Thursday, April 10, 2014

After the Rain ep06 : Houses of the Blooded

03/09/2014
After the Rain

Episode Six
"Family Matters"

Houses of the Blooded

Orks had boarded the airship.  But it was a simple matter for Seran to handle, even if she took a slight injury in the process.  What was important was that they had arrived at what seemed to be the last kingdom in the horizon of what was known to be explored Shanri.  The curtains are cobwebs, the decorations seem to have been carved from ork bones, and the clothing seem to all be at least 30 years behind in fashion.

They are at the kingdom of the parents of Nia Jalan.

Seran recalls the Bears and Thornes fighting alongside each other against the three-eyed orks.  The group enjoys a quiet dinner, with Jaric sharing that they are looking for the old Senate house, and the ruins of Davfanna Aldrena, the Hub of the world.  They enjoy the well grilled ork - though Haroun very formally declines to eat.    Nia's father then breaks to the gathered the news:  Neaera has slipped into Solace.  She is in the beginnings of becoming a Family Suaven.  They are allowed to visit her resting place and Haroun finds himself troubled by the number of Ork pits along the way.  A gong sounds somewhere in the distance and the group sees what is to become a temple currently being built.   The sky occasionally shows the presence of other orks.  Given this kingdom is one of the furthest from civilization, its not unexpected to see such.  

In the temple, Nia's youngest sister Merope is acting as the Court Scholar.  She seems to struggle to find her voice as she acts as the Scholar.  Seran feels a connection to Neaera, and she starts to realize the sounding of the gong somehow relates to the connection she feels.  Galeo on the other hand silently attempts to reach the Suaven and does find her responding.  She questions Neaera's serpent instead of a bear as a child.  Neaera seems to speak of confusion and fear.  Of deafening silence.  And seems extremely thankful that Gaelo can communicate with her.  It seems she can only hear Galeo.. and one other voice.  That's when Galeo hears a second voice.  One which sounds threatening.  One which admits it is no Suaven.

Merope and Nia find a chance to talk.  She tells her sister how her mother has yet to speak to anyone even though she is gaining followers each passing day.  Seran talks to them about somehow "feeling" their mother.   About somehow having a resonance with her. They are uncertain what that means. Galeo continues to talk to Neaera, and Neaera confirms she can hear when Galeo intoned a prayer to her to be guided by Ashalim Avendi.  Nia speaks directly to the mother, offering to build a shrine for her.  Neaera hears her, and using the growing power within her, allows Nia to receive a gift:  a relic of bone drops from her Solace body.

Merope, Court Scholar of House Steiner
Merope, Unblooded, Court Scholar
Three true things about Merope
She is loyal to her mother.
She has been studying Sorcery all her life.
She remains under her sisters' shadow.

The Marquis barges inside, demanding to know what is going on.  Jaric had earlier noticed the orks were riddled with cauterized wounds and had quietly been observing as well what had been happening.  He gladly attempts to explain what is going on and assumes that because Galeo can hear Neaera, she must be the Q'val!  Galeo declines the role.

Neaera shares with Galeo that the orks have been repeatedly striking the Kingdom because of the Puzzle House beneath it.  The puzzle house seems to have emerged where once a shrine to the Horse stood.  Merope reveals that she can somehow see the marking upon Galeo's brow.  The Marquis feels insulted by the claims that Galeo would hear Neaera's words while the rest of them could not.  So to prove it, Galeo repeats to them the secret injury that Neaera alone knows he suffers.     Merope however notices that the markings upon Galeo's forehead seem to shift.  Change on occasion.

Another gong.

Seran reaches for it and sees a vision of Neaera sealed in a temple.  The visual startles them both.  Merope feels the sounding of the gong, which has been beating without anyone striking it, must be some kind of counting down... a limit of time a Q'val must arise or the Solace will lock in and the Suaven will merely sleep.

And that's when it appears:

Dark.  Savage.  Bleak.  Cold.  The Spectre moves as if it was floating beneath the depths.  It shines like a hungry star that suckled upon the nearby shadows.   The Spectre danced as it approached Galeo and it shrieked as it demanded for her name.

Merope panics.  Jaric hurries out the door.  Seran draws her Bloodsword and engages with it.  Nia and Galeo attempt to help in the fight, using whatever knowledge and tactics they can to assist.  Merope calls out to Galeo to help, as she plans to use a Sorcerous ritual to help.  She, however, does not have the Blooded blood needed for it.  Galeo reluctantly agrees.

Light erupts from the ground as Merope casts the Ritual around them.  Seran plunges the blade deep into the Spectre that claims to be Tethis.  Nia remains silent on the fact she knows that is her mother's secret name! As the Spectre is in its dying throes, itclaws at Seran, leaving her face scarred with its ten talons. . The Terror is so intense that both Galeo and Nia's hair turn white from the fear.

Merope is then seen as the best bearer of the mantle of Q'val.  She accepts the position just as the Gong strikes for one final time.  The cocoon surrounding the sleeping Neaera drops, and she transforms, the webbing that snaps strikes Nia and Galeo (by accident?)  Nia loses part of her scalp.  Galeo loses an eye.
The small prices paid for another Suaven's birth.

Haroun arrives, but his arrival by now is too late.  The others focus instead on the mention of a puzzle house and find it to be in ruins again.  Perhaps it was where the Spectre came from.  Perhaps.

The group remains for another week, giving them time to send out missives to loved ones and to hear back from them.   Lukas writes and says all is well.  He admits he is learning things to surprise Seran on her return. He wonders if her heart is still safe with him.

Nia and Galeo sense that there is something... withheld in the letters they receive from their loved one.

But it is only Jaric whose letters contain a most distressing news.  Jaric's spouse, Jalani has captured a Spy that had entered their lands.  The Spy, it seems, had a Bloodsword.  She reminds him, however, that she will handle things.

"Leave it to me."
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