it was believed.  They realize that sword might be the very one Kyocera has inherited.   Seeing her reaching for it in the bedroom, and realizing she had given up her Key, she was now capable of owning a new Artifact!   They realize the Demon can own an Artifact so long as Quan Wei owns the Pearl, she throws it at Viktor and demands that it now belongs to him.  They prevent the demon from being able to claim the Bloodsword.  Silently, the two consider they have to deal with the fact their friendship means the Demon can gain allies.  

The Ven find Ork armies gathering outside their walls. Calling themselves Debanin, the Orks calmly ask each Province they visit to surrender, or be consumed.  Most Ven fight, and sadly, few survive the assault.  While Reidon hopes to intimidate them, the Orks vow to return to hear his answer in time.  Reidon worries and wonders when the demon that serves him will return.  Gaius' brush with the Orks works to his advantage, as he uses Phobos to instill terror on the Horned One, then claims the Wolf's Ring and wears it as a show of greater strength over the Horned One.    Many of the Orks bow and choose to serve him out of fear.

Act Two

The Senate gathers.  Many voices whisper as the proceeds open, with a clear shift in influence being very noticeable.  Many of the Senate have learned to fear Ti'Ann Burghe, who seems to know the perfect thing to say to catch them off-guard or silence them with an implied threat.  None are aware of the earring she had inherited (see previous session) which Whisper to her the Compels that her opponents are vulnerable to.

The first matter of debate is the removal of the need for an Inquisitor.  Madeline Yvarai leads the charge, calling Ti'Ann Burghe's role unnecessary and antiquated.  To her surprise, Ti'Ann agrees.  And rather than defend her role, proposes instead "in Memory of the late Circe Yvarai" that the Ven seek out a means to be allies among with the Orks.  While unthinkable, she reminds them all that here in the Wilderness, the Ven have allied themselves with Orktalkers.   And that perhaps through this peaceful endeavor, the Ven can grow stronger.  Many quickly vote with her, which pleases the presiding Earl of Aeldrena, Vishashael Yvarai.  They move quickly to the next proceeding which tackles the wrongful Blackening of Gaius Mwrr's brother.   The Ear's questioning is meticulous and Gaius at first feared he had just condemned his brother to die.  But instead, the punishment for using Sorcery was overturned, now that evidence shows Zhul did not use such things.  However, given his having broken the silence of the Vashna, he is condemned to be Unblooded.

In response to the harsh judgement, a lone man begins clapping as he descends from above the Senate hall.

From the woods, Kyocera watches as Airships gather around the Senate hall.  He tries to see if any of them show any banners but finds only black clothes adorned with a white inverted crown.  He decides to rush back to his Castle, hoping the demon and Orks have left, in hopes of getting something useful to bring with him.   Instead, he finds the ghostly figure once more calling him, beckoning him to a Puzzle House he was not aware to have in his grounds.  The child calls him to touch the glass, and while desperately tempted to, Kyocera fights it off and continues to his Castle.   Inside, Quan Wei and Viktor confront the demon.  Quan Wei had a moment of truly embracing the Dara, and as the ground repelled her, she took Viktor with her to confront the demon herself.  But there, hoping to remove her advantage, Viktor turns Quan Wei away, and while the demon tries to make Viktor do things for her, Viktor is wise to her attempts to control him, and uses his knowledge to confound her more.

Reidon challenges the Orks. And though the Demon visits him to help him, she withdraws completely when it becomes clear the Reidon still believes himself to be in charge.  She twists him and transmutes him into a Bloodsword, and leaves it half buried in the earth.  The demon then whispers to Viktor to convince Quan Wei to get a steed, but he instead asks for the Senate Temple hall to crumble to ash.    He figures if Jaymen Steele's temple is truly below the Senate Hall, then destroying it may be a step in killing the Fashuva.  In exchange, the demon demands every single memory of his love for Ti'Ann Burghe.  He accepts.

Madeline leaves the chamber in panic as the rest of the Ven search for who would dare applaud.  Jaymen Steele applauds the Earl, but clearly shows his disdain for them all.  Gaius stays close to Ti'Ann and the two listen as Jaymen offers a simple matter to the Ven. "Join Me or find your death here."  Swords, both magical and mundane, falls from the airships.  And all the Ven leap into action to grab a sword and survive.

Ti'Ann and Gaius stay back to back, taking down any Ven that get to close.  Bodies fall and blood flows.  And as if in response, Shanri begins to scream as a Storm arrives.   None realize the Storm is instead the Demon Lilandra's doing as she fulfil's Viktor's request.  As the winds buffet the airships into each other, the debris raised by the cyclone begin tearing the Senate Hall apart!

Kyocera arrives and finds Quan Wei there.  The two head to the Senate Hall, hoping to take Jaymen Steele and the demon down.   When Viktor asks to be brought to the Senate Hall, the Demon twists Reidon's Bloodsword metal body into a makeshift cage, then inflates the Orks nearby to serve as hot air balloons.  The two are lifted off the ground.

All the Ven gather at the Senate Hall for one final Act.

Act Three

Once upon a time, Drin Krev, Viktor's brother glimpsed the future and saw the world destroyed by a gamble the Bronze Inquisitor took.  Once Upon a time, a man named Tatlos Jalan desired to become a blade that slew all demons, and for that request paid for it with his own life.   Once Upon a time, Jaymen Steele ruled.  And during his reign, he built a massive temple beneath the Senate Hall.  He knew there would come a time when he would have to slip into the slumber of the Suaven.  And he knew he wanted his slumbering form to NEVER ever be harmed.

The Senate Hall begins to collapse.  Vance Vashna, the partner of Gaius Mwrr, watches as the building falls.  The Debanin Orks, now serving under Gaius, gather outside and offer to help him in.  He considers.

Madeline feels the Storm rush around her, and to protect herself, she utters to the storm her secret name.  The winds cease buffeting her, but not the rest of the world around her.  She remains in place to stay safe.

Ti'Ann Burghe gambles and buries her Bloodsword into Gaius' stomach, in a bid to gain Jaymen Steele's trust.  But lacking any courage to trust her, Gaius panics and uses the Ring of Phobos against her.  Destiny and Fate conspire as the Artifact... the very one vowed to kill her... strikes her down with utter fear.  Ti'Ann falls to the ground as in her mind's eye she witnesses her failure coming to pass.  Jaymen kicks her to the ground while she is catatonic from fear, then stomps his boot into her head over and over until it pops open with a crimson smile.

Quan Wei finds Viktor and Lilandra there.  She regards the demon carefully, and the two face off amid the roaring winds.    Reidon, now cursed in an object form, is swung about by the winds, and made impotent and insignificant as a punishment.  Gaius finds help from Viktor, who tries to move his impaled body to the side.  And Kyocera stomps off, searching for Madeline, whom he believes was behind Kithranus' death.

Gaius fingers his pocket and draws out the ring of the Wolf.  Perhaps, he thinks, perhaps if Father were to join Daughter... and he slides the Ring of Phobos close.  The rings are joined with blood.  Wolves howl in the distance.   Quan Wei realizes the Fashuva is best defeated by attacking the sleeping body.  She considers where the temple could be down below.  Viktor quickly makes his way down, eager to find the temple and destroy Jaymen Steele's body.   And Kyocera finds Madeline, steps into her safe haven from the Storm, and confronts her on the murder of Kithranus Yvarai.

The Serpent's Blessing rings in his ear.  Kyocera learns that Madeline is indeed innocent of Kithranus' death. As he tries to overcome the shock and struggles to comprehend who was truly behind it, the Storm sees Madeline now, and takes the life she slipped from them when she muttered their name.  Madeline dies indignantly as a massive hill of debris crushes her head off in a single swipe.

Viktor and Quan Wei are beneath the ground, and quickly search for the temple's heart.  Kyocera follows suit and the three regard each other as temporarily allies, given the foe they all face.  Viktor realizes the sword, Taltos, is now with them, and Kyocera ready to use it.  When Jaymen Steele emerges, taunting them for being lost, and asking them if they would want to beg forgiveness now, the three focus instead on the Demon, knowing she now fears the sword in their hands.   Jaymen knows they fear the Demon, and begins calling upon more to rise from the Darkness.   Viktor charges forward, slashing at the manifesting Demons to by the others time.   Quan Wei hesitates no longer and using the Dara's gift, flies into the heart of the Temple to impale the blade into Jaymen Steele's sleeping body.  As Jaymen screams, he is pulled from the body he possessed and ripped asunder by the Storm's spiritual fury! Quan Wei returns only to drop down in anguish as she realizes the body Jaymen Steele had possessed was that of her husband, Yao Lin!  Now it becomes clearer why she became the Chosen.  Why her son, Guan Yu acted strangely during the night of Kithranus' death.  

As the Demon laughs, offering to bring him back for a price, Quan Wei rises to the air, lifts Kyocera with her immense strength and flings him towards the Demon.  Kyocera channels all anger at that final strike, and the blade bites deep into the demon's very essence.

Some would later claim that Kyocera claimed to have been haunted by his brother during that time.  That the sword, Taltos, contained his very spirit.  And that spirit demanded Kyocera avenge him.  Whether there is truth in this, we will never know.

What we do know, is that the Demon remained to have the last laugh.  With her demise, the Storm died.  And with the Storm's death, Reidon's Blood Sword body fell from the sky, and its vorpal form sliced through the stone, the wood, and the ground all the way deep, until it sliced through where Viktor and Kyocera stood.

Their bodies were impaled, taken by the final futile act of hatred of the Demon.

Viktor closes his eyes.  His last fleeting thoughts the memory of a woman he once loved.
It was not Ti'Ann Burghe he remembered, however.


Gaius Mwrr finds the Massive Wolven Orks moving safely through the debris and the dying Storm.  They lift their new-master and carry him back to his partner.  And with the Senate falling, the Ven find themselves leaving to find new life in the Wilderness.

But not all.

No.  For some Ven remain to live among the Veth.  And without the number of the Ven, the Veth quickly grow in influence, confidence and strength.  Soon, the Veth embrace their new lives and take on new names. Humans, the call themselves.

Quan Wei, now ages past, nears her Winter years as she sees hints of the Ven that have chosen to live among the trees.  The Wood Ven seem happy with their simple lives.  She does not recognize Gaius or Vance when she sees them, though.  Time and Age have been far too long for that.

She does, however, grow old enough to see the humans retrieve a strange metal cage from the depths of the sea.  The cage is crimson.  Red.  The red of Blood.  Its metal gleams a hungry gleam.  Some humans believe it to be a remnant of the Gods.  Great beings that ruled over them.  Wiser.  Beautiful.  Deadly.  Others simply dismiss it as a relic of a bygone age.

Quan Wei leans closer, however, knowing the truth behind the Riddle of Blood.  She whispers to it a secret and walks away, leaving us humans none the wiser of a time when tragedy most painful... most foul... changed the world forever more.

The End

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